You got website traffic! Isn’t that great?
Whether you’re pulling in 100 visitors a week, a thousand, or more, any amount of traffic to your website is a good start for your business. When you fire up Google Analytics and watch the visitors come in, you can sit back in your chair and heave a sigh of relief.
People are coming. People are reading about you.
But wait, where are they all going?
Getting traffic to your website is only the first step. Whether it comes in through search engines, social media, or word of mouth, most of your website visitors aren’t going to go straight to your contact or products page and give you money.
So they leave. They exit your site, maybe forever, and you’ve missed the chance to stay in contact with a potential lead.
Lead magnets help you increase conversions and build an email list that grows your business
If you can’t convert website visitors into customers the first time they land on your site, maybe you can do better by collecting their information.
If you haven’t built an email list yet, you should start yesterday.
Marketing expert Ryan Holiday calls an email list your most important career asset, and writer Jeff Goins claims that everyone needs an email list—there’s simply no better way to send private, personal messages to your fans. All the best marketers agree.
But let’s say you already have a list. You put up a signup form on your site to collect email addresses, so you can stay in touch. You wait. You wait some more.
Nothing. Your website is underperforming. Maybe you get half a percent of visitors to sign up.
The (not scary, I promise) math of email list building
What if you could drive that number up? If you could increase your conversion rate to 4%—which is generally a pretty good conversion rate—what would that do to your business?
It’s hard to answer that question in the abstract, so let’s walk through a simplified example with some numbers.
Say you have a website that brings in 10,000 visitors per month, with a conversion rate of .5%. That means your email list grows by about 50 subscribers every month.
If your average revenue per email subscriber is $7, you’re bringing in $350 of revenue per month—just from your website traffic.
Ok, so what happens if you increase your conversion rate? We’ll keep all the other numbers the same, but plug in a conversion rate of 4%.
At 10,000 visitors per month, a 4% conversion rate brings you 400 new email subscribers every month. At an average of $7 per subscriber, that’s $2800 of revenue—over the course of a year, that’s almost 30,000 extra dollars that you generate without any extra work.
Put that in your piggy bank
Is this a simplified example? Of course. It doesn’t take into account email list churn (or the extra word of mouth and traffic that comes from having a larger list).
But it shows how moving just that one number—your conversion rate—can have a huge effect on your business.
How can you grow your list, get more leads, and (eventually) get more sales to grow your business?
Here’s the single most effective way to build your email list and increase conversions: lead magnets.
What is a lead magnet?
You may have heard the term lead magnet before. If not, they go by a lot of different names you could have heard of:
- Opt-in incentive
- Signup offer
- Opt-in offer
- Opt-in bribe
- List bait
So what is a lead magnet? By any name, it is a lead generation technique to get more people to give you their email address. It’s when you dangle a carrot so they don’t give you the stick.
(We can pretend that sentence made sense, right? I really just wanted to say “carrot and stick”).
Imagine your audience as this little guy. What kind of content (carrot) would he love?
Specifically, a lead magnet is when you offer something—be it a checklist, ebook, consultation, or trial—in exchange for an email address.
Instead of asking people to “subscribe to your newsletter,” which isn’t really that compelling, you offer them some kind of content or service that solves their problem.
What makes lead magnets the best method of building an email list? It gives people a reason to do something.
Think about it. You want people to sign up for your email list so that you can send them content and sell to them. But what do they get?
Yeah, they get your content. But what do they get right now? All of the best list building strategies have one thing in common—they give people something in return for joining your email subscriber list.
If you want to grow your email list, you usually need to give people something in return. There’s actually psychology research on the topic—the concept is called the “norm of reciprocity.”
That something you give them? That’s a lead magnet.
Does a lead magnet get you more customers? Not right away. But by collecting information from people interested in what you have to say, you can follow up with nurture campaigns (even automated ones) and convert sales that would have been otherwise nonexistent.
How to create a lead magnet
We’re going to dive into some lead magnet ideas—and what makes a great lead magnet—in a few moments.
Before we get to that, I wanted to address a common concern—what if you don’t know how to make a lead magnet?
If you have design chops or video editing skills, creating a lead magnet won’t be too difficult for you. Just use the Adobe product suite, or Final Cut, or your preferred software and get crackin’. The hard part for you is finding the right lead magnet ideas (which we’ll cover).
