What’s the secret to building a massive email list?
You offer what’s known as a “lead magnet.”
A lead magnet is a small report that a person downloads in exchange for entering their email address.
In this post, I’ll list my proven formula for creating a lead magnet. Pay close attention because this is the exact system I’ve successfully used since I started my affiliate business back in 2006…
My affiliate marketing business is built off a simple formula: Get people on an email list, provide good content, and send offers to subscribers that make money.
The question is “How do get people to subscribe to an email list?” The answer is simple – Offer them a lead magnet. Basically this is a free (but valuable) piece of content that ethically bribes a person to opt-in to your list. This is the Internet version of the lead generation tactic salespeople have been using for years.
It’s been said that some prospects need up to seven exposures to a marketing message before purchasing a product. If you’re not capturing people’s contact information, you’re leaving lots of money on the table.
Internet users are becoming increasingly savvy. Most are sick and tired of the scammy gurus out to make a quick buck. People aren’t going to buy something just because you say so. They’ll only listen if you can prove you’re a credible source of information. The best way to do this is by building a relationship via email. Therefore building an email list becomes an essential part of your credibility when you use it properly.
People live busy lives. They don’t have the time to research everything. That’s why many will look to a trusted authority as an “information filter” on how to solve a particular problem. It’s easy to become this information filter – Offer lots of value up front and make product recommendations based on careful research.
Besides the value given to the subscriber, a lead magnet also offers a number of benefits to you as a blogger/Internet marketer:
- You’ll build a long-term asset
- You’ll have direct control over web traffic
- You’ll develop relationships with subscribers
- You’ll make money
- You’ll connect with potential social media partners
Seriously, I could devote an entire blog post to the many benefits of creating a strong lead magnet. Bottom line – EVERY Internet marketing business needs one. This is especially true for bloggers. If you don’t offer a valuable free piece of content as a lead magnet to help build your list then you’d might as well pack up and go home! I feel that strongly about it.
I’m going to be very frank here. Many Internet marketers do a crappy job with their lead magnets. Usually they offer bland, unexciting freebies that nobody wants.
It’s insanely important to offer a lead magnet that stands out from the crowd. The success of your online business depends on it. That’s why you need to provide a lead magnet that people will notice, and more importantly, will WANT to download.
So as you create a lead magnet ask yourself these SIX simple questions:
#1- Does it solve a major problem?
Take a hard look at your audience. Ask yourself what’s their biggest problem. What keeps them up at night? What are the obstacles they regularly encounter? What solution would make their life easier? What type of secret knowledge do they want to obtain?
Repeat after me – “Every niche has problems.”
All you have to do is find the biggest problem and then offer a step-by-step guide that fixes it.
For instance, let’s talk about the “lifestyle design” niche.
This is a market full of Tim Ferriss clones who don’t provide a lot of valuable content. They’ll talk a big game about living life on your terms. But most can’t solve the most basic of problems – How to earn an income to support a new lifestyle.
So a great way to build a massive list is to offer a lead magnet that details a proven strategy for making money from ANY location. That’s a major solution that many people would want.
#2- Is it valuable?
A lead magnet should offer genuine value to the reader. The days of offering ‘free junk’ are long gone. You’ll be dead in the water if all you’re doing is offering junk that nobody wants.
My rule of thumb is simple. Create a lead magnet that could easily be sold. Then give it away for free! This will make you stand out. People will wonder why you’re crazy enough to give away this information. As a result, you’ll develop instant credibility with the subscriber. I cannot think of a better way to build a list than tto become known for incredible value in your free offers. When you finally do release -for pay- offers, people will also know the value will be quite high indeed.
#3- Does it relate to my site?
As I mentioned before, people like having an information filter. In fact they desperately need one. We live in an age of too much information. Folks will seek you out if you can demonstrate expert knowledge in a particular market.
Build authority with your audience. You can do this by offering a lead magnet that directly ties into your overall marketing message. Once you help someone solve a major problem, it’s only natural they’ll pay attention to what you have to say.
Take the lifestyle design example from before. The concept of my site is about living the Internet lifestyle. Offering a free report about earning an online income is directly tied to the overall theme of the Steve Scott Site. My feeling is after reading this report; people will look at me as a trusted source of information in the lifestyle design market.
#4- Is it sexy?
