Do you like getting free samples at the grocery store? Of course! There’s always a line around the toaster oven as people wait for a hot square of pizza.
But, what if one day you went to the grocery store and every item was available to sample? Would you gobble them all up? Nope. You’d probably get more selective and only pick the ones you really wanted.
Something similar has happened with lead magnets. A few years ago, you could write a simple e-book and be confident that many people would download it. There wasn’t that much competition, and people were hungry.
In 2018, you can get nearly any information for free. People aren’t hungry for general information. Instead, they’re only looking for a few key things. How can you create lead magnets that satisfy their selective palette?
Four steps for creating a highly effective B2B lead magnet
Writing a lead magnet is a lot like developing a product. You need to identify a buyer, marketing plan, price point, and benefits. When you view your B2B lead magnets as standalone products instead of another part of your sales funnel, you’ll create better lead magnets and get more leads.
1. Think of your audience
Your target audience will affect every decision you make. For example, The Content Reactor’s buyer personas include CMOs and business owners. Not only are these personas interested in different topics, but they both have different levels of knowledge and ways of communicating. They both need totally different approaches.
Ask yourself these questions to understand your audience before writing a single word:
- What problem am I trying to solve with this B2B lead magnet?
- Who’s dealing with this problem? Identify a few groups by job title or demographics.
- What methods am I advocating for solving this problem?
- Which group has the skills to solve this problem using the methods I’m advocating? That’s your audience.
Working through these questions will help you target a specific audience with information that will actually benefit them. By tightening the focus of your lead magnet, one of two things will happen. One, you’ll get more conversions because the information’s value will be obvious. Two, you’ll get fewer conversions but higher quality leads.
2. Identify salient cues
Salient cues are the things that you actively look for to identify a specific item or solution. For example, when you’re looking for an apple at the store, you look in the fruit section for items with the same approximate color, size, weight, and shape that you associate with an apple. There’s a lot of neuroscience to back the concept up, but how does it translate into marketing and, more specifically, lead magnets?
Think of it this way. A business owner is trying to generate more B2B leads for their company. They search for “how to generate B2B leads for a professional services company.” As they read through the articles they find, they see two lead magnets:
- How B2B companies can generate more leads with an optimized website
- How to use heatmaps and usability testing to optimize your website for sales
Which lead magnet are they more likely to download? These lead magnets could both contain the same information, but the first one has a salient cue in the title. It’s much more likely to click with the searcher and get downloaded because of that cue.
To identify the right salient cues, you need to go back to your audience. How do they talk about the problem they’re dealing with? A business owner might call the problem a lack of leads, while a marketer would call it an unoptimized website. By identifying these key phrases, you can inject salient cues into your pop-ups, landing pages, and B2B lead magnet titles.
3. Assign a monetary or time value
Which is more appealing to you, a free music download or a $5 credit? They'd both be worth $5, but one has a predetermined value, and the other has a mystery value attached to it. Personally, I would choose the credit, and I think a lot of people would do the same.
But what if you were presented with a choice between a free music download ($15 value) or a $5 credit? Now the decision isn’t so easy. You might look further into the free download to learn the terms and limitations to help you understand whether it’s really worth it.
The goal of this exercise isn’t to prove an exact correlation between value and conversions. Instead, the goal is to show that when you assign a perceived value to a lead magnet, it changes how prospects view it. They’ll slow down and think twice about passing up your offer.
There are two ways that you can assign a perceived value to your lead magnet. Give it a price based on how much you honestly think it’s worth. Or determine how much time it will save your user. A template or generator might save prospects 2 or 3 hours of their time. Make sure they know how much time they’ll save so that they see the value in giving up their email address.
4. Nurture the lead with relevant, authentic content
People will often sign up for a B2B lead magnet because they need to quickly solve a problem that they’re dealing with. Once they’ve signed up, they’ll probably forget about your company and move on with their lives. This is the biggest breakage in most inbound marketing campaigns.
To keep the leads you’ve worked so hard to gather from going to waste, you need to nurture them. What are the next things the lead will need after they’ve solved their problem? For example, if they downloaded an e-book on how to write a job post, the next thing they’ll need to know is how to review the resumes they receive. Building a drip campaign around the next logical topic is a great way to stay in touch and provide even more value.
Make sure your drip campaign has the following elements to start:
- A welcome email to help the user understand the B2B lead magnet they downloaded and tell them where they can get more help.
- Follow-up emails to help the user through the next steps of any problem they’re trying to solve.
- A direct offer for either a free service, a consultation, or a paid service/product.
- A follow-up for those who didn’t convert that makes a mid-funnel offer instead of a bottom-of-funnel offer.
You might be tempted to keep making offers until you get a conversion. But, the goal of an effective drip campaign isn’t to get everyone on your email list to convert. The goal is to find the leads that actually need your service, are ready (or almost ready) to buy, and match your buyer persona. This will give you maximum profitability with minimal time spent on sales or patching things up with difficult clients.
What types of B2B lead magnets work best?
There are a lot of options. After all, a lead magnet is basically anything people are willing to give their email address up for. But, if you want to create and use a new B2B lead magnet quickly, then these options are a good place to start.
Checklists: A checklist can work really well in B2C contexts where your visitor is trying to do something they’re inexperienced in, for example, writing a listing to sell their home. It can work in B2B as well, but you’ll need to elevate the content slightly more in those cases. In B2B, you’re more likely to have people experienced in your field reading your content, so make sure your checklist will still be helpful to a seasoned pro.
Templates and spreadsheets: Creating any kind of electronic file takes time. If you’ve never created that particular type of file or document, it could take you all day! To avoid this hassle, many visitors will trade their email addresses for a ready-made template. Ensure your template benefits them by providing clear instructions and, in the case of spreadsheets, including calculations. Don’t make your visitor work. When you solve their problem quickly, they’ll trust you and want to learn more.
Quizzes: Oh boy, quiz territory is where things can get really good or really bad. Most people want to complete quizzes as a way of gauging their performance or learning more about themselves. The problem is that the quiz needs to provide values that directly relate to what your company offers. So, instead of doing a cutesy “Star Wars personality test,” do something industry-specific. For example, “Does your company score 10 out of 10 on these content marketing best practices?” Not only is this interesting, but it gives you an opportunity to collect data and provide specific advice.
The free consultation: This one is starting to feel a bit bland, but it’s the most direct bottom-of-funnel tactic. Direct can be a really good thing. How do you overcome the bland factor, though? The key is being direct and specific. Offer a free audit, action plan, or brainstorming session. These are probably things you would do anyway during a consultation, so it’s as simple as changing how you talk about the consultation. When you get specific, your site visitors will be able to imagine the benefits for themselves and might feel more motivated to sign up.
If none of these options strike your fancy, then check out this massive list of lead magnet ideas. Choose the ones that fit your business, and that will be easy for you to get up and running quickly.
Need help with your B2B lead magnets?
Building an email list or proving the value of content marketing can be tough. We’d like to help by doing a free audit of your sales funnel. We’ll look at how you’re engaging with prospects, converting them with lead magnets, and nurturing that lead into a sale. Then we’ll give you recommendations to optimize your sales funnel.
If you want to dive right into developing a lead magnet, that’s cool too. In a matter of 2 weeks, we can go from strategy to lead magnet.
Thanks for reading! Keep providing free value with your lead magnets, and we’ll see you next time.