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The 5 Biggest Lead Magnet Mistakes You Can Make (and not even know it)

Are you making one of these 5 huge lead magnet mistakes?

As you know, I love to talk about email marketing, making sales, creating easy yes offers, and all that juicy goodness.  However, none of these strategies work unless you have people on your email list to actually send emails to. I know – captain obvious here. But if you’ve ever created an opt-in and people just aren’t signing up for it, it’s probably one of these 5 lead magnet mistakes.

???? Rather listen than read this post? This post is based off of Episode 139 of the Inbox Besties Podcast Listen on iTunes| Stitcher | Spotify ????

These are the top 5 biggest lead magnet mistakes I have seen, not just with my Love Your List students, but in general.

Mistake #1: Lackluster Lead Magnet

Let’s be real, there are a million blog posts, podcasts, YouTube creators, and everything else under the sun. And almost all of these content creators have lead magnets (or opt-ins) to grow their list. That means there are literally millions of lead magnets out there.

From free guides to e-books to checklists to meal plans to yoga poses, I think I’ve seen them all.

Because there are so many lead magnets out there, If you’re not willing to put in the extra effort and add a punch of pizzaz to yours, it’s going to bomb. Long gone are the days when you could grow your email list with boring lead magnets and free just isn’t going to cut it anymore.

It’s up to you to showcase to your people that your lead magnet is going to help them. That it’s unique. That it is exactly what they’ve been searching for.

One of the quickest ways to gauge the quality of your lead magnet is to ask yourself one simple question: Does my freebie answer a very specific question or solve a very specific problem?

What does that look like?

Instead of “Five Meals Under $10”, kick it up a notch with:

Five Meals You Can Make for Under $10 Bucks Without Chicken


5 Meals Under $10 Bucks Tailor-made for Vegans

Spice up your lead magnet and elevate it by using the Sir Mix-a-lot Principle. Click to Tweet

lead magnet mistakes you can make kate doster inbox besties podcast

Spice up your lead magnet and elevate it by using the Sir Mix-a-lot Principle.

That means you answer a “yeah but” or a stumbling block your audience faces.  The condensed version is to get inside your ideal client’s head and anticipate what they are thinking. So you if your niche is meal prepping on a budget, a yea but might sound like

“Yea… I can make a meal for less than $10 but I’m tired of eating chicken all the time”.

“Yea, I can make a meal for $10 but there aren’t affordable vegan options.”

So, it’s not “how to start a blog”, it’s “How to start a blog in 3 days, even if you stink at tech.”

Not just “how to get traffic” but “how to get traffic, even if you only get 100 views on a good month”

Add the “what ifs”, the “yea, buts”, the excuses they have in their heads as to why they haven’t accomplished their goals. When you call out the unsaid doubts and fears that your audience faces, they feel like you’re in their head. You get them. You’ve been there and done that. And when you make them feel like you “get it”, they sign up like gangbusters.

Treat your lead magnet like it’s something that you could potentially sell.

Don’t be afraid of giving away your juicy secrets. That’s what is going to keep your people coming back for more and solidify it in your audience’s mind that YOU are the person who has the answer to their problems.

That’ doesn’t mean that you need to go overboard and create a whole course or 15 chapter e-book. That’s another lead magnet mistake all in itself. Just make sure that your lead magnet isn’t’ bland and boring.

Mistake #2: Make Your Lead Magnet Relevant

One of the most dangerous pieces of advice out there is that if you have a blog post or a piece of content that goes viral, you need to immediately create a lead magnet around it. After all, it only makes sense to capture all of those emails and make a bajillion dollars and ride off into the sunset, right?

Hmmm… not so fast. Let’s think about this for a minute.

Does it make sense to create a lead magnet around something that isn’t relevant to your business long-term?

Let’s say you have a blog post about vegan options for backyard bar-b-ques that goes viral. That sounds great and all but if your main topic is all about hamburgers, would it make any sense to create a lead magnet with even MORE vegan recipes? No. That’s one of those lead magnet mistakes that a ton of people make when growing their email list.

Monetize your off-topic viral content in a different way like some type of affiliate income.

One of the biggest lead magnet mistakes is to create a freebie just to have a freebie.

Without any plan for how it fits in the big picture, creating a lead magnet isn’t going to grow a profitable email list. Make sure you have a plan for the future. How does it lead to your paid offers? If you don’t have a paid offer yet, will your lead magnet make sense later on down the road when you do have something to sell?

If you’re stuck on how to dovetail your lead magnet into your current or future paid products, check out Freebies That Sell & Serve. It’s a free mini-course that walks you through exactly how to pick a topic for your lead magnet, craft irresistible offers, and even has some bonus tech training to get you off to a running start.

One of the most frequent questions I get from my Inbox Besties is, “Can I have multiple lead magnets”?  The short answer is yes indeed.

Multiple lead magnets help you reach more people because you are solving multiple problems.

Email marketing is my jam. I love to talk about email marketing and I can talk about it for days and days on end. And even though I talk endlessly about email marketing, some of my blog posts are about SEO or Pinterest or Shopify. Although those topics relate back to email marketing, none of them are my area of expertise. It wouldn’t make any sense for me to create lead magnets about any of those topics. First of all, I’m not an expert and secondly, that’s not what I’m passionate about.

