5 Keys to a Successful Lead Magnet

Contrary to what you may think, not all lead magnets are created equal. This can be particularly challenging for entrepreneurs that work in passion-based industries.

The reason being, most passion-based entrepreneurs are SOOOO knowledgeable and passionate about getting their clients the results they’re looking for, that they often BLOW THEM AWAY with knowledge.

Sort of like killing a fly with a BAZOOKA … it’s too much!

Let me tell you a little story. This is funny and a little sad, but what the heck, we all start somewhere.

One of my first ever “official” lead magnets was put together back in 2010. At the time we had just celebrated 12 years in business and honestly, I was a little cocky.

So I put this lead magnet together. I didn’t do a buyer persona or think at all about what the customer wanted. I just knew what they needed, so I had this epiphany …

What people really need is somebody like me to come in and tell them the truth, lay it on the line and just stuff them full of killer content.

So my idea was – 30 Tips in 30 Days. Each day, for 30 days, I was going to send an email with a quick tip, lesson or strategy. Just basically dropping knowledge. I started out strong … for the first week, then I missed a few days and got back on track. By the time I hit day 22, I was so sick of it that I didn’t even finish the 30 tips.

The funny part though, was that not 1 person called me on it. So of all the people that had signed up, they lost interest between day 1 and day 22 and didn’t even notice that I didn’t finish writing the tips.


That was a horrible lead magnet for a lot of different reasons. After many lessons learned and a lot of experience, we’ve come up with 5 KEYS or rules for lead magnets.

Any lead magnet that we’ve ever seen flop (and we’ve seen our fair share), has been because it broke one of these rules. And without a doubt, if you’ve dipped your toes in the lead magnet world and they’ve been less than successful, you can undoubtedly point it back to one of these five.

They aren’t complicated, but DO NOT underestimate the power of these rules.

Here are the Lead Magnet Success Principles in no particular order:

  1. Specific – Our goal with this lead magnet is that we want to give the prospect a specific RESULT. Once they get that result, that’s when trust is built and when the relationship building starts. We’re not trying to solve ALL their problems. We just want to solve this one nagging problem because that will show them that we know what we’re talking about – we’ve solved this problem and we can definitely solve others as well. The more specific the better.
  2. Easy to Consume – Remember my 30 tips in 30 days … that was too much. Books make horrible lead magnets because they take too long to get through. Small e-books, checklists, short videos – these are all easy to consume. The other thing we want to take in account here is how your perfect client prefers to consume their content. If you’re people don’t listen to podcasts … don’t do a podcast – they won’t consume it.
  3. Address a Known Desire – By known desire, we mean a desire your perfect prospect has. Not what you think they have, but what they’ve told you they have.
  4. Deliver Value – Value can either be real or perceived. Real value would be like – Save $50 on your first week of xyz. Perceived value can be a webinar, some killer content or teaching somebody a skill. This one can be tricky because sometimes there can be a difference of perception in terms of value. Let me give you an example: When we launched our membership site last year, part of the offering was me being on an office hours call every week. From my perspective, this had immense value. An 18-year marketing veteran just sitting on the phone waiting to answer your questions. I know what my bill rate is and that was a lot of $$$$ that we were missing out on. My audience rarely took me up on it. More often than not, I was on the phone just working on client projects. The reason being, the audience either didn’t understand the value or they didn’t see the value – it wasn’t important to them. So when you are looking at value, look at it from your customer’s perspective, not yours.
  5. Aligned with your product or service – It doesn’t have to be directly related but we need to be able to connect the two through our follow-up sequence. Let me give you an example: I have a client that runs a doggie daycare and boarding facility. So the lead magnet that we worked on was a guide to local dog-friendly hikes and beaches.

The target market was active professionals with dogs that were looking for fun outdoor activities they could do with their pets.

What made this work, was that fact that we could tie their weekend excursions to exercise and how exercising their pets made them happier and healthier on the weekends. But during the work week, the dogs wouldn’t get the exercise that they needed when they were cooped up in the house all day, so we introduced some weekday exercise packages so their dogs could be happy and healthy all week long. BINGO!

You see how that worked? We used the lead magnet to identify and call out our perfect customer. We had them pay attention to the dogs wellbeing when they were well exercised, and then simply reminded them that they don’t get that exercise during the week presently, but they could with one of our exercise packages.

So those are the 5 Keys to a Successful Lead Magnet. They are the rules that we’re going to test all of our ideas against to help reduce the chances of us putting out a stinker.

