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It’s the best way yet invented to increase the proportion of first-time visitors to your website that subsequently become customers for life. You just offer the visitor something of value in return for their email address, they give their email, and you contact them and add value to their lives on a regular basis thereafter. At some point, the subscriber turns from passive observer to active prospect – in other words, someone interested in parting with their money for something that your company can offer them.

When done skillfully, it is a strategy that can reap huge rewards for your business over the course of time. And yet, there are thousands of businesses that are struggling to get visitors to part with their email addresses in the first place. Why is this? What is wrong with their offer?

For the most part, it is because the creation of the lead magnet has been poorly thought through and is not sufficiently compelling or attractive to persuade people to sign up. Even though they are not parting with any money for it, your lead magnet has to tick a certain number of boxes for your target market before they will want it.

Fortunately, there is a step-by-step system that you can use to plan and implement a truly effective email opt-in strategy that not only converts a high percentage of visitors into subscribers but also ensures that those subscribers are highly likely to subsequently become customers.

Step One: Accurately Define Your Target Market

Let’s begin by looking at the target market for your business. If you’ve not recently spent some time honing your vision of your ideal client, now’s your chance.  The reason this is so important is because for a lead magnet to be effective, it has to be both highly desirable and highly appropriate to the sort of people your business needs to be attracting. Get this wrong, and you’re setting yourself up for a low opt-in rate and an even worse prospect-to-paying-customer conversion rate.

So….consider your ideal client. What are their needs? What problem do you solve for them? Is there something of value that you can give that will help them with whatever they may be facing?

For example, this commercial interior design company saw that many of their prospects were worried about the scale of the project they were responsible for: moving offices or completely refurbishing existing ones. So they created a masterful step-by-step guide, called it a suitably impressive name (The Black Book) and offer to rush you a copy – in return for your contact details.

See how smart this is? They deliver something of real value to the recipient, and in return receive a new and highly appropriate lead to follow up – someone that they know is considering an office move or refit.

If you’re feeling stuck for ideas on something that is applicable to your target market, simply consider this: what sort of information products (related to your solution) might they already be spending money on? For example, your business sells and installs security gates, they are buying guides on how to burglar-proof their home. Your business offers legal advice for patent infringement, they are buying books on how to protect their intellectual property. Your business sells solar panels, they are buying guides on how to power their business using renewable energy.

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Step Two: Decide the best D.A.T. (Digital Asset Type) For Your Lead Magnet

For the purposes of this post, we will assume your lead magnet is some sort of a digital product. This works well, as once it is set up, it costs almost nothing to give away, so your acquisition cost is minimal. (We also have clients that offer physical products as lead magnets, and if your average profit per sale is high enough to justify this, then you could consider this approach.)

Typically, a lead magnet takes the form of an eBook, but it doesn’t have to be as basic as that. Consider these other examples of successful lead magnets:

  1. Access to premium training videos
  2. Entry into a contest for a bestselling (ideally expensive!) hardback book
  3. Whitepapers
  4. Fill-in-the-blank templates (letters, plans, financial documents)
  5. Checklists (breaking a process down into a step-by-step guide)
  6. Downloadable audio program
  7. One free issue of a premium newsletter
  8. Access to a 30-minute coaching call
  9. 7, 14, or 30-day free trials of software
    or…one of our favorites:
  10. A “kit” consisting of multiple items above all focused around the same topic

Think back to Step One. For the sort of customers you want your business to attract, what DAT will work best for them? Busy executives may well prefer an audio program to a video series as they can listen to it on the move. Or, you could offer a combination of more than one lead magnet over time – automatically using  marketing automation – such as an email series titled “10 Tips in 10 Days”.

Step Three: Create Your Lead Magnet

Don’t be tempted to cut corners here. This is your chance to show what you can do. A priceless opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge, skills, and experience.  If your goal with your lead magnet is to solve a problem for your business’s target customer, then really do all you can to give them what they need to know to solve it. Even if this seems like it might be counter-productive, don’t hold back. You will benefit in the long term by establishing your authority in this way.

Your lead magnet needs to be so good that people will be amazed you are not charging a premium price for it. (It could even be something you have charged for in the past, so that you can legitimately put a value on the item that your subscribers will get in return for nothing more than their email address.)

If you are not sure what you can create that people would happily pay you money for, simply go over to Amazon.com and find books (or, even better, e-books) related to your company niche. Go through the top-rated books and see what problems they solve.

(On a side note – just think how powerful this is. With just a few clicks, without leaving your desk or having to pick up the phone or even spend any money, you can see what people are actually parting with their hard-earned cash on, and even what they thought of the product after! Sometimes we forget the amount of valuable information that is freely available to us. Marketers from previous generations would have had to spend thousands of dollars in product testing to find out this information, and even then, it wouldn’t necessarily have given them such high-quality data.)

