A bribe can nearly always be described as a Very Bad Thing.
There are exceptions. One is the bribe I offer my 4-year-old daughter (10 minutes of cartoons) to get her to sit down and clean her teeth before school.
Another is the bribe you offer visitors to your website to encourage them to sign up to your email newsletter.
Okay, so you may call these Lead Magnets, but ‘good bribes" is what they really are.
I am not against these in any way. In fact, I recommend using a lead magnet every time you want a visitor to your website to part with their email address (or any other information you might be after).
The big problem for most businesses is: what on Earth will encourage people to sign up?
The first thought to come to mind is the ebook. And yes, ebooks can be great lead magnets.
The problem is when an ebook becomes the automatic response, and you end up creating a document that is not compelling at all.
You know the ones. The ebooks that turn out to be no more than slightly long blog posts packaged up as ‘secret' tips and ‘insider' knowledge.
That's not gonna fly any more (and it is part of the reason behind the prevalence of 'book blindness').
Unless you have an idea that is genuinely compelling enough to tempt subscribers – rather than yet another free ebook – forget about it.
So what then?
There are plenty of lead magnets beyond the ebook. In fact, not only are some of these quicker to set up than ebooks – they also bring other benefits.
It's a double-whammy that can't be ignored.
Let's start with my favourite.
1. Email Courses
I'm a big fan of email courses. In fact, unless there is a reason why you should not use one, this is my go-to recommendation.
These have a number of things going for them.
1. They are quick to set up: You already know your topic inside out, and you can easily share that value with people in 5 or 10 short emails. And you don't have to design and create an ebook.
2. They are easy to digest: People may download ebooks, but do they always get a chance to read them? A short email that pops into their inbox and provides useful information, however? That works.
3. They get subscribers into good habits: This is perhaps the best reason for courses. As long as you provide value, you will encourage subscribers to open their first few emails because they will be actively looking for the information (they signed up to receive it, after all). Get them into the habit of opening your emails the first few times, and this will help you when you are still sending them emails in a year or two.
Oh, and 4: You provide consistent value over a few weeks or months, rather than just one big shot of value in your ebook. A course also has a more valuable feel to it than an ebook.
Here’s an example of a company (Eventbrite) using this lead magnet good effect:
2. Content Upgrades
Another great option is the content upgrade. These are a relatively new idea, but many businesses are using them with excellent results.
They are basically offers of some sort that are worked into individual blog posts. Readers of that post are tempted by a more specific bribe, encouraging them to part with their email.
Here’s one that appeared on that Leadpages link about, which is a content upgrade about content upgrades on a blog about content upgrades:
At its most basic, you can offer a PDF download of the blog. This provides readers with an easy way to download and save the content, and this might be enough.
However, you can also offer something that expands on the blog content. For example, say you have a blog providing 10 ways to improve PR on a shoestring budget. In the middle of the blog, you can place a quick form offering 5 extra resources that you have used to improve your own PR in two months.
Because the content upgrade is related, and the reader has already shown an interest in the topic by reading it, this can be a fantastic moment to grab their email address while they are at their most enthusiastic. They are already interested in the topic, and now you are providing them with a really easy way to get even more information – perhaps even better information – in the moment.
It's a no brainer.
3. Access to Your Library
This one is not something you can just set up from one day to another like email courses and content upgrades. However, once you have produced a LOT of content over the course of a year or so, this becomes tempting.
Essentially, rather than just provide subscribers with one little ebook, you provide them with access to your exclusive members' library where they will find 10, 20 or 50 ebooks that you have put together.
That is a far more tempting proposition than one ebook. And if you have already created the content, it will be easy to set up.
One site that does this very well is Copyblogger, which offers access to a huge quantity of free resources that provide genuine value:
There's no reason why you can't do the same.
4. Access to Your Forum
Again, this will take a bit longer to set up. But it can prove to be one hell of a good lead magnet if you do it properly.
A forum has the benefit that you are providing value on a continuos basis. If someone signs up to your members-only forum, they can visit every day for answers and advice – compared to the one-time ebook that is quickly forgotten.
I have definitely joined a number of email lists purely for the forum access, so I know it works.
This is not suitable for every business, and it will take a bit of work to get it set up. Consider launching a free forum for anyone to join to start with, then as it grows you can start asking for emails as the key to get entry.
The other bonus is that the sort of people who will sign up to get forum access are more likely to be targeted prospects who have a genuine interest in your industry.
5. A Special Offer
Finally, the special offer. And yes, this is the one I'm using at the time of writing (check it out on my home page or any of the service pages).
A special offer or a discount provides instant value, and I know from my own experience that it has been very successful.
This option can be especially effective for ecommerce stores. Launch an entry popup providing a 15% discount on the first order, and many visitors are going to take you up on it. Then even if they don't end up buying, you've got their email address for future marketing opportunities.
House of Fraser provides the promise of special offers in return for a sign up:
Though I would recommend offering a specific offer such as on the first order like Sigma Sport does:
3 Tips to a High Converting Lead Magnet
Whatever type of lead magnet you choose, there are a few things that you can do to help it convert into more leads. You don't have to do all of these, or any of them, but they can help to make a difference.
A) Make It Relevant
Don't just choose a lead magnet because you like the sound of it. Make sure it is truly relevant. That means providing a solution to the problem that your visitor faces.
In my case, typical visitors are looking for a copywriter, and I provide them with a way to hire one for less.
In your case, a visitor may be trying to decide how to choose a plumber or how to get started with SEO or anything else. So offer them something relevant to their needs that provides real value.
Don't fall into the temptation of offering a vague lead magnet. Vague never works. Provide an answer to a problem, a real reason to sign up.
And if you don't know what your visitors want, ask them. There are plenty of ways to ask for feedback (try SurveyMonkey for a start).
B) Shout Out About Your Newsletter's Value
Rather than limiting your newsletters sign-up box to a small form at the end of the page, make it obvious.
Test using a popup to capture the visitor's attention. Or create a dedicated landing page going into more details about the benefits of signing up (this is essential if you are using advertising to drive prospects to sign up to your list).
C) Write a Better CTA
When you create a sign-up form for you email list, don't make the mistake of using generic call-to-action (CTA) copy like 'Sign Up'. Sometimes this can be fine, but be more specific if you can.
People want to know exactly what will happen when they click on the button, so tell them. 'Get My Discount' or 'Send Me My Special Report' could increase clicks (I say 'could' becuase you'll have to test this for yourself).
Anything Is Better than Nothing
So there you have it, a guide to some genuinely effective bribes that you can put into place to increase subscriptions to your email list.
And whatever you do, just make sure you use something. Even if it's an ebook (like I said, I'm not against ebooks, I just think you should consider all the options first).
The worst thing to do is just put a form with 'Sign Up to My Newsletter’, without providing any real reason to do so. If you really can't give a bribe, at least list some of the benefits of signing up, such as the excellent information subscribers will receive.
No one is going to sign up for the hell of it. Well, some might, but you can do better.
Remember, people are getting more picky over what they sign up to. Entering an email address into a form might not cost anything, but it does cost time. And with emails becoming increasingly full of junk, don't be surprised when people decide not to sign up to yet another list just because your business is so darn great.
Give them a reason to sign up. Give them a bribe. Get more people on your list.