9 Strategic Benefits of Using Lead Magnets to Capture Leads

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You may have heard the term “lead magnet” but wondered what it is and why you would want to use one.

Lead magnets are simply something you give your website visitors for free in exchange for their personal informational – either an email address or more. They come in various types from a coupon or discount, to an ebook, report, checklist, workbook, email course, etc.

Marketers use lead magnets for a variety of purposes but I've listed below 9 strategic reasons for why you would want to use them.

#1 Relationships – Start Building a Longer Lasting Relationship


One of the challenges to doing business online is the lack of personal interaction compared with an offline store. There are no people to greet you with a friendly smile, show you where to look in the store to find what you are searching for, or to answer your questions.

Technology tries to make up for this lack of face-to-face human interaction in a variety of ways but it all still feels very impersonal.

This impersonal factor makes it harder to build relationships and long term customer loyalty.

Think about your own online experience for a moment:

  • How many websites have you read a page on once and never returned?
  • Do you even know the people who are writing the articles you are reading?
  • How many websites do you feel any kind of loyalty toward?
  • Are there any website owners or sales people you feel really care about you and your needs?

I think it is safe to assume your website visitors probably feel just like you do.

Its a big challenge for online businesses. Depending on what type of business you run, and how expensive your products are, trust and relationships can be a crucial factor in determining whether someone will buy from you or not.

Here is where the lead magnet can help.

A lead magnet can be used to move someone from a casual surfer who is completely uncommitted to you and your products or services to someone who begins to understand the value you provide and how you might be able to help solve their problems.

Think of it in relational terms. Instead of the person that uses your time, money, or emotions for an hour or two and then takes off after someone else, you could be attracting people that provide mutual long term value for years to come.

Typically lead magnets offer something of value that isn't located on the rest of your website. In order for the web visitor to get whatever it is that you are offering in the lead magnet, they must trust you with some amount of their personal information, typically a way to contact them in the future (like an email address).

That exchange is the start of a deeper relationship between you and them. Think of it like getting a phone number. They trust you enough to give you permission to contact them. They have told you something personal about themselves. That person has moved from an anonymous number in your analytics data (or a stranger on the street) to someone with a face and real life concerns that you can help solve.

#2 – Trust – Build Trust By Providing High Quality Content in Your Lead Magnet

Now that you have started down the path to a deeper relationship, you need to build trust. Trust is at the core of all good relationships.

There are lots of ways to build trust online but think about trust in terms of integrity, competency, and consistency.

Integrity means you do what you say you are going to do. You are what you represent yourself and your company to be. There is no distance between what you promise and what you actually delivery.

You demonstrate integrity with a lead magnet by delivering on whatever you promise in marketing communication. If you promise to give someone an “Ultimate Guide on Whatever,” it really needs to be of superior quality. If you promise it, deliver it or you will undermine your integrity.

Competency means you have the skill necessary to help solve your clients' problems. No one wants an incompetent dentist. No one wants a novice barber or hair stylist. No one wants to pay you for substandard quality.

No one wants to read or use a garbage lead magnet, even if you are giving it away for free. A lead magnet is just one more opportunity to show your prospective customer you can genuinely help them with something of value.

Consistency means you keep showing integrity and competency over time. You shouldn't write great blog posts and then offer garbage lead magnet giveaways. Why would anyone trust you with their money if they feel your free information isn't of very high value?

What happens when you violate trust

Let me tell you an experience I had with a free lead magnet yesterday that completely changed how I perceived the company offering it. This particular company has a course that costs thousands of dollars. There is no way I want to pay that much to someone I don't trust yet so I decided to download one of their free downloadable lead magnet offers. It was a PDF guide on a topic I was interested in.

It was terrible. The content was so thin and unhelpful it was laughable.

What was so sad is the website looked so good. The text and images were really polished. The graphics in the lead magnet looked really professional. But the actual content was so elementary it was funny.