This is where you need to over-deliver on your promises. If it is an eBook, make sure it is properly laid out and graphically pleasing and easy to view. Also, an attractive and professional front cover design will dramatically increase your conversation ratio by making even a digital downloadable product seem more tangible, and therefore, “real” and valuable.


Keep in mind, most of the competition is focused on “creating engaging content”.  Have you heard that advice before?  It’s garbage. What does it mean?  Take the time needed to create something amazing, focused and strategically built specifically for your target audience.

Check Out our Killer Content Marketing Outline now! 

Step Four: Experiment with Different Squeeze Pages and Strategies

No matter how brilliant your lead magnet, the design of the squeeze page can have a significant impact on the results that you achieve. We have found that even changing the color of the “Submit” button can have a measurable impact on results!

The only way to be sure you’ve optimized your squeeze page is to test, test, and test again. Constantly measure conversion ratios, and aim to experiment with different messages and color schemes at least once per month. (Be careful though to ensure that you have a sufficiently representative sample with each data set – otherwise the outcomes of the experiments could be compromised.)

How you present your lead magnet is also critical. We have identified the following key factors that can have a measurable impact on conversion ratios:

  • Title of the Lead Magnet (Should convey a powerful benefit, e.g. “How To Check If You Are Entitled to a Tax Rebate in Six Easy Steps”)
  • Appearance of the Lead Magnet (For example, if it is a PDF download, it is well worth getting a professional 3D Cover created for it to make it appear more tangible and valuable)
  • Headline for the Squeeze Page – again, this should convey a powerful benefit, using words like “Get Instant Access To This Exclusive Report”
  • Reduced Distractions – a classic, well-executed Squeeze Page asks the visitor to take one action, and one action only. Offer a selection of possible courses of action, and the conversion ratio drops right off. Clear off distractions and reduce the decision-making process for the visitor down to a simple “Yes/No”
  • Color Scheme – The eye should naturally be drawn towards a large, brightly colored “Submit” button in the middle of the screen. Remove or tone down other colors on the page that might lead the eye away from the intended point of focus

We also find that it is best to collect just the email address or at most the email address, the first and last name, and (if applicable) the company name from the visitor. Ask for too much information, and your visitor is much more likely to avoid signing up. In particular, we have found that asking for a phone number is a significant turn-off for visitors that might have otherwise been inclined to fill in their information. If you want to include a box for the visitor to leave their number, at least make it clear that it is not compulsory and ensure that the system allows this box to be left blank.

Step Five: Follow Up, Follow Up, Follow Up

If your lead magnet surprises and delights those that signed up to receive it, they will be likely to share it with others in their organization or network. You should ensure there is a link to your website/squeeze page mentioned throughout your lead magnet resource, so that if any part of it should be shared, anyone that sees that part will know where to go to get their own copy of it.

Also, now that your email list is starting to grow, you should be constantly following up with those that signed up to get your lead magnet. Remember, there is a high chance that they will have secured it with every intention of studying it, but they may not get around to it immediately, so you have to keep it at the front of their minds.

Follow up emails can refer to or quote whole sections of the lead magnet. You don’t need to be afraid of being repetitious – even those that have studied every part of the lead magnet will be glad to be reminded of the key points and have these reinforced in their minds.

With email, you also have the perfect opportunity to “ask and enable” your subscribers to tell others about you and your lead magnet. If you always strive to add value to the lives of your subscribers, you will come to be viewed as a reliable business partner. There is something about regularly showing up in a person’s inbox with fresh and timely messages that builds a huge amount of respect and trust. It’s increasingly rare in today’s business environment to commit to a disciplined schedule of writing new and valuable content, so careful attention to this area will lift your business and your brand above that of your competitors in the minds of your target audience.

You can also ask questions of your subscribers to find out what they struggle with on a regular basis. Answering the questions that come up repeatedly (FAQs) by means of a broadcast to your entire list (with any sensitive client information removed first, of course!) is a powerful method of demonstrating your commitment to providing real solutions for your subscribers.

Always be following up!

Your lead magnet also should be regularly updated and refreshed to take account of the constantly shifting patterns in your marketplace. It is your chance to shine, your unfair advantage over your competitors, so don’t be tempted to allow it to get out of date. The lead magnet should contain an email address for readers to direct their feedback to, and to send in further questions.  You can use these questions together with your answers to build up the lead magnet with appendices and make it increasingly valuable.

That concludes our article on building your email list with the power of an effective lead magnet. We hope you found it instructive. Is there someone you know that would benefit from this article? Please share this article!

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About the Author: Jason Corgiat

I started building websites in 1999. Through the years I've worked with hundreds of businesses in various verticals and have built, implemented and managed digital strategies for companies of all sizes. My education is not formal and neither are my methods. Chances are, I can add value to your organization from day 1 but I'll let you be the judge. I'm a proud father of 4, luckiest husband in the world, and enjoy the occasional gym session. How was that for a bio?

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