The Weekend Solopreneur

Issue 22.34

Saturday, August 20, 2022

Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash

How to build a better lead magnet

Most lead magnets suck.

I used to download lots of lead magnets. A free goodie that would reveal the secrets of effective marketing, or give my business wings, or some superpower that would save me lots of time.

But the more I downloaded, the more disillusioned I became. The promises were seldom met. Huge fonts made them difficult to read. Worksheets with no instructions. Walls of text that were difficult to read.

Ultimately, the value just wasn’t there. As a result, I rated the business that offered it low.

Now, I download fewer lead magnets, but most of the time I’m still not impressed.

A lead magnet is like a first date

You don’t go on a first date straight from the gym. You clean up and dress up to present your best self. You’re on your best behaviour, attentive and smiling. First impressions count, right?

A sloppy appearance and lacklustre conversation means there won’t be any second dates.

So why do so many lead magnets create a bad impression? Here are the top three reasons:

  1. They don’t deliver real value.
  2. They’re too long (I’m guilty of this myself).
  3. They’re difficult to put into action.

Here’s how to fix these problems.

1. Deliver real value

To deliver real value, you need to ask yourself two questions:

  • What is the most common thing my ideal clients struggle with?
  • What is my unique approach to this subject?

In my case, I know that just about every single solopreneur and small business owner struggles with overwhelm at least some of the time. I also know that I have a systematic way of dealing with overwhelm—those two facts led me to create The (no more) Overwhelm Manual.

If you’re a coach and you specialize in helping professionals get out of burnout, how about a Professional’s Burnout Assessment? If you help teams get their mojo back, how about a mojo meter? If you have a killer checklist that you use to get something done yourself, why not make it available to the people you serve?

If you see a common problem with your ideal clients (or some insights or understandings they lack), you’ve got a lead magnet that will be valuable.

2. Give them a quick win

A “quick win” is something your new subscriber can do (or consume) in less than 20 minutes. This is where you will have a challenge between keeping it short but not trivial.

Here are some guidelines:

  • Checklists, assessments and templates: 3-10 pages
  • Ebooks and white papers: this depends entirely on the purpose, but typically aim for 10-20 pages. The (no more) Overwhelm Manualis 31 pages—I think it’s too long.
  • Video: 2 to 7 minutes (having a progress bar of some kind helps to keep them engaged). Split longer videos up into smaller pieces.

If you’re worried that your lead magnet is just too small, consider this:

Your lead magnet is a free appetizer. Impress them with the quality, and chances they will come back for the main course.

Value over volume.

3. Make it usable

Even the best value lead magnet will fail to impress your new subscribers if it is difficult to use. Here are some guidelines:

  • Provide instructions where appropriate.
  • Use a reasonable font size (10 to 12 point for body text)
  • If your ebook or white paper is more than a few pages, add a table of contents. (I add a link to the table of contents in the footer of my longer lead magnets.)
  • Long lines (spanning the width of a page) are difficult to read. Use narrower columns for your main text and add graphics or notes in the empty space.
  • Break up long passages of text with sub-headings.

Should I make it pretty too?

There’s no doubt that a professionally presented lead magnet makes a better impression than one that doesn’t look good.

If you’re strapped for cash, by all means do it yourself. Word, Excel or even Google Docs is your friend. Ask someone with a bit of design sense to make suggestions for improvement.

I was surprised to see how many people specialize in lead magnets on Fiverr. This may be a good investment that pays back for a long time.

Here’s what you can do

These three factors work together to make the difference between a great and a not-so-great lead magnet. Here’s how to apply them:

  • If you have a lead magnet, review it against these three criteria. Try to hit Value and at least one more out of the park.
  • If you don’t have a lead magnet, use these three factors as your guideline for creating one.

A high-quality lead magnet is one of the easiest ways to get leads into your email marketing system. (And remember your lead magnet is a great opportunity to follow up after they downloaded it.)

First impressions count—don’t skimp on it.