We can’t deny that lead generation is only getting more difficult. Generating leads is crucial in building your author platform.
With so much exposure online, people are used to seeing these techniques to generate leads. It’s similar to “ads blindness” when visitors have been exposed to the tactic too often.
Which means we have to be more creative with the ways we generate leads moving in 2024 and beyond.
But what if I told you there were a few key methods that almost no one is using that have personally worked for me to grow from 0 to over $10 million over the past 8 years?
Interested? It’s a personal method I use daily to bring in only the most qualified leads and I’m finally sharing the details with you.
Lead Generation in a Nutshell
For those of you new to lead generation, it’s just a more complex way of saying “collecting potential customers.”
A “lead” is defined as, “someone or something that may be useful, especially a potential customer or business opportunity.”
These are people who usually choose to opt-in to something on your site, via social, or even Youtube. They’ve raised their hand to say, “I want more content from you!”
And that’s great, because you’ll eventually hope to close them on your product or service. But first, you have to acquire them, which is what this post is all about.
What makes a great lead magnet?
If you want to generate a lot of leads, you’ll need a couple high-quality lead magnets.
A lead magnet is just that: a way to attract new leads.
Usually, you’ll find these lead magnets as downloads, sign-ups, discount offers—anything where they must trade their name and email (and sometimes phone number) in exchange for something you’re providing.
Here at SPS, we’ve got several of these, all tailored for a specific avatar and located in areas that make sense for them.
And that’s one of the most important pieces of a great lead magnet: it’s placed strategically.
Here are a few more criteria for a great lead magnet:
- Easily accessible, the fewer steps people have to go through, the more likely they’ll fully opt-in
- It has to be something they need (and is relevant to their pains)
- It has to solve a problem or make a huge promise
- It has to add value
- It should be as unique as it can be
How to Generate High Quality Leads Right Now
As I mentioned above, finding ways to get people to opt-in is getting harder the more technology advances. You’d think it’d be easier because of that, but people are getting smarter—they know what you’re doing.
That means we have to start pushing the envelope when it comes to lead generation.
Here are a few of my favorite methods of generating leads for Self-Publishing School.
#1 – Free + Shipping Funnel
This has been one of the best lead gen tools we have here at SPS, and we’ve coined it as the “Book Leverage Loop”, as you can see below.
If you’ve visited this site before, you may have seen a slider to buy a free copy of my bestselling book Published.
Yes, I give these books away, and only ask that they pay for shipping at a $7.99 price point. The value prop here is the book itself, and the fact that it’s completely free.
Better yet, people who buy this book end up being some of our most qualified leads that come in, closing at a much higher rate, which brings down cost to acquire a customer significantly.
How to do it yourself:
Obviously, the first step is to write a book and publish it–successfully, that is, which requires a proven system for a lucrative launch and a method for obtaining great book reviews.
#2 – Publish a book
Different than the method above because in this case, the people finding your book on Amazon are now a new lead gen channel for you to optimize.
We here at Self-Publishing School teach our students how to optimize their books effectively for lead generation, and this method has even brought in several thousand dollars of business work for our students.
There’s a reason I’m so passionate about this method of lead gen.
Firstly, not many people are doing it. They think it takes too long to write and publish a book, so they don’t even bother. When in reality, it can take less than 90 days to publish a quality book.
Secondly, it establishes your credibility and trust almost immediately. And we all know how hard this portion of converting leads really is. Usually this takes an entire follow-up sequences, texts, and value-adds just to get to this place. But a book does this almost instantly.
The fact that you’re a published author is enough for most people to trust you as an authority in your field.
And lastly, it’s the best damn business card you could ever have.
#3 – Optimize your content
Don’t make the same mistakes I did in Self-Publishing School’s website’s early days.
We got very good at ranking our content organically but our organic revenue numbers weren’t really budging.
The issue there? We didn’t optimize the blog posts themselves for conversion.
The content also has to be written in a way that’s informative, optimized for search engines, but also copywritten so new viewers opt-in.
This might seem like a no-brainer but I’ve seen it all too often: people want to bring in that traffic and so it’s their sole focus, forgetting that when the traffic does come (which it will if you’re at this game long enough), they have to be able to capitalize on it by bringing them further down your funnel.
#4 – Extremely time-sensitive offers
Currently, most people are over-exposed to “get this deal while it lasts” tactics because we see it too much and most of us know it’s not actually real in the sense that you can usually head back to that deal the next day and see the same “One Day Only!” offer.
