Last week I wrote about how lead magnets could be used to boost your efforts in getting sign ups to your business blog. The truth is I truly under-sold the whole concept of a lead magnet. This was just one narrow application with the single goal of list building. Lead Magnets should be at the centre of your lead generation strategy, once created they’re extremely low labour to service and can be a constant source of qualified leads...
Lead generation is a tough but essential part of a marketing strategy for your Manufacturing Business. Why is it essential? Because without the generation of identified leads, the conversation is one way, and you’re not even aware of the conversation! Engineering Buyers investigate and research sourcing options online, not reaching out until they’re a long way down the sourcing path. This means in most cases they’re 70% towards a purchasing decision before you even know they exist.
Lead generation using a lead magnet, or many lead magnets can help you turn the conversation into a 2-way affair. Allowing you to build awareness, credibility and trust whilst the Engineering Buyer is on their journey to a purchasing decision. This drastically increases your chance of winning the work over your less marketing savvy competitors.
So, having had more than a few requests to expand on this thing I called a “Lead Magnet” in my previous article I felt compelled to satisfy the need. In this article I explain what I mean by “Lead Magnet”, with a few examples, I’ll expand on why a lead magnet is highly valuable (if not essential) and give you some tips on creating and implementing your own! So hold on tight, check your sales compass for North and be prepared for some magnetic content…
See what I did there?
What is a lead magnet?
Regular readers will know I like to provide a good definition to get us all on the same page, so I’ll kick off there.
Lead Magnet – noun – an irresistible bribe offering a specific chunk of value to a prospect in exchange for their contact information.
I like this definition as it kicks up some controversy at the same time as getting the point across. The word “Bribe”, I believe is highly intentional. It gets the point across that a visitor to your company website won’t necessarily be in the immediate mindset of handing over details. You need to shift their mindset and get them into a giving mood. “Bribe” ticks that box for me!
What’s the purpose of a lead magnet?
The only part of the definition I may challenge would be the explicit reference to “contact information”. A lead magnet is not limited to this ultimate purpose. The contact information is an essential and consistent ingredient, but it’s not the only ingredient. You could ask for a whole host of information to help you understand the prospect who has been drawn to your lead magnet. This opens up HUGE potential benefits that I’ll expand upon a little later.
So, the ultimate purpose of lead magnet is an exchange of information. A key ingredient being contact information. But is that it?
What do you want a lead magnet to do?
Lead Magnets form part of a lead generation strategy. Identifying potential customers and capturing their information so you can start, or carry on, the conversation. The power of a lead magnet however, extends into the realm of lead nurturing and even sales. If all we wanted to do was capture information we could Bribe them with anything, under-deliver on value and quality and still achieve our target. This isn’t the plan.
We want a lead magnet to start the development of a relationship. A relationship in which you provide value in exchange for currency. At the moment that currency is just information, in the future it could be cold, hard cash. To get to that point your lead magnet needs to deliver on value, in turn building credibility and trust. A lead magnet, therefore, has much broader goals than your lead generation strategy, it must also align with your sales strategy.
Examples of lead magnets
If you google the term “Lead Magnets” you will find an overwhelming majority of articles are targeted at “Ideas for lead magnets”. This tells me a couple of things. 1. There are lots of ideas out there. 2. It’s something people regularly search for when researching lead magnets. It’s understandable. So far in my explanation it just sounds like the same old babble you’ll find on the web about “creating valuable content”. Although this isn’t completely untrue for lead magnets, they can also take on many forms. The majority of those forms involve content, but this isn’t exclusively the case.
So, here are some examples that should resonate with you and your Manufacturing Business.
Reports constructed with your expertise
You have a lot of data, whether you know it or not. It’s typically a case of digging, slicing and dicing that data into something that’s meaningful for your ideal prospect. You could create a report on the long term value and business case behind selecting one of your processes as a route to manufacture. This arms the reader with valuable information from which they can build business cases and make decisions.
For example you could run some numbers on the break points for selecting a process based on volumes of manufacture. Provide an example of a component you manufacture and when it becomes viable to transition from one manufacturing process to another.
This is just one example of using some data I know you can pull together. But any data you have, whether it be on national sales volumes, the results of a customer survey or if you’re feeling confident use some data from the Office of National Statistics.
A Design or Buyers Guide for your process
You’re the expert on your manufacturing processes, and it’s easy to assume others aren’t completely ignorant. You’re wrong. Design boundaries and goal posts have been shifting for decades, leaving many Engineers in the dark ages. Help them fill their knowledge gap, provide a downloadable guide with limitations, tolerances, legislative requirements etc.
