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How to Choose the Right Freebie to Grow Your Email List

Hailey Dale


I’m Hailey – content strategist and founder here at Your Content Empire where we help you create more profitable, purposeful and productive content — and hopefully enjoy yourself more while doing it too. Learn more about me here >>

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Content Systems
Content Strategy
Sales Funnels
How to Choose the Right Freebie to Grow Your Email List

I live and breathe sales funnels. They are probably the thing that I do most in my business. I make them and optimize them for myself and my own products. I design and create the full thing for clients through my agency. And I also teach everything I know about the sales funnels and my process through Your Content, Your Empire for people who want to DIY the process themselves. And through it all, I would say that the area where people tend to get the most stuck is when it comes down to choosing the right freebie to grow your email list. Here are a few of the most common reasons why people get so stuck making this lead magnet decision: 

    1. There are just too many options. There are a million different ways to build a sales funnel, including the type and topic of your freebie. And so anytime that there are too many options, we often find ourselves paralyzed with decision fatigue.
    2. Perfectionism. People feel like they have to get it right the first time. They feel like they have no room for figuring it out as they go. And so they get into this mindset where they're afraid to take action because they're so afraid of screwing up and not doing it perfectly. They're also weary, and I think it's warranted, of investing so much time creating this freebie and then finding it’s the wrong one because no one signs up for it.
  • Needing to have all the details figured out beforehand. Sometimes people think they have to have every detail planned out and feel 100% ready before they can take any action, not realizing that so much of the feeling of being ready comes through action. These are my people and we identify as plan-crastinators. 

So if you find yourself stuck in choosing the perfect lead magnet and are putting off moving forward with your sales funnel, or with your list building activities, because of it, this blog post is you. 

My Lead Magnet Advice Depends on How Long You’ve Been In Business

If you’re just starting out in business (or you’ve been at it awhile but don’t have an audience of people who are perfect fits for your paid offers), you’re likely more concerned with list building and authority building than with rigorously validating leads at this point. 

Yes, strategy is always a part of it. And you're always going to want to be using the right freebie to grow your email list strategically so that you're attracting the right people. But at this stage in your business, it also is more about establishing yourself as an expert and building up that list. 

You may or may not even have your final offer for your business, you may still be in the experimentation phase. And so every single lead magnet that you could choose is going to feel like a bit of a gamble and that's just part of the game. That's just part of testing, measuring and pivoting, a normal process that all entrepreneurs go through.

On the other hand, if you are more of an established business, you very likely have past data to pull from that you can use in the decision of choosing the right freebie to grow your email list. And in most cases, if you're an established entrepreneur, you are most likely using your lead magnet to lead up to a specific offer – because even if it's something new that you’re launching for the first time, it's based on some work that you’ve previously done and have an audience for. You can be pretty sure you know it’s something that they need.

The other major difference between established and new entrepreneurs when it comes to the lead magnet decision is that established entrepreneurs are in a position of needing their lead magnet to both attract a new audience while also engaging their existing audience and mobilizing them towards a particular offer. This is the exact reason we include a testing protocol in our agency funnel building package to give the lead magnet a thorough test with their audience and use that data to tweak into the best lead magnet possible. 

This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t take an experimental approach if your audience is too small to run the testing protocol though. I advise aiming to get 100 people through the funnel and signed up for the lead magnet, and then do your own analysis to see what tweaks you can make. 

The main point that I'm making here is that everything is an experimentation, whether you're an established business owner or whether you're more at the beginning stages. And a huge part of this lead magnet decision is a bit of a gut thing as well. 

So while there is no “perfect” lead magnet, here is my process for helping you get as close as can be to a great lead magnet you can test with your audience

Step 1 – Narrow In On Your Transformation

Before we get into the whole, what should it be debate – Should it be a quiz? Should it be a webinar? Or should it be a roadmap? We want to focus in on what the transformation should be. 

