An email marketing list is the fabled holy grail of digital marketing, a direct line of contact between you and your ideal clients, fully owned and controlled by you, totally unreliant upon the whims of social media.
We pour so much of our marketing efforts into creating a list of leads who have already expressed an interest in working with you by choosing to subscribe, and for good reason.
The power of the list is two-fold:
- You can email the people on your list whenever you want, ensuring you’re not depending on them checking your website or catching a post on Facebook.
- The people on your list are far more likely to be interested in your offers than people who stumble across you by accident, or have limited exposure to your message, because they have already demonstrated their desire to hear more from you by subscribing. Once they are on your list you can nurture that interest through regular emails and great content.
Growing your email list is one of the most powerful things you can do for your business, but here’s the million dollar question: How can you entice people to subscribe to your list?
More than that, how can you make sure that the people who sign up to your list are your ideal clients?
How To Drive List Subscriptions
There are a few techy tactics you can use to drive subscriptions, like pop-ups and squeeze pages, but all the fancy technowizardry in the world isn’t going to get you far if you don’t have a great incentive.
People are protective of their email addresses, and rightly so – the world is overwhelming enough without inviting everyone into your inbox.
The trick is to offer something of value in exchange for the trust your prospects are placing in you by handing over their email address, and to offer it completely free.
The freebie is a tried and tested marketing strategy that’s seriously effective, and there are different types. The two most common options are content upgrades and lead magnets.
Think of content upgrades as extensions of your other content.
You write a great blog post and offer a free download that covers more on exactly the same topic, either in the form of more detailed information, or a practical tool that can be used to action what your blog has covered.
You will find most of my own blog posts (including this one!) feature a content upgrade.
Every post I publish ends in a call to action, which is usually to subscribe for a great bonus – a workbook, a cheatsheet, a checklist etc.
Content upgrades are super-useful and create a steady trickle of subscribers to your list. The real power, however, lies in the lead magnet.
What Is A Lead Magnet?
A lead magnet is very similar to a content upgrade in that it offers people something of value in exchange for their email address. The difference is that, while content upgrades are relatively small and easy to create, lead magnets are of far higher value to your ideal client and therefore require more of an investment on your part.
In fact, your lead magnet should be so valuable that you could easily charge a reasonable amount of money from them if you chose to.
They take a lot more creative juice and resources, and while you may end your posts with a call to signup for your lead magnet, they should be prominently positioned on your website and widely promoted to generate as much attention as possible.
The key thing to remember when creating a lead magnet is that they need to have value, depth, and substance.
The majority of people who subscribe to your list are going to come via your lead magnet. More than that, the incredibly high value you will deliver through it – all for free – is going to do far more to convince people to buy from you than pretty much anything else you can do in your content creation.
Because a lead magnet is the zenith of content marketing. It’s an opportunity to give your prospects a very real taste of exactly what it will be like to work with you, and to showcase the phenomenal depth of your expertise.
Creating The Perfect Lead Magnet For Your Business
To put the creation of a truly powerful lead magnet in context, effective content marketing relies on regular posts (blogs, vlogs, podcasts, or a combination of the three) of around 2,500 words.
Statistically this is the length that repeatedly proves itself to be the most effective.
For newbies just starting out in content marketing, this feels like a lot of words!
Certainly if you’re accustomed to penning 500 word posts (which for years was the advised length to use), it’s a huge step up.
You’re literally writing five times the amount for every post you create.
When you’re creating a lead magnet you should aim to create something that is four to five times more than a 2,500 word post.
That may be literal, in the sense of word count, or it could be the amount of time, energy and resources you pour into it. And this is where the majority of entrepreneurs fall down when they craft a lead magnet. They either don’t put enough value in them, or don’t make them at all for fear of the amount of work involved.
There are two reasons you need all that extra stuff in your lead magnets:
- What you’re aiming to deliver is far superior to the value of your already high-value core content.
If your blog posts are rich, long-form posts, your subscribers need to feel they have gained something that is tangibly greater than anything they could have got from your freely available content.
- You should already have content in place that delivers a surface-level explanation of who you are, what you do, how you do it, and how you can transform your prospects’ lives. This is the function of your freely available content.
If you’re doing it well, it will go much deeper than a basic explanation of things, but it will still only scratch the surface of the extensive knowledge you have about your particular zone of genius. Your lead magnet needs to dig much deeper, down to the core of your expertise.
When you come to create your lead magnet, remember that it should explore your core subjects in intense detail, at a level you could never achieve in your free content. That will necessitate greater length, because detail requires space, but don’t look at your lead magnet as simple ‘a long blog post’.
The quality of the information you provide, its value and usefulness need to be far higher than what your prospects could gain by reading four or five of your blog posts on the same subject.
A Note On Length
While it’s certainly true that 2,500 word blog posts are the most effective for achieving most people’s content marketing objectives, that doesn’t mean you should never write posts of different lengths.
If what you have to say can be said in the level of detail required in a few hundred words, padding it out with a couple of extra thousand is going to damage the quality of your post. Likewise, if you can’t explain your subject in sufficient detail in 2,500 words, extending it to 3,000 or even longer might be needed.
Length is a judgement call. It’s affected by your goals, your audience’s preferences, and even SEO requirements.
This is true for all forms of content, not just blog posts, so while it’s a good rule of thumb to go for 4-5 times longer than your average post length for your lead magnet, you may need to create something shorter, or longer.
What’s most important is to create the level of value needed, so don’t get hung up on length.