We’ve actually created a template for developing such a guide. This was created to help you, the manufacturer construct articles for our very own Knowledge Base. If you want to download it just click here, it’s yours for free.
I recently wrote an article giving you 13 Content Ideas for you Manufacturing Company Website, in which one of the ideas was in fact a design guide. This demonstrates that ideas for content can be deployed as either lead magnets or just articles in your content marketing calendar.
However, quick takeaways often make better lead magnets. That brings me on to…
Cheat sheets, check lists and tools
This is the type of lead magnet which can be consumed quickly, delivering value instantly. It could be a table with the key numbers from a design guide, or a checklist of things to make sure your design complies with. You could even create a spreadsheet with calculations built in that help Engineers, and Engineering Buyers perform their job effectively.
These don’t have to be mammoth pieces or works of art. Simply extract the key information from your experts and display it clearly in a table, chart or diagram. You could even farm out the graphic design to a sub-contractor over at Peopleperhour.com for very little money. The same goes for making any of these ideas look pretty, don’t stress about it, outsource it.
An online course providing awareness
Sounds humongous! It doesn’t have to be. You could offer awareness training on your services, delivered through short videos, emails, or PDF downloads. Think you’re giving away too much? Think about it, in many cases the barrier to a sale is that the potential customer believes they can do it themselves. Providing awareness training is a great hook to catch their eye, then the training delivers a good dose of reality. I like to call this “scaring them sensible”, as prospects are drawn to your expertise and away from the notion of doing it themselves.
Another barrier to a sale could be the buyers lack of awareness of what to consider when selecting a supplier for a particular product or process. Not all buyers have experience in all areas and often step out of their comfort zone when taking on new roles and responsibilities. A course and some training material could really help them, and establish you firmly in their minds.
A Fun Quiz or a Survey
Being clear, this has to deliver value and provide the visitor with an outcome. Meaning, the survey can’t simply end with a “thanks for your answers” style message! One approach may be to ask “Which character from Whacky Races do your buyer practices make you?” It’s a bit of fun, and it’s targeted at buyers. You could generate leads as well as getting answers to some interesting (if not quirky) questions.
An Assessment or a Test
In the same way as a Quiz or Survey, this delivers an answer or a set of results which are useful to the visitor. These are popular amongst the website design and online marketing space, they say something like “Sign Up for your free online marketing assessment”. Some of these are automated, others simply highlight your interest to a physical person who will carry out some work in a standard form.
Being fans of automation, and making the technology available work for you and your customers, we like the idea of self-serve. Some sort of assessment that can be carried out by the visitor is a low labour way of providing this value.
An example of this may be a series of questions about the design of a component that the visitor has to answer. At the end of the series, based on their answers, the visitor gets some advice on how they can change their design to suit your processes or reduce cost etc.
A more labour intensive version may be to offer a free assessment of their component design by a physical person. The output could be largely the same as the automated version, but maybe a little more personalised.
The 5 Top Benefits of Using Lead Magnets
Earlier I eluded to the fact that the benefits of using a lead magnet extended beyond simply generating a list of prospects. So here’s a list of the top benefits of using Lead Magnets as part of your lead generation strategy.
Generates “early stage” leads
First and foremost a lead magnet generates leads. It seems like a wasted point, but I would urge you to think about where your leads are currently coming from. More importantly, when you log them as a lead how far along the sourcing process are they?
A lead magnet can attract a prospect even before they realise they need your services. This gives you the opportunity to nurture and direct that lead through the stages of your sales funnel using something like Email Marketing. This means you don’t arrive late to the party when the decision is all but made and the only value differentiator between you and the competition is price.
Captures valuable information on your market
There’s straightforward information capture from surveys and assessments, but there’s also an opportunity to capture information from each type of lead magnet. The Sign Up Form!
Your signup form could ask closed questions with “yes” or “no” answers. This can provide you with key data on the needs, struggles, concerns and opportunities that exist in the market. This is information you wouldn’t be able to capture without great effort. Your lead magnet can make light, ongoing work of capturing this information on your behalf.
If your lead magnet is truly useful to your target market, it’s likely the person on the other end of the lead magnet is a qualified lead. There is benefit beyond this first download though. If you produce multiple lead magnets that targets prospects at different stages of the sales funnel, you can identify how qualified a lead is.
The level of lead qualification is something that a salesperson would have to put real time and effort into understanding. In many cases the sales team or sole team member is provided with leads that are less than qualified. Imagine handing over details on which and when specific lead magnets were downloaded by each prospect. Your sales efforts can be more directed and tuned, this could even be a step further than “Warm Calling”.
