When you boil lead generation marketing down into it’s most fundamental components, the thing that you offer to potential leads in order to compel them to take action will always make the top five list of such fundamental components. Perhaps even the top three.
This thing I’m referring to goes by a number of different names:
- Lead magnet
- Response mechanism
- Funnel entry point
No matter what you call it, your lead response widget plays a critical role in your marketing funnel. Offering the right lead magnet to the right person is the key to generating the lead.
What’s the difference between a lead magnet and my offer?
It’s quite common to use these two different terms interchangeably. Fundamentally, there is nothing wrong with that, as most people will understand which one you mean via context. But I do want to point out that the two actually are different critters.
The lead magnet itself, which is the focus of this month’s Action Plan, is the thing. The offer, on the other hand, is the mechanism which entices somebody to obtain the thing.
For example, let’s say that I’m offering one of my best performing special reports: 5 Things To Ask Any Tax Resolution Firm Before Paying Them A Dime.
The lead magnet, the thing, is the actual report. The physical, printed pages that are mailed to the lead, or the PDF that is digitally delivered to them.
In order for them to obtain the report, I might have them call a special voicemail number, or enter their information into a web page. An example:
Don’t get ripped off by fly-by-night tax resolution firms! Before giving one single penny to anybody that wants to represent you (even me!), be sure to read this special report outlining 5 Things To Ask ANY Tax Resolution Firm Before Paying Them A Dime. To obtain your FREE copy of this report, simply enter your email address in the box below.
This, my friends, is an offer.
In some marketing circles, you may hear of the offer referred to as the Call To Action, or CTA for short. Same thing, different name.
This brings us to an important marketing lesson:
Thou shalt always include an offer/Call To Action in all thine marketing.
I don’t care what you’re selling or who you’re selling it to. This is a fundamental rule of direct response marketing that, if violated, will result in nothing but wasted money and endless frustration.
Since the purpose of your lead generation marketing is, of course, to generate leads, then you must ask them to take an action in order to create the lead. This may seem obvious to most readers, but when I conduct critiques of marketing pieces or web sites, it’s amazing how often this critical component is simply missing entirely.
Now that you understand the important of a lead response widget, and the connection between your offer and your widget, the obvious next question is: What should my widget be?
Lead Magnet Considerations
Your lead magnet is such an important actor in your overall marketing funnel, you should give it serious thought in order to make the right casting call. Too many firms try to create an unholy alliance between a great lead magnet and the wrong market, or with the wrong end result in mind.
Remember Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People? One of them is to begin with the end in mind. Here’s what this means for your lead response mechanism:
- What are the demographic, psychographic, and geographic criteria that this particular lead magnet is direct at? (aka, your target market).
- How does this lead widget tie in with the rest of my marketing funnel that the lead will be entering?
- Similarly, what is the desired end result for leads that acquire this particular lead magnet?
- What solution does my lead magnet provide to the end user?
The answers to these questions in particular will help determine several things, such as what to include in your lead magnet, and what form it should take (media format). Let’s take a look at each of these factors in greater depth.
You can’t be all things to all people, and you shouldn’t try. All of your marketing communication should be targeted to specific, clearly identified target markets, because different messages are going to resonate with different groups.
Example 1: You obviously wouldn’t send the same letter, offer, or lead magnet to a new homebuyer as you would a new business owner.
Example 2: You shouldn’t send an offer for a booklet you wrote covering the Trust Fund Recovery Penalty assessment to a 1040 lien.
Example 3: Running Google Adwords ads with an anti-ACA message probably won’t work very well if you’re trying to attract politically liberal tax clients.
You must know who your best client is, and you must target your marketing to them. You need a complete profile of what your best clients do for a living and for fun. You need to know what kinds of cars they drive and the types of neighborhoods they live in. You need to understand their desires and motivations.
Understanding your target market, and making sure that your marketing is actually aimed at a specific market, is an important concept, and largely beyond the scope of this document. However, I have included with this training a copy of the IDEAL Client Profile Exercise. I would encourage you to complete this exercise twice, actually: Once to create a profile of your current typical client, and second for your IDEAL client. Your marketing plan then needs to focus on bridging the gulf between the two.
Desired End Result
The purpose of each step in your marketing funnel is to advance a lead to the next step. I refer to this as lead nurturing. Why nurture leads? Because the majority of people that interact with you and your firm will NOT purchase you services immediately.
With your lead response widget, you are putting out a piece of marketing communication that is intended to move a lead further along the path to doing business with you. Within your lead magnet, you should have another Call to Action in order to move that lead further down your marketing funnel.
Many practitioners will have a fairly flat marketing funnel. In fact, it’s very possible that your next step after the delivery of your lead magnet is to move directly to face-to-face or telephone consultation. For many readers of this training, this will be the case.
If this is the case for you, then understand that your lead magnet must be compelling enough in itself to drive people to take further action. That next action might be picking up the phone to call your office, or maybe going to an online scheduling system like ScheduleOnce in order to book an appointment with you via phone, Skype, Facetime, or in-person, however you’re choosing to run your business.
In my current tax resolution marketing funnel, the next step after the lead magnet is to actually get them to make a $299 purchase. That’s simply the next step, and I sell that step on a live webinar. It is during delivery of the $299 service that I then have to move the prospect forward to being a full-fee representation client. So even though they’re paying a nominal amount to take the next step, I still don’t really consider them a client yet – they’re just paying to take the next step in my marketing funnel.
For some practitioners, the delivery of their lead magnet may come before entry into another automated marketing system, such as an email autoresponder or a social media drip. In this case, your lead magnet needs to sell the person on taking action to move forward still. Your Call to Action might be something along the lines of offering additional resources or tips to help them reduce taxes or deal with an IRS or state revenue department problem.