Create a lead magnet that is as long as it needs to be to get the job done effectively, while still holding your audience’s attention!
Your lead magnet should essentially deliver a ‘lite’ version of what you charge people money for, and there are a lot of great ways to do this, from providing free samples of a product or service, to recording webinars or detailed tutorials teaching complex methods.
There are three forms of incredibly powerful lead magnets that are guaranteed to prove popular with your audience:
#1 Video Mini Course
A hugely popular form of lead magnet is the mini-course. Odds are you’ve done a few of these yourself – you signup and get a series of emails, each delivering one in a short series of videos teaching you how to do something, or introducing a concept or theory.
Mini courses are so effective because they combine several incredibly powerful aspects of content marketing: video, the personal effect achieved by speaking directly to your audience, and the ever-popular format of a ‘how to’ narrative.
Video is incredibly effective, providing the choice of watching or simply listening to the content and, if you include a transcript, the ability to read also. The personal message does wonders for building the know, like, trust factor, and instructional videos allow you deliver actionable value while simultaneously demonstrating the high level of expertise you have in a given subject.
While you may put one together that isn’t, strictly speaking, on a ‘how to’ theme, the format of this form of lead magnet has an inherent learning aspect to it.
If you have something to teach, the mini-course is the way to do it.
When To Use A Mini-Course
Mini-Courses work best when they lead into a full paid course on the same subject, but they can also be incredibly effective when used to demonstrate a product you sell.
For example, if you sold knitting paraphernalia you might create a Beginner’s Guide To Knitting mini-course that was practically very helpful to your audience, but also requires the use of all the things you sell in order to follow along. Likewise a mini-course can be used to lead into a paid service. For example, I might create a ‘How To Build Your Own Website’ mini-course to attract people in need of a new website.
In the first case, if your viewers need anything you’re the obvious place to buy, and in the latter instance you have the opportunity to convince people that you can do the job better than them; hiring you to handle it rather than struggling on alone becomes a no-brainer. Different people will respond differently, so if you offer a DIY option and a ‘done for you’ option of something, a mini-course will capitalise on conversions for both.
Even if your leads don’t need you right now they will likely think of you first in future, because you made such a positive impression.
Mini-Course Creation Tips
Plan your videos carefully before recording them to ensure you include all the information you need, it’s in the best order, and it follows a logical pattern culminating in an actionable benefit.
It’s a really good idea to script your video. Aim for 15 to 20 minutes per video. Most people speak at a rate of roughly 150 words per minute, so each script should be around the length of a 2,500 word blog post – just remember, don’t get too caught up on length, and don’t forget your script needs structuring for an instructional video, not a regular blog post.
You’ll find everything a lot easier if you have a teleprompter or autocue to load your scripts onto. When filming, pause for a second or two at natural intervals with a neutral expression on your face – this will make life a LOT easier if you go wrong and have to edit!
An eBook has similar benefits to a mini-course in the sense that it demonstrates your expertise and puts you front-of-mind for buying related products and services. It’s another great and popular choice, especially if you’re trying to expand your online presence and authority.
When To Use An eBook
When your audience prefer to read rather than watch or listen to content, then an eBook is definitely the way to go. Look at your ideal client profile and ask some simple questions:
- What time of day are people going to be looking at this and what will they be doing at the time?
- What are their hobbies and interests – are they book worms?
- Which of your existing content is most popular – video or written?
If you’re at all unsure do a simple poll on your most popular social media platform and ask people which they would prefer – video or eBook format. Just be aware that once you ask the question publically, you need to go with what the majority ask for!
There are also subjects that really don’t lend themselves to the mini-course format, which is really designed for ‘how to’ topics over and above anything else.
Perhaps you’re telling the story of your journey to connect with your prospects and show them you genuinely know where they’re coming from, because you’ve been there yourself – that’s far better suited to a book than a mini-course.
Mini-Courses and eBooks are the two most effective, most popular, most powerful form of lead magnets. If you have a choice between the two and can’t decide, simply ask yourself:
‘Is this a how to?’
If the answer is no, an eBook is better. If the answer is yes, a mini-course is usually better, the exception being if your audience would prefer a book.
eBook Creation Tips
Where production is concerned, an eBook is perhaps the simplest choice as you can create a very simple PDF and nothing else. I do, however, recommend you create a Kindle version of your eBook, upload it onto Amazon, and sell it at the lowest price point available ($0.99 in Aus but it varies elsewhere in the world).
This expands your platform on Amazon (score!), and establishes you as a bona fide author (a great feather in any cap!), provides you with a (admittedly very small) source of passive income, while laying the groundwork for releasing a full business book at a later date.
The final form of lead magnet I want to cover today is the Quiz. These are incredibly popular online and have a tendency to go viral, which is great for your marketing. They are fun to do and hugely popular with audiences, and can still deliver information that is both informative and inspirational.
When To Use A Quiz
If what you have to offer reveals something to your prospects that they were previously unaware of, or uncertain of about themselves, the quiz is the perfect lead magnet. Personality quizzes are very common examples, when a specific aspect of your audience’s personality dictates something directly relevant to the offers you’re providing.
For example, a nutritionist offering a range of DIY health programs might offer a quiz to help people determine if they have a food intolerance, and what it’s most likely to be, while an accountant might run a quiz that reveals the ‘money personality’ of their readers and what that means in terms of their income and savings goals.
Quiz Creation Tips
A quiz is a little different to most other forms of content creation in that the quiz itself will require a portal or app of some kind to create, a