List Building From Scratch, Part 1: How To Create An Irresistible Lead Magnet

Tired old cliche I know, but if you are (or want to be) an online marketer, building an email list should be your number one priority. This applies across the board, no matter what niche you are in.

That’s because, despite all the constant changes in social media and communication, email remains the single most effective way to connect with other people online.

Unlike instant messaging or video chatting, email doesn’t require you to be constantly online or monitoring your smart phone or portable device. Unlike social media, email doesn’t need daily updating in order to remain relevant. Unlike direct mail or traditional marketing, email doesn’t cost a fortune nor does it require you to devote a lot of time and labor to make it be effective.

Instead, building your list of email contacts and using that list to promote your products, services or ideas is still the easiest, most cost-effective and most user-friendly ways to connect with a large group of prospective customers, clients or fans.

Despite critics who claim that email is being replaced with other, faster methods of online interaction – such as instant messaging, Twitter, or even SnapChat – the fact remains that just about all internet users have at least one email account that they monitor regularly.

Need proof that email remains relevant? Answer this question: Have you checked your email anytime in the past 24 hours? If so, then you already know how important email remains to the average internet user.

So today I’m going to teach you how to build an email list from scratch.

I will break down into easy steps, but because I’m going to go into quite a lot of detail, I will cover each one in a separate post.

First we’ll start with creating the perfect lead magnet that targets your audience and makes them sign onto your list.

Then we’re going to cover exactly how to build a squeeze page or landing page that gets those visitors to say, “YES! Add me to your list NOW!”

In our third installment we’re going to cover how to get as much traffic as you want from Facebook.

Once you have learned all three of these skills, you can literally go into any market and create a list building machine in just days.

Better still, you can take it one step further and build a complete product funnel behind your lead magnet, offering a tripwire (low ticket) offer, followed by your main offer, followed by a big ticket item.

I’ll cover that in the 4th of these posts.

OK, lets get started!

The List Building Model

As you can see below, it’s a very simple model.

You have a squeeze page (also known as a landing page or lead capture page) where you offer some of value – for free – in return for an email address.

When someone requests this, they have ‘opted in’ to join your mailing list, so you send them their free gift, and use follow up emails to build a relationship with each subscriber, and also to promote related products – this is where you make money.

All the emails are automatically sent out through an ‘autoresponder’ to people as they join your list.

There is a slightly more advanced version, but I’ll come back to that later.

What is a lead magnet?

First, we better reveal what a lead magnet is. You know those freebies you get for subscribing to a list? Those are lead magnets.

They’re something offered as a free gift or enticement in exchange for an email address. And they’re the easiest, fastest way to build a list of target subscribers.

Remember this:

The goal of any lead magnet is to convert traffic into leads.

While it’s true you can throw just about anything together and call it a lead magnet, it’s also true that the better (and more targeted) the lead magnet is, the easier it will be to build a profitable list.

A lead magnet doesn’t make money by itself (although it can do if it is monetized with links to your products or affiliate links – but that’s a topic for another post).

But even without directly making you any money, they can be extremely lucrative.

There are 3 ways to grow a business:

  • Increase the number of customers
  • Increase the average transaction value per customer
  • Increase the number of transactions per customer

With the right lead magnet, you can increase the number of prospects and customers you have joining your list.

And with a well-targeted lead magnet, you can also increase the average transaction value and even the number of transactions per customer, by attracting the very best customers for your particular business.

As you go through the following sections, always think of your lead magnet as an irresistible bribe that will offer real value to your prospects.

  • Your lead magnet has to be so good, your prospects will ‘buy’ it with their email address.
  • It should be relevant to your niche and your offers.
  • It should be ultra-specific in what it gives to the user.
  • It should be ‘priceless’, in that the prospect can’t easily Google the information and find it for themselves.
  • And it should be easily consumed, because you want the prospect to consume it immediately after they download it.

We’ll go through each of these in turn in a moment.

The point to remember right now is this:

Your lead magnet is perhaps the single most important piece of your entire marketing system.

The right lead magnet will bring you a never ending stream of new prospects and soon-to-be customers.

The wrong lead magnet will bring either the wrong prospects for your offers, or no prospects at all.

Let’s get started.

Creating your lead magnet

First we’re going to choose a specific market segment to target.

Then we’re going to craft your ‘promise.’

Next we’ll write the title and decide on the format.

And finally, we’re going to actually create your lead magnet.

Market segmenting

Choosing your specific market segment

The biggest mistake I see people making is trying to be all things to all people in their lead magnet.

Let’s take the Internet Marketing niche as an example.

New marketers will write a lead magnet such as, “How to Make Tons of Money in Online Marketing.”