There’s a bit of salesmanship involved with a lead magnet. In fact, it needs to be a little sexy. When I mean sexy I’m saying it should have a catchy title with an eCover image that stands out.
For instance, which report would you rather read: Make Money with Affiliate Marketing or 111 Affiliate Marketing Strategies for a Six-Figure Income.
Hopefully you answered the latter instead of the former.
I’m not saying the second title is perfect. In fact, I’m still working on it. My point is it’s WAY better than the first title.
On the other hand, the Make Money with Affiliate Marketing title is downright boring. Actually, I just fell asleep thinking about it.
It’s important to focus on the sexy factor when creating a lead magnet. Figure out a way to make the title and eCover graphic stand out.
#5- Do you offer something unique?
Don’t get caught in the trap of offering a lead magnet that’s similar to hundreds of others. Make it unique to your situation. For instance, if you figured out a way to increase your RSS subscribers, don’t call your lead magnet How to Increase your RSS Subscribers, instead name it something like How I Added 5,678 RSS Subscribers in 1 Month.
See how the latter is completely unique? Both guides talk about increasing RSS subscribers. But the second gives an exact result that can be learned within the lead magnet.
#6- Does it deliver?
This should go without saying. Your lead magnet has to deliver on what it promises. If you make the claim that it can help a person get 10,000 Twitter followers in a month then it BETTER live up to this promise. You’ll piss off a lot of people if it doesn’t.
I say take it one step further. Give more value than what’s promised. Make this free report stand out apart from the crowd because it provides massive value that can’t be found elsewhere.
A lead magnet doesn’t have to be a free report. In fact, here are different types of content you can offer:
- A preview version of a full-length information product
- A short video demonstrating a concept
- An audio or interview with a knowledgeable expert
- A blueprint or mind map that illustrates a visual solution
- A membership to a program full of tools and information
- A software program or Word Press plugin
A lead magnet can come in all shapes and sizes. Just put on your thinking cap and figure out what best benefits your audience.
There are lots of ways to research ideas for a lead magnet. I suggest using the same methods you would do when exploring a niche or creating an information product. So you’ll definitely want to check out my free PDF on how to find the perfect niche. Here I give over 8,000 words of pure content you can use to laser target a specific problem people have in your market.
In addition, I also suggest doing additional research if you get stuck. Grab a notebook and list ideas from the following:
- Most view/commented posts on forums
- Questions you commonly get
- Paid products marketed in your niche
- Popular posts on your blog
- Articles commonly written on Ezine Articles
Once this list is completed, do a brainstorming session and see if you can come up with that perfect lead magnet topic that’s guaranteed to be noticed.
Don’t worry if you can’t come up with anything at first. The perfect lead magnet takes time. In fact, the forthcoming “Income Trilogy” report is the THIRD lead magnet I’ve offered on this site. I keep changing things around because I want to provide the most appealing offer on my blog. You should do the same!
It doesn’t take much to create a lead magnet. I think 10,000 words is a pretty good size for a free report. You could include more content – Or less if you want. The only requirement is to make sure it provides the step-by-step solution people are seeking. Something that people are dying to know.
When writing a lead magnet, I suggest a simple four step process:
Step #1: Leverage Existing Content
It’s important to have what’s called a leverage mindset. Whenever I write anything, I make sure to find ways it can be repacked and reused. In the long run, this saves a lot of time that can be spent towards developing ideas and content that will be useful to subscribers.
A lead magnet is not about reinventing the wheel. If there’s great content on your site, feel free to use it in a free report. Odds are; most readers won’t take the time to scroll through the archives and read every post you’ve written. You can repurpose these hidden gems as a way to provide value without working too hard.
Step #2: Implement Project Management Principles
It’s important to create a blueprint (or mind map) of what you’ll write. This means writing down all the topics covered in this report. Nothing is written in stone, but it’s important to know what you’ll be covering.
After creating the outline, set individual timelines for each milestone. Again, it’s not important to be exact here. The benefit of this process is it shows how much work is required in order to complete the lead magnet.
Follow the principles of project management. This means setting a major goal and using mini-steps to accomplish it. In addition, you’ll want to account for any outside work that’s being done. You might be the one writing eBook, but you’ll probably hire a graphic designer to create the eCover image.
Project management is a great way to chunk down a major goal. Basically you’re taking the daunting task of lead magnet creation and turning it into actionable tasks completed on a daily basis. Each day you’ll chip away at this project. Then one day you’ll discover you’re done!
