Megan Grant

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How to Grow Your Email List From Zero With a Lead Magnet

February 8, 2021

Why is it that when it comes to growing your audience online, the best advice some people can give is, “Just, like, create valuable content!”?

Great. Real helpful. Thanks.

Growing an audience, a following, can be hard, especially when it comes to your email list. What has undoubtedly been one of the biggest game-changers for me is lead magnets.

Let’s talk about what they are and how you can use them to grow your email list from zero.

Psst! If you prefer video over text, check this out.

First, what’s a lead magnet?

It might sound pretty self-explanatory, and it is. It is a magnet for leads.

More specifically, it’s any kind of freebie that you give away to people in exchange for their contact information — very commonly, their name and email address.

For example, if you look on my website, megangrant.net, you’ll see I have a number of freebies, including a few free guides and even a free course for writers.

In order for people to receive these freebies, they have to opt in using their name and email address, and then I send that content to them.

It’s a win-win. They get free guidance from me, and I get their email, so that I can continue communicating with them.

So, that’s what a lead magnet is. Your first step, then, will be creating a lead magnet so that you can start building your own email list.

How can you create a lead magnet that people will care enough about to opt into?

This comes from knowing your audience and what their pain points are. For example, many people who follow me are writers, and they often want to know more about things like keyword research and SEO. So, I have freebies for those.

A lot of people follow me because I teach my audience how to land clients. So I’ve got a freebie on that.

These are pain points for them, things they care about.

There are a number of ways to learn more about your audience’s needs and pain points. One suggestion is to use AskReddit , type in your field or industry, something related to what you do, and see what shows up in the results.

Here’s an example. I searched “freelance writing” to see what people are asking around this topic. Here are the search results.

AskReddit freelance writing search

Start looking for patterns. Are a lot of people asking the same kinds of questions? That probably means a lot of people are struggling with it. If you have a way to help them, that’s a great idea for a lead magnet.

For instance, if I happen to notice that a lot of people are asking about how to do SEO for freelance writing, it might be smart for me to make a lead magnet around that.

Another idea is to use Google and YouTube, start typing in a phrase, and see how they auto-complete it. Let me show you. I went to YouTube and searched “freelance writing.” As I was typing it in, a window appeared beneath my search, with YouTube autocompleting the phrase.

These results are not an accident. YouTube is showing us other related searches that people have actually conducted.

Freelance writing search autocomplete on YouTube

This is going to take some research on your part and that’s okay. Remember, you’re going to create this lead magnet once, and on autopilot, possibly indefinitely, it’s going to bring you new subscribers to your email list. Spend the time to do it the right way and create a high-quality lead magnet.

Next, let’s talk about the lead magnet itself.

This could be a whole separate video, but I’m going to give you the most important pieces of the puzzles here.

First, it needs to promise quick results.

Lead magnets aren’t meant to change people’s lives. They’re meant to help them fix a specific problem quickly. This is because your lead magnet needs to sound enticing enough for people to sign up for.

Look at it like this. What sounds more exciting?

How to Grow Your Email List in a Year

or

How to Grow Your Email List in One Week

How to Grow Your Email List in One Week. It’s easy for people to get excited about one week. But thinking about accomplishing something a year from now? Not so much.

Second, and as a result of that first point, it needs to be relatively quick and easy to consume.

If your lead magnet is a 50-page guide, yes, you might be delivering awesome value, but how are people going to get quick results if they have to read 50 pages?

We want quick wins. Tell them only what they need to know and eliminate the rest.

You know what a lead magnet is, how to research what to build a lead magnet on, and what your lead magnet should look like.

Let’s say you build it, launch it, and… crickets.

How do you promote your lead magnet to get signups?

Crickets are normal. If you have a small following, people aren’t going to just stumble upon your lead magnet. You’re going to have to be way more proactive and literally put it in front of them.

One idea? Get online, personally connect with people, and send it to them.

Go on all of your social media profiles, and dedicate 10, 15 minutes a day to personally messaging people, one at time. Don’t just shove your lead magnet in their face. They’re going to know that you’re not being genuine, and they’re not going to like it.

Find common ground with them, and start there. For instance, I might message another writer, and say, “Hey Susan! I noticed that you’re a writer like me. I built this free course to help people in our field learn SEO basics. Would you be interested in enrolling?”

And if Susan says, “Heck yes,” then I send her the opt-in page.

This isn’t just about promoting your lead magnet. It’s also a really good opportunity to form new relationships with people who might be interested in following you for the long run. Don’t be in such a hurry that you rush it and force these relationships and try to fake it with these people. They will see it coming a mile away.

You still need to be authentic and care about these people and these relationships. If you go after this with purely selfish intentions, the results will reflect it. You should always have the mindset of, “I have something that I think can help these people,” not, “I just want to grow my email list.”

Manual direct outreach might seem like a lot of work, but you won’t need to do this forever (although I argue that you might want to, simply because it’s such a great way to form new relationships).

In addition to direct outreach, you can also be promoting your lead magnet on social media, even if it’s just your personal Facebook page. You have to start somewhere.

If you write blogs, and your lead magnet is relevant to whatever you’re discussing in that blog, mention it and link to it.

If you create YouTube videos, same thing. If your lead magnet is relevant, mention it in the video and link to it in the description. I do this all the time.

It might seem like a lot of hands-on work, and you might want to be making progress faster. But what else is new? We all want that. This is kind of how it is when you’re first growing your email list, so don’t let that discourage you.

And on that note, in the beginning, I strongly encourage you to do this organically, meaning for free. In other words, in the beginning, I would NOT spend money on things like Facebook ads, unless you happen to be a Facebook ads expert, which most people are not.

Watch this video to learn more about why I advise against this.

Your email list is going to be really important to the success and growth of your business, so focus on creating an effective lead magnet that will help your audience solve a common problem that they’re having, and you’re going to see results.