Using a combination of the above two methods; Information Capture on the Sign Up Form and Multiple Lead Magnets, you can quickly categorise leads.
Is the downloader a decision maker? Find out by asking their job title. How much do they spend per year on “Sand Castings”? What solution do they currently use for their “Sand Casting” Needs; Overseas supply, UK Supply, Multi-source etc.?
The specific questions can be developed based on the way you already categorise your leads. This means your prospects are automatically categorising themselves, reducing your workload, allowing you to focus on converting those with the most potential.
Once again, your salesperson or their team will be thanking you profusely for this sort of information.
Automated lead generation that works while you sleep
Lead Magnets can be very low investment in time and resource when looked at with a long term view. The immediate requirement is more labour intensive. Once setup, the lead magnet can go on producing, qualifying and nurturing leads while you’re busy serving your customers. There’s no concerns about responsiveness or responsibility.
With just a couple of key components, lead information can automatically captured in your CRM whilst your email marketing system goes to work delivering the lead magnet. This level of “hands off” lead generation is very achievable, and it makes the hard work of pulling together a lead magnet pay off.
How do I start?
You’ve heard the benefits, now you’re wondering how the hell you get one of these “Lead Magnet” things…
There isn’t an off-the-shelf solution, but...we’ve got the next best thing. We’ll talk you through the process providing actionable tips along the way.
Lead Magnet or Just Content?
Firstly, let me tackle this possible point of confusion. The content you would produce for a high value business blog article could be used as a lead magnet. How you present that content to the viewer may change, but the content could be almost identical. This is true for lead magnets in the form of guides and reports.
How do you decide what content to post on your blog and what to turn into a lead magnet? This is entirely down to you. It’s advisable for many reasons, SEO being a big one, to have content that is freely available without the exchange of contact information. So not all content you produce should be in the form of a lead magnet.
My suggested approach in this area is to create a valuable article or guide for your prospect, then offer a download or “takeaway” tool or cheat sheet on the subject. If the reader of your article has read to the end, it’s likely they would download a tool related to the subject they’ve been reading about. If it’s a design guide article for “Chemical Etching”, the download could be a cheat sheet listing the design rules in a chart of some sort.
Now that’s cleared up, on with the process...
Idea Generation and testing process
Generating ideas for lead magnets naturally starts with the ideal customer. What do they want?
Do some individual brainstorming and get your team to do the same, with the question “What do our customers want to know or get help doing?”
(you’ll often find it interesting how different your team’s ideas on what the ideal customer wants actually is).
You don’t want the magnet to be attractive to everyone, just your ideal clients.
Bring the team together, share your ideas and note down any new one’s that arise as a result of the idea sharing.
Select your top 10 ideas and work them into titles, regardless of whether they are guides, cheat sheets or surveys. The reason for this is simple. When promoting this lead magnet, it’s the title that will attract and sell it to the customer. Which brings me onto the next step…
Take those 10 title ideas and present them to your existing customers and prospects. Ask them which of those 10 they would be most interested in, if it’s none, back to step 1!
Flesh out the top 3 of those 10 ideas into a more detailed outline of what the lead magnet will look like. Is it an eBook? How many sections will it have? What core questions will it be answering? If it’s a cheat sheet or checklist, what sort of items will there be? How many will there be? This quickly sorts the ideas with substance from the superficial one’s.
If they’re all superficial, back to step 1.
Test again. Now you’ve fleshed out the content a little, get the outline in front of a few customers. It’s likely they’ll have their own ideas on what you should include, so listen closely.
Choose and commit to the Lead Magnet creation.
Lead Magnet Creation Process
You’ve committed to your direction, now it’s a case of creating your lead magnet and setting up the system to deliver it.
Evaluate the skills and resource you require and those in your team (you may be a one person team!) What you need will depend on the type of lead magnet. If you’ve decided to produce a cool calculator in Excel, you need your Excel guru on the case. If you’ve decided to create visual design guide, you’ll first need input from your experts, but then you need your graphics god.
Remember your team don’t have to be permanent. This type of work is readily subcontracted. That is, everything apart from the all important expertise required to provide the “guidance”.
Assemble your team and set a firm objective or set of objectives for the outcome. Centre the objectives around the question; What must this lead magnet deliver for the customer?
Create and iterate. It’s likely it will take a bit of back-and-forth between your team of assemblers. It may even be worth asking a customer if they want to review the status of the lead magnet at certain points in its development. It’s Just an idea.
Save your finished Lead Magnet in a suitable file format. If it’s an eBook that will likely be a PDF. If it’s a spreadsheet calculator, just save as an editable spreadsheet.
