What Are Lead Magnets, And How Can They Supercharge Your Lead Generation Strategy?

Tejas Oza
November 6, 2019 at 11:56 PM

Let's begin by stating the obvious:  you can't achieve your principal marketing objectives if you don't generate enough leads.  Leads are to sales what gasoline is to a car. 

Marketers understand this—it's one of the reasons more than 60% of marketers in a recent HubSpot survey named lead generation as their top marketing challenge and 69% said converting leads was their number one priority.

WHAT IS A LEAD MAGNET?

You know the inbound marketing mantra:  to generate leads, you create content and offer it in exchange for a prospect's contact information.  But it's a bit more complicated than that, because the lead generating content you create needs to be the right content.  What does that mean?

In the simplest sense, it means that it needs to do at minimum 4 things:

  • It needs to answer a specific question or solve a specific problem for the consumer
  • It needs to be aligned with a pain point for a specific market segment (or buyer persona)
  • It needs to provide obvious and substantial value to the consumer
  • It needs to be simple—in other words, easy for consumers to understand and consume

That said, this is how Tom DiScipio explains what lead magnets are, and why they're so important:

"At its core, a Lead Magnet is anything of value that you can exchange for a prospect's contact information – usually an email address.  The most common Lead Magnet that you've probably seen is a free guide or report that's delivered in PDF format. However, there are plenty of other Lead Magnets you can offer.  A Lead Magnet has one goal: to maximise the number of targeted leads you are getting for an offer."

WHAT ARE THE MAIN TYPES OF LEAD MAGNET?

Lead magnets are sometimes equated with blogs, in part because blogging to generate leads is so effective.  For example, marketers who prioritise blogging are on average 13X more likely to see a positive return on their marketing investment. 

That doesn't mean, however, that blogs are the only type of lead magnet, or that a blog is the ideal content type for every lead generation campaign.  Said differently, the type of lead magnet you create needs to be consistent with the target audience for whom it's created.  Here are the 6 of the most common types of lead magnet:

  1. Reports: reports and guides can be remarkably effective lead magnets if they offer specific and detailed information that their target audience wants.  A good example would be HubSpot's annual "State of Inbound" reports that give marketers detailed data and valuable insights about key marketing trends.  This lead magnet works with detail-oriented consumers who want to dive into the weeds on a given subject.
  2. Cheat sheets: these are similar to reports but tend to be more concise and straightforward. Cheat sheets are effective with consumers who want a key piece of actionable intelligence delivered in an easy to digest format like a mind map, checklist or infographic.
  3. Toolkits: to understand toolkits, think of the adage, "give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach him to fish and you feed him for a lifetime."  Toolkits give their target audience reference material they can use again and again to solve particular problems.  This lead magnet can also be offered as a list of valuable resources.
  4. Videos and Webinars: these lead magnets leverage the marketing power of video.  They're effective with visual learners who prefer to see rather than read or hear the key points contained in them. 
  5. Free trials: among the most common types of search intent are consumers looking for freebies.  This lead magnet appeals to the consumer who wants to try something out before making a purchase decision.  It's also a powerful lead magnet for businesses that sell complex products, like software.
  6. Discounts: this one speaks for itself—consumers are typically eager to share their contact information if they can save money on products (or shipping) in exchange.

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HOW DO YOU CREATE A LEAD MAGNET?

Every business—and every marketing campaign—is different and will need to consider carefully the best ways to create a lead magnet that works.  That said, most lead generation campaigns have similar challenges (like aligning lead magnets with target audiences) and needs to leverage a similar set of strategies, including the following 4:

1.  DEFINE YOUR TARGET AUDIENCE

The temptation to cast a wide net is understandable, but it's not nearly as effective as focusing in on a highly targeted segment of your market.  For example, a blog targeted to new home buyers in general won't be nearly as successful in generating leads as one whose audience is people seeking to buy a luxury home in the country in the next 6 months.

One of the best ways to target the audience for your lead magnet is by creating detailed buyer personas.  These are fictionalised representations of key market segments who share a set of common demographic, psychographic and behavioural characteristics.  Linking the particulars of your lead magnet to the buyer personas you create will help optimise its performance.

2.  LINK YOUR LEAD MAGNET TO A COMPELLING VALUE PROPOSITION

Simply stated, your value proposition is the promise your lead magnet makes to your target audience.  It's critically important that the promise you make is specific—and specifically designed to answer a pressing consumer question or solve one of their protracted problems. 

In other words, you need to give prospects a really good reason to accept your offer and give you their email address in exchange for it.  Ideally, your value proposition will reference a need your audience already has.  It's also important that you fashion a compelling headline that immediately captures the attention of and resonates with your target audience. 

3.  CHOOSE THE RIGHT TYPE OF LEAD MAGNET

First, as noted above, different types of lead magnet will appeal to different audience.  Prospects for a SaaS business, for example, might want to choose a free software trial or a detailed report, while a retail business might do better with an informative blog or (if they're also an ecommerce business) free shipping on your first purchase. 

Second, it's important to consider your marketing team's content creation strengths.  Do you have the in-house talent to produce a compelling, professional video or create a persuasive report?  If you don't but think one of those lead magnets would work best for your lead generation strategy, your best bet would be to partner with an experienced marketing agency.

4.  MEASURE RESULTS

You need to continually monitor the effectiveness of your lead magnet strategy.  That process begins by creating realistic and measurable goals for your campaign.  Measuring results will enable you to tweak your strategy, doubling down on those things which are working and eliminating those that aren't.

CONCLUSION

The process of creating lead magnets that are specifically tied to key marketing objectives and market segments can admittedly be a bit confusing and time-consuming—but the rewards of a strategy that works are well worth the effort.  Fortunately, there are marketing agencies with deep knowledge and experience in lead generation strategy who can help.

To learn more about the ways our digital marketing services can help your B2B or technology business more effectively align sales and marketing, refine your inbound marketing and sales strategies—and increase your profitability—contact us today.

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