But if you take it a step further and make it a genuine, time-sensitive offer (meaning you actually shut off the deal when you say you will), it can bring in leads rapidly.
Trying something like an hourly time-stamp can push people to make a choice to opt-in faster because FOMO (fear of missing out) is real.
#5 – Quizzes and Assessments
If there’s one thing that’s universally true, it’s that people want to learn more about themselves—specific to something that’s causing them a good deal of hardship.
Quizzes and assessments are fantastic tools to pull in leads you can further qualify at the backend.
People like Michael Hyatt and Jenna Kutcher use these methods to grow their email list and scale their businesses. Jenna Kutcher is even featured on Interact’s Homepage with the quiz she created through them.
The key with these times of lead generation techniques is to be intentional about making them valuable. So don’t just create a quiz with random questions and answers—they should actually work and do what you advertise.
Here at Self-Publishing School, our Author DNA Assessment brings in about 3,000 leads per month from this website.
You can check that assessment out here:
Most people will ignore this one because it’s “too time consuming.” Which I get. Personally, it’s not too realistic for me to hop on Instagram or Twitter/X and manually message people. Social media is a great platform for authors nonetheless.
But if you can get someone on your team responsible for this, you can find really hot leads lurking on your pages.
The best people to message are those who have interacted (comments, liked, etc.) on your content repeatedly and continuously. Even people who have already messaged you.
These people are even desperate for contact with you. Not only that, but they’re showing up and adding to your online presence, which only bodes well for your company when they do convert.
#7 – Chatbots
There are so many things you can do with chatbots nowadays.
It really adds a personal touch and those who end up “chatting” with you are typically a warmer sale than those who opted in for a gated piece of content because of that personal touch.
And the best part? You can automate it so it does the work for you.
Step 1: Collapsed chatbot – Here the bot just has a “…” present, but the fact that it’s a chatbot will make those interested open it in the first place.
Step 2: Ask a segmenting question – This is a really great opportunity to collect leads in a distributed method, segmenting people based on what their interest is, which allows better individualization for follow-ups and email sequences that convert at a higher rate.
Step 3: Collect contact information – Before giving anyone further help, require the prospect to provide basic contact info.
Most chatbot software is super easy to use and integrates with your email marketing software—and your email software might actually already have a chatbot in its features (like Hubspot does).
#8 – Spinning wheel
If you sell or offer low-ticket products, a spinning wheel with different “prizes” can be a fun way to pull viewers into the products you offers.
It’s kind of a 3-for-1 in the sense that the wheel is animated and colorful (usually), which catches their eye. Secondly, it displays several offers so prospects can see just what you give in value. And lastly, they get something of value from it!
Here’s an example of what a spinning wheel to generate leads looks like:
#9 – Giveaways
I think we can all agree that people love free stuff.
Giveaways are an amazing way to bring in new contacts while segmenting as well. If they sign up, they’re clearly interested in receiving whatever it is you’re giving away.
We’ve done a couple Kindle giveaways for people who opt-in (as well as subscribe to our Youtube channel and comment), but you can make the giveaway criteria whatever you want, really.
We not only used it as a means of generating leads, but also to grow our Youtube account.
#10 – Ebook downloads
When blogs were just coming up and the kindle (and publishing ebooks) were all the rage, you’d be surprised not to see an ebook giveaway on a website as a gated offer.
You still see this today!
People love free content, especially something described as a “book” because it means there’s a good deal of content and therefore, value.
#11 – Cheatsheets
We all want shortcuts. We’re busy and we want to save time, so positioning something as a “cheatsheet” to cut down on the time it takes to do or complete something is a hot lead gen offer.
Here’s an example of what that could look like:
Something to note: sometimes these can just be a sheet with information. When it comes to this lead magnet, a lengthy download isn’t expected.
#12 – Checklists
We use this lead magnet in order to capture leads coming in when they’re ready to launch. It’s our “Book Launch Checklist” and it’s literally just that: a checklist of what should be done before hitting “publish.”
These are really quick and easy to make, since people aren’t expecting much more than a simple sheet with boxes they can check off.
You can get creative with this
#13 – Templates / Blueprints
The word “blueprint” is actually really popular right now. Everyone wants the exact “blueprint” for doing something correctly.
And templates are just as coveted.
We bring in over 400 leads per week with our Book Outline Template Generators.
And the main reason this method to generate leads does so well is what it solves: both time and know-how.
People want your expertise and they want it in a way that saves them a massive amount of time.
You can check out our book outline template generator tool here:
Book Outline Generator
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Book Outline Generator
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In the meantime, check out our Book Outline Challenge.