What do you think that did to my trust in this company? Would I ever consider paying them thousands of dollars for a course if their free content was so shiny and bad? Of course not. My default view is that their course is probably over-hyped shiny trash. It might not be, but that is my impression and I am not going to take the risk.

Every interaction and every piece of content you present to your visitors is either building trust or destroying it. If you provide a high quality lead magnet, you build trust. If you don't, you are shooting yourself in the foot.

#3 Problem Solving – Prove You Can Help Your Visitors Solve Their Important Problems


A lead magnet is a chance for you to prove your competency to your potential customer. They've taken a small risk by parting with their personal information because they have taken interest in what you are offering. Now is your chance to show them what you can do.

Think about it – no one wants your lead magnet because there is some shortage of free stuff on the Internet and they want to collect one more piece of free digital junk. They don't need more useless and irrelevant email. They don't need another unread PDF sitting on their computer. They have problems that need solving. Your lead magnet marketing suggests you can solve their problem with your free giveaway. They are taking a chance that you can. So do it.

Business is fundamentally about problem solving. If you can't solve problems, you really aren't providing value.

Think about the businesses that you have built loyalty towards and keep turning to again and again for help.

  • It might be a home repair service that keeps providing exceptional work at reasonable cost
  • Maybe a hair stylist or barber who keeps cutting your hair just the way you like
  • Possibly that dental hygienist who knows just how to avoid those sensitive spots that cause sharp pain
  • Perhaps a lawn care service that always shows up on time and leaves your yard looking fantastic with no mess
  • It might be that grocery store that always has the healthy food options you are looking for at great prices

Whatever it is, you and I keep going back to businesses that we trust can solve our problems.

Remember what it was like before you found that trusted business? Stress increases when you don't know who you can trust to solve your problem, especially when that problem is costly.

An Example of Building Loyalty

My wife and I just had new carpet put in much of our house. I researched which local dealers and installers had stellar reputations. We had four different sales people in our home providing free estimates and advice on what carpet to purchase.

In the end, we made a choice and the company delivered exceptionally well. The installer was fantastic. He took longer than expected but the job he did looks absolutely stellar. I love looking at, and walking on, our new carpet.

Will we go back to that company again when we are ready to finish off the rest of house? Absolutely. I have no reason to go through the research and stress of trying to find another company to solve my carpet problems. This company delivered throughout the whole buying and installing process. And I can't wait to recommend them to people I know.

That's the kind of company you want to be. Your lead magnet is part of the sales process of creating trust, solving problems, and proving you can be a go to solution for your potential clients. Prove you can solve a small problem and people will trust you with larger ones.

#4 Understanding – Lead Magnets Can Help You Understand Customer Needs Better

You can learn a lot by how many of your visitors will actually give you their personal information in exchange for your free lead magnet. If it isn't many, you know that you aren't quite understanding the needs and problems of your potential clients. If it is a lot, you know you are on to something.

Understanding your potential customer's needs and meeting those needs effectively is one vital element that separates professional marketers and business people from amateurs.

When I first got started in online marketing 20 years ago, it was all about chasing traffic. Quantity is what mattered. Unfortunately I held on to that philosophy for far too long.

Yes, I could impress people with how many visitors I could get to my website in a given month (I think at the highest it was close to 2 million in a month) and yes, that brought in a fair amount of money but because I was advertising “free” products, my visitor value wasn't all that high.

I really didn't spend much time trying to understand my visitors. Most of the time, I made money through affiliate marketing and advertising so I wasn't building up a long term customer list. That was work for other companies I thought. I just brought in the traffic, presented the products, and collected the commission checks.

Sure there was quite a bit I could get to know about my visitors based on what pages they visited and what products they downloaded, but I didn't get to know them much deeper than that. Since I was primarily in the downloadable game market, I could assume one of their biggest problems was boredom and my solution was inexpensive entertainment.

But that was just the beginning of understanding my market. Not all gamers are the same. They don't like the same games. They don't like to spend the same amount of time playing games. They don't like playing games on the same devices. They aren't all willing to pay money for games. And so on.

