7 Tragic Lead Magnet Mistakes That You Can Easily Fix

Photo by delfi de la Rua on Unsplash

When you’re building out your lead magnet, you want it to be awesome, right? I mean, you’re spending time building when that time could easily be used on a bazillion other business tasks. Or you could be making dinner, helping with homework, out shopping for the latest Pokemon cards with your 10 year old.

You have a lot to do so you don’t want to waste time on something that could flop. While I can’t promise that your lead magnet will be a wild success, I can help you avoid some big mistakes. If you correct the mistakes you find in your own lead magnets, you’ll improve the results you’re seeing, which can be boiled down to: email address opt-ins, aka growing your list, and conversions, or sales from your email list.

You could be having trouble attracting sign-ups, or having trouble attracting the right sign-ups. You want to build an audience of people interested in buying your products and services.  Sounds obvious, I know! But I’ve done this one in the past – I built and interacted with an audience that liked what I was doing and posting, but had no interest in my services. And I didn’t know what to do!

Here are 7 mistakes you might be making

1 – Not having a lead magnet

The biggest mistake I see happening is not having a lead magnet and trying to get site visitors to give away their email address. Remember, a lead magnet is really a tiny product that you’re selling and the price is one valid email address. Why would anyone other than your mom or your sister give you their email address just because you asked? 

Your newsletter is not a valuable enough incentive either. Unless it’s a special industry report, or you have mega-fans who want info they can only get through your newsletter (musicians and artists can sometimes get away with this, but even then, a more valuable lead magnet would be better). Newsletters are something in the future (not immediate) and the offer a newsletter isn’t solving a specific problem or step for a visitor (no one has the problem of not enough email).

And while I’m at it – those of you who ask readers to, “Sign up for my newsletter”… do you even have a newsletter? I have build opt-in forms for some clients who promise newsletters and who just don’t deliver. And I’ve signed up for offers with a newsletter included too that just never send one out. 

Too many people have had that same experience and that devalues newsletters in general. 

2 – No specific audience for your lead magnet

If you aren’t building your tiny lead magnet product for a specific group of people, then everything becomes harder. How do visitors know the lead magnet is for them? How do you promote your lead magnet? How do you tie it to your other products?

You need to solve a specific problem for a specific audience. You know who your audience is, right? If not, try to get crystal clear on that first. (question – do you need help figuring this out? Ask me in the comments – I’ll help). Then, you can ask them or just listen to the questions they ask you to figure out what they need help with.

I’ve helped a number of clients create converting lead magnets and I when I asked them why they wanted help, it was universally because they didn’t know where to start and they didn’t think they could take the time. Time is very important to my audience – they’re busy, business owning mothers. So I created a quick lead magnet building guide.

3 – Not promoting your lead magnet

It’s often a surprise to folks that they have to promote their lead magnet. It’s not just enough to plop a few forms on your site and hope for the best. And most of us (I’ll admit, I’m guilty as of the writing of this article!) who do some promotion, don’t do enough. 

Social media is an obvious place to promote your lead magnet. Send them to a landing page with an opt-in form, or to a valuable blog post that has a form at the end. Invite people you know or who inquire about your services. You can also add your landing page link to your email signature. 

Again, this is a product, and so you should treat it like you do other products. “Once and done” isn’t going to cut it. If you send out a social message one time, only a small fraction of your social following is going to see that message. Plus, people need to see and hear about your products repeatedly before they’ll purchase. So, that means you’re going to need to promote on a regular basis to attract people to your lead magnet.

4 – Not Providing Value

Not providing value is a huge mistake. I don’t see it very often, but when I do, it’s a big bummer. I know I won’t stay subscribed to their list, and I know others won’t either. You don’t have to provide everything (that’s another mistake), but you have to give some value. The worst is when I download a beautifully designed but useless file. What good is a 4 page PDF with full-bleed photos, a bio of the creator, and three blanks with instructions to “fill in your goals”?

In fairness, I guess that could be useful to someone. The problem is often the disconnect between what you promise in your offer or your title and what you deliver. If the above example had been advertised as, “The Ultimate Goal Setting Worksheet,” it would be terribly disappointing. But, if it had instead been billed as, “Gorgeous Planner Page to Document Your Top 3 Goals,” it could be a winner.

