Do audio lead magnets really work?

The race to capture leads is brutal, especially when every entrepreneur out there is offering a guide, checklist, or exclusive video — totally gratis. You might feel like you can only promote so many “free ebook!” downloads before you and your audience start to get tired of it. Or worse, they get blind to the offer and never even notice.

So how can you up your lead generation game without resorting to the old standbys? Change the medium.

At GrowthLab, we’ve noticed an increase in entrepreneurs offering audio lead magnets in place of the traditional ebook call to action.

Audio magnets work exactly like that free ebook, but instead of a PDF the subscriber gets an audio clip. All someone has to do is enter their email, download the clip, and listen to it on their phone, desktop, or audio device.

It’s an alternative to the 9,000 “download my free ebook” pop-ups you see every day that relies on the increase in podcast popularity. But, does it work? And when does it make sense to use one?

We looked at three examples to help guide your decision.

Example 1: Deliver audio training and find a new primary lead source

If you run a coaching business or you can walk your customers through a certain pain point, training courses are a good way to get your feet wet with audio. Take life coach and motivational speaker Marie Forleo, for example. Her homepage and blog posts all point users to one lead magnet: an audio training guide “to learn three simple strategies that’ll give you the clarity and confidence to build your dreams, on your terms.”

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It doesn’t overlap with her main product, B-School, a video-based training program that helps people grow their businesses. And it doesn’t take away from her main content channel, MarieTV, a weekly YouTube show that helps people overcome obstacles to pursue their dreams. The audio lead magnet simply supplements these offerings and gives people a taste of what Forleo can provide — exactly what a lead magnet should do.

Mark Leruste — founder and host of The Unconventionalists, a podcast that helps people build their personal brands — takes this approach as well. He began by experimenting with a few different lead magnets, including a simple “Join my newsletter” sign-up form and an invite to download a free digital copy of his book, “It’s Not You, It’s Me.”

But they weren’t driving conversions. He knew he needed to keep experimenting, but this time, he wanted to be smarter about it.

“I wanted to spend the least amount of time, energy, and money on [the lead magnet] as I may have to try a different lead magnet if it failed,” Leruste said. “After all, no point spending hundreds of dollars or weeks of your time on creating a video series or writing a PDF at this stage if you’re not 100% sure it’s what people REALLY want.”

That’s when he landed on audio training. And now, it drives 80% of his leads.

To decide on a topic, he asked clients what they struggled with most, scrolled through social media, and considered questions during Q&A sessions at live events. And he found a common theme: Most people who aspire to build a business struggle to clarify their message.

“So I figured I’d help people with the first part by introducing a free audio training, and then for those who were ready to scale their impact and wanted to go a step further, I could help them through my online Impact Accelerator,” an eight-week online course that helps people amplify their brand messages.

He based the audio training content on successful exercises he uses with one-on-one clients.

“I then drafted it out on a piece of paper, mapped out the key points I needed to say and then pressed record!”

Boom. He had a working lead magnet. And it paid off.

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“I’ve played around with a few lead magnets over the years (email, ebook, guides, audio, etc). And for me, what’s worked best by far is my free audio training. I think it’s because it’s easy to digest, you can walk around and listen to it and it’s pretty quick to get through it.”

In fact, on his website, Leruste currently has three lead magnets:

  • Download a free digital copy of my book, “It’s Not You, It’s Me” (ebook/PDF)
  • Instant access to The Ultimate Podcast Gear Guide (Re-directed to a URL with complete gear reviews, affiliate links, etc.)
  • “How To Find Your Message” audio training course (MP3 hosted on SoundCloud)

Example 2: Supplement your other podcasts and double your list

According to Edison Research, 67 million Americans listen to podcasts each month — up 14% from last year. Weekly podcast listeners also spend a mean time of more than five hours per week listening to podcasts.

That’s a big reason why Jessi Hagerty, nutrition and movement therapist, offers an audio lead magnet; it complements her podcast, BodyLove Project, which covers popular topics of body acceptance and intuitive eating. Also, her listeners are already conditioned to engage with to her via audio.

“Most of my listeners have said they love the ‘idea’ of these concepts in theory, but have trouble putting them into practice,” Hagerty said. “So, I decided to create a step-by-step guide for them, and it made sense to keep it in the same medium they were already accustomed to: audio.”

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This “companion resource” to her podcast is 45 minutes long. Hagerty used FAQs from podcast listeners to make sure she was answering the big questions and helping people get started with her Intuitive Eating method.

“The training is directly linked to my services, which are mainly one-on-one and group Intuitive Eating Counseling,” Hagerty said. “So now I have a pool of people who are interested in this service, who I send a monthly newsletter to with links to my available appointment slots and group coaching programs.”

As a result, the audio lead magnet helped her double her email list from 350 to 700 in less than four months.

Example 3: Use audio to reach busy people

Compared to visual content like ebooks, infographics, and videos, audio content can be just plain easier to consume. That’s a big reason why Hanna Fitz, brand strategist and business success coach, added a free audio training package to her mix of visual lead magnets, such as PDFs and video webinars.

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“They can listen to it while driving, eating, or working out at the gym, ensuring that the prospect consumes my content as opposed to the start and stop or never complete that I have found can happen with an ebook or even video,” she said. “I have found that conversions tend to be not only higher, but faster because of this.”

For example, Fitz hosted an audio-only tele-seminar, which had a 40% higher conversion rate than her video webinar.

This behavior fits with how people consume other audio content, too. As Edison Research found, 77% of podcast listeners download the content and listen immediately, while 27% listen later. And in 2017, just 33% of monthly podcast listeners use a computer to listen to a podcast; 65% use a smartphone, tablet, or other portable device.

“I have found that some of my best conversions to date have come through my audio programs,” Fitz said. “I can’t necessarily say it has been better than other forms of content as it really depends on the content being presented, but I can definitely say that the convenience and freedom that audio offers to prospects increases the chance of consumption and conversion.”

For example, Fitz found that if the subject of a lead magnet is highly visual or illustrative, video tends to work best. However, audio lead magnets more effectively generate “warm leads” — those that convert faster and are further down the funnel.

Beyond just the numbers, audio lead magnets can also help you build an emotional connection with your audience. It lets you literally speak to a prospect one-on-one and get inside their head. Once they put those earbuds in, it’s just you and them. That’s a type of sensory experience you can’t create with an ebook.

“As they listen to you present, you are engaging their hearing sense and also their imagination because they are creating and connecting with a mental picture of the message,” Fitz said. “This is powerful because as they create their own mental image, it becomes a personal experience and I find this creates a positive relationship with the brand.”

The rise of audio lead magnets

Business owners can use audio lead magnets to reach people on the go, get inside the customer’s head, and supplement podcasts, which are also growing in popularity.

Still, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to generating leads. It’s best to consider using audio lead magnets if you’re providing some type of training or trying to capture a busy audience of people who don’t have time to sit down and watch a video or read a PDF.

Whatever you decide, it’s at least important to understand that audio is an option — and a viable one at that — especially in a world where conversions are like gold, and quality leads are tough to generate.