What is the goal of this freebie, from the perspective of your audience for it? Why are people signing up for it? And what are they going to accomplish by using it? 

So many people jump straight to the “what should it be” part of the equation before focusing on the transformation they hope to deliver. And because of this when they launch it, nobody cares and nobody signs up because they’ve completely glossed over this whole “figure out the transformation” part of the process.

To figure out your transformation, ask yourself: Is this freebie for an existing offer or is it more for general list building and general expertise establishment?

If you’re creating a lead magnet for an existing offer, I want you to brainstorm the different sub-topics of that offer that you can use to kind of talk about and position your it. 

What are the things that you could create content around that would better prepare someone for your offer?

For example, if you're selling a web design package, What are all the things that you want somebody to have already prepared by the time they're hiring you? And can you create some kind of freebie that is going to help them get this stuff prepared that are going to get them more ready to hire you?

Or say if you have a product-based business where you design and sell removable wallpaper, what freebie would prepare people to buy and use your product? Downloading a free sample they can print and test on their wall? A mini decor planner for the room they plan on adding it to? 

Now on the other hand, if you’re creating a freebie for establishing expertise or general list building, I want you to start by doing a mini expertise mapping exercise. What are all the things related to your business that you are an expert in? Or if you're having trouble with the word expert, what are all the things that you are a little bit further ahead than the audience you want to be working with?

Once you have your expertise map or the list of different angles you can approach your offer from, select the one that you've seen people struggle with the most. 

If you're not sure, go back to some of your past customers and ask them to get on a phone call with you to discuss whether it’s a good fit and the words they’d use to describe it and the problem it solves (aka marketing swipe copy gold!) 

Step 2 – Detail Out Their Transformation

Next step is to detail out the transformation that you settled on in step 1. We want to come at this from the journalistic 5Ws and 1H questions (minus one) – 

  • What is your freebie? What is that transformation that you're helping people accomplish with this freebie? What are the specifics? 
  • Why should they sign up for it? Why do they care about this transformation? Why is this something that they need in their life or their business? What are they going to miss out on if they don't sign up?
  • When should they do use it (or how long will it take them)?
  • How does it work? How is this transformation going to take place? Detail each step your freebie will take them through to get them from point a to b.

Finally as a bonus assignment for defining and detailing the transformation, I would love for you to take the topic and go and search in some Facebook groups, Amazon, or on Reddit for some actual language that people are using to describe this problem or solution. This step will help you avoid creating the right freebie but using the wrong words to describe it that don’t resonate with your audience. 

Step 3 – Decide on a Delivery Format

We’re finally at the step where most people like to start with their freebie decision making: What the heck is this freebie going to be? 

Are you going to be creating a quiz? 

Are you going to create a webinar? 

Are you going to be creating a roadmap or any of the other zillions of types of freebies out there? 

If you’ve been following along and have your transformation locked down, you’re in the perfect position to make this crucial delivery decision! 

There are definitely some things to take into account when deciding on your lead magnet. Like what is the price point of your offer? What is the point of sale? IIs this leading towards a specific offer or a general awareness and list building? And finally, how confident are you that you know the audience that you're creating this for? 

I've created a decision maker a perfect freebie to grow your email list decision-maker that you can download to help you make this decision:

Step 4 – Create Your Freebie Purpose Statement

This next step might seem really simple, but there's something incredibly powerful about declaring what you're going to create with clarity before diving into the production of it. 

So I want you to fill in the sentence.

I'm creating a ________ for ________ to help them  ________ ! 

In these blank spots you'll put (1) what it is that you're creating; (2) the audience you're creating it for; and (3) what it's going to help them achieve. 

Ready to Make a Choice on Your Freebie?

So by now if you've gone through this process, you are ready to start creating your freebie to grow your email list. I want you to remember to download the lead magnet decision maker below this post to help you pick the right freebie for you. And finish things off with your freebie purpose statement!

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