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You already know that an email list is a key to supporting your business – after all, you can’t count on the good graces of the Facebook algorithm forever. But figuring out what you can actually offer your visitor that gets them to hand over that precious email address is daunting to say the least. Comparing your unique visitors with the number of email signups is more painful than the last set on abs day.
If a free ebook or checklist just isn’t your style, then dig in. We’ve got more flavors of freebies you can use to grow your email list than your favorite ice cream shop.
What is a freebie?
A freebie, also known as a lead magnet or opt-in is some extra-valuable piece of content that you offer your readers in exchange for their email address. (Yes, some people even call them bribes… :eye-roll:)
What makes a good freebie?
When you ask someone to give up their email address – to willingly fill up their overflowing inbox with more newsletters and promotions – you need to offer something really good in exchange. Like hot chocolate with oversized marshmallows and whipped cream good.
Here are some things you should consider when creating your opt-in:
- What problem does it solve? Readers are more likely to sign up when you're solving a real problem for them. You'll want your freebie to save them time, make something easy for them, or inspire them.
- Is the value clear? If I'm reading your blog, can I tell right away – without a doubt – that yes, this thing is going to help me.
- Easy to use: When I'm signing up for something on your website, I want it to be as easy to use as possible. Remember, I've got a problem to solve – even if that problem is just wanting a new recipe or knitting pattern.
- High value: It's easy to think about your freebie as a throw-away like a Chinese delivery menu that shows up on your front door. But it's really the first step in your series of transactions with your customer. They're buying your lead magnet and paying with their email address. Treat this transaction like you would the first time they paid you with cold hard cash. If you don't, the chances that they ever do want to pay you go down significantly.
- Demonstrates your expertise. Have you ever had a really bad cold or sinus infection – and when you went to the doctor they looked at you and said “wow, you're sick.” Gee, thanks captain obvious! You've gone to them for their expertise, not just to validate what you already know. Your opt-in needs to add value to the conversation and expand your expertise – not just tell your audience what they already know about the subject.
How should you deliver a lead magnet?
Since your lead magnet is designed to get people onto your email list, you should deliver the magnet with email. I know – shocking, right?
You'd be surprised at how many people don't deliver their lead magnets with email.
It really helps if you think of your lead magnet as someone's first purchase from you.
You wouldn't deliver custom stock photos or send that handmade necklace until you were sure that the payment went through, would you?
Then why would you deliver the lead magnet before you were sure that you got a valid email address from the reader?
Here's the process that I recommend:
- Someone signs up for your lead magnet – either on a custom landing page, content upgrade on a blog post, or elsewhere on your site.
- Send them to a custom thank-you page with instructions on how to get their download. Do not give them the freebie here. To get their download, they need to confirm their email address – so they need to check their email. Be sure to remind them to check their spam and promotion folders since you're a new person appearing in their inbox.
- Have your email system send them a confirmation message to confirm their email address. In email marketing world, this is called a double opt-in. Customize this message to remind them what they're confirming to get. For example, when someone signs up for my one-page marketing plan, the confirmation email thanks them for signing up and asks them to confirm their email address by clicking the link. They'll get one more email that has the link to the download. It's tempting to put your freebie in this email (or an invitation to your Facebook group, or a link to your podcast – you've got a captive audience, right?) – but don't do it! ALL you want from them right now is that link to confirm their address. After you've got that, you can send them whatever you want!
The only other thing to put in this email is a reminder to add you to their safe sender's list
- After they've confirmed their email address, send them another email with the link to their freebie! This is where you can also invite them to your Facebook group, throw in a link to your podcast, and let them know what to expect now that you're on the email list.
That's it – now they've “paid” for their opt-in with their email address, and you've given amazing value for that payment.
What happens after someone downloads?
After someone has confirmed their email address (because you are using that double opt-in process that I mentioned above, right? ⬆⬆), you have to decide what to do with them. You've delivered the lead magnet – and you've got a couple of choices to make.
Option 1: Funnel
You can either send another series of emails (a.k.a., a funnel) that leads them to a paid purchase. This works best if you have a product that is a direct follow-up for the freebie they downloaded. For example, you may offer a free guided meditation as your opt-in, and have a 30-day self-guided mediation course. Over a series of emails (sent over several days), you can promote the benefits of your course and a limited time offer.
At the end of the funnel, move them onto your newsletter list.
Funnels work best when there is a direct correlation between the freebie that they signed up for and the paid product. They are less effective if after that guided mediation you were offering a general life coaching program.
Option 2: Newsletter
If you don't have a paid product that has a direct correlation to your freebie, then you probably just want to move the subscriber onto your newsletter list. With your newsletter list, you can send a mix of content and promotions to make the most out of them. Make sure you're emailing your list on a regular basis – at least a couple of times a month.
Not an option: Nothing
The worst thing you can do after someone has downloaded your freebie is nothing. The first few days after someone learns about you and your amazing content is the prime time to keep them engaged. Don't just let them sit there because you don't have a specialized offer to send.
56 Types of lead magnets
So, now that I've spent all this time talking about what to do with lead magnets – here are 56 ideas for lead magnets that you can create.
- Cheat Sheets
- Swipe File
- Toolkits – A list of products you use and recommend). Pro tip: Become an affiliate for these products (and disclose it!) so that you can earn commissions when your readers take your recommendation.
- Resource List – Your favorite resources (websites, listings, etc) to do or learn something related to your niche
- Calendars – map out what the reader should do every day for a certain period of time
- Plans/Planners – can be filled out or give the user direction on how to fill them out themselves
- Inspiration File
- Recipes – your own favorites that you've invented or curated
- White Papers
- Transcripts – especially useful for interviews and podcasts
- Industry Reports
- Audio Files (guided meditations, etc)
- Email Course
- Sample Chapter/Course/Lesson
- Free Coaching/Consulting Session
- PDF Version of blog posts
- Resource Library – instead of just one workbook or ebook, give people access to a full selection. (You can rotate them in and out as well – like Boho Berry!)
- Roundup – The best advice from a variety of industry experts
- Survey – Offer to give them the compiled results!
- Quote Collection
- Digital Wallpapers
- Stock Image Collection
- Facebook Group
- Pinterest Group Board
- Slack Group
- Case Studies
- Waiting List
- Free Shipping
- Early Bird Access – great for new courses and offers that are only going to be available to a few people
- Free Quote – If you offer a highly customized or specialized service, then a free quote can be a great way to connect
- Free Samples – For you physical product makers – if you can offer a free sample that's easy to ship out, a free sample is a great way to get your readers hooked.
Advanced Lead Magnets:
These lead magnets aren't the ones that most of us are going to whip up in a weekend, or even in a full week of work. But if you're on the techy side – or your product is very tech driven, then some of these may be JUST what you need.
- Free Apps
- Mobile App
- Membership Site – This is a stand-alone site, not a community like a Facebook Group
- Free Trial
And there you have it – 56 lead magnet ideas you can use to grow your email list. Which are you excited to try? I know I've got several new things on my to-create list after going through this exercise for you!
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PS. I hate SPAM even more than you do. (Not even the bacon SPAM is tempting.) Your email address will never be sold or shared with a third party.