You already know lead magnets are essential – that’s why you want to learn how to craft the perfect one.
But did you know that the right lead magnet can transform your simple online business ideas?
For prospects to hand over their email address, you need to make an offer they can’t resist.
Here’s the thing, nobody cares about your free newsletter. At least not right now.
When someone first lands on your site, they don’t know anything about you. You’ve got 30 seconds or less to make them an irresistible offer to give you their email address.
Once you’ve got their email, then you have time to build the relationship – and maybe even make them love your newsletter.
For a lead magnet to work you need to grab them first, nurture them later.
In this guide, you’ll learn strategies for creating a lead magnet that will guarantee conversions down the line – no matter if you are looking to sell courses online or physical products from your garage.
You’ll also get plenty of ideas from killer lead magnets working right now to build huge email lists.
Let’s start at the top.
What’s a lead magnet?
A lead magnet is something you offer to your website visitors in exchange for their personal information.
The aim is to attract potential customers (leads), in the hopes that they will agree to be contacted directly by your business.
In digital marketing, a lead magnet is used to build an email list. It can be any valuable resource, offered free of charge when someone signs up to your email list.
Here are just some of the forms a lead magnet can take:
- Cheat sheet
- Video course
- Discount on products
- Free trial of a service
- White paper
- App or software tool
- Goal setting worksheet
For example, BidSketch offers a Sample Client Proposal as its lead magnet.
Now that you know what lead magnets are, the next question is:
How do you create lead magnets that attract leads like crazy?
Read on to learn about creating the best lead magnet for your landing pages, blog posts, and affiliate marketing campaigns.
Features of an effective lead magnet
Lead magnets that do a really good job attracting and converting leads have a few characteristics in common.
A lead magnet works best when it’s ultra-specific.
It’s important to have a narrow scope in the problem your lead magnet will solve. Aim to address one specific need of your target audience.
For example, Just Creative offers a Logo Inspiration eBook.
This lead magnet aims to attract people who need branding and design services for their business. An eBook on graphic design would be too broad and generic.
Instead, this eBook addresses one aspect of branding — the need for ideas and inspiration for a new logo. It’s specific.
Here’s another example to demonstrate how to narrow down your lead magnet. DebtHelper offers a Free Budget SpreadSheet to help their audience stop losing sleep over their expenses.
It solves a single but important issue.
There’s no need for your lead magnet to be an all-action warrior.
To convert site visitors into email subscribers, focus on providing a solution to a single problem for your audience.
2. Easy to use
When you get a new email subscriber, you haven’t won them over yet. They can easily unsubscribe from your list if they don’t get anything useful from your lead magnet.
Here’s an example of a lead magnet that’s simple to use. It’s a one-page pdf, and the information can be put to use immediately by bloggers and marketers when they write their next headline:
Even though it’s free, your subscribers expect to achieve the desired result right away from your offer. That’s why lead magnets should be easy to implement and valuable.
If you’re offering a report, guide, or eBook, make it easy to read, with short sentences, short paragraphs, and bullet points.
The same ideas apply to video, audio, or email courses. Keep it simple so your leads can benefit right away.
When it comes to lead generation, quality over quantity is best.
Strive to attract a specific group of people with your lead magnet — the people who make up your ideal customers. On our list of 101 best business books, we offer a free download of our book. You can't get much more targeted.
Customers want to feel like you understand their needs, so be clear about who you are trying to help.
If you’re in the business communication software market, for example, a report on the latest changes in the investment industry is way too generic — it’s for anyone who has investments.
To get more targeted, narrow down which investors you want to help. “Baby Boomers’ Guide to Minimizing Estate Taxes,” makes it clear immediately that the lead magnet is for older investors. Even more specifically, those with sizable assets pass on to their kids.
The lead magnet below from MuleSoft targets SaaS providers. Specifically, SaaS executives who want to sell their product at the Enterprise level:
Don’t cast your net too wide or you’ll attract passers-by who don’t care about your business.
4. It's action-driven
Your potential lead should be able to take action immediately based on the information in your lead magnet.
No matter what form it takes, the content that works best is actionable and easily digestible — that means keep it short.
If it’s too long, your new subscribers will read or watch halfway without getting the promised result.
Marie Forleo offers 3 Secrets to Copy That Connects and Converts as a lead magnet for a copywriting class. The target audience will perceive “3 secrets” as being short, which means they can apply them right away.
Make sure your tips can be implemented right away. That’s why checklists, cheat sheets, and templates make some of the best lead magnets. They promise instant execution.
5. It solves a problem
Pain is highly motivating – just like our list of motivation quotes. If your lead magnet promises to solve an urgent problem (or show the steps to fix it), they will rush to fill in that opt-in form.
Just remember: your lead magnet has to deliver on that promise.
When you ease that pain point, you immediately build trust. And you’re well on your way to converting leads into customers.
ConversionXL offers a lead magnet promising a solution to low conversion rates. The good thing is the user can download and apply the tactics right now.
