How to Use Lead Magnets for Attracting More Email Subscribers

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Email marketing has been around for many years, and it is one of the most cost-effective lead building and lead nurturing techniques available. But getting people to sign up for an email list can be difficult. Depending on whose statistics you read, average email list signup rates hover around 2 percent and many businesses have even lower rates. One way to boost those opt-in rates (and improve the results of your email marketing) is to use a lead magnet.

What is a lead magnet?

A lead magnet is something of additional value you provide every new subscriber in exchange for them providing you their email address on your opt-in form. Typically, it’s a discount or unique content that can be useful for your audience. Marketers often call lead magnets ethical bribes and they are proven to significantly boost signup conversion rates for any website.

In this article, we’ll show you the nuts and bolts of creating lead magnets and using them to build an email list. We’ll also provide a few incentive ideas that should help you get started.

How to Implement Lead Magnets: a Quick Step-By-Step Guide

If you are skeptical about the ROI of lead magnets, here are two facts that will convince you.

First, lead magnets convert website visitors into subscribers more effectively than generic “Subscribe to updates” calls-to-action, and you’ll find enough evidence of that online. Take the famous case study shared by an SEO expert Brian Dean who was able to increase subscription rates from .54%. to 4.82% using a lead magnet.

Second, implementing this tactic consumes less time than it may seem at first. Even if you decide that content is the only value you can offer in exchange for a subscription, it doesn’t mean you have to produce it from scratch. There are several formats we’ll talk about in this post allowing you to create a decent lead magnet in less than a few hours.

For you to get a better picture of potential time investment, we’ve broken down the entire process into specific steps.

1. Choose an incentive for your audience

For e-commerce websites, discounts, free shipping, and special deals might be the first, the most obvious, and the most effective idea. But what should you offer if you have a completely different business model not related to selling physical items?

Think from the perspective of your customer persona. As a business owner, you must have a good understanding of your audience’s pain points and the solutions they are looking for. When starting, you can use several sources of inspiration: comments on your blog, queries your support team receives, user feedback, niche forums. If you’re still hesitating, a short website survey might provide valuable insights and be a great help. For example, many bloggers use the simple “What is your biggest business struggle right now?” to gather ideas for future blog posts and lead magnets.

2. Decide what the right format for your lead magnet is

Although eBooks used to be the most popular type of lead magnet, today people tend to be more incentivized by shorter forms of content. You can blame the infamous attention span or the volume of content available on the Internet, but chances are, a piece of information that can be consumed fast and applied instantly will be more popular than a multipage report.

And this is good news because you don’t have to allocate too much time and effort to lead magnet creation. Once you decide on the problem you’ll be helping your subscribers to solve, consider such formats as a checklist, a cheat sheet, a toolkit, a video tutorial. Given that you probably have all the required knowledge and experience to prepare it, creating a lead magnet should not take you longer than a couple of hours. Bryan Harris, the founder of Videofruit, even suggests creating lead magnets on the basis of your popular blog posts as a time-saving technique.

Depending on your business, other options may include access to a webinar, a series of video lessons, a free email course, a short consultation, and more.

3. Offer it proactively on your email subscription forms

Popups and slide-ins are the best way to promote a lead magnet and get new subscribers. They provide enough real estate to create an eye-catching call-to-action, and they are simply proven to be more effective at collecting emails. Even without any special offer, popups tend to drive at least two times more signups than an embedded opt-in form.

If you don’t know how to add a popup opt-in form to your website, there are quite a few apps available on the market. GetSiteControl subscription forms might be a good solution for you to start with. It allows for easily creating classic modals, slide-ins, time-delayed, scroll-based, and exit-intent popups. Plus, with the $19/month price tag, it’s also quite affordable even for small business owners.

All you need to do is include the offer of a lead magnet on the most visited (and ideally the most relevant to the content of your lead magnet) website pages and set up the conditions under which a popup will appear.

4. Think through the delivery process

The most common way to deliver a lead magnet is through an email that follows a subscription confirmation message sent to every new subscriber.

Using your email marketing software, you can set up an automated email that will include a coupon code or a link leading to the promised piece of content. The latter can be a link to a PDF stored in your Dropbox and available for download – no reason to overthink this part.

Another way to deliver a lead magnet is through the subscription form itself. Once someone fills it out, right on the popup, you can display a “Thank you for subscribing” message along with the link for downloading the content.

7 Lead Magnet Examples From Various Business Niches

Now that you have the idea of what it takes to create a lead magnet in practice, let’s look at real-life examples: lead magnets that help different businesses collect email subscribers and don’t require creating new long-form content from scratch.

  • Discounted or free shipping. Naturally, these are the most obvious and probably the most popular options for e-commerce stores willing to build an email list. You can offer coupons a couple of seconds after a visitor lands on a webpage or right before they leave it – using the exit-intent technology. Both moments are when the visitors’ attention is at its peak.
  • Guide. Guides can be created based on the queries from your audience or your best-performing blog posts. Ideally, you want a guide to be relevant to the page it is offered on. For instance, in exchange for a subscription, Business Know-How offers a free guide with 33 ways to build an email list. It’s promoted on the pages relevant to the topic of email marketing and you get the link to download it via email once you confirm your subscription.
  • Toolkit. A “toolkit” is an umbrella term used for curated lists of helpful resources: tools, formulas, templates, and insights. For example, Semrush, a well-known SEO platform offers a toolkit for creating a successful PPC campaign. What makes their lead magnet offer truly tempting is a brief summary of what exactly is included to the toolkit and how long approximately it will take you to implement the tips shared there.
  • Cheatsheet. A cheat sheet is just a concise set of notes for quick reference conveniently summarizing lengthy and often technical pieces of content. People love cheat sheets because they are time savers and typically provide complex information in a digestible format. You’re likely to see them on IT-related blogs offering cheat sheets for using specific technology.
  • Checklist. This is another great opportunity to repurpose some of your popular blog posts into a lead generation incentive. WPBuffs, a WordPress Website Support and Maintenance Company, offers 2 checklists to achieve high page loading times and make sure your WP website is secure as their lead magnet. When you download them, each one is literally a 4-page PDF with 12 checkboxes you can even conveniently print out if you want.
  • Templates and spreadsheets. If your audience includes beginners at any niche, templates can be a winning format of a lead magnet for you. We’ve seen these incentives offered by bloggers teaching social media, photography and videography, realtors, web designers, and even healthy lifestyle magazines.
  • Webinar access. If you’re planning to run a webinar on the topic you have unique expertise in, that could be a strong incentive for people to subscribe. Announce the date and time of the event and ask your website visitors to subscribe if they want to receive the access link. Jon Morrow, the founder of Smart Blogger successfully uses this technique to share his knowledge and attract new email subscribers.

Bottom line
As of now, email shows the highest ROI of all marketing channels. Therefore, even a 1% increase of your subscriber base will bring significant value for your business, and using lead magnets is one way to achieve that level of growth fast.

Our advice? If you’ve never tried using incentives to increase signups before, don’t go for perfection. For starters, pick a lead magnet you can create over a weekend, place it on the subscription popup, and A/B test the copy. Then optimize your offer until you see the desired conversions rates. Good luck!

Nina De la Cruz is a content marketing strategist at GetSiteControl – a custom form builder that helps you generate email leads and connect with the audience.

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