Evidently they are trying to target ALL people of all experiences trying to make money in all arenas online.

That’s a wide audience.

Another one might be, “How to be a great parent.”

Parent to who? Newborn babies? Toddlers? Grade school age children? Teenagers? Children with special needs? Adopted children? Foster children?

It’s a cliché, but it’s true: When you try to be all things to all people, you’re nothing to anyone.

It’s what I call the blunderbuss effect. You aim for everything, and hit nothing.

The more you can niche down your market segment, the more successful you will be.

This isn’t to say you can only service one tight niche. You can work in several different segments; you’ll just need to create several different lead magnets – one for each segment.

For example, let’s say you’re in the dating market. You could create a lead magnet targeted to:

• Professional women in their late 20’s and 30’s looking for the perfect husband
• Recently divorced men who haven’t dated in over a decade
• Widows over 40 who are lonely but afraid to date again
• Men who want to play the field
• Women who want to date younger guys
• And so on

Each of these segments have different fears, desires, challenges and motivations.

You could easily come up with a 100 possibilities, but it’s up to you to choose the right segment to target with your lead magnet.

Think about the exact segment of your market you want to write your lead magnet for.

When you’ve decided, move on to the next step.

Crafting your promise

Crafting your promise

You’ve chosen a specific segment of your market in the previous step. Now it’s time to make them a promise.

The goal here is to enter the conversation already happening in your prospect’s mind.

Ask yourself what their concerns are. What are their fears? What do they want most of all?

What conversation are they likely already having, and how can you enter that conversation with a promise?

What value can you give them that will be irresistible to where they are in life right now?

The value in your lead magnet should be ultra-specific and easy to consume.

No mega-courses here. No 200 page books, either.

You want your prospect to consume your lead magnet immediately when they receive it. If you send them a 200 page book, they’ll almost certainly set it aside for later… and later almost never comes.

How can you demonstrate that you know what you’re talking about and that you’re an authority, if they never consume the lead magnet?

Your goal is to create tremendous stand-alone value, but without getting complex or long.

Examples from the dating niche

Some examples from our dating niche…

• Professional women in their late 20’s and 30’s looking for the perfect husband – these women know what they want and they don’t have time to waste. You might promise to show them how to immediately filter out all the losers who will waste their time and find the hidden gems who will make excellent life partners.

• Recently divorced men who haven’t dated in over a decade – these guys have been out of circulation long enough that they’re forgotten how to successfully approach women. Plus they’re worried that things have changed, times have changes, dating has changed. So you might promise to show them 3 simple techniques to start a great conversation with any woman, regardless of how out of practice they might be.

• Widows over 40 who are lonely but afraid to date again – they’re feeling guilty about dating, dating seems scary to them, they don’t have a clue how to go about dating and they wonder if maybe they’re going to be alone for the rest of their lives. They need to take things very slow at first. So you might promise to show them how to find guys to be friends with first, and see if things progress from there.

You’ve already got your target audience, so now you’ll want to write down some ideas of the promises you can make.

Once you’ve got your list, pick one. If you’re afraid it might be the wrong one, or you’re procrastinating because you’re trying to get this perfect, them just pick one.

Take action!

Writing a killer headline

Write the title of your lead magnet

Headlines and titles might account for as much as 80% of your lead magnet’s success rate.

Have you ever run across a lead magnet offer that sounded good, but… the title just didn’t quite push you over the edge into giving your email address?

And have you ever seen a lead magnet title that had you racing to give your email address without even thinking about it?

Naturally your goal will be to get your prospects racing to fill out the opt-in form without giving it a second thought, because they want your lead magnet SO BAD and they can’t believe you’re giving it way for FREE.

If you have a lot of experience in writing subject lines, blog post titles and so forth, then you’re ahead of the game on this.

If headline writing is new to you, you’ll want to do some research on how to write a great headline.

Frankly, entire BOOKS can (and have been) be written on this subject alone.

Example: Remember our promise to Professional women in their late 20’s and 30’s looking for the perfect guy – we promised to show them how to immediately filter out all the losers who will waste their time and find the hidden gems who will make excellent life partners.

Our headline might be, “Professional Gals Only: How to Find Your Perfect Guy without Wasting Time on Losers, Deadbeats and Jerks”

You might want to write several headlines and then whittle it down to 2 or 3 to test later.

Decide on what type of lead magnet you’re going to create

Types of lead magnet

The tough part is over.

You’ve chosen your market segment, made a promise and written a headline or two or three.

Now you’re going to decide what format you’ll use to deliver your lead magnet.

Remember you want to keep it simple. Play to your strengths and choose something that will be consumed quickly.