Even though your lead magnet is a free offer, it has to deliver. Make sure it really solves a problem (besides your need to capture email leads).
If you begin your relationship with a subscriber on the wrong foot, you lose your best chance to win them over as customers.
6. It's delivered immediately
Never make your potential lead wait.
Don’t forget they want that solution right now. In most cases, there are two ways you can deliver it “right now.”
One way is to place the lead magnet on your thank you page after the lead has entered their information.
AdEspresso delivers their “Guide to Facebook Custom Audiences Guide” on the thank you page.
The other way is to send your lead magnet by email. If you use a double opt-in, which is advisable, you will be asking new subscribers to confirm their subscription.
You can send the lead magnet through an automated welcome email once they confirm.
7. It's free
The worst mistake when it comes to list building is adding a price tag to your lead magnet.
People are giving you something valuable in exchange, which is access to their inbox.
No matter how much time and money you invested in creating it, you should expect to recoup those costs by converting leads into paying customers down the line. If you don’t, your email marketing strategy needs to be improved.
For example, Erin Stutland’s lead magnet is valuable. She offers a free audio workout.
The rule is simple: You should offer your lead magnet completely free. That’s the fastest way to build your email list.
Lead Magnet ideas
Many forms of lead magnets can work online. It’s difficult to say that one format is the best.
However, there may be the best format for your business. By testing different offers, you can find out which ones convert.
When you hit on the right format, you’ll know. Your conversions will skyrocket.
What are the types of lead magnets you can use on your landing pages and other website pages?
1. Guides and Reports
Guides and Reports are some of the most popular types of lead magnet.
People are always looking for information about topics that are important to them. In fact, it’s usually what brings them to your website in the first place.
If you make a guide about a topic that your site users (i.e., ideal customers) need help with, they will gladly sign up to receive it.
Reports can have the same effect. Did you research a trend in your industry?
You can summarize the results of your research into a report. One example of this is the State of Inbound Report conducted by HubSpot.
Original research reports can provide new industry insights that can’t be found elsewhere. Professionals in that market will be very interested in getting the inside scoop.
HubSpot has many guides and reports on its website. One of them is a guide for people looking to learn how to make money online, promising to teach the essential building blocks.
This type of lead magnet includes resources like templates, a glossary of important terms, or step-by-step instructions and SOPs.
For example, a fitness business might offer a workout tracking log. You could get specific by gearing it towards achieving a short-term goal with pre-set exercise routines.
Another example of a Toolkit is MindTools’ lead magnet. When a user fills out their form, one of the tools they’ll get is the Activity Log shown below.
Below is another example by Trello, featuring templates for specific outcomes.
Check this out if you'd like to learn the best online business tools for small business.
3. Free trial
Offering a free trial as a lead magnet works especially well for apps and software platforms.
Free trial offers are powerful because, in the end, users are very motivated to upgrade. They’ve already invested time exploring the tools and features. Plus, they know without a doubt if the product delivers on its promises.
ActiveCampaign offers a free trial of their email service. Users love it because they don’t even have to use a credit card to sign up.
When you offer a free trial, you have the opportunity to convince your lead to upgrade to your paid service.
4. Cheat sheet
Everybody wants a shortcut once in a while.
A cheat sheet doesn’t need to provide too much explanation about a concept. All it needs to do is show your lead how to complete a task better.
Below is an example of a cheat sheet by Jon Morrow. Knowing how much bloggers struggle to write compelling headlines, this lead magnet gets straight to the point with a “Cliff Notes” on how to start a blog.
5. Discount/Free shipping
If you have a product that’s in demand, you can offer a discount or free shipping to increase sales.
58% of buyers abandoned items in the cart when they saw shipping charges. Interestingly, half of the customers surveyed said they can wait a few days for free shipping.
This can serve as an incentive to someone who’s interested but doesn’t want to pay the shipping fee.
In e-commerce, making that first sale is key for growing an email list. Customers who have already made a purchase are the most valuable subscribers — they are more likely to buy again than brand new leads.
Kate Spade, an e-commerce store offers 15% off plus free shipping.
The same thing applies to discounts. They’re mostly used by e-commerce stores to incentivize an initial purchase.
Rosegal offers a 15% Off for new users. However, the user has to create an account and subscribe to their newsletter to claim the coupon.
A cleverly crafted quiz can be irresistible to your website visitors. People love to learn more about themselves.
After completing the quiz, visitors will have to submit their email address to get the results and recommendations.
In fact, it works so well that we have our own quiz as a lead magnet. This quiz is aimed at our readers who want to become entrepreneurs.
But guess what? A user has to enter their email address before they can see the quiz results
Creating your own quiz is simple to do with the Thrive Quiz Builder.
This is similar to a quiz but it's usually related to a website or a type of content.
For people to have access to the results, they'll need to provide their email address.
Below is an example by HubSpot with its Marketing Grader.
A free 30-minute consultation session is a great incentive for consultants, coaches, and service agencies.