I knew that, being a gamer myself, but I wasn't quite sure how find out which customers provided the most long term value to my company and how I could best meet their needs. That's one of the drawbacks of affiliate marketing.

Your website visitors are similar. They have unique needs. Some of those needs might be very similar. Some might be very different. Some customers might be from you once. Some customers might buy multiple times and bring in a lot of value to your business.

Offering a lead magnet is a chance to get to know your customers better. In fact, the more you get to know the diverse needs of your visitors, the more you can create helpful lead magnets to solve their unique problems. And the more you solve their small problems, the better you can offer paid products and services to solve bigger problems.

#5 Education – Educate the Client on What You Can Offer Them


Getting someone to download or signup for your free product isn't the end goal. You want to eventually convert them to a paying customer. A great way to do that is through education.

If someone shows up and reads one of your blog posts or web pages, they may not know much about you. They probably don't know what products or services you offer. They won't know if those products or services are really something they need. They may not know if those are offered at a price they are willing to pay. And they still don't know if they can trust you.

A lead magnet can be an opportunity to educate your client on exactly what you can do for them. I don't mean boring your visitors with irrelevant information like a brief history of your product or industry (unless your potential client values that). I mean educating them about how you understand their needs and how you can offer unique solutions to their problems.

Let's take my recent carpet buying example for instance. I don't know much about carpet. I don't know what makes one type of carpet better than another. I don't know much about the difference in the type of pads that go under the carpet. All I know is I want it to look good, feel good, last long, and not make me feel like an idiot for overpaying.

It's hard to trust information coming from a salesperson or a business website. We all know there is an inherent conflict of interest and bias in the information. But this is an obstacle that can be overcome.

Here is how a carpet company could have offered me a great lead magnet – offer a downloadable carpet buying guide that I could read at my leisure.

The guide could offer me the following:

  • All the different carpet options and pros and cons of each
  • An honest assessment of how carpet brands differ from one another
  • Why this carpet dealer chooses to work with their particular brands
  • Padding types and pros and cons of each
  • Realistic expectations from stain control options (what stains they are effective against and which they aren't)
  • Realistic expectations of how long the carpet lasts in each part of the house (low traffic areas vs high traffic)
  • Cost differences between carpet options and what you are really getting by paying more
  • A checklist or Q&A of some sort that helps me determine which option is the best fit for my particular situation

Notice how I worded those bullet points. As a potential customer, I want honest information about my options and not useless marketing fluff that makes every option sound perfect. I'm not an idiot – I know there are pros and cons for everything. As a salesperson, you can win my trust by being honest about these various questions I have and help guide me to the right fit for me.

Would a guide like this educate me as an ignorant carpet buyer? Of course it would. Would it help build my trust in the integrity and competency in the company? Definitely, especially if the information coincided with research I gained from other sources.

Your potential clients know far less about your products and services than you do. Educate them honestly. Help them understand the pros and cons of various options. Be an honest advisor instead of a shady salesperson. You'll stand out from the competition and begin to build valuable trust and lots of free referrals from satisfied customers.

#6 Qualify – Lead Magnets can Help You Qualify Leads


Building leads isn't about getting the most names and email addresses you can. It is about building profitable long term relationships.

In the example of my own business above, I told you I could impress others by telling them how many people visited my website. Its not hard to impress people with big numbers. But in reality, the most important number was the earnings I was getting from those visitors.

You can impress people (or even yourself) by generating a massive email list. But if those leads aren't really building long term value for your business, who cares?

This is why leads must be qualified. You can spend a lot of money trying to sell to someone who is never going to buy from you and is only on your list because you offered something for free.

Qualifying a lead means you have some kind of process in place to determine the likelihood of whether that person will become a customer or not.

If you are building leads for a local health club, it isn't going to help the club owner much if you generate a list of people that live hundreds of miles away. If you are selling an expensive digital product online, you can bet there are a higher percentage of people who wont buy it. In both cases, that's not what you are after.

