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Earn More Email Subscribers and Customers with Powerful Lead Magnets Find out what makes a lead magnet worth clicking on and learn how to create marketing content that attracts the consumers you want.

By Susan Gunelius

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The following excerpt is from Susan Gunelius' book Ultimate Guide to Email Marketing for Business. Buy it now from Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes | IndieBound

The good news is, if you choose the right lead magnet and spread the word to the right people, your email list is practically guaranteed to grow. With that said, you need to understand what makes a lead magnet successful.

Successful lead magnets succinctly solve a specific problem

The best lead magnets provide useful, meaningful, or educational content quickly and clearly in a manner that is easy to digest so people can consume the content without feeling overwhelmed. Your lead magnets won't be successful if people don't use them. Instead, create lead magnets that do the thinking for your prospects. Choose a laser-focused topic and provide specific details to solve the prospect's primary problem related to that topic.

Successful lead magnets are relevant

Lead magnets must be relevant to your business, products, or services as well as to your target audience, or they won't attract qualified prospects. For example, if you own an accounting practice, then giving away an iPad as a lead magnet might not drive the best results for your business. You'll get a lot of opt-ins for it, but how many of those leads will be interested in your accounting services?

Instead, an accounting practice would have more success attracting qualified prospects with a tax preparation checklist or a hidden tax deductions cheat sheet. Once the accounting practice has qualified leads on its email list, it can use email nurturing and conversion funnels to push those leads further through the overall marketing funnel until they purchase.

Successful lead magnets are action-oriented

Your lead magnets should be easy to follow and give prospects everything they need to complete a specific action or take the next step to reach a desired goal. If your lead magnet is a resource toolkit, provide links to all your recommended resources along with explanations of how and when to use them. If your lead magnet is a checklist, don't just provide ten things people should do. Instead, explain how to do each of those ten things. If your lead magnets aren't actionable, then they're unlikely to be perceived as delivering adequate value.

Successful lead magnets offer high perceived value

The perceived value of your lead magnets is the value that prospects attach to them. Since lead magnets are usually offered for free, prospects create a value for each lead magnet in their minds. The best course of action is to always offer lead magnets that could be sold for a fee. If the content is good enough that someone would pay for it, then it should pass most prospects' perceived value tests. To that end, invest the time and money to create irresistible lead magnets that are better than what everyone else is offering to your target audience. You never want prospects to be disappointed after they receive your lead magnet because they'll project that negative experience onto other experiences with you. What does that mean? It means they probably won't buy from you because they'll expect to be disappointed based on their previous experience with your brand. A poor-quality, low-value lead magnet can do a lot of damage to your brand reputation and your business, so always plan on over-delivering.

Successful lead magnets aren't entirely self-promotional

Lead magnets should be useful, meaningful, educational, entertaining, or indirectly sales-related. They should not be directly self-promotional. How many people do you know who would trade their email addresses in exchange for an ad? Most people wouldn't. In fact, most people would be angry if they were promised something useful, meaningful, educational, entertaining, or helpful and ended up getting an ad — whether or not they gave up their email addresses for it.

If you start by baiting your prospects with something useful, then switch the deliverable with something promotional, they're unlikely to stay on your email list for long. In fact, they might even tell their friends, family, and social media connections about their bad experience. That kind of negative word-of-mouth can destroy your brand.

Rather than directly promoting your business, brand, products, or services in your lead magnets, demonstrate your thought leadership. Think of your lead magnets as the first step to building a relationship with potential customers so they can develop trust in your brand. This means any promotional content should be secondary to the "meat" of the lead magnet. For example, include a page at the end of an ebook that promotes your business as the solution to the prospect's problem that motivated them to download the ebook in the first place. If your content is great, prospects won't mind a subtle promotion within your lead magnet.

Susan Gunelius

Marketing, Branding, Copywriting, Email and Social Media Expert

Susan Gunelius is CEO of KeySplash Creative Inc., a marketing communications and strategic branding company. She has authored a dozen books about marketing, branding, social media, copywriting and technology and is the founder and editor in chief of WomenOnBusiness.com, a blog for business women.

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