Lead magnets beat every other lead generation strategy in B2B.

No other tactic engages visitors, gets them onto a mailing list and kick starts a business relationship with them better than eBooks, white papers, and many other lead magnet types.

It’s just …

The concept of a lead magnet still confuses so many business owners.

Many don’t understand what lead magnets are. Others wonder about different formats or the process of creating them.

And to no surprise. After all, the term itself covers so many various content types targeting different stages in the buying cycle and through numerous strategies, at that.

So, in this post, I decided to answer any questions you might have about them. You’ll discover what lead magnets are and what goes into the process of creating one.

I promise that with this information, you’ll be more than ready to begin planning and producing lead magnets to generate more leads for your company.

Let’s begin.

So, what is a lead magnet, specifically?

The simplest way to define a lead magnet is as:

A resource you offer to website visitors in exchange for their contact information – email and sometimes, name and address too.

Lead magnets, as the name suggests aim to capture the attention of people who potentially might be interested in your products or services and connect them with your brand.

This connection, as you’ve seen in the definition above, starts with those people sharing their contact details, making it possible for you to begin a business relationship with them.

Worth to note: This is also where the name opt-in comes into play. By signing up to download a lead magnet, a person typically opt-ins to a company’s email list. Having their email on the list, the organization, in turn, can start communicating and engaging the person with emails and other communication.

Types of Lead Magnets

In theory, almost any resource a visitor would have to sign up to receive could become a lead magnet.

A tool, some tutorial video clip or checklist can grab a person’s attention. And if you set them up to require a sign up to consume, each would act as a lead magnet.

Most commonly, however, companies use resources a person could download to generate leads. And so, the three most common lead magnet types include:

Marketing eBooks. Typically, these short documents offer advice on a particular issue that’s relevant to the target audience. eBooks work particularly well for visitors in early stages of the buying cycle, learning more about their problem.

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(An eBook from Adespresso.com)

White papers. When targeting a more knowledgeable buyer or want to present a complex issue, companies produce white papers. These are more in-depth (and longer) resources, commonly targeting buyers in technical sectors.

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(White paper from Sellingpower.com)

Email courses. Although not a downloadable resource, email courses have gained popularity as lead magnets. These typically consist of a series of emails, explaining steps needed to overcome a particular issue.

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(Our very own email course ☺)

Checklists. You don’t always have to create lengthy and complex resources to convert visitors into your mailing list. A simple checklist that walks them through a process of overcoming a particular issue might attract their attention equally enough.

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(Checklist bundle from Coschedule.com)

However, those, and many other, lead magnet types and formats share three common characteristics. They ensure that a particular lead magnet can grab the target audience’s attention, interest, and then, entice them to sign up for it.

The 3 Characteristics of Successful Lead Magnets

#1. A strong lead magnet relates to a direct need/interest or a problem of the audience.

To achieve its goal – connect with your visitors – the lead magnets must be relevant to a specific challenge they seek to solve. And what’s important, it doesn’t need to be specifically focused on a service you provide.

For example, a digital marketing agency might create a lead magnet on converting more visitors from the web. Even though they don’t offer such service, it’s:

  1. Something their specific audience – people interested in growing results from their websites – seek, and
  2. Relates to their services. After all, to convert visitors, you need to attract them to the site first.

#2. It must offer advice for which they would want to surrender their email address.

Many customers have become weary of email. They already receive tons of messages a day. As a result, they are highly-skeptical about sharing their email addresses with anyone, unless it’s absolutely necessary.

To overcome this, your lead magnet must also promise advice they simply can’t find anywhere else on the web.

Using the example above again, even if your audience wonders about the benefits of having a website, the chances are that they could google such information easily.

#3. They must receive it quickly.

Signing up for a lead magnet is an impulse activity. Your popup or another call to action catches a visitor’s attention, and since the offer relates to their problem and offers information they’d have to work hard to uncover otherwise, they sign up.

But what goes with it, they’ll expect it right away too. And not seeing it in their inbox will only spur negative attitude towards your brand.

