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Buzzwords Exposed: "Lead Magnet"

By Josh Mendelsohn
3 minute read

I hate buzzwords. Admittedly, I have used them way too many times in my past. I mean, I am "inbound marketing" certified after all. I have had "demand generation" in my job title before. I once described myself as a “full stack marketer” in a job interview. I even have a Klout account out there somewhere because I used to aspire to be a "social media guru.”

But what is all that stuff anyway? It’s really just a bunch of new words used to make marketing something different than what it is. At Privy, we’re not about buzzwords. We’re only about better marketing.

So, let’s get to the bottom of the latest term that keeps popping up and tell you what it really is. Today’s buzzword explained is the “Lead Magnet.”

What is it?

A “lead magnet” is simply an offer, usually a piece of content like a video or white paper, that requires a visitor to your website to sign up for your email list or fill out another form to get the offer. In fact, this notion of “gated content” has been popular for a long time.

B2B marketers have been using this technique for over a decade, ever since the notion of using content to get leads for sales teams came into vogue at the end of the 1990’s starting with Seth Godin’s “Permission Marketing” book. And prior to August 2014, this was a very popular technique to get people to “like” a Facebook page, until they took away that option.

Today, the concept still works. In fact, a recent study from Microsoft showed that 89% of people are willing to share their personal information in exchange for clearly defined benefits. It’s really a basic sales strategy, you’re giving something of value to a potential customer in exchange for something of value, their email address.

Who uses the buzzword?

The surge in popularity of the term “lead magnet” in the past year or so is coming from marketers trying to put a fresh spin on an old concept. Marketers, gotta love them (admittedly, I am one.)

Why is the term silly?

For starters, there is nothing inherently magnetic about an offer on your website. A magnet draws people to your site and that is done through the promotion of your awesome video or whitepaper via other channels like email, social media, or even paid ads. Unlike in the classic film, Field of Dreams, building it doesn’t mean they will come.

Without a plan to get people to your site there is nothing magnetic about your “lead magnet.” At least the “lead” part makes sense. Now just make sure your sales team is ready to follow up on the leads you give them!

What should you do about it?

Creating an awesome offer on your site is unquestionably a great way to get visitors to sign up to hear more from you. In short, lose the buzzword, keep the concept.  And as you implement these sorts of offers consider three key elements of the experience:

  1. Form length: If you’re feeding leads to your sales team, think about what information they need to follow up and include it in your form. If you’re not, minimize the amount of information you are asking for unless you really plan to use it. (The general rule is less form fields = more signups).

  2. The offer: What the best offer is depends a lot on your business. You need to think about who your target audience is and what they value. If you’re unsure what to use, check out this article in our Academy to learn about what makes a great offer.

  3. Follow up: Make sure you are instantly sending a follow up email to anyone who fills out your form with a permanent link to the video, pdf, or slideshow they requested. That way they can revisit it at their convenience and you get a chance to expand your story within the email.

What buzzwords should be next on the list? Let us know on our Facebook Page.

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