Now It’s Your Turn

Use the comments section below and tell me a lead magnet that was successful for your business?

The Perfect Landing Page Guaranteed to Make Users Opt-in

The first page users will see in your opt-in process is called your landing page.

A landing page is just a special type of web page that we use to focus the user’s attention on our offer. A great landing page has two and only two outcomes – sign-up or go away. And that’s exactly how we want it.

By putting everybody through a specific landing page, some additional benefits show up.

  1. It’s easier to log user sessions.
  2. It gives us higher conversion rates as opposed to sending traffic to a normal website page (less distraction for user’s attention).
  3. It makes it easy to split test for higher conversions.
  4. It makes it easier to calculate the ROI of your advertising campaigns.

The great news about landing pages is, that as professional marketers, we’ve been using them for years. There is A LOT of data out there about split testing, what works and what doesn’t, so even though marketing isn’t 100% science, and what works for one industry doesn’t necessarily work for another, all of this data can be pulled together to give us what we call a “best practice”.

After sending 100’s of thousands of users through hundreds of landing pages, we’ve come up with what we call The Perfect Landing page.

It has 8 unique elements:


The goal of our headline is to grab the user’s attention and get them to continue reading.

80% of people are going to read your headline, only 20% of people are going to read any other text on the page, so if the headline isn’t compelling or if it doesn’t grab their attention – the chances of somebody grabbing your lead magnet are slim.


The purpose of the subhead is to clearly describe the benefit of your offer. The subhead supports or reinforces the headline.

3Bullet Points

3-5 bullet points are used to highlight the benefits of your product/service or call out your Unique Value Proposition (what separates you from your competition).

4Hero Shot/Image

Landing page images can be used to show your product, introduce the team, add human interest to the page or just point to your call to action button.

5Call to Action

These buttons tell the user what to do. Click here to Sign Up. Start My Free Trial. Download my Goodies. Call to action buttons should be large, easy to read and not require the user to scroll.

6Legal & Copyright

Adding copyright and links to your terms and conditions or privacy policy page will not only put web visitors at ease, but will also keep you in the good graces of some advertising sites like Google.

7OPTIONAL: Social Proof

Pictures and testimonials from previous users adds social proof and puts web visitors at ease and lets them feel like they’re making a smart decision. If it’s good enough for Jane, then it’s good enough for me.

8OPTIONAL: Credibility Builders

Awards won, showing the logos of high profile clients, “As seen on” or “Featured in” lists showing where you’ve been highlighted, are all great ways to build trust and credibility with your audience.

There are generally three different options on how to build your perfect landing page:

1.Website Platform Made for Lead Generation

These are relatively new because sales funnels, landing pages, and all the rest are really just not becoming “main stream”. But, there are more and more coming out every day.

Pros: Integrated so there is presumably only one interface.

Cons: To integrate you would be looking at a website redesign or if you don’t have a site, a new design based on one of these themes. In the grand scheme of things, this would be a relatively pricey and longer process so it may not be a good choice for you right now.

2. Just Build it in Your Website

Either you, your developer or your contractor can build the landing page in your website.

Pros: Complete control over the look and feel.

Cons: Developers that can hand code or do custom wordpress aren’t cheap and it is more difficult to make changes on the fly because you have to go through a developer.

3. Landing Page Builder

Pros: Pre-built templates, easily integrate with email autoresponders and can use for landing pages and thank you pages.

Cons: Monthly fee. Personally I don’t like the monthly fee, but I do realize that is the way a lot of businesses are heading. The recurring revenue model makes a lot of sense for businesses, so I just make sure if I’m going to pay the recurring fee, I do it for a tool that I use.

When using one of these 3 options and incorporating the 8 unique elements, your perfect landing page is guaranteed to make users opt-in.

Now It’s Your Turn

Use the comments section below and tell me if you have a landing page, and if so, how did you build it?

Be Cool Marketing 101: Introduce Yourself

Let me ask you a question… Have you ever signed up or bought something online and then un-expectantly, you get HAMMERED with emails?

I bought a light for my wife’s meditation room from Pottery Barn and without knowing it, I was automatically on the force feed diet of promo emails. I was getting daily (sometime multiple times per day) emails about lights, sofas and everything else I would need to deck out a room.

Normally I don’t mind getting emails from larger companies. I consider it to be research. I like to see what they put together – I like to see their offers, their frequency, their design, etc.

But these guys…it was even too much for me, so I unsubscribed!

This is what we’re trying to avoid! So, as soon as somebody opts in to our list, we’re going to be totally transparent and let them know exactly when and how we’re going to communicate with them.