It’s perfect because not only do you get an email signup, but you get a chance to speak directly to your potential customer. If you provide enough value in the initial session, they’ll know it’s a safe bet to sign on as a client.
Check out this example of a free consultation designed to capture leads below.
9. Sales catalog
If you have a list of products that potential customers want to see, you can create a product catalog.
In markets like fashion and home decor, shoppers are eager to see what’s new each season. It’s a perfect opportunity to capture email leads of people who want to stay on top of trends.
A company that does this very effectively is IKEA. Check it below:
10. Video series
Sometimes a video tutorial or course is the most effective format for the content you want to share. Although this is not a common lead magnet, it might be just right for your audience.
See this 7-Day Video course by Timothy Sykes which he offers as a lead magnet for free.
How to Create a Lead Magnet
Now that you have some ideas about what makes a good lead magnet, you’re ready to take action.
Here are steps you can follow to create an irresistible lead magnet that will grow your email list fast:
1. Define your audience of one
“Know your audience” is Marketing 101.
To be able to create any type of content that your target audience will find helpful, you need to know them deeply.
It’s hard to know a crowd — the thousands of customers you want to eventually reach. To make it easier, define one person as your ideal customer. It doesn't matter if you are creating a product or starting a podcast, understanding your ideal client is essential.
Begin by creating a detailed persona about that one person you’re serving with your lead magnet: Your Audience of One.
When defining your ideal customer, include as many details as possible. Think about all the aspects of a person’s life, not just those that have to do with your business, to truly understand who they are.
Include details like:
- Primary needs
Here’s a detailed buyer persona as an example of how deep you can go with a profile. It includes personality, life goals, and motivations:
You can read more about creating buyer personas on the Shopify blog:
2. Research specific problems you can solve
When you have deep knowledge of who your potential customer is, the next step is to identify specific frustrations.
Focus on finding an urgent problem that could be solved quickly.
Here are some ways to research:
- Ask questions on forums and discussion boards in your market.
- Browse online communities like Reddit or Facebook groups to see what questions people in your niche are asking.
- Perform keyword research with tools like SEMRush to find popular search terms related to your business. (Check out our SEMRush review for a full discussion of how to do this.)
- Ask your existing customers what they’re struggling with right now, by survey or talking to them in person.
Once you’ve brainstormed a list of possible issues, narrow it down to one.
Remember, be specific and solve an urgent problem to get the best conversions.
3. Determine the best format
Depending on the need or problem you will address with your lead magnet, the right format could be obvious. For example:
- Solving the issue of how to pass the final level in a difficult video game might work best as a video walk-through.
- Solving the issue of what to make for dinner on a busy weeknight makes sense as a recipe eBook.
- Solving the issue of finding side hustle ideas you can start while working would make sense as short report.
If you already have a website or blog, take your cues from what type of content your visitors engage with the most. Is it video, audio, or print?
You can also research by looking at your competitors to see what’s working well for them.
When in doubt about what kind of lead magnet you should offer, just keep it simple.
Remember, the goal is for your lead magnet to solve a specific problem. It’s better to share one idea that works than to share 10 ideas and overwhelm your audience.
Here's a list of the easiest lead magnets to create:
- 2 – 3 part video series
- Free email course
- Short Report (5 Steps to…)
- Audio (A recorded interview or webinar)
Here’s a secret to creating an awesome lead magnet without starting from scratch:
Repurpose existing content.
Some websites use their viral content as a lead magnet by repurposing it into another format. Repurposing content offers a lot of benefits:
For example, there might be an option for a page visitor to download a PDF version of a blog post to print as a reference document.
Marketo created a Definitive Guide Series with more than 100 helpful pages.
One of the repurposed guides, “The Definitive Guide to Social Media,” has generated over 102,000 views.
4. Launch and test
Once create your first lead magnet, it’s time to put it to work. Place the offer in an opt-in box on your website.
As you send traffic to your site, you’ll be able to see how well your lead magnet performs. The conversion rate tells you how many people sign up to your email list, as a percentage of those who see the offer.
If you’re getting good results, you hit the mark. Good job!
But if your conversions are not stellar, carry out tests and work on improving.
Here are some things you can tweak about your lead magnet offer for better conversions:
- Try different call-to-action buttons for the same lead magnet. Changing the text, color, and placement of your opt-in box could improve results without upgrading the lead magnet.
- Test different formats for the same content. For example, you could test an eBook vs. a video, or a report about a current trend vs. a tool.
- Try variations on the size of your offer. For instance, do your leads prefer a 15-page ultimate guide or a 2-page checklist?
With the results of your tests, you can focus your efforts on refining your offer for maximum results.
OneMan Financial tested its old landing page against a new version and found a winner. Within a few months, email capture rates increased by 29% and the company added additional 1,000 subscribers to their retargeting campaign.
Start growing your email list faster with awesome lead magnets
The perfect lead magnet is invaluable.
It shows potential customers you understand their challenges. When you deliver value, it proves you can help.
With a high-converting lead magnet, you’re on course to achieving your list building goals.