Your Lead Magnet Sucks. Try This Instead.

Author’s note 4/8/22: I originally published this episode on 2/28/18. My perspective on Ryan Levesque, his ethics, and what his brand represents have changed since I wrote this. I encourage you to read this post I’m linking for my thoughts on the Cult of Online Marketing.

OH $#*! I NEED SOMETHING FREE TO GET PEOPLE ON MY EMAIL LIST! Let me dig through my hard drive and rustle up an old PDF I have lying around. PEOPLE WILL LOVE THAT.”

Stop. right. there. This bad idea won’t just cost you email conversions, it will cost you customers.

Are you driving away sales and pushing away clients before you ever had a chance to woo them with your wares? If you’re making this all too common opt-in mistake, I’m afraid the answer is yesssssss. (Extra snake hiss added for effect so you know it’s REALLY BAD.)

Once upon a time, it was a novelty to offer your website visitors something for “free” in exchange for their email. These days, everyone and their neighbor’s goat has a list and a lead magnet…and 99.9% of them suuuuck.

Small business owners approach list building with the rolled eyes and resentment of a teenager taking out the garbage. “Ughhhhh, now I have to figure out something free to give people just so they’ll get on my list?!?” Can’t you just hear the adolescent whine?

This right here is the email marketing mistake costing entrepreneurs big money: treating a lead magnet like a “freebie” instead of a sale.

Think about it. You are asking leads to give you something valuable to them (their email address) in exchange for something valuable to you (your lead magnet). This means, once they’ve handed over their email address, they’ve essentially become your customer. And how do you treat this first customer experience? With a last-minute, night-before-the-big-test, procrasti-PDF you fished out of an old folder or threw together while sighing angstfully through your figurative braces? C’mon y’all.

Now imagine what your lead is thinking. They’ve just given you their email address and you responded with the downloadable equivalent of rolled eyes. Why would they up the ante and give you their dollar bills?

What if you treated your “free” opt-in offer like a sale?

In this episode of Awkward Marketing, I’m challenging you to ditch your ol’ worn out lead magnet and try something new. Fair warning, I fangirl a wee bit over The Ask Method by Ryan Levesque. But I promise, it’s only because this approach to list building is the ultimate antidote to eye rolling opt-ins.

Face it, your lead magnet sucks. Try this instead:

Rachael Kay Albers

Rachael Kay Albers is a creative director, business comedian, and brand strategist gone wild. She writes and performs about branding, pop culture, tech, and identity. When she’s not muckraking about marketing, Rachael runs RKA ink, a reinvention studio and branding agency for businesses that burn the rulebook. She's also on Instagram a lot.