#3: Set Daily Goals for Writing
As they say, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” Unfortunately a lot of people forget this and give up when writing a free report.
The best way to complete a lengthy writing project is to stick to a daily writing goal. It might be a set amount of time or a minimum word length. The important thing is to dedicate time each day for writing.
I recommend assigning a “time block” to work on your lead magnet. This could be early in the morning, at night, or during a lunch-break at your ‘real job.’ This time should be sacred. In other words, make sure it’s a period where you work without interruption.
Furthermore, challenge yourself during this daily routine. Instead of setting a time or word goal, I recommend combining the two. So if you can write 1,000 words in an hour, try to increase this to 1,500 words. This helps turn the writing process into a fun, challenging game.
#4- Know When “Good Enough” is Good Enough
When creating a lead magnet there’s a major obstacle that many people encounter- The perfection mindset.
This seems to happen to a lot of budding Internet entrepreneurs. They get really excited about building a list. So they’ll work to the 95% completion mark. Suddenly there’s a feeling like it must be perfect before anyone should see it. This mindset kills a lot of projects before they’ve even seen the light of day.
In my opinion, the perfection mindset is a dangerous trap. Sure, it’s important to do your best with everything you create. But eventually you have to say ‘good enough is good enough.’
I’ll be honest when I say my lead magnets aren’t perfect. But I do my best to make sure they provide awesome content. In my opinion, that’s all you can really do.
When it comes to the Internet, people have become extremely savvy. They know submitting a name and email address means they’ll end up on a marketing list. That’s why it’s becoming harder and harder to even sell the “free” stuff.
Your lead magnet needs to be promoted with the same amount of effort that happens with a paid product. In this section, I’ll review a few techniques for marketing your lead magnet:
Create a Squeeze Page
First off, create a separate website that’s separate from the rest of your web properties. This goes for you bloggers reading this!
As an example, I have a dedicated web page for my free report: 111 Affiliate Marketing Strategies for a Six-Figure Income.
This quickly builds an email list because it uses what’s known as a “squeeze page.” All I did was install the Optimize Press theme on a sub-directory of my blog and I now have a page that easily captures email addresss.
Direct Traffic to the Squeeze Page
This is another shout-out to all the bloggers reading this…
One of the biggest mistakes I see people make is to direct web traffic only to their blogs. An Internet marketing business is about maximizing your results. In my opinion, you get the best results by capturing a prospect’s contact information.
For instance, the following traffic methods should be sent to a squeeze page;
- Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Traffic
- Article/Ezine Marketing
- Video Marketing
- Web 2.0 Properties like HubPages and Squidoo
Now, I do agree that this traffic technique doesn’t work for all types of traffic – Like Facebook and Twitter. With these sites, it’s better to send people directly to your blog. That way they get to know you before you ask them to join an email list.
A blog is one of the best places to promote a lead magnet. Unfortunately most bloggers don’t take advantage of the space on their site. I recommend having images/links to this free report in a number of places:
- In your header
- In your footer
- In your sidebar
- In your blog posts
To learn more, I recommend you check out my post on my “minimalist” blog design and how I collect email addresses.
A lead magnet should be a congruent part of an overall brand. For instance, my blog is all about the Authority Affiliate Marketing. So in the future when I talk about this topic, I’ll be sure to mention and/or link to my lead magnet. I do this because downloading my report would be a logical next step if people want to learn more about affiliate marketing.
Your free report should be part of the communication process with your audience. When promoting your site on a different platform (like a Podcast or YouTube) make sure to let people know what you’re offering. Even better – Give them a direct link to where they can get their hands on this freebie!
Remember you’re not promoting a site. You’re telling people about a free piece of information that can help improve their lives. Hopefully you see the difference between the two! By giving this quality content you will build your list without effort. People will come to associate your brand with quality and a quality brand has little effort building an email list.
Well, this is my manifesto on lead magnets. Hopefully you learned a little bit about why it’s important to offer one and how to get started.
Like I said before, this is one of those core concepts that I’ve used to earn a full-time income from the Internet. A quality lead magnet is essential to building an email list and building a interactive and responsive list is essential to email marketing and online success.
This stuff actually works! So if you don’t have a lead magnet, I HIGHLY recommend you start working on it…TODAY!Take Action. Get Results.