Your lead magnet needs to provide a solution to some problem that a person is facing. While the ultimate solution we want them to obtain is the paid use of our services, we must first demonstrate our ability to provide that solution (this goes way beyond technical competency, by the way).
Very few people are out there in the world actively looking for a new accountant, or actively seeking to change up that person they see once per year for their 1040. Even when people are facing an acute pain point that could be solved by a tax, accounting, or legal professional, most of these folks are not actively searching for a service professional to help them (the ones that are represent the minority of folks that hire us immediately for our services).
Let’s a take an example online. If you are familiar with keyword research, you might know that there are different types of keywords that people enter into Google. Often, these keywords fall into a continuum, from basic, initial research on the topic, up through active buying intent.
For example, somebody searching on Google for “IRS tax lien” is probably in a very early research process. If they’re searching for “IRS Form 668-Y” or “Notice of Federal Tax Lien”, they’re probably a bit further along in the process (and the IRS collection cycle). If they’re searching for “how to remove a tax lien”, they’re ripe for receiving our lead magnet on the subject. If they’re searching for “best tax lien removal expert Seattle”, they’re ready to hire representation.
At each of these distinct phases of search behavior, the person is seeking different types of information. They have different motivations at that exact moment, and they’re only going to click on information that looks exactly like what they’re searching for. Therefore, your lead magnet must specifically address the search phase they’re in.
For the person just researching tax liens, their needs are different. They have a different pain point than the person looking for information on how to remove a tax lien. For the first person, you can provide a general overview of the lien process, what they are, how they arise, and the potential impacts. For the second person, you need to provide detailed information about the lien withdrawal process (and how you can do it for them, of course).
The format in which you deliver your lead magnet will have a direct impact on the conversion rate from your Call To Action. In general, you have two initial choices to choose from regarding this:
- Do you make it as easy as possible to enter your lead funnel, thus increasing the number of leads but potentially decreasing quality? Or…
- Do you make people “jump through hoops”, in order to make it difficult for people to enter your lead funnel? This creates leads that are more motivated to find a solution to their problem.
Which of these paths you choose depends on a number of factors:
- Are you taking anybody and everybody?
- Do you have the staff to handle larger volumes?
- Are you running a boutique lifestyle practice from beaches of wherever?
- Are you willing to do more filtering later on in your process?
- Probably even more important: Are you capable of filtering through leads and turning away prospective clients that don’t fit into your business? (many practitioners never learn how to say “no” to potential clients, something we should all do far more often).
- Do you have specific preferences that dictate how you “corral” leads in your marketing funnel?
Here’s an example: After testing the concept in November 2013, May 2014, and December 2014, I made the decision in 2015 to “herd” all my leads into a purely webinar-based marketing funnel. Leads from both direct mail campaigns and Facebook ad campaigns were both directed to dedicated domain names that hosted webinar signup pages.
I started doing this for a number of reasons, all of which relate to the factors above. First, I was vastly expanding the scope of people I was marketing to. Essentially, all people and all businesses with a tax debt. Since I was no longer running a beach-based boutique practice, I wanted to drastically expand my drag net.
However, because of the fact that I run a paperless office, and make extensive use of technology, I wanted to make my lead magnet (the webinar) a filtering mechanism. Potential leads that are not comfortable using web technologies simply aren’t going to sign up. Those folks that aren’t tech savvy enough to figure out how to use a simple webinar system are people I choose not to work with, because if I did I would inevitably end up having to do a lot of hand-holding over the use of the technology products I use to actually complete case work. I’m not saying these folks don’t need tax help – they obviously do. They’re just not a good fit for how I choose to run my business. Therefore, I don’t want them in my marketing funnel.
Second, because of the fact that I was looking to move beyond a small, “boutique” practice, and expand into a much larger firm, I wanted the ability to handle a larger volume of prospects. The beauty of using the webinar system is that it provides an efficient means to sell tax resolution services via what I call the split sales method (refer to my Tax Resolution Systems manual or any of my tax resolution marketing/sales seminar recordings for information about this sales strategy). Think about it: Would you rather say the exact same things to 35 people at a time for one hour, or one at a time for one hour each? Efficiency, baby!
Note: The webinar-based strategy is not for every practitioner, not for every target market, not proper for every end result. Don’t get hung up on the fact that it’s what I’m doing right now. It’s simply one of countless possible examples.
A Few Words About Contact Information
Don’t forget that you are trading your lead magnet for a person’s contact information. This is the entire purpose of the exchange. You are in the business of collecting private contact information from people. That’s what direct response marketing is all about.
There are rare situations where it might make sense to give away information that would normally be part of a lead magnet without collecting contact information. In digital marketing terminology, we simply call this content marketing. For example, on TaxMarketingHQ.com you’ll see a section on the top labeled “Free Guides”. These are lead magnets for the site, but I collect no contact information for them. Thus, they are really content marketing items intended to give a sample of what the rest of the site offers, as part of enticing visitors to take me up on the actual lead generation offer on the page, where I do collect an email address (you will notice over time that I occasionally change the lead generation offer, but it will always in some way relate back to one of the items in the “Free Guides” area).
When you collect contact information for your leads, most of us naturally want to collect as much contact information as possible. A complete contact profile will consist of name, address, phone number, email address, etc. Bear in mind that the more information you ask for at one time, the fewer leads you’re going to generate. However, they’re going to be better quality leads.
Again, this goes back to many of things I mentioned in Media Considerations, up above. Are you trying to grease the wheel and get everybody, or filter via your lead capture process up front? Where and how you decide to filter is up to you, but be sure you understand the limitations and benefits of those choices.
When you add additional contact methods to your lead contact profile, you open up additional avenues for long-term lead follow up. For example, email is great, but adding in occasional phone calls will bolster your overall marketing results.