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The Beginner’s Guide to Email Marketing + How to Make a Lead Magnet

How To, Marketing

Should you start an email list? Unless you have minimal plans to grow your business or scale in the future – the answer is YES! Email marketing has one of the highest return on investment rates (when compared to paid ads on social media, etc). And good news: There are a lot of ways to make setting up your email marketing easy, smooth, and fast. Here's my best tips for getting started quickly + how to make a lead magnet that site visitors can't resist!

Watch the video above for the full scoop (with tutorial on how to create a sign-up form and automate sending your lead magnet in MailerLite), or read the post below!

Today, we’re walking through the basics of email marketing, including:

Choosing a Mailing List Platform

MailerLite

Far and away, my favorite starter mailing list platform is MailerLite. It’s free for up to 1,000 subscribers, making it ideal for a new and growing email list. It also has really friendly user interface – everything you’re looking for is in a logical spot, and easy to find. Plus, it integrates with a long, long list of softwares!

Convertkit

For more advanced funnel features, I don’t think you can beat ConvertKit. Its drag-and-drop automation creator is organized, and the number of triggers and actions you can select from is more expansive than other platforms. 

I will say, Convertkit is a powerhouse on the backend of the software, but doesn’t always turn out the most on-brand, customizable emails. The design/editing aspect is more limited, so plain-text and simple emails look beautiful, but it is harder to create intricate designs (if you want to add things like images, videos, other formatting, etc). You can view ConvertKit pricing here.

Flodesk

2024 update: I switched to Flodesk at the beginning of 2024, and I'm OBSESSED. It's SO easy to use, creates beautiful emails, and really simplifies the whole process of sending out a regular newsletter (which is one of my major business goals at the time of this update). I highly, highly recommend it.

Flodesk also has one price point, instead of penalizing you for growing your list (which is the literal goal) with higher rates as your subscribers increase.

GET 50% OFF YOUR FIRST YEAR OF FLODESK (affiliate link)

Setting Up Your List

The set-up process for your mailing list will differ depending on which platform you choose. For quick reference, here’s the starter guide for each of the mailing platforms I mentioned above!

How to Make a Lead Magnet (& Why You Need One)

Yay – your email list is set up! But how do you actually get people onto your mailing list?

Enter: the lead magnet. A lead magnet is essentially something you give away for free to email list subscribers in exchange for them joining your email list. This can be an intimidating topic to brainstorm, but it doesn’t have to be!

The first thing you need to know about lead magnets: They need to be high value. This means they need to have a strong, positive impact and help provide results for the person using them! 

Remember: the goal of your lead magnet (and consequently, your email list) is to market your business. Whether you sell products or services, you need to generate revenue to keep your business thriving. I’m reminding you of this to help center you on the lead magnet’s main purpose: to create a preview of what it’s like to work with you, and how it can change people’s lives!

Brainstorming Lead Magnet Content

Here’s how to create a high-value lead magnet that’s actually desirable:

  • Create a list of pain points that often lead your clients or customers to seek out your help
  • Write down how you typically help clients solve this problem, including specific resources and tools. Do you have a handout you review and share? Do you help actually create the solution/plan for clients? 
  • Create your lead magnet out of the solution to the problem, and market it as such. Make it as easy and interactive as possible for users to get value out of your lead magnet.

Popular lead magnets include:

  • A guide or tutorial 
  • A quiz (people LOVE a quiz! Results are emailer after taking the quiz and submitting your email address)
  • A template or form – something interactive

FREE Lead Magnet Canva Template

Once you've generated an idea for your lead magnet, it's time to flush it out! But… designing an aesthetic, attention grabbing printable or guide is probably low on your list of priorities right now. Have no fear: I've created a FREE lead magnet Canva template for you to grab, add your stuff into, and have share-ready in minutes!

It'll also help you outline your lead magnet, including some additional blocks of content I recommend all lead magnets contain to help with brand familiarity.

Grab your template here!