Simple right…. but nobody does it.

This introduction campaign is quite possibly one of the easiest campaigns that we will ever put together because most of the time, it’s only one email – but the purpose is profound.

By being very clear up front we accomplish a few different things …

  1. We set the stage for the relationship.
  2. We in essence get their OK for this type and frequency of communication.
  3. We tell them what to do next.
  4. We start to build value.

Let me give you an example….

Here’s the one I use:

SUBJECT: Welcome to Black Dog Marketing! Here’s where to start…

Hey there … Mike Linville here and I’m the Founder & CEO of Black Dog Marketing. I wanted to take a second to say hello and welcome you to the family.

Seriously, on behalf of myself and the entire Black Dog Marketing team I want you to know that we’re truly excited and grateful that you decided to join us…

Here’s what you can expect from us…

We’ll publish fresh pet marketing content to our blog once per week on Thursday, then once it’s live we’ll send you an email with a short description of the new article, why we think it’s important for you and a link to read the full article.

We’ll also send you emails about new expert Black Dog Marketing courses, software and other cool premium resources from time to time BUT only once we’ve vetted them.

Sound fair?


Here’s what you need to do now to get started…

STEP 1: Make sure you’re getting our emails! 

Whitelist and prioritize all emails from “blackdogmarketing.com” and “Mike Linville”.

This is important!

If our emails aren’t getting through, you’ll miss all the important updates about what’s working in pet marketing right now (and you won’t receive the full benefit of being a Black Dog Marketing subscriber).

So please take the following simple actions to make sure nothing slips through the cracks:

1) Follow the whitelisting instructions for your email provider at this page:

Email Whitelisting

2) If you are a Gmail user or you use any other web-based email that filters broadcasts away from your main inbox, be sure to “drag” any emails from Black Dog Marketing or “Mike Linville” into your Priority Inbox. (Again, you don’t want to miss something.)

3) Create a special “Black Dog Marketing” folder where you can archive emails from BDM as well as “Mike Linville” AFTER you have read them. This is important…DO NOT setup filters to automatically direct our emails into these folders, or again, you are likely to miss something. Simply move them manually to the folder after the information in the email has been consumed.

STEP 2: Let’s get social …

Take two-seconds and join Black Dog Marketing on Facebook or Twitter, as these are our primary methods of communication outside of email updates, and again you won’t want to miss a thing:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/blackdogmarketing

Twitter: https://twitter.com/blkdogmktg

Talk soon,

Mike Linville, CEO, Black Dog Marketing

P.S. Did you know there are actually 5 different reasons to market your pet business?… and building a big business in only one of them.

I’ll give you all 5 tomorrow, but for now spend a little time thinking about what it could be. If you’re anything like me, you’ll get more benefit from the “thought experiment” than from the answer itself.

Be cool, and introduce yourself when somebody opts in to your list. Let them know what they can expect and when to expect it. Being transparent will reduce the number of unsubscribes to your list drastically.

Now It’s Your Turn

Use the comments section below and tell me how do you introduce yourself to your subscribers?

The Simple Steps to Indentifying Your Perfect Lead Magnet

There is ONE BIG THING that you must always make clear when identifying your perfect lead magnet…it is your PROMISE!

What’s the One Big Thing that your lead magnet is going to do, teach or solve for your end user?

There are quite a few areas where you can draw on experience for this.

  1. Client Interviews – One of the things you should always be asking is what’s the #1 problem that you have with abc? What do you hate about xyz?
  2. Surveys – Same thing here – the data isn’t quite as reliable, but it’s still a really good source of finding peoples frustrations.
  3. Competitors – Do you have competitors that are killing it at some aspect of their business? Are there challenges with it?
  4. Prospect Phone Call – You talk to prospective clients everyday – What sort of questions do they ask? What objections do they put up when you ask them tschedule?
  5. Your FAQ This could be an FAQ page on your website or just your own internal understanding of the client’s needs (this must be based on actual data.)

Whenever I put a lead magnet out into the webosphere, I always take users to a second page where I get a little more information. The one question I always ask is – What’s your #1, single biggest marketing challenge right now?

After asking this over 1,000 times, I’ve realized that in my niche there are really three main challenges. I developed a lead magnet for each of these challenges to help my prospective client overcome them.

