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Lead magnets, content upgrades, freebies, opt-in offers...
All those names are enough to make your head spin!
In fact, you’re probably wondering –
“What’s the difference between them?”
“Why do I need them?”
And, “How could I actually use them to grow my business?”
Make no mistake about it, the world of online marketing can be confusing, especially when it comes to kinda intimidating marketing jargon.
This blog post will break everything down for you, and put you on the road to using lead magnets and content upgrades in a way that’s not only simple and quick, but also profitable for your bottom line!
Read on to learn more…
What are lead magnets and content upgrades?
In a sense, lead magnets and content upgrades fulfill the same function.
Both of them are what you might call “freebies” or “opt-in offers” -- resources that you give away for free when someone requests to download them.
You can promote your lead magnets and content upgrades on your social media feed, in your blog posts, and on your website.
And when your readers are interested in downloading your freebies, they use a sign-up form (otherwise known as an opt-in form) to request to receive them via email.
(Note that since the introduction of GDPR regulations in the EU in 2018, you should make it clear when people sign up for your lead magnet or content upgrade that they’ll also be subscribing to your mailing list by signing up for the freebie. Or, you can include a checkbox which gives them the option of subscribing to your mailing list when they request the freebie -- most email service providers, such as ConvertKit, make this option available for their users.)
Why do you need lead magnets and content upgrades in the first place?
If you have a blog or do business online, you'll quickly discover one of the most effective ways to attract new clients and grow your audience is to have a mailing list.
That’s because the Internet is a BIG place, and even if someone lands on your website or blog, there’s no guarantee that they’ll ever come back.
As it’s highly unlikely that people will purchase from you the very first time they visit your website, you ideally want to have a way of obtaining their contact info and continuing to stay in touch with them (so you can possibly convert them into future paying customers or clients!)
By staying in touch with your website visitors in this way, you can build the know-like-trust factor and stay top of mind with them, if ever they’re searching for services or products like yours in the future.
And sure, you can use your website to encourage people to follow you on social media in order to stay in contact with them. (Though I personally do NOT do this -- I prefer to focus on using my website to grow my mailing list!)
BUT -- if your subscribers are already following hundreds of other people on their social media platforms, you have little guarantee that they’ll ever see your posts in their crowded newsfeeds,
Which means that they can easily forget about you.
That’s why obtaining your subscribers’ email addresses is usually the best way to stay in touch with them after they’ve visited your website.
However, most people generally aren’t willing to give away their email addresses for free -- even the offer of receiving a free newsletter may not be enticing enough for them to do so!
Instead, they need an incentive to type in their email addresses.
Enter: lead magnets and content upgrades!
Psst! For more info on mailing lists, as well as a no-BS overview of the pros and cons of email newsletters, check out the following post: Do you *actually* need an email newsletter?
How are lead magnets and content upgrades different from one another?
This is where it gets really interesting! (Or, at least, it does if you’re a content marketing nerd like me !)
Generally, a lead magnet is a free resource you create which will have broad appeal to basically everyone in your target audience.
Many business owners and bloggers follow up on their initial lead magnet delivery email with an email funnel that ultimately directs people towards one of their paid products or services. (Hence the word “lead” in the name -- you can class people who sign up for this resource as leads, because you'll ultimately steer them towards buying something from you!)
However, don’t worry if you haven’t created an email funnel to accompany your lead magnet yet.
You can absolutely use a lead magnet without any kind of funnel whatsoever.
In fact, just by adding people to your list, you’ll be adding them to your tribe and making it more likely that they could buy from you at some point in the future.
A content upgrade, meanwhile, is similar to a lead magnet in that it also essentially encourages someone to join your mailing list.
But a content upgrade is usually a shorter resource, which you add to one or more blog posts on a particular topic.
So, for instance, if you were an Instagram strategist, your lead magnet might be 10 Instagram quote templates or a done-for-you Instagram calendar with 30 days of post ideas – resources with appeal to basically everyone in your target audience.
However, you might then create some blog posts on more specific topics such as writing Instagram captions, how to find the right Instagram hashtags, and how to write your Instagram bio.
For those blog posts, you could have content upgrades like an Instagram caption-writing guide, a downloadable list of hashtags for specific industries, and an Instagram bio checklist. These are all more niche topics and well suited to being content upgrades!
How can you create lead magnets and content upgrades?
Lead magnets and content upgrades are usually downloadable in PDF format, if they’re text-based. However, they can come in a wide variety of other formats too. (Download your free Irresistible Opt-In Offer Toolkit for more examples and inspiration on this)!
If you do decide to create a PDF, you have plenty of options when it comes to the tools you use to do so.
- Canva (a web-based graphic design software with free and paid options)
- Beacon (a tool you can use to create ebooks, PDFs or convert blog posts into downloadable freebies)
- Microsoft Word or PowerPoint (save your document as a PDF when you’re done)
- Keynote for Mac or Apple Pages (save to PDF when you’re done)
- Google Docs (save to PDF when you’re done)
Once you’ve created your PDF, you should also compress it to make the file size smaller and therefore easier to deliver via email – I use the free tool ilovePDF to do this.
What do you do with your lead magnet/content upgrade once you’ve created it?
Once you’ve created your freebie, it’s time to promote the heck out of it!
But a further distinction between lead magnets and content upgrades is that you’ll usually promote them in different places on your website.
Your lead magnet is the freebie that’s likely to have the broadest appeal to your audience.
So this is the freebie that you want to feature most prominently on your site – perhaps on your Home page, About page, on a scroll mat or pop-up whenever somebody visits your blog, and even on its own dedicated “Freebie” landing page, where you can ultimately direct paid ads and traffic from social media. (See my own “Freebie” landing page for an example of this in the navigation menu above!)
Because you’ll likely have many different content upgrades, on the other hand, and because they’ll appeal to different niches within your target audience, you don’t want to feature every single one of these on every single page of your website. (That might be overkill!)
Instead, you’ll likely promote your various content upgrades in your blog posts on particular topics, and probably on social media too.
And while you certainly can create dedicated landing pages for each of your content upgrades, this might be time-consuming.
So you may wish to just direct your social media followers to the relevant blog post where your content upgrade is available, if they want to download it!
And for 25 ideas for irresistible lead magnet or content upgrade options, plus 3 fill-in-the-blanks templates to help you write conversion-optimized copy that actually gets people to sign up for your freebies, grab your Irresistible Opt-In Offer Toolkit by signing up below!
What’s the name of your most recent content upgrade or freebie? Tell me in the comments below!
Watch my Facebook Live where I expand on this topic some more, by discussing how to strategically use freebies to get more paying customers!