Here are the different types of lead magnets to choose from:

  • Report or Guide: This could be just a few pages in PDF format. It’s the most common type of lead magnet and a great way to convey information with precision.
  • Cheat Sheet, Mindmaps and Blueprints: These are generally short, just one or two pages, and get straight to the point.
  • Resource List: There are times when this works really well. It could be a list of resources for buying products, getting things done and whatever works. The key is that the information is valuable to the end user.
  • Curated Guide: This can be all the best articles on a very specific topic, or a list of articles that guides a person through a process. And you don’t even have to write the articles yourself.
  • Case Study: This can be delivered in PDF format, video, etc. The key is you’re showing how someone was able to accomplish a certain task, what they did and the results they got.
  • Video: This can be a short training, a case study, a really good story that teaches something… frankly, you’re only limited by your imagination and the promise you made to your prospects.
  • Coupon or Free Shipping: If you have a retail store, you might consider giving a discount to new customers, or offering free shipping in exchange for their email address.
  • Quizzes and Assessment Tests: Give away a free quiz that tells something about the person taking it, and then collect the email address in exchange for the results.
  • Software: You can give away a piece of software (assuming you have the rights) as your lead magnet. Done correctly, this can be a great way to get exactly the leads/subscribers you’re looking for. For example, if you want to attract bloggers, you could give away a WordPress plugin that does something awesome for blogs.
  • Software Free Trial: If you’re selling software as a service, then a free trial is a great way to introduce that software to exactly the people most likely to buy it. And you’ll sell a lot more copies, too, by first giving away a free trial.

Choose which type of lead magnet you’re going to create, and we’ll move on to the next step.

Let’s Create Your Lead Magnet!

We’ve tested lead magnets and found several consistent qualities of the really successful ones.

And while your lead magnet does not need hit the target for every one of these criteria, the more you can achieve, the better.

One Big Benefit: Your lead magnet should deliver one big thing to your subscribers, rather than a bunch of smaller things.

For example, instead of offering the big encyclopedia of internet marketing, you might offer the one breakthrough method that netted you $143,548 in 6 months, or the one traffic trick that sent 54,032 targeted visitors to your site last month.

Specificity: The more specific your lead magnet promise is, the better. The promise should be compelling to the people you are targeting.

Notice in the examples above we didn’t offer to show them how to make money – we offered to show them how we netted $143,548.

And we didn’t offer a traffic method – we offered a method that drove 54,032 visitors in one month.

The End Result: Your readers are searching for a specific outcome. So the question is, does your lead magnet get them closer to achieving that result?

For example, if they’re looking to get their child into college, you might offer a calculator that shows them how much they need to save each year, based on the child’s current age.

Relationships Building: Your lead magnet should set you or your business up as the authority they can trust.

This is easy to do if you’re giving them great content that solves an immediate problem they have.

Instant Gratification: Is your lead magnet delivered immediately? It should be.

They opt into your list, and the next page tells them to either download it or check their email for the download or access link.

High Perceived Value: While your lead magnet might only be a PDF or a video, the content itself should be immediately valuable to the new subscriber.

If it’s something they would willingly pay for, then you know you’ve hit the mark.

Fast Consumption: Your lead magnet should be something that can be consumed in 20 minutes or less. Here’s why:

When you set up your entire funnel, it will hopefully consist of a lead magnet, followed by a small (trip wire) offer for a low price.

If they take this trip wire offer, you’ll immediately make your core offer.

If they take the core offer, you’ll immediately offer your big ticket item.

For example, you offer a free lead magnet on one easy trick to curb procrastination.

You follow this up with a $7 ebook on 7 methods to get more done in less time.

Next is a $47 offer to forever curb procrastination in 30 days.

And finally you offer one-on-one coaching for $300 on how to use all this new found time to create a bigger, better, richer life.

Do you see why we want them to consume our lead magnet fast? We want them to use it, love it and want more. That way when we immediately offer more, they’re ready to buy.

But don’t worry about this now. I’ll go into more detail about this in the 4th post in this series. For now, just concentrate on your lead magnet.

Delivering your lead magnet

If you don’t already have an email service (or autoresponder) such as Aweber or GetRepsonse, you’ll need to do this now.

There are others, but in my opinion it’s best to stick with the tried and tested, and these 2 are by far the most widely used.

Your email service will provide opt-in boxes that you can place on your landing page / squeeze page, so allowing people to join your list. It will also deliver your lead magnet, and all your follow up emails.

It is probably the most crucial item in any online marketer’s toolbox.


OK, that’s enough for you to be getting on with 🙂

In the next post I’m going to go in depth on how to create a great landing page that gets you plenty of subscribers.

After all, even if you have the world’s best lead magnet, it won’t do you any good if you can’t properly articulate the value to your prospects so they sign up onto your list.

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