This is Part 1 of a 5-part series about the customer lifecycle.

New business owners often set out with one immediate goal in mind: to gain customers. Once you have perfected your product or service, the next step is to acquire and retain a loyal clientele in order to create a viable business. But the transition to recurring sales typically isn’t easy.

Before you can generate sales, you’ve got to spread awareness of your business. It’s rare for someone to buy a product or service upon first learning about its existence, so your first step is to capture an audience of prospects and introduce them to your brand, your offerings, and why they might need you.

The purpose of the Attract phase of the customer lifecycle is to initiate new relationships and build trust with potential customers before you nudge them along to a sale. It’s also the stage where you’ll begin to understand your leads’ interests so you can segment them, setting you up to market to them in relevant ways throughout the rest of the customer lifecycle. How do you initiate those new relationships? By providing something of value upfront in exchange for something small, such as their email address, so that you can remain in touch.

Provide value up front

To capture the attention of people who are likely to be interested in your core product or service, create content or small freebie products that are related to it. For example, a career coach might develop an in-depth digital guide about how to choose a career that fits each personality; an owner of a membership site for piano lessons might offer a free introductory video lesson, or a fitness center owner might offer a free trial membership.

These highly tempting offers are meant to entice prospects enough that they’ll provide their email address for it. In fact, these items are purposely “gated,” meaning prospects cannot access them without first providing you with their email address (or social media login, phone number or other contact information if you’d like) so that there’s a mutual exchange. For most, submitting an email address in exchange for something free is low risk, big reward. It’s a simple transaction that serves as a top-of-funnel lead generation tool for you and an actionable perk for your new leads. The most effective free value offers excite your leads and give them something they can consume or redeem instantly; the value should be provided within five minutes. 

Likewise, the content of your free item should be extremely useful, putting your best foot forward. After consuming it, your prospects should feel as though they would have paid for it and are surprised that you offered for free. That’s how trust begins to build: Your prospects now see you as an authority in a niche they care about, and they see that you’re actually providing something with their best interests in mind.

Using value offers to segment leads

In addition to gaining trust and authority by offering valuable items for free, these offers serve to qualify and segment your leads. Those who are interested in the free content you’re providing are likely also interested in your core product or service, automatically qualifying them as viable prospects. This is a much more efficient and inexpensive way of obtaining leads who are likely to buy than by simply mass advertising for your main product.

Taking it a step further, these offers are your first step in creating segmented contact lists to market to. If you use multiple value offers to cover a variety of aspects of your product or service, you can segment your leads and place them on specific follow-up campaigns to ensure you’re providing them with what they’re interested in within your offerings.

For example, a professional photographer’s value offer might be a free one-hour photo session for engagement, newborn, or professional photos. Those who opt in for the engagement photos will be placed on a campaign offering wedding photography services, while those who opt in for the newborn photos will be offered a photo shoot for the baby’s first birthday, and those who received a professional portrait will receive offers for additional photography for their business website.

Types of value offers

Guides or templates: Guides, also commonly referred to as ebooks, and templates, such as worksheets and checklists, are content pieces that provide in-depth information on a specific topic. It’s important that a guide delves into individual topics as opposed to encompassing a broad area. If a guide is too general, prospects might not find the detailed information they’re looking for or not get enough value out of it.

Free trials: Offering a free trial of your product or service is a great way to show prospects what you have to offer without requiring a full commitment. Free trials are especially common in the fitness and software industries and can also be applied to any type of membership site.

Free consultations: If you’re a personal service provider or consultant, offering a free initial consultation is an ideal way for your potential clients to get to know you and for you to understand their needs. Giving a short period of your time, such as 15 or 30 minutes, could go a long way in building a long-lasting relationship.

Webinars: A webinar is another way to provide guarded content geared toward a specific audience. A webinar can be a live broadcast where a member of your team leads a workshop, discussion or educational course, or it can be a pre-recorded video that is emailed to the prospect after they have opted in.  

