Digital Marketing Spotlight: How to Generate a Stream of Online Leads, Part 1
The centerpiece of a successful online lead generation program is not your website. It’s not your newsletter. And, it’s not your social media. Those things are important, but there is one thing that ties them all together and that will attract the type of client you want in your business. That’s your lead magnet, which is where you need to start when developing your digital marketing strategy.
A lead magnet is a digest of information that describes a problem your ideal client is having and provides education about the solution. The lead magnet can come in the form of a 5- to 10-page report, a white paper, an article, a video of any length, an eBook, a podcast, an audio file, a slideshow, a webinar, a speech or an event, such as an open house or training class. The lead magnet is typically free or very low cost, and low risk for the prospect to reach out and get it.
The purpose of the lead magnet is to introduce prospects to your ideas about a problem the prospects are having and how you would solve it. The best lead magnet attracts attention, initiates a dialog, educates your prospect and provides a next step for the prospect to get to know you better.
The reason that a lead magnet is so effective is that digitally speaking, it’s a perfect low risk to the prospect trust builder, who educates your client on an issue and makes them aware of your expertise and value. The other fabulous thing about lead magnets is that you can create them once, automate them and forget about them, while they are continuing to work hard for you, sometimes for years.
Sample lead magnets in accounting include:
- Report: 5 Things Newly Married Couples Need to Know About Their Wedding Year Tax Return
- Podcast: 10 Accounting Issues to Be Aware of When Starting a Home-Based Business
- Video: How to Select a Bookkeeper for Your Small Business
- Slideshow: 3 Ways Construction Companies Can Improve Their Cash Flow
- Speech: 6 IRS Red Flags to Know Before Filing Your Tax Return
- Article: Are You Sure You Don’t Owe Sales Tax?
- Class: How to Compute Your Profit Margin in Your Law Firm
Lead magnets should attract attention, be benefits-focused and be educational. You want your lead magnet to add value and show your expertise. At the end of every lead magnet, you should include your contact information and the next step your prospect should take. For example, should they call you for a free consult? Should they send in last year’s tax return for a free review?
You can send your lead magnet out in any way you want. The traditional way to use it is to “gate” it online with an opt-in form that asks for your name, email and phone number. The emails can be collected and added to a list management system, such as Constant Contact. You can then nurture those email leads via emails or a newsletter. If you have a sales team and have collected the phone number, you can make follow-up calls.
You can also distribute your lead magnet in other ways:
- Simply email your lead magnet to individual prospects
- Add it to your prospect kit
- Print it out and bring it to networking meetings
- Use it as a handout for a presentation
- Send it via direct mail
- Post it to your website without an opt-in and hope people call
In future articles, I’ll be sharing how to drive traffic to your lead magnet. But, for now, I’d love for you to begin creating your lead magnet. First, think about what service you want to market the most. For me, right now, it’s our websites, so I wrote “The 10 Biggest Mistakes to Avoid on Your Website,” just so you can see what a real lead magnet looks like and how the whole process works.
Think about whether you want to sell more monthly bookkeeping services, tax services or QuickBooks consulting. Then, think about what your clients typically come to you to solve. After that, build your lead magnet around those ideas.
Once you have your topic, decide on the medium, such as report/article, video or audio. Collect your tools, plan your content and then just create! If you need to hire someone to spruce up the graphics or writing, look to sites such as Fiverr.com to get the help you need. Make sure your lead magnet reflects the professionalism you want your firm to display.
Editor's note: Check out part 2, part 3 and part 4 of Sandi Leyva's series on generating online leads.