But if you don’t know much about design (I’m raising my own hand right now), it’s still possible to make compelling opt-in offers.
Top free tools to create a lead magnet
Technology is making a lot of once-complicated tasks much simpler. Stuff like shooting video, editing it, recording audio, creating designs, making ebooks.
In other words, the stuff you need to actually create a lead magnet.
There are ton of free tools you can use to make your lead magnet, but here are some of the top tools you can use to get started.
Canva is an awesome design service that lets you make simple graphics. What makes Canva so great? It’s super, duper, incredibly easy to use.
The service has put together at least 30 different design tutorials that show you how to use it.
In Canva, everything is drag and drop. You don’t need to learn any complicated software or memorize hex codes for colors.
The below image is remarkably dumb. But I timed myself making it in Canva and it only took 44.7 seconds.
Is this dumb? Incredibly. Was it fast? Definitely.
You can use Canva to create:
- Images for ebooks, guides, and checklists
- Headers for PDFs
Huh? Yeah Google Docs is free, but how can you use it to create a lead magnet?
Google Docs isn’t the most sophisticated way to make a lead magnet, but it has two major benefits.
- It’s fast
- It’s easy
In Google Docs, you can type up an ebook, guide, checklist, cheat sheet, or other written resource to use as a lead magnet.
Then, use a free design tool like Canva to make a simple header for the lead magnet. It doesn’t need to be amazing—but having a header immediately makes your lead magnet look less like something that was, well, typed up quickly in Google Docs.
After than, all you need to do is download the Google Doc as a PDF.
Literally one button click
Boom. You’ve got your lead magnet.
Ok, you got me. Phones aren’t free.
But chances are you already have a smartphone, and that it comes with some free video editing software.
If you’re putting together a simple lead magnet, video can be really valuable. As we’ll talk about later, video content has a high “perceived value.” That is—people like it.
It won’t be quite the same as a video with super high production value—but for most lead magnets the content is more important than the video itself.
Don’t hesitate to shoot video on your phone and use it as your lead magnet.
Prezi is a presentation software that makes it easy to design engaging talks. Instead of using just “slides” like PowerPoint, Keynote, or Google Slides, Prezi gives you more flexibility in how you design stuff.
Once you’ve designed a presentation—or even an ebook—you can export it as a PDF to use as a lead magnet.
You can use PowerPoint, Keynote, or Google Slides for this too, if you prefer.
What if you want to make an audio lead magnet? Recording audio on your phone is easy enough—but how can you edit it?
Audacity is free, open-source audio software.
Is the software incredible? Not really. A professional might choose something different.
But at the same time, it is possible to produce professional-quality audio in Audacity. And if all you need to do is create an audio lead magnet, Audacity will get the job done.
How to deliver a lead magnet
Once your lead magnet is created, you need a way to offer and send it to people who subscribe. Email is usually the best way.
In ActiveCampaign, lead magnets get delivered through forms and automations. By building a custom form for your site (which you can embed anywhere you like), you can offer different magnets on different pages.
Then, once a form is filled out, you can trigger automated emails that delivers the lead magnet—and even start a follow-up sequence.
If you don’t have much marketing automation experience, this video from the free course Getting Started with ActiveCampaign is a good place to start.
And, of course, you can subscribe people to your lists and add tags whenever they complete a form.
Ok, so you have some idea of the tools you can use to create and deliver lead magnets. But what types of lead magnets should you create?
12+ types of opt-in offers (lead magnet ideas for dozens of industries)
When I was doing some background research for this article, it seemed like all of the examples of opt-in offers come from one industry—online marketing.
That makes some sense, since online marketers are the ones who came up with online lead magnets. But those lead magnet examples might not be that helpful if you run an ecommerce business, a law practice, or a gym.
Below you’ll find 12 (plus a few miscellaneous) types of opt-in offers, to help spur lead magnet ideas.
There are a few examples from the marketing industry—but I specifically looked for lead magnet examples from a range of different businesses. You’ll find opt-in offers from law firms, fitness businesses, tutoring, ecommerce, life sciences, and more.
Checklists are a fantastic lead magnet idea for two simple reasons:
- They’re easy to use
- They’re easy to make
The most effective lead magnet ideas offer things that can be used immediately. If you want to get someone’s information,