You can prevent it in two ways:

One. Take them to the lead magnet right after they’ve signed up. The moment they submit the email, the eBook or another lead magnet would open in a separate tab in the browser. You typically set it up in whatever call to action you use to promote the lead magnet. Here’s how it works in WisePops:

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Two. Set up your mailing platform to send the lead magnet to their email with no delay.

Creating Lead Magnets – The Process

There are five steps involved in creating a lead magnet:

  • Choosing the format,
  • Deciding on the topic,
  • Gathering the content together,
  • Designing the lead magnet, and finally,
  • Promoting it to your visitors.

In this section, I’ll walk you through each of those in turn and provide you with the basic information to help you get started.

#1. Choosing the Format

As you’ve seen already, lead magnets come in many formats, shapes, and sizes. Some companies publish eBooks, others use white papers to generate leads. Many launch email courses or build dedicated tools.

And so, it can be truly overwhelming even to try deciding which one would work best.

Luckily, there’s a simple method to do it. And the secret to choosing the right format lies in your objectives.

You see, if you want to target people at the early stages of the buying cycle, then shorter documents like eBooks or checklists would work better.

However, you need to deliver more in-depth information to those already evaluating available solutions. White papers or reports engage those visitors better.

The reason for that is that users early in the buying cycle need basic information about their problem. Those deeper in the process seek more advanced insights that would help them make a more informed buying-decision.

#2. Deciding on the topic

This step directly relates to the first two characteristics of a strong lead magnet we discussed above.

For your topic to engage visitors it must:

  • Relate to a specific problem they have, and
  • Offer advice they can’t easily find anywhere else.

And so, to select a topic that can convert visitors into leads, you must understand your customers first.

Imagine what problems they have relating to your product or service. Then, research what questions they ask about it or the type of information they struggle to find.

Visit sites like Quora.com, Yahoo Answers or Answerthepublic.com, industry communities and forums to learn more about the people you’re trying to attract.

Also, if possible, ask your current clients about their biggest challenges. Quickly, you’ll discover patterns that can inform your choice of topic.

Step #3. Gathering the Content

Note that I said, “gathering,” not writing.

That’s because you don’t always have to create original content for your lead magnets. Many shorter formats like eBooks, checklists or advice-lists often include repurposed existing content. For example, an eBook could include blog posts you already have on the topic. You could construct a checklist from an already existing article, turning its main points into checklist elements.

Similarly, a series of articles could become an email course.

Of course, you might decide to publish a lead magnet on topic for which you don’t have any existing resources to reuse. In this case, you’ll have to either write it yourself or engage a writer to do it for you.

#4. Designing the Lead Magnet

Similarly, you have two or even three options to create the lead magnet.

You could hire a professional designer. And by far and away, this is the best option to ensure that your eBook or checklist amazes a reader, leaving a strong impression about your brand.

But if that’s not possible, then here are your other choices:

#1. Create the lead magnet in a word processing program and convert it into PDF document. Word and many other text processors allow sharing or printing to PDF format.

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#2. Use software like Beacon to convert your text into lead magnet using pre-designed templates.

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#5. Promoting the lead magnet to site visitors

The final step is to let your visitors know about the lead magnet.

How, by displaying a call to action telling them more about your offer.

The most common way to do this is with email popups – offers that appear on the screen at a predefined time. Apart from telling visitors about the lead magnet, these popups typically also allow them to sign up for it directly.

Here are some examples:

Conversion XL - email

Source: conversionxl.com

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Source: Skillcrush.com

Smart Insights

Source: Smartinsights.com

Alternatively, you can place static forms throughout the site:

  • Under your blog posts,
  • In the sidebar, or
  • Somewhere inside the blog post copy.

Although they do work to some extent as well, all of those require a visitor to reach a specific place in the content. They must read the blog post in full to see the under-the-post banner or pay attention to the sidebar to notice your lead magnet there.

By appearing on the screen, popups, on the other hand, guarantee attention, regardless of the part of the page a person’s been reading.

Conclusion

No other lead generation strategy is as effective in B2B markets as lead magnets.

And hopefully, after reading this post, you now understand the concept behind them, how they work and have some ideas on how to get started.

Best of luck.

  • Greg d'Aboville