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Lead magnets are a powerful tool to make your marketing strategy purposeful. Great content marketing involves marketing strategy to generate leads who eventually convert to revenue. 

Typically a lead magnet is a premium piece of content that is kept behind a web form so you can collect an email address in exchange for the valuable content. Then you can follow up and nurture the lead with more content and eventually move them into a sales conversation.

In this article, we’ll dive into the various forms of lead magnets and explore other versions of premium content, which in some cases won’t be behind a web form.

White Papers and Complete Guides

The white paper is probably one of the original forms of lead magnets and is making a bit of a comeback.

Typically a white paper is long form – probably 4,000 to 6,000 words – and promises to provide some in-depth insight on a subject.

Some marketers may call this an “Ultimate Guide,” “Complete Guide” or E-Book, but essentially all are saying the same thing. In each case, you’re looking at a long form, downloadable PDF to give in-depth knowledge on a specific topic.

With a white paper, the first thing to consider is you have to make the content extremely compelling to get someone to download it.

First of all – we have so much information at our fingertips that working through 4,000 to 6,000 words or 19 pages of content doesn’t sound intriguing at all.

Secondly – giving away an email for such content sounds even worse on the surface because we’re also not in need of more emails in our inboxes.

So how do you make a white paper compelling? You need to find a unique, authoritative stance. That’s why you see “Ultimate Guides” working pretty well. If your audience wants educated on a subject, you can provide a resource as the authority in the topic and provide serious value.

You will just need to back up that claim, so the copywriting on your landing page needs to be excellent to establish intrigue.

SEM Rush has earned my trust by creating a lot of great free content. Therefore, when I see them creating a Ultimate Guide to Content Marketing I am immediately intrigued.

That’s a big point regarding lead magnets. It’s very hard to get someone who doesn’t know you to give up their email for your white paper.

You need to engage or intrigue them in some way first, and then follow through with the premium content.

That’s why your articles and free content is the true foundation of all your content plan.

Downloadable Tools and Resources

Because of the aforementioned fear of taking in more information, many marketers have started to provide tangible tools for readers as lead magnets.

Examples include templates, checklists or even calculators that readers can use as a resource in exchange for an email.

This strategy has many benefits. For one, you can likely create a checklist or template in far less time than a white paper, but create just as much valuable.

The other benefit is you can provide a tangible value for your prospects where they are actually able to get a result from the free content you’ve provided.

When executed properly, the tool is the natural progression from a quality article. Hubspot does this frequently with their content, like in this example with social media.

The idea is to create a piece of content with value and then at the end provide a tool that helps you execute what you just learned about.

If the content is quality, it only makes sense the reader would move forward and take the next step. And if the tool is helpful, your reader is going to be very appreciative and take great value from the resource.

Case Studies

As far as content goes, I can’t think of anything stronger than a case study.

The beauty of the case study is it promotes what you do, in your clients words!

Some businesses use their case studies as lead magnets, but it’s a good idea to just give them away. You should aim for depth in the case study – somewhere between 1,500 and 2,500 words.

The best thing you can do is interview a great client and just get them talking for 30 minutes.

The case study is a huge asset to your marketing and sales strategy for several reasons:

  1. You will likely learn ways your client has received value from you that you haven’t even thought of.
  2. Their words will be much more powerful than you saying it about yourself
  3. You can use the case study as top of funnel content
  4. You can also use the case study as social proof at the bottom of the funnel when someone is considering buying

Sixth Division does a great job with case studies and they have a great resource on how you can use your clients’ words to align your messaging. Read the full report here:

If you haven’t been using case studies in your content and marketing plan, you should definitely start now. Think of three clients who have been very happy and ask for 30 minutes of their time. In the call – just get them talking.

What did they like?

Why did they get started in the first place?

Record the interview and take notes later so you can listen intently during the interview and ask relevant follow up questions.

While this is an article on lead magnets, we don’t recommend using case studies as lead magnets. Put them on a page and drive prospects to it constantly.


Who said a lead magnet had to be written content?

Webinars are another great strategy for generating leads and have a few distinct advantages.

One powerful component of a live webinar is the advantage that it exists at a specific point in time.

The specific time can influence action because there is a reason to act now. Whereas when you encounter a downloadable PDF, you may think, “I’ll just come back to this later.”

Typically in a webinar about half the signups will actually show up for the event. But the good thing is, for those who show up you will have their attention and have the opportunity to let them hear your voice for 30 minutes to an hour.

While a white paper is usually skimmed over, a webinar can have strong attention throughout. This gives you a chance to provide a direct call to action to an offer or an appointment in the end.

If you are comfortable as a public speaker and can put together a nice slide deck, webinars are a great opportunity for generating leads.

You can also use webinars in a co-marketing fashion. If you know a business who also serves your market – you can get together and co-host a webinar and each promote it. This will open your content to a new audience for free.

Best of all – when you create the webinar, you can re-purpose the content in a variety of ways. Your 30 minute webinar can also become a:

  • Slideshare
  • Video series
  • Whitepaper
  • Series of blog articles

Authoritative Posts

Another trend in content marketing is to take your very best content and publish it on your blog without requiring an opt-in.

Here is an example from Digital Marketer.

The idea in an epic authoritative post is first of all an SEO strategy. When you create a white paper as a PDF and put it behind a form – that’s great for capturing leads. The downside, though, is you are not putting the content on your website and miss out on great content that could attract search engines and links.

When you create an epic post like this, you will then promote and invite others to share and link to the resource.

Now you are not necessarily capturing all the leads, but you are adding free value and eventually the article could become an organic flow of traffic due to SEO rankings.

In some cases, you can find the best of both worlds by creating the massive post on your site AND inviting someone to give their email to download a PDF version they can take with them.

If the content is good, someone may not want to scroll through the whole thing on the site, and would still opt-in for the download.

Or, similar to the tools and resources strategy above, you can include a tool to go along with the post and use that as a resource.

Hubspot takes this approach in their “Complete Guide” resources.

The Bottom Line

These examples are meant to stir your mind and get you thinking about the content your business is creating.

Creating valuable content comes in many varieties of length and style.

But the common theme with everything listed above: If you are going to create content to generate real interest and leads, you need to do something with high quality.

For too many businesses, content marketing consists of posting short blog posts and sharing on social media. We live in a noisy, overloaded-with-information world. In order to stand out, you need to create something that creates real value and authority.

Usually it will require some in-depth research and tangible takeaways to create real benefits for the audience.

But when you do create that level of content the payoff is exponential with leads and engagement.

At Full Stadium, we create all types of lead magnets with a strategic marketing approach. Learn more here.

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