The point is this – you want to focus your time and money selling to website visitors who are truly potential customers.

But how do you find out which visitors are truly potential customers?

Here are two of many ways you can find this out:

  1. The Direct Approach – On your opt in forms, you can ask specific questions about the person wanting your free lead magnet offer (if they are an owner of a company, how large their company is, how many people work there, what their budget is for the type of product you are offering, if they are even interested in your products, etc.)
  2. The Indirect Approach – The type of lead magnet you offer can also help qualify your leads. If you offer a buying guide for products or services in your industry, you can be fairly confident that most people wanting that are potential buyers. Consider my example above, would I want a carpet buying guide if I wasn't looking to buy carpet? I have more than enough to read already.

When creating your lead magnet, think of what you can offer that will actually help qualify your leads. Offer something for free that would be of interest to potential customers. Focus on them, not just anyone that happens across your site.

Remember, you lead magnet is meant to be a bridge between your free content and your paid services. You aren't just trying to give more stuff away for free just for the heck of it. Keep that in mind.

#7 Strategy – Smart Lead Magnets Cause You to be More Strategic With Your Content Creation


If you haven't read #6, do so. This point is similar.

A good lead magnet is strategic. It isn't a tool just to build a big number of leads. You are trying to get qualified leads – people that might actually purchase your product or service.

This means you need to be more strategic about what you spend your time creating or paying to have created for you. It isn't about big numbers. It isn't about trying to get the most search engine traffic (unless of course that is the purpose of your business). It is about customers.

The right lead magnets for your business may take more time and money to create than other free content you are giving away. Therefore, you need to be strategic about it. Again, you don't want to give something away just to give something away. A good magnet will involve all the points in this article and be a win for both you and those who access it.

#8 Sales – Move Visitors Toward Becoming Customers


Remember the whole point of the lead magnet for you is to help move potential customers closer toward becoming actual customers. Whether you subscribe to the traditional sales funnel view, or the newer lifecycle marketing view, the end result is the same – you want an actual customer.

A lead magnet is an opportunity to help shift a visitor from uncertainty about you and your products toward greater confidence that you can solve their problems and are worthy of their money. If you think about magnets in those terms, it should help you think through what kind of magnet will be most successful in accomplishing that goal.

Lead magnets can take time and money to create. You may have to test several to see which works best. But always think of them as part of your sales team. They are worth the investment if you do it right.

#9 Lead Generation – Build Valuable Leads Much Quicker

This is fairly obvious but a good lead magnet will help you generate quality leads much quicker.

Think about it. If you have 2 lead magnets, and one gets 2x the number of leads the other one gets, that means you build your list twice as fast. It means you can spend 50% less on acquiring traffic.

But what if the lead magnet that brought in 200% more leads also produced 2x the number of customers? In other words, not only do twice as many people download it or sign up for it, but twice as many of those people become paying customers.

Now you have a lead magnet that generates 400% more customers than your other lead magnet.

And what if those 400% more customers actually purchased twice as much over their lifetime compared to the other lead magnet?

Now you have customers who are worth 8x the other lead magnet.

Let's view some hypothetical numbers:

 Lead Magnet 1Lead Magnet 2
# of initial leads100200
# of paying customers2080
Lifetime value per customer$100$200
Total value of the leads$2000$16000

Of course this is a fairly optimistic scenario. If you could create a lead magnet that could truly double the numbers of another lead magnet that would be stellar. But when you strategically create and test lead magnets, and calculate the customer lifetime value like this, you may be surprised at how much more one lead magnet may do than another.

And if you really want to see the impact, test one lead magnet versus having none at all.

Hopefully this article helped you understand the value of using lead magnets and using them more strategically. If you need ideas, take a look at a couple of good examples of lead magnets we discovered.

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Jim Rosenquist

Jim Rosenquist

Jim started earning a living online in 1999 and became a solo entrepreneur in 2001. He started Solo Intel in 2019 as a way to help solo entrepreneurs and small operators become more strategic with their online business.

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