Implementation and delivery process
Now you’ve got your lead magnet, it’s time to get it into the hands of your prospects. I’ll assume you have an email marketing system like Mailchimp to demonstrate the steps here more specifically. If you’re not sure what I mean by email marketing system, check out this article explaining what they can do for you.
Create a new list in your email marketing system.
Customise the signup form with your logo, branding and highlight what the website visitor is downloading. Don’t forget, they’ll have landed on this page after clicking a link or, alternatively, this form will be embedded in a page in your website.
Locate the signup forms strategically. Embed a signup form into the pages of your website, implement a pop-up (they may be annoying, but they work) and make a note of the general signup form URL for later use and promotion.
Setup your email sequence and customise your emails from confirming the request for the download, to delivering the final welcome email in which the Lead Magnet will be delivered.
Upload the Lead Magnet to the email marketing system and place the link to the Lead Magnet in the final welcome email.
Test the system. Make sure the emails display as you want them to. Make sure the Lead Magnet downloads correctly on a number of devices. Go back and tweak if necessary.
Get your signup form out there. Take the general signup form URL and use it on promotional materials, in Social Media, and in your emails. Maybe even use Google Adwords for some Pay-Per-Click advertising of your Lead Magnet. What’s a lead worth? You’ve got to make the magnet visible for your leads to be attracted!
This part of the process does require some capability and understanding of how to use your chosen email marketing system. Web development companies are perfectly placed to provide this kind of support at a reasonable cost. For them this is just a few hours work, including some customisation and testing.
In terms of getting the lead magnet out there through social channels and using things like Google Adwords, there are companies that are setup to provide these services. If you’ve got the appetite to do it yourself, there’s plenty of “how to” resources just a Google search away.
Lead Follow up process - Thinking beyond delivery
You will now have an active lead magnet generating you an ever growing list of leads. This is extremely powerful, but you must use that power wisely. Lead nurturing is beyond the scope of this article, but it’s necessary to connect the dots.
Nurturing of these leads to further qualify or disqualify them as potential customers can be done over time with email contact. This doesn’t have to be one-to-one email. This can be bulk marketing emails, or even automated email sequences based on a ton of different factors.
Those factors could be; time since the lead magnet was downloaded, options they selected on the signup form or even behaviours. A typical behaviour you could track would be when a lead who has downloaded a particular lead magnet visits a certain page of your website, like the “contact” page. A number of automated triggers could help you deal with all these fresh leads and further qualify or disqualify them.
Your email marketing system can help you understand which of your leads is interacting with your emails, and which are not. These tactics and this information is vital in moving your prospects along the sales funnel, whilst also understanding exactly where they are in that journey.
This is ultimately where email marketing takes over. After all, you just went through all the effort of creating and implementing a lead magnet all to get the email address of a potential customer. Now’s time to use that email address and make the lead magnet ultimately deliver sales.
Lead magnets as part of a connected system in inbound marketing
Lead magnets themselves are a piece of the puzzle. There are various systems which support their physical implementation, but they also fit into the conceptual framework of Inbound Marketing. If you’re not sure what Inbound Marketing is, I’d suggest you check out this article which explains the modern marketing system.
In terms of their physical implementation, I’ve already mentioned email marketing systems and CRM’s. The fact is, these tools are built to work in perfect harmony. Your email marketing system capturing the information through signup forms then passing that information with “tags” or categorised in some way, to your CRM. The exact methods and details will be different for each solution. But fundamentally Your sales funnel can populate in a very automated, structured fashion.
Leave the data entry and processing to the systems, you can spend your time figuring out how you’re going to convert the hottest leads.
Fitting into Inbound Marketing
It may sound obvious. It’s a “Lead Magnet” therefore it’s a “Lead Generator”. This is true. But hopefully, I’ve also demonstrated they can form a key component of lead qualification. With lead magnets that are designed to attract prospects at different stages of the sales funnel, you can quickly identify where in the sales process they are. Once you have this information, you can communicate with them at the right level, fulfilling their actual needs.
This concept of “the right content, at the right time” is one of the very underpinnings of Inbound Marketing. Lead magnets can too often be seen as a one-dimensional tactic for filling the sales funnel from the top. We know this to be untrue. Lead Magnets can be powerful at all stages in the buying cycle or sales funnel. It’s not easy, it requires a deep understanding of customer needs at each stage of the sales funnel, not just a generic “need”.
For now, if you’re not currently using a Lead Magnet to draw in leads to your sales funnel it’s a case of starting. Create a Lead Magnet and learn. As you learn, and become tuned in to the needs of your customers the ideas for new Lead Magnets will surely flow.
The Key Takeaways
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