Ever wonder why your competitors seem to attract and lock in the best prospects? Chances are it’s not their logo or tagline. And it’s not their irreverent blog or their brilliant USP.

Assuming you have a decent website, there’s probably one crucial element standing in the way of capturing and keeping your ideal prospects: a lead magnet.

A lead magnet, also referred to as an opt-in, buzz piece or lead generation piece, can significantly reduce the time it takes to convert a lead into a paying client. Yet, I regularly come across B2B marketers who know they should have a lead magnet, but keep this task on their back burner. Huge mistake:

  • Lead generation still tops the list of many B2B marketers’ priorities.
  • A recent Gleanster Research report shows that even with a good marketing strategy, 50% of leads are qualified but not yet ready to buy.
  • Buyers engage vendors they trust, so a lead magnet is the perfect vehicle to drive prospects into a sales funnel and build a relationship until they’re ready to buy.

Suffice to say that without a lead magnet, you’re wasting the opportunity to significantly impact your bottom line.

If you’ve been putting off creating a lead magnet, here’s how to create one quickly and start engaging your leads in a meaningful way.

  1. Plan your lead magnet:

    • Set a timeline. No one likes deadlines, but not having a schedule will increase your chances of giving up. So round up your team, decide on a timeline and stick to it.
    • Choose your audience. Will you write to appeal to your broader audience or to a small segment? Your chosen audience will impact the breadth that your topic will be, so choose carefully.
    • Identify a topic. The fastest way to do this is by identifying one of your prospects’ burning challenges. Addressing a challenge positions you as an authority in that space, so choose carefully.
      • Ask current client and social media followers what struggle with.
      • Check industry and social media forums like LinkedIn Groups to see what prospects are talking about.
      • Ask users in those forums
      • Look out for recurring themes or gripes that prospects keep bringing to the surface. The things they care about and want to solve are your gold. You’ll never go wrong if you appeal to your prospects’ challenges, needs and interests.
    • Zero in on a format. What format will do your topic justice? Whether you choose a report, template, checklist, tip sheet or an eBook, take some time to choose a format your prospects typically use and will be willing to share.
      • In choosing your format, make sure you have the required resources to pull it off. Who will write and edit the document? How much design work will it need? Do you need to interview someone for a white paper or eBook? Make sure these elements are covered before committing to a format.
    • Decide how to promote it. Here’s the harsh reality: most website visitors won’t sign up for your offer, so you’ll need to leverage every available channel to squeeze the most mileage:
      • Write a blog post introducing the topic. Call-to-action: ask readers to download your lead magnet and send them to a landing page (covered in Step 3).
      • Include a link to your landing page in your email signatures and social media profiles.
      • Write guest blog posts or articles for industry publications and include a link to your landing page in your byline.
      • Pimp your offer across your social media channels and/or create a PPC campaign and send respondents to your landing page.
  2. Create your lead magnet.

    You don’t have to be a professional writer to develop an effective offer. Remember your readers’ needs challenges and interests? Focus on these and in time, you’ll have developed a persuasive document.

  • It’s not a race. If you’re like me and you don’t write fast, try breaking things up over multiple sessions. Set a timer for 40 to 50 minutes, take a 10-minute break and repeat the process. If you schedule your writing time and do it consistently, you’ll complete that first draft faster than you think.
    • Ditch industry buzzwords and Geek Speak and write in a conversational tone. Remember, B2B buyers are people too and they’ll respond more favourably if you address them like they’re people and not a company.
    • Having trouble with conversational tone? Try this: picture your ideal prospect sitting across the table from you. What would to say and how would you say it?
    • Too many long blocks of text? Give your copy a break with sub-headlines, bullets, questions, lists or relevant graphics. Blocks of text can scare off readers, so make use of that white space and balance your copy with different design elements.
    • Digressions and humour? Sure, but only if they’re relevant and fit naturally in the copy.
    • Edit judiciously. Omit needless words. Don’t forget to proofread!
    • Cap it off with a short bio, headshot and contact information. This is where you get to brag, so don’t be shy.
    • Include a call-to-action and social media handles.
    • Have fun! Creating a lead magnet is a unique opportunity to showcase your organization’s value proposition and brand personality.
  1. Create your web form and landing page for sign-ups.

    The registration phase is crucial to the success of your lead magnet. Do it right and your campaign will convert visitors. Do it wrong and you’ll lose the user’s attention. Follow the next steps to increase your chances of converting every lead:

  • Use a strong, attention-grabbing headline: ask a question, offer a benefit or make a declaration.
  • Remove all website navigation menus from the landing page. Less distractions lead to more conversions.
  • Keep your copy short. You have your reader’s attention, so don’t lose it now with unnecessarily long text.
  • Try to keep most of the copy and hero image above the fold so the visitor doesn’t have to scroll.
  • Reinforce learning outcomes with bullet points.
  • Only ask for what you need (name, email address, title) and no more.
  • Avoid boring calls-to-action like “Submit” or “Enter.” They’re generic and can be ineffective. Instead, drive users to immediate action with a customized message. For example, “Download my worksheet,” “Help me save,” or “Send my free workbook” are far more compelling and can reinforce your offer’s benefits.
  • Need help in designing your landing page? Check out these free templates.
  1. Prepare your auto responders.

    When new subscribers register on your web form or landing page, they’ll automatically fall into your sales funnel. A flow of 3 or 4 automated responses or auto responders will immediately engage your new subscribers.

  • Keep your emails succinct and laser focused.
  • Make your first message a thank-you and a direct link to their download.
  • Space out your messages 3, 5 or 7 days apart to keep your momentum and remain visible to your readers.
  • Out of ideas? Invite them to explore your website. Link them to an article, blog post or other page related to your download offer topic.
  • Ask questions: what do they struggle with? What issues are on their front burner?
  • Always include a call-to-action and an easy way to contact you with questions or concerns.
  1. Publish and test your sales funnel.

    With your mechanism in place, you should test things to make sure your campaign follows a smooth and logical sequence.

  • Sign up through both your web form and landing page using different email addresses.
  • Test your auto responders to ensure the flow of messages is fluid, cohesive and error-free.
  • Publish your lead magnet and watch your email list grow.

Congratulations! You’ve built your first lead magnet and you’re ready to attract better, qualified prospects. Continue to stay visible and engage your growing audience with educational and entertaining content. Do this consistently and in a short time you’ll build the trust and likeability to make the short list when your leads are ready to buy.