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It’s long been accepted wisdom that when you’re building a mailing list, you need to offer the customer something for free to entice them to sign up, commonly called a lead magnet. Statistics show that offering a lead magnet to customers can increase signups between 300% and 700%! However, as more marketers catch on to the trend and consumers begin to suffer from content overload, it’s more important than ever to be strategic about the design of your freebies.

A lead magnet requires five traits to be successful:

1. It must be valuable.

Your potential client is offering direct access to their inbox, so be sure that your offer feels like a fair trade! Before they’ve had any contact with your company, they know they’re risking the possibility of being spammed; your freebie needs to be enticing enough to overcome that reluctance. If it’s a digital download, make sure it’s not information they could find in five minutes with a Google search. If it’s a coupon, it should be higher in value than what they can find on your website, in advertising circulars, or on a digital coupon aggregator.

2. It must be specific to your business.

It can be tempting to cast your net wide so as to entice the greatest number of sign-ups, but making your lead magnet too broadly appealing can backfire by attracting lots of unqualified leads. If you’re a social media management firm, for example, your lead magnet should contain insider advice on running successful social media campaigns, not a broad primer on marketing techniques. Remember, your end goal is not merely to get sign-ups; you want to attract customers who need the bigger product you’re selling. Match your lead magnet to your product offerings and you’ll have a ready-made audience for your next sales pitch.

3. It must be concise.

Gone are the days when customers will be enticed by a 100-page ebook. Today’s media-flooded customers are looking for a quick fix of information that will solve their current problems with a minimum of fuss. Worksheets, infographics, and brief how-to manuals all offer valuable information in a quickly digestible format.

4. It must show your company’s capabilities in the best light.

This goes without saying, but your lead magnet is your chance to demonstrate your firm’s capability and professionalism. If your lead magnet is littered with incomplete advice and spelling or grammatical errors, you’re more likely to drive away a potential client than to reel them in.

5. It must leave them wanting more.

Just like you don’t want to offer bad or incomplete advice, you don’t necessarily want to provide a roadmap for how you do your job. A lead magnet should be a demonstration of your expertise, but also demonstrate that the subject can use an experienced hand. If you’re a graphic designer, for example, a tutorial on how to use Photoshop or Illustrator to design a logo will provide valuable information for a client looking for a quick fix while still demonstrating that larger projects will benefit from a professional’s experience. Pair it with a call-to-action and you’ve got a winning combination!

When designed with care and forethought, lead magnets continue to be one of the best ways to build your mailing list and qualify potential clients. Be sure that your offerings are valuable, specific, concise, professional, and targeted, and you will see your list grow with well-qualified leads who look forward to your marketing messages.


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