It’s happened to even the best content creators at some time in their lives:
You spend hours, even days, creating an insightful, educational, and valuable piece of content for your target audience. You finally hit the publish button, then begin sharing it on various platforms and social media channels throughout the web.
And people read it. Lots of people.
In fact, you can’t remember the last time you saw this many visits to your website.
After the initial swarm of people checked out, read through, and completely digested your awesome blog post, they simply navigated away from your site, and went about their lives.
Unfortunately, that massive influx of visitors ended up being nothing more than a vanity metric. Sure, it’s nice to know a good amount of people were interested in what you had to say...but if all they did was check out this free content - ignoring your paid offerings - then none of this really matters all that much to your bottom line.
Not only did they not end up becoming paying customers (to be sure, it would be pretty incredible if one piece of content got them to do so), but these visitors didn’t do anything in terms of engaging further with your brand. Because of this, you have no way of knowing who they actually are - and have no way of reaching out to them with further offers.
What you needed was a lead magnet of some sort: an additional offer or piece of content that entices your visitors with added value, and makes them more than happy to provide their contact information in exchange. In turn, you’ll have created a direct line of communication with your new leads - which you can then use to nurture them further toward becoming a paying customer.
In this article, we’ll discuss five content types you can utilize as effective lead magnets, and provide a number of examples of each, as used by some of today’s most successful content marketers.
Before we dive in, though, let’s discuss the overarching factors that make a lead magnet effective in the first place.
The basic principles of a lead magnet
As we go through this article, you’ll likely notice that the content types we’ll be discussing share a number of characteristics.
Perhaps most importantly, lead magnets absolutely must add value to your visitor’s experience in some way, shape, or form. Since they’ll be providing their email address (and perhaps other contact info) in exchange for said content, they’re going to expect to receive something they wouldn’t have been able to get from you without having to do so. As you’ll see throughout this article, this added value can come in the form of convenience, additional information, community building, and more.
Secondly, your lead magnets need to be laser-focused on a specific topic, providing in-depth or otherwise valuable information relating to said topic. Think about our example situation from above: if our hypothetical content creator had developed additional content with even more information surrounding the topic at hand, a decent number of their readers would almost certainly have opted to engage further with their brand.
Along with this, your lead magnet content should, in some way or another, showcase your expertise on the subject at hand - much further than your original content does. Needless to say, you definitely don’t want to disappoint those who have shown an increased interest in what you have to offer, as this will essentially lose you a potential customer before you even got a chance to engage with them.
Finally, you want those who engage fully with your lead magnet offer to be prepared to take the next step toward conversion once they’ve finished devouring your additional content. In other words, your lead magnet content should take your new leads to the “next level,” so that once they begin to seriously consider shelling out money for your paid offer, they’ll actually be able to get full use out of it.
5 content types to use on your website as lead magnets
While there are any number of ways to use your website to generate new leads and engage with potential customers, we’re going to go over some of the content types that have proven to be most successful by a number of well-known content creators, marketers, and entrepreneurs of today’s world.
Let’s start with the most basic of lead magnets:
A content upgrade is, essentially, a “bonus” piece of content that relates to a piece of content that already exists on your website.
Often, such bonus content is simply the original content presented in a different format - made available for download.
While not necessarily adding to the original content in terms of informational value, repurposing your content can certainly make it more accessible. For example, you might decide to create a PDF version of an “ultimate guide”-type blog post, or an infographic based on a pre-created listicle. Conversely, if the main content formats on your site are podcasts and other audio files, you might provide text transcripts of each episode you post - or even a simple summary of the highlights of the podcast.
Internet marketer Kim Roach allows her readers to download her blog posts in PDF form.
On the other hand, you also could add a “little somethin” extra to an original piece of content, and offer this add-on as a content upgrade in exchange for a mailing list subscription. For example, you might develop a checklist, sequential to-do list, or cheat sheet that will help your audience take action after reading a more theory-based blog post on your website.
SEO guru Brian Dean provides concrete tactics as to how to put his strategy into practice.
Both repurposing and adding to your content, then placing this new content behind a registration gateway, is definitely a great way to create leads from individuals that otherwise would have likely just passed on by. Case in point, the aforementioned Brian Dean was able to increase his mailing list signups by 785% in one day after developing such content upgrades as the one pictured above.
Of course, you can also take this method one step further...
Deeper, more substantial content
...and create content that dives deep into a specific topic, and offer this more substantial piece as a lead magnet.
More than a simple rehashing of existing content, this deeper content serves to provide a ton of additional information to those who sign up to receive it. Such content may come in the form of an ultimate guide/ebook, an industry report, a whitepaper, or similar documents.
Now, as is the case with repurposed or upgraded content, this deeper content should relate to specific blog posts or topics on your site. To be more specific, you should focus on creating deeper content related to your articles and posts that have proven to be the most popular and engaging on your website.
That is, if a specific post on your blog is getting a lot of attention, it’s pretty clear that a good amount of your readership would like to learn more about the topic at hand. Equally, on the other hand, you probably wouldn’t do well to dive deeper into a topic that doesn’t generate much discussion or engagement.
Now, as is to be expected, this deeper content will certainly take you a bit longer to create compared to the aforementioned checklists and cheat sheets.