Creating Signup Forms

No matter the mailing platform you choose, it will have a way to create signup forms. This is the way you’ll actually collect people’s email addresses (and send them your lead magnet). There are typically a few options for signup forms:

In-line Forms

Gives you code to add to a page or section or your website, that will display your signup form right where you put it

Pros:

  • Versatile design
  • Feels organic to the content, because you can put a form into a blog post, web page, etc. in context 

Cons: 

  • Can be easily missed because they’re not quite as attention-grabbing

Pop-up Forms

Adds a pop-up to your website to display at the time you determine (example: 25% of the way through a page, in the first 5 seconds of loading a page, etc) with your signup form

Pros:

  • Grabs attention quickly
  • Can have a higher conversion rate than other formats

Cons:

  • Can be annoying – most people (as in: 82% of people) hate ‘em
  • Not recommended for use on the mobile version of sites, which means you might be missing up to ⅓ of your website traffic with your lead magnet
  • Can be affected by pop-up blockers

Dedicated Landing Page

A page that has its own URL and is typically simple in design; created to house your signup form and be easily shareable (See an example of a lead magnet landing page on my site here!)

Pros: 

  • Simplify the sharing of your lead magnet

Cons:

  • If this is the only place your signup form is available and you direct people to this page from another website page, you may lose clicks by adding a step for people (rather than displaying the signup form exactly where people read about it)

My Best Advice for Lead Capture Success

  • Display your lead capture forms in multiple places on your website, and point to them frequently
  • Only use lead capture forms on pages where people are naturally seeking out resources from you. You’ll be less likely to disrupt their train of thought, and therefore, their website visiting experience. Great pages for this: Homepage, Blog (main feed, in posts, or both), and a Favorites/Resources landing page that houses any affiliate links, freebies, etc.
  • Show people what they’re getting! Add a visual preview of your freebie to your lead capture form to grab attention and start creating familiarity with the product

Simple Tutorial: How to Set Up an Email Signup Form

Buckle in, because we’re going on a ride. 😉 Here’s the tried-and-true method I use for adding signup forms to my clients’ websites:

Basic: Create an Inline Form

This is the most basic and easiest method to add a signup form to your site: 

  1. Create an inline form in your mailing platform. Remove everything except the first name and email address fields.
  2. Customize the form with your brand fonts (or choose something similar if not available in the form) and colors.
  3. Create a simple section of your website that has everything but the signup form: Attention-grabbing headline, a little text/context to describe your lead magnet, and a preview photo if you have one (PS – highly recommend that you have one ;))
  4. Grab the code to embed your form from your mailing platform and add it to the above section. Style as needed.
  5. Hit publish!

Alternate Option:

Follow the above tutorial, but on a special page just for your lead magnet (called a landing page). Make the URL slug something easy to remember and say (example: mine is hellococreative.com/freebies). 

Use buttons to point to this page throughout your website!

Setting Up Lead Magnet Delivery

There are three main ways to deliver a lead magnet:

  • Attached to the auto-reply email someone receives when they sign up (as an attachment – think PDF guides)
  • Linked in the auto-reply email (create a view-only share link in Google Drive or Dropbox and link it out!)
  • As a series of automated emails received in a sequence after sign-up (think: free mini-course)

Watch the tutorial on YouTube!

Pointing People to Your Lead Magnet

And just like that, you’re all set up! …almost. Now you’ve got: an email list, a lead magnet, and an automated system to send it – it’s just time to invite people in!

Don’t forget to share about your lead magnet on your social media and in other content forms if you have them (like on your blog). The best part about lead magnets, in my opinion, is that a well-crafted lead magnet is evergreen content! So, you can leave it up, keep the same sign-up forms, and just regularly point to it in socials.

I recommend posting about your lead magnet at least 3x in the first week it’s up, then add it to your regular content rotation (talk about it at least monthly, if not more!). If you don’t want it to feel stale, here’s some ways to mix up sharing about it:

  • The Obvious: Share that you have a new freebie, how it will benefit people, and where/how to get it
  • The Problem-Solver: Share about a problem your clients commonly face, then drop in info about your freebie to support them in solving it
  • The Case Study: Share about how someone utilized your lead magnet!

You’ll notice that when I’m talking about sharing with followers, I’m using the term “freebie” instead of lead magnet. This is intentional! “Lead magnet” is technical jargon, and doesn’t really appeal to the everyday Instagram follower or blog reader. “Freebie,” “Instant download,” “Free resource,” etc. tell someone exactly what they’re getting. Remember: Make it easy for people to understand!

Introduce yourself with words to 

Download The Bestie Bio, a free guide that will reveal the four essential components to an audience-winning About page that will have your website visitors wondering just how fast they can book with you.

win them over.

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