  1. People Don’t Know Where to Start. There’s so much information out there and everybody says you have to do this if you want to be successful. They end of just picking something at random and then wonder why their stuff doesn’t work. Lead Magnet: 2015 Marketing Guide – What’s Working Now.
  2. People Have a Hard Time Finding Good Team Members. It’s hard to market a business if you don’t have anybody to trust that will do the work. Lead Magnet: Expert Interview Series on Hiring.
  3. No Time. People are trying to do it all in their business and have no extra time or money, so they need to do everything on the cheap. Lead Magnet: Productivity Lead Magnet in the Works.

Here are 6 steps to help you identify your perfect lead magnet;

STEP 1. Identify Problems You Can Solve

Grab a pen and paper and start jotting down the problems that people are having that you can help with. These are the ONE BIG THING PROMISES that you can solve for your clients.

STEP 2. Categorize Your Ideas

Determine what category the lead magnets might fall into.

  • Is it a How-To guide?
  • Is it a Cheat-sheet or Checklist?
  • Is it a Training Video?

STEP 3. Test it against the 5 Keys to a Great Lead Magnet

After you select the category of the lead magnet – the third thing you want to do is run it through our 5 Keys to a great lead magnet.

Think about your idea and ask the 5 key questions:

  • Is it specific enough?
  • Is it easy for the prospect to consume?
  • Does it address a KNOWN desire?
  • Does it deliver value?
  • Is it aligned with one of your products/services?

If you said YES to all 5 – you’re on the way to having an awesome lead magnet. If you don’t have all 5 go back to the previous questions and see if you can tweak it to make it satisfy all the criteria.

If your Lead magnet isn’t specific enough, you can take your topic and break it down even further.

Maybe it’s not about how to grow an awesome garden but how to grow awesome tulips. Its more specific.
Maybe it’s not how to be a better marketer, but how to attract new clients.
Maybe it’s not how to stop dog bites, but rather how to keep your toddler safe in a dog-friendly home.

STEP 4. Thinning the Herd

From all of the lead magnet ideas that you have, take all the ones that have all 5 keys checked and put them in one pile. Take the rest, and put them in a folder for later use. Sometimes there could be some great nuggets in there – you just need to work on the idea a little more.

STEP 5. Pick Your Winner

Of all the Lead magnet ideas that you have left – the ones with all 5 Keys checked…go ahead and lay them out and choose which one you feel you can deliver the best on.


STEP 6. Come Up with a Compelling Title

There’s a reason why we saved the title until the very end. The title of your lead magnet is very important. If the title doesn’t grab the user’s attention – it doesn’t matter how great the content is, they’ll never see it. 8/10 readers will read the title, only 2/10 read the body copy. So if we can’t grab their attention, they’re not going to consume the content (and remember…that is one of our 5 Keys to a great lead magnet.) We need the users to consume the content so they can reap the benefits of our knowledge.

Now that you have identified what your perfect lead magnet is going to be…all you have to do is CREATE IT!

Now It’s Your Turn

Use the comments section below and tell me what is your best idea for a lead magnet for your business?

15 Lead Magnets Guaranteed to WOW Prospective Customers

When we first think about the idea of a lead magnet and how we can incentivize our prospects to do what we want them to do – most people immediately think COUPON. And quite honestly, coupons can be great lead magnets if they’re done properly, but we don’t want to just think coupons or discounts – there is a whole new world of “valuable offers” out there… we’re going to talk about 15 different types of lead magnets.

Now this list is by no means comprehensive – we could easily add more categories and subcategories but this is a really solid list to give you some ideas about the types of things that we can offer our prospects.

1 Guides / Reports / E-books

  • These are really popular because they’re easy to make and it’s a great way for you to position yourself as an authority on a given topic.
  • All we really need here is for the end user to come up with one “AHA” moment or to get the small result they’re looking for and this lead magnet has done its job.
  • Usually in the format of a PDF document that can be emailed or downloaded.

2 Case Studies

  • This is a specific type of document where you record specific results that you’ve gotten.
  • If you’re a dog trainer, you can have a case study about a particularly challenging client.
  • It builds authority and also ties in social proof because you can weave in testimonials from the client.
  • Depending on what you do, these can either be written or VIDEO which works really well if it’s possible.

3 Cheat Sheet/Handout/Checklist

  • I really like these because people download them like CRAZY! In this instant gratification world we live in, people always want a fast result.
  • These give users step-by-step instructions.
  • These are usually downloadable documents and in most cases can be 1-2 pages.
  • Great for processes that can be systematized

4 Video Training/Webinars

  • Here users will not only be able to consume your content but they also see you as a person. It’s closer to how we do things in real life and because of that, it allows us to build a relationship FASTER.
  • Caveat is … you have to be personable. I know that you’ve all seen it – videos where the person looks scared-stiff, staring into the camera and not blinking – it just looks weird because those people aren’t comfortable on camera. If that’s you … don’t do video. Do a webinar. It is still your voice but instead of seeing your head, on a webinar people will see slides that you’ve created.