On the one hand, it’s arguable that you should go the “easy route” here if you’re able to generate a good amount of leads from the simpler content upgrades mentioned above. On the other hand, it’s reasonable to think that those who download your more substantial content are more likely to become paying customers in the near future than those who download the more basic content.
That said, if you have the resources to create more substantial content in order to attract higher-quality leads, it’s definitely something worth thinking about.
An email course is a finite, sequential drip campaign that focuses on educating your audience members - in two ways.
On the surface, email courses are, of course, meant to teach your audience something relating to your niche. For example, Jorden Roper - an expert in the business aspects of freelance writing - uses an email course to teach fledgling writers how to get their business off the ground:
A major benefit of offering email courses to your audience members is that, in addition to providing supplemental value to your readers, a course can act as a sort of sales letter in disguise for your company.
Think about it. A well put-together email course:
- Sympathizes with readers who are facing a pain point
- Opens their eyes to what they could achieve with some guidance and effort
- Helps them get moving, and guides them to their first small “win”
Once an individual sees that you’re able to help them quickly achieve growth in some way or another, they’ll almost certainly be prepared to take the next step: becoming a paying customer.
Which is where the “wrap up” email comes in:
At this point, your paid offering basically sells itself. Typically, those who make it to the end of your course feeling successful can be considered qualified leads, and those that don’t...simply aren’t worth chasing after.
Hosting events on or through your website is not only a great way to generate leads, but also to create a community based around a common interest or goal.
Such events can take a variety of forms.
For example, Influitive hosted a summit entitled “Customers First: The Advocate and Customer Marketing Virtual Summit.”
This event involved guest speakers not just from Influitive, but also from other organizations within the marketing world. Because the event was a joint effort involving a number of different companies, followers of each of these companies were in turn introduced to the other organizations present at the event. Looking at it from a different perspective, this event introduced each of these companies to a ton of new leads.
Another similar event you might decide to put on is a webinar. While summits are typically one-directional (in that the speakers speak, and the audience listens), webinars allow everyone involved to be in direct communication with one another. At the very least, audience members should be encouraged to use the chat function within a webinar to engage with each other throughout the session.
Finally, you could also consider putting on a “challenge”, or even a simple contest that your audience must sign up for in order to enter.
Now, when we say “contest,” we don’t mean a silly “Enter to win a free XYZ!” While such contests may bring in a decent amount of leads, chances are most of them are simply entering to see if they’ll win whatever it is you’re offering; they have no intention of becoming paying customers.
Rather, a challenge or contest should require your audience to actually do or accomplish something related to your niche.
(Quick note: If offering a reward of some kind, you want to make sure that it relates to your offering in some way - such as a discount on their first purchase or something along those lines. Again, you only want to attract individuals who are actually interested in using your services, not just in getting something for free.)
For example, here Uncaged Man challenges visitors to do squats for 10 minutes a day, for 30 consecutive days:
Challenges such as the above, of course, can be tackled at any time on an individual basis.
If you want to add a bit of urgency to the situation, you might choose to create a hybrid of sorts that’s part email course and part challenge, in which you deliver the same content to a wide audience all at once - allowing the entire audience to stay “on the same page” as you go through the course.
Whether you offer a challenge in real-time or on a rolling basis, you also want to provide those who register with an opportunity to engage with one another.
Here, professional writer Jeff Goins offers new bloggers and writers not just a challenge and an e-course, but also a number of different ways for those tackling the challenge to find each other and share pointers.
Similarly to email courses, you can be pretty sure that a decent number of the individuals who diligently participate in these community events will ultimately become paying customers.
Surveys and questionnaires
Finally, surveys and questionnaires are another effective way to engage a bit further with those who are relatively new to your brand.
Now, when we say “relatively new,” we don’t mean “brand new.”
Think about it: Would you want to fill out a survey for a company you just began checking out? Absolutely not.
Furthermore, even if a few of your brand new visitors did decide to fill out your survey, their answers probably wouldn’t be all that valid (since they haven’t really had time to check out everything you have to offer).
That said, you’d want to set up a popup or overlay to be presented after a visitor has checked out a certain number of pages, been on your site for a certain period of time, or has visited your site numerous times in recent history.
At any rate, when surveying your relatively new visitors, you can focus on a few different topics, such as:
- Their on-site experience
- Their needs and/or reasons for visiting your site
- Their expectations of what you have to offer
The benefits of providing the opportunity for new visitors to fill out a survey are two-fold. For one thing, you’ll gain a ton of information regarding the factors we just mentioned, both from high-quality and not-so-high-quality leads. Secondly, by assessing your visitors’ responses, you’ll inherently be able to determine which of them are, in fact, high-quality leads - and which are not.
One last point to make regarding surveys, which we discussed in the previous section on challenges, is that, if you decide to offer a discount, freebie, etc., as an incentive, it should absolutely tie to your overall offering in some way or another. Again, this basically ensures that those who do fill out your survey are doing so because they want to engage further with your brand - not because they want to take advantage of your incentive.
Without a large pool of leads to focus your more specific marketing efforts on, you stand very little chance of generating a healthy overall conversion rate.
That said, generating leads is, of course, essential to your company’s success.
More to the point, generating high-quality leads is essential in order for your company to be able to reach its true potential.
By developing content that attracts and engages your site’s visitors - and prompts them to engage even further with your brand - you’ll easily transform your site from a simple repository of information to an absolute lead-generating machine.