Every single one of my lead magnets leads back to the same things: email marketing, sales, and productivity. Because that’s what I know, that’s what my paid products are about and that’s what I’m passionate about helping my people with.

Be ruthless about making sure your lead magnet is on topic. Growing your email list to 10,000 or 20,000 people isn’t going to do you any good if the people who signed up aren’t interested in what you’re selling. It’s just a vanity number and bloated email lists don’t help you out in the long run.  Be specific. Be relevant. And help your people.

Mistake # 3: Lead Magnets that Lead Nowhere

A huge lead magnet mistake is not telling people what the next step is. I see this one all the time – and it’s one of the easiest lead magnet mistakes to fix.

When someone has signed up for your lead magnet, whether it’s a workbook, a cheat sheet, a mini-course, or anything else, you need to let them know what to do next.

After all, you did all the work to create your lead magnet, you banged out an amazing landing page and created your welcome sequence in ConvertKit… and after doing all that work, don’t drop the ball by not giving them somewhere else to go after they have signed up.

If your freebie is a PDF, put a call to action on the last page for them to check out a paid offer. If you have a mini-course, ask them to shout you out and tag you on Insta so you can reach more people.

It doesn’t’ matter what format your lead magnet is in, just give them somewhere else to go. You can ask them to:

  • Share out your freebie
  • Check out a paid offer
  • Follow you on social media
  • Join your Facebook group

The most important thing is to tell people what to do next. 

You don’t just want to knock their socks off with your amazing lead magnet and then leave them hanging with no direction on where to go to get more from you.

Mistake #4: Not Promoting Your Lead Magnet

Creating your lead magnet is only one half of the equation. If no one sees knows about it, they can’t sign up for your email list.

One of the biggest lead magnet mistakes that will destroy your freebie is not promoting it enough.

Maybe it’s hanging out on your sidebar or you’ve mentioned it in a Facebook group a couple of months ago but that’s not enough. Make sure you are talking about your lead magnet every single week, on every single platform you’re active on, especially if you have more than one free offer.

We would love to think that everyone has seen every Instagram post, binges on our Facebook feed, and has our YouTube channel on repeat but it just doesn’t work that way. Go look at your statistics. Everyone’s reach is in the tank!

Just because you posted something once doesn’t mean everyone is going to see it. You might have 1,000 people following you but only 24 people saw your post. That means you need to post again and on multiple social media platforms.

You created your lead magnet to help people so it is your job to get it in front of the people you are called to help.

If you use the same exact message every single time, that is going to be annoying. There’s a big difference between helping and harassing your audience. Change your message up. Make adjustments to how you promote your lead magnet based on the platform, or the time of year, or what’s going on in your life. Keep it interesting and new.

There are a million different ways to promote your lead magnetCreate new pins for it and schedule them in Tailwind. Talk about different pain points or problems you solve in your lead magnet.  and let people know you have even more if they are hungry for more. Actively promote your freebies to the world.

On your website, you can promote your lead magnet with a pop-up, on your menu bar, and with opt-in boxes on your sidebar and within your content. If your blog post directly relates to your lead magnet, a content upgrade can mean explosive growth for your email list.

Get in front of and borrow other people’s audiences (and influence). Being a guest on podcasts or guest blogging is a great way to get in front of new people. Make sure that whatever you’re talking about is relevant to one of your freebies so you can drop a link at the end.

kate doster inbox besties 5 biggest lead magnet mistakes

Mistake #5 – Playing Hard to Get

A big lead magnet mistake is making your freebie hard to find or hard to sign up for. You want it to be painfully obvious and easy for people to sign up for your lead magnet.

If you rely heavily on Pinterest, make sure your lead magnet opt-in is in more than one place. Not everyone is going to make it all the way to the bottom of your post. By having a sign-up box halfway through you’re giving people more chances to see what you have to offer and to sign up to get your help.

When it comes to your opt-in box, keep it as simple as possible.

Unless you absolutely need their last name or phone number, don’t put it on the sign-up form. Usually, a first name and an email address is all you need. Make your form as short and painless as possible. Don’t make them jump through a bunch of hoops with checkboxes and captchas unless you absolutely have to. I know GDPR is still a thing but if you put some thought and strategy into it, you can remain GDPR compliant and still have a smoth sign-up experience.

Honorable Mention: Make Sure Everything Works

Of course, when you’re first putting everything together, you’re going to test everything out but this isn’t a set it and forget it thing. Make sure all the moving pieces of your lead magnet are functional.

When someone opts in for your lead magnet…

  • What does your thank you experience look like?
  • Does the welcome email come through?
  • Have you checked your spelling or grammar?
  • Is the lead magnet link working?
  • Are your other links working?
  • Are your tags and segmentation working properly?

Create a testing email address so you can make sure all the bits and pieces are talking to each other like they should and nothing is broken. Get a friend or someone you trust to run through everything with a fresh set of eyes.

This is something you might want to check on periodically (at least once a quarter). Tech breaks down every now and then for no apparent reason. You want to give people an amazing first impression so you are the only person they care about when it comes to your topic. By double-checking that everything works right, looks good, and fires the right way, you won’t lose potential new subscribers.

So to recap…

The 5 6 Biggest Lead Magnet Mistakes Are:

Boring lead magnets
Not making it relevant
Not letting people know what to do next
Not promoting it enough
Making it hard to find or sign up for
Your lead magnet delivery system is broken


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