5 FREE/Discounted Access

  • I know that some people hate discounts. They are physically repulsed by the idea of discounting but we still do it because it works. Sometimes when people are on the fence about your product or service and they’re cost conscious, give them a discount.
  • If you don’t like the term discount, call it a gift certificate.
  • The key with discounts is that you have to be very clear that they are for new customers only and you have to have a strategy to get them back up to paying your full rate.

6 Special Access – AKA “The Velvet Rope”

  • A special waiting list for early access to your products/services.
  • A higher level of access to you.
  • Access to a special VIP excursion.

7 Quiz

  • These are huge right now. You basically ask the user a series of questions and at the end you give them a result.
    • What kind of pet parent are you?
    • What’s your marketing “spirit animal”?
    • Which Disney princess are you?
  • The keys here are to make sure you ask qualifying questions during the quiz so you can get more details about your market.
  • You can also make them opt-in for the answer.

8 >Surveys

  • Surveys are always a great way to find out what your market is thinking or having trouble with.
    • What’s the single largest frustration you have with _______?
    • What would you like to see from me next?
    • If you could teach your dog to master 1 thing – what would it be?
  • You can get people to enter their name and email because they want to see the results of the survey. People tend to like anything that allows them to go head to head with somebody else.

9 Contests / Sweepstakes

  • These are great because contents will typically get users sharing your information on social media.
  • You can even use software or web apps like content domination and actually incentivize participants to share your content socially by awarding them more points or entries.
    • Enter to win __________ (small version of your service)
    • Facebook photo contests
    • You have to be careful with these though and check with your local laws regarding sweepstakes or contests.

10 Event Recordings

  • Audio or video recordings of a previous event.
  • This is a great way to create a lead magnet from something that you’ve already done.
  • If you do in-person workshops, events or online teleseminars – you can use that content for years.
  • Most people actually don’t even give the whole thing away. They sell the whole thing and only give away special sessions here and there.

11 Branded Materials

  • Anything that is meaningful to your prospect that you can put a logo on is awesome.
  • The key here is you want it to be something that person will use or keep around daily.
    • coffee cups
    • water bottles
    • leashes
    • magnetic picture frames for the refrigerator with your company name and phone number

12 Physical Gifts

  • One of the more popular lead magnet strategies now is what’s called a “Free + Shipping” offer.
  • Basically what you do is you say, “Hey – I’ll send this thing to you absolutely free. I just ask that you help me cover the shipping and handling cost.”
  • You then charge $4.95 – $9.95 for shipping and handling and use that to help cover the cost of the product.

13 Swipe Files

  • A Swipe file is a collection of tested/proven letters, ads, emails, etc.
  • You can basically swipe the files and use them in your own business – thus the name swipe files.
  • A lot of time, you’ll see these lead magnets being used by marketers or copywriters, but the applications here can be varied.
  • If you have anything that can be copied and re-used with very little modification required, a swipe file might be for you.

14 Samples

  • Everybody loves samples. Have you been to Costco lately? That place is ridiculous with the on-aisle samples – but with a company worth of nearly $100 Billion (yes with a B). They are a perfect testing ground for marketing strategies across middle America.
  • This can be a free session, free dog treats or a welcome kit for new customers – include samples of products that you use.
  • This works like gangbusters but you HAVE to have your back-end in place. Meaning you need to have your complete funnel in place because you don’t want to keep 30,000 people waiting – the customer support will kill you.

15 Workshops

  • These can be anything from a 20 minute “Lunch and Learn” type of presentation to a 3-4-hour workshop in a local hotel or Chamber of Commerce.
  • These can be paid, free or pay to save your spot and then you get your money back if you show up to the event.
  • Because it’s live and you can really interact with people, most workshops have an offer that day. People that are good at presenting and very personable can make a killing doing this.
  • The challenge here is that we’re fighting for everybody’s attention so to try and get people to take time off to go to some external location for a free event – can be tough.

So there you have it … 15 different types of lead magnets! I’m sure that a few of these probably stuck out as definite winners for your crowd. Test some out until you identify what the perfect lead magnet is going to be for your audience.

Now It’s Your Turn

Use the comments section below and tell me what has been your most successful lead magnet, and why?