First purchase discount: Offering a discount in exchange for joining an email list is a common practice among retailers and can be applied to any business, especially for an entry-level product. You can then nurture the lead over time into a purchase of your core product.

Quizzes or surveys: Online quizzes are very popular and their results are often shared via social media. Using quiz apps such as Interact, LeadQuizzes or DilogR, you can post quizzes on your blog or homepage to encourage visitors to give you their email address in exchange for the results.

The Attract funnel

Once you’ve got something of value to offer, you can create an entire funnel around promoting it, receiving opt-ins for it, delivering it, and then following up with your new leads.

Here’s the overall flow of the funnel:

Spark interest

You’ll start by drawing prospects toward your free value item, commonly via Facebook or Google ads as well as through links and pop-ups on your website or blog that send visitors to your opt-in page.

If you’re using Facebook ads, creating Facebook audiences based on the interest and demographic data stored in Facebook is one way to target those who might be interested. However, to reach a warmer audience, you can use Facebook’s tracking to retarget anyone who has visited your website, blog or other ungated online content.

Retargeting campaigns are based on the idea that someone who’s already shown interest in your ungated content is more likely to opt in for your free value offer on a similar topic than someone who doesn’t know who you are or hasn’t visited any of your pages. Facebook’s Pixel tracks visitors to your pages and ties their data to any known Facebook accounts. You can set up your Facebook admin account so that certain ads are shown to people based on the pages they visit. To learn more about Facebook Ad retargeting campaigns, check out this article.

Draw them to the free value offer

When your prospects click on your Facebook ad or your other promotions, they’ll be taken to a landing page. This is where you’ll further sell your item and encourage visitors to fill out your opt-in form, thereby providing their email address and being added to your Ontraport database in exchange for your offering.

Here are some quick tips for your landing page content to increase your odds of capturing the opt-in:

  • Grabbing headline: Identify your target’s pain point or desire and frame your guide as the solution to that problem.
  • Brief content description: Provide an enticing yet brief overview of what your lead can expect in your lead magnet.
  • Opt-in form: This is the most important element on the page. Make sure you are only asking your leads to provide the contact information you need.
  • Feature/benefit statements: Briefly explain the tangible things that your leads are going to get from your content. Include at least four feature statement bullet points.

After filling out your form, your lead should be directed to a thank you page that not only shows them appreciation for their engagement but also provides more value through additional content. Your thank you page should also direct them to check their email for the link to download their lead magnet or otherwise explain how to access it.

Deliver the goods

Next, you’ll provide the free value content to your new lead. Note, if your free offer is a piece of downloadable content, it’s important not to include the content on your thank you page, or your leads might provide you with a fake email address just to access it. Instead, deliver it through an email to the address they provided. Your delivery email can either include a download link or direct them to the webpage where your content lives.

Here are some tips to keep in mind with your delivery emails:

  • No raw links: Do not include a raw link within the email; use either hyperlink text or a button. This will ensure that your delivery rates stay high.
  • Whitelist instructions: To make sure that your contacts receive future emails in your funnel, include instructions on how to whitelist your email address.

Send them bonus content

After your delivery email is sent, your lead should immediately be placed on a bonus funnel. This bonus funnel is a three-day email funnel that sends them additional (and related) free content, such as blog articles, podcasts, videos or other content your team has created.

Just make sure that the content is relevant to the topic that they initially opted in for; this is a prime opportunity to provide segmented follow-up content to show your new leads that you know what they’re interested in and are speaking directly to them.

If you’re an Ontraport user, an Attract campaign is already built for you and ready to use for free. Simply upload it to your account from the Campaign Marketplace and add your content.

Now that you’ve learned about the Attract stage, you’re ready for Part 2: Convert.

About Angela Fornelli
Angela Fornelli is a writer and editor with over a decade of experience covering the healthcare, aviation, and technology industries. A Chicago native, she currently serves as Ontraport's managing editor and has a Bachelor's in Journalism from the University of Illinois.