#14 – Examples
About 65% of people are visual learners. Which means having visual examples of what you’re trying to sell (or something related to it) is a massive win for the majority of people.
A gated opt-in for examples is a great idea for bringing in leads interested in what you sell, and it provides you with the opportunity to show off.
These are just a few ideas for using examples for lead generation:
- How-to examples
- Step-by-step process examples
- Client result examples
- Course “sneak peek” examples
- Visual examples (like a “List of 15 High Converting Lead Magnets”
#15 – Case studies
This is probably the most effective method to generate leads at the bottom of the funnel. They’re ready to see results and what you can really provide for customers.
We have an entire page dedicated to these with CTAs listed throughout.
A great way to make this offer irresistible is to tie money to it. Something that says, “How a Busy Mom Made $43,000 in One Month” is far more alluring than “How a Busy Mom Published Her Book”.
And, as always, make sure these are quality. Provide screenshots, hard numbers, and a real testimonial (videos are even better).
#16 – Toolkits
Here’s another example of a lead generation method that solves two major pains: the time and the know-how.
Most people can probably end up searching for a bunch of tools they need for whatever they’re doing, but if you have an easy download with all the tools they could need, it’s a no-brainer to opt-in.
Bonus points if you’re a powerhouse around what the toolkit offers.
An example of this is Jenna Kutcher. One of her best performing lead magnet is a list of resources she uses on Instagram. Since she grew her business from nothing to over a million by securing her platform on Instagram, it’s really illogical for those looking to do the same to not opt-in.
While it’s not positioned as a “toolkit”, it’s essentially the same thing.
#17 – Resources lists
Google is really convenient. But one thing that it lacks is a time-saving feature. They try to do this with ranking certain posts at the top, but it’s not always that simple.
Which means if someone is looking for a bunch of information, like a list of where to find writing jobs, spending hours scouring Google is a waste.
Those people would probably opt-in to a list of resources to find writing jobs instead of trying to find them themselves, giving you their contact information with ease.
Creating a resources list is also a great brainstorming tool by itself. You’ll get to better understand the needs of your target audience by finding and building a list of resources they would need.
For us, this list might look like something that includes editors, cover designers, where to find beta readers, and all of those other book production resources (which we actually include in our Rolodex for our students).
#18 – Workbooks
We use this method here at SPS too. It’s by far our biggest lead gen tool aside from our webinar, but they’re actually supposed to be used together. We offer the webinar workbook as an opt-in after people have registered for our webinar.
Our workbook brings in about 400+ leads every week.
If you don’t have a workbook available on your website (especially if you use webinars as a lead generation tool), you’re missing out!
#19 – Printables
Anything someone can print ends up becoming valuable.
One way we use this method is with our outlining mindmaps.
People can opt-in and receive a download, which they can then print out and use for themselves.
The bonus here is that they’ll have a physical copy of something with your company’s information on it right in front of them. Keeping you and your business top of mind for them is super important for conversion down the line.
Plus, then they’ll associate your company with their success or wins in the area they’re working on.
#20 – Email courses
Email marketing is still super important, no matter what anyone else says. It’s not a dead conversion channel and in fact, it’s the best one.
And that’s probably why you see so many people offering “5-Day Courses” that take place in daily emails. It’s perfect to get people on your list, create a habit for them of opening your emails, and gauge their interest in a course-type setup to begin with.
Reedsy does this, offering their courses like they’d be hosted on their website.
But if you click to take the course, you’re prompted to fill in a form, which triggers the course via daily emails.
#21 – Prompts
Sometimes people really need help developing ideas, and that’s where prompts come into play.
We have both fiction and nonfiction writing prompts to help some people get started. Most of these are super easy to make and provide a ton of value, particularly if someone uses one of your prompts.
#22 – Tools or Calculators
Just like we’ve got our Book Profit Calculator, you should have some sort of measuring tool like this too, especially if you’re in the business of making people more money.
Being able to showcase comparisons is super important for people to see the value you can provide.
And the lead gen factor? Just ask for their email in exchange for the results.
We have several tools we’ve created (with more on the way), that work to bring in a combined 450+ leads per week.
#23 – Pre-made spreadsheets
People hate making their own highly functional spreadsheet. If it’s just numbers in a column, no biggie, but most people want something more advanced and lack the skills (or time) to make it.
So doing it for them is a surefire way to get an opt-in.
Remember, you can even use all of these methods within your book when you write and publish it, but using these on your website and in your other marketing efforts can increase your lead generation significantly.