7 Disastrous opt-in freebie mistakes you can easily fix

5 – Not easy

Not easy to understand

Your lead magnet offer and title have to be well written to clearly explain what the visitor will be getting. I spoke a little about disconnect above. You also have to fight apathy and boredom. You have to write a compelling offer and an exciting title without misrepresenting the lead magnet. If you don’t catch your visitors’ attention with your offer, they’re not going to opt in. 

I find this to be pretty challenging, and my best advice is to have a trusted friend or colleague give your offer a look. They probably serve a different audience, so they may not be the best judge on the usefulness or the appeal, but they can let you know if the offer is clear and understandable. Then, after that, it’s testing out offers and trying different titles to see which ones are the most appealing to the people you want to attract.

Not easy to consume

Just like you, your site visitors have less and less time every day. They’re willing to part with their email address for some quick help, but they don’t want a novel. Have you ever downloaded an entire book, then just let it sit on your hard drive, taking up space? I do it all the time – and then I start feeling guilty about it. Not helpful. If it’s just sitting there, your lead didn’t get any value from it. And if they didn’t get any value, they probably aren’t associating you with value.

A 90 page ebook could be a great product, but it’s not the most effective lead magnet. It’s more for someone who wants to dive into detail about a subject. On your website, offer up lead magnets that are easy to consume like checklists or quick how-to guides. If that new lead works through your lead magnet and gets immediate value, she’ll associate that value with you!

Not easy to find

If a site visitor doesn’t see your lead magnet opt-in, they’re not going to sign up. Again, pretty obvious, but only when you think about it. Have different opt-in forms in different pages, and even multiple forms or links per page. Readers are sophisticated now and can just brush pass those opt-in forms without even recognizing that they’ve done so.

As of the writing of this article, I’m still building out my site. I’m experimenting with placements and formats for opt-in forms. You’ll have to do this too, so you can figure out what your audience notices. Does color help? Do you really need a pop-up box or a full-page welcome-mat opt-in? This is going to differ with each audience – just keep trying!

Not easy to get

Run a little test on your opt-in. Count how many steps a user has to take to get the product. If it’s just too complicated, your user will bail and forget about it. Sometimes, though, you need to include a few steps. The more steps you include, the more you need to educate your visitor and set her expectations. If you have a second page or a double opt-in, tell your new lead what’s coming. That will make it easier on her brain because she doesn’t have to wonder what happens next, or when will this end.

6 – Not immediately usable

Like the 90 page ebook or the promise of a future newsletter, some lead magnets aren’t immediately useable. The problem here is that if they aren’t used right away, then they are forgotten. I know I forget things that I’ve even paid for!

So, when the lead magnet is forgotten, it doesn’t get your new lead to the next step. And they don’t associate you with the amount of value that you could really be offering. 

7 – Not tying back to your business

I’m definitely a big advocate of simple lead magnets. Especially when getting started. Design worries shouldn’t stop you from creating something for your audience. But, even the simplest Google Doc can have some business branding. If you have a logo, you can add that by just inserting the image. You can add your URL and email address to the header or footer. Add in your brand colors if you can to headings or links, and use your branding’s typography. You can make this process fast by building a template in your favorite lead magnet creation tool – Google Docs, Word, Canva, Photoshop (this one’s probably only fast for designers though!).

Your lead magnet should tie back to your product suite in some way. Explain how it’s a first (or third) step in your overall process, or how it qualifies them for your entry level product.

Add a call to action in your lead magnet. Ask them for more contact points, like connecting through social media or joining a private Facebook group. You could link to the next product in your suite of products, or invite them to sign up for a webinar where you pitch your core product.

So, avoid these mistakes and help more people

Ultimately, the more people who sign up for your email list and get your lead magnet, the more people you can help. And that’s where the real value is. Even people who never become customers can be strong referrals if you help them and give them real value.

Make the most of the tiny product you’ve built and walk through this list. Have you made any of these mistakes? Are you making any right now? I know you’ve got 8 million things to do, but put fixing these on your list, and it will save you hours in the long run.

Quick! What do you do?You have 43 minutes until carpool. You have 17 items on your to-do list.

You're a business-owning mom, so you use this guide to prioritize your tasks in 2 minutes, and have 41 minutes left to knock out a task.

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