One advantage of running multiple sites, is that we get to experiment more and learn faster. 

This is important because there are hundreds of case studies online from somebody who achieved something once, or twice, and then blogged about the process. 

In my experience, these make great starting points for your own experiments, but they’re far from guaranteed to work every time, and can sometimes be counterproductive, if they’re not particularly repeatable.

When we read a new case study or even a tip someone shares in a Facebook Group, we set out to try and replicate it across multiple sites. Even if it only works on one site, that’s still a win, but we’re looking for tools we can use over and over again.

If you’ve read my earlier post about the first things to do after buying a site, you’ll know that I typically follow the same game plan every time. Our approach to experiments is looking for something new to add into the game plan. 

With that in mind, today I’m going to share about lead magnets, and how you can follow a system to figure out which lead magnets to include on your site, if at all.

Why Lead Magnets?

Very briefly, for those not in the know, a lead magnet is essentially “A reason for someone to give you their email address”.

Usually it’s some kind of free PDF that you will receive if you subscribe via an opt-in form. 

There are much better resources on lead magnets here.

Let’s take a step back though and ask ourselves, why bother with a lead magnet?

To do this, it’s best to see how email list growth has evolved over the years.

Back in the early internet marketing days, “Subscribe to our newsletter” worked well enough. 

This naturally became ineffective over time, so the concept of a lead magnet was created.

You had to give your audience something for free in order to get them to sign up to your mailing list.

This gave birth to what most people do now, namely, an ebook or some kind of PDF that people rarely sign up for. When they do, it’s typically of poor quality anyway.

“Hey random web visitor, here’s a free ebook that you’ll never read. Can I send you emails you’ll never read too?”

You have to give your audience something for free in order to get them to sign up to your mailing list. Click To Tweet

Can They Be Used For Every Site?

A lot of simple “Amazon affiliate” sites might not be best suited to an email list, so many owners of this type of site don’t bother. 

It’s worth building out your site to try and capture audience members in an email list though. 

Even if you just start building complementary articles that aren’t typical amazon affiliate style posts, you’ll eventually start getting visitors who are looking for information rather than quick product recommendations. 

You should be doing this anyway, as it makes your site a better resource. 

The More Specific The Better

Those who do a good job with lead magnets offer something more compelling, and deliver great value with it, turning website visitors into fans, and eventually customers.

If you can do it right, it’s one of the best ways to get people into your funnel. 

The problem we all face though, is that it takes a lot of effort to get right, and in many cases it might not be worth the hassle!

At Onfolio, when we are having adventures with lead magnets, we start out looking for the 80-20. What’s the best we can get with the least effort? 

This is because we don’t want to spend weeks writing an excellent eBook only to discover our audience isn’t interested in it at all.

Therefore, we start out by testing a few different topics, and seeing which one performs best.

Usually we cobble an eBook together from some of our blog posts, so that people can receive the thing they signed up for, but we don’t have to go to the hassle and cost of making an ebook only to find out later it wasn’t popular.

Once we have identified something that people sign up for, we go back and make it a higher quality eBook.

Coming Up With Ideas 

The general gameplan we follow is:

  1. Visit Google Analytics and find the most popular articles, or most popular topics. We’re looking for the top 3-4 topics to test. This usually is just a case of seeing the topics of the top posts, and figuring out if you can offer a free report or ebook going into more details. Of course, if you have a high traffic site with dozens of pages that get 1,000 views, just focus on the top 3-4 posts, or move on to step 2.

  2. Next we try to figure out topics that might be suitable for site-wide lead magnets. Only the best articles get their own one initially, so if a page doesn’t get more than 20% of the traffic, we don’t give it a unique lead magnet. We only want to create 3-4 total.

  3. “Site-wide” lead magnets can be hard to ideate if your site covers a lot of different topics. The next thing you can do is ask yourself if there are any bundles of articles that are related. Let’s say you have a marketing blog and 10 of your articles are about email marketing – now those 10 can all have the same lead magnet. 

  4. Once you have chosen 3-4 topics and got lead magnets created, you can start running tests to see which ones get more opt ins. The most popular ones can be added to the “site-wide” topic, which basically means any article that doesn’t’ already suit those lead magnets gets shown one of the generic ones. You can also test this against a 5th “generic” lead magnet.

  5. Bonus tip -> You can also think what the next step is. After they’ve signed up, what are you going to do? Promote a product to them? Send them some articles? By working backwards from the end goal, you can come up with a lead magnet idea that might not be the most popular, but will attract the type of audience member who will end up paying for something at the end of the funnel.

I think that last point is something a lot of people forget with email marketing. Don’t just think “How can I get people on my list?”, instead think “Who do I want on my list and what am I going to sell them?” and work backwards from there.

You might end up with a smaller list, but engagement will be higher and conversions will be too.

You could also make a second generic list for a wider audience if you’re unsure what to promote to people initially.

Implementation

We use Thrive Leads for our lead magnets, though there are plenty of other good tools that will allow you to perform split-tests and similar.

We typically do the following:

  1. Set up an opt-in form for every lead magnet. For the generic “site-wide” opti-ns where we are trying to capture the generic traffic, or traffic that doesn’t fit into the 3-4 topics we identified earlier, we might split-test 2-3 different ideas. 

  2. Run the tests for a week or two (depending how much traffic you get) to see which ones are more popular. If an opt-in form has 1% or higher conversion rate, we keep it, if it doesn’t, we test a different call-to-action message. If after a few messages it still doesn’t have high conversion, maybe this lead magnet doesn’t appeal to people and we will test a different form. 

  3. For the ones that we keep, we then do more tests to see if we can get even higher conversion rate. 

There’s a good article from Thrive Themes here about this.

Summary

There’s a lot to unpack in this article, and I’ve tried to keep it actionable without being overwhelming. If I could summarize it, I’d say you should test a few different ideas, and then test a few different forms/messages for each idea. Once an idea is validated, you can make a better ebook.

Also, you should move a few steps ahead and think about the end goal, then work backwards from there. You don’t want to get the “most” optins. You want to get the most of the “best” optins, which might mean picking something that only applies to a smaller % of your audience.

In a future article, I’ll cover the email funnel in more details.

Dom Wells

Dom Wells

Dom Wells is the founder of Onfolio.co. He's been actively building, buying, and selling websites since 2012, and has learned from many a mistake over the years. Through Onfolio, he works with other investors to find, buy, and then operate content sites, without the mistakes.