The ultimate guide to landing pages

Lead Magnets 101

Chapter 13

Here’s all you need to know about lead magnets and content upgrades to build your email list and turn strangers into subscribers.

Growing businesses all face the same challenge: transforming web traffic into leads. Sure, it’s great to see that people are landing on your site, but unless you can actively market to those individuals, you’re pretty much stuck on the sidelines.

Lead magnets are the number one way to generate leads and grow your business online. But what are they?

A lead magnet is anything you give away in exchange for someone’s email address or contact information.

They come in all shapes and sizes and are utilized by world-renowned brands, as well as small businesses just starting out with digital marketing.

Having web traffic on your site is great—but it’s not the end goal. In order to build your business (and actively market your product/services) you need to transform traffic into leads by collecting email addresses.

But…when was the last time you gave out your contact information for free? …how about, never?

Your audience isn’t going to give it away for free either. You’ll need to offer an incentive, and that’s what a lead magnet is all about.

Getting someone’s contact information is what converts anonymous web traffic into prospects or leads, because (1) you can be reasonably sure they’re interested in your offer and (2) you have an (active) way of staying in touch.

Typically, lead magnets take the form of downloadable content (ebooks, PDF guides, worksheets, etc.), instructional videos, free consultations, webinars, etc. But we’ll get into this later.

How do lead magnets work?

The mechanics of how a lead magnet works is really quite simple: you have to give something away to get something in return. In this case, high-quality free content in exchange for an email address.

A lead magnet most often works like this:

Lead magnets provide value to your audience in exchange for an email address
  1. An advertisement or social post catches your prospect's attention. She clicks...
  2. ...and lands on your landing page where she reads your benefit-driven headline and finds your offer to be simply irresistable
  3. After clicking on your call-to-action button, she fills out your opt-in form
  4. Her contact information gets added to youremail list. Simultaneously, the lead magnet is delivered to your new lead's inbox.
  5. From here, you can follow-up via email and nurture the relationship until she's ready to make a purchase

Your lead magnet could be offered in a banner ad, pop-up form, or landing page – depending on where you want to host your offer and how much space you need to explain its value.

Most small businesses use landing pages to introduce their lead magnet. In that case, people who visit your landing page enter their email address in order to access the lead magnet. When they submit their email address, they automatically receive an email containing the lead magnet. You now can contact them with (appropriate, non-overwhelming) future offers and information.

Why use lead magnets?

Your email list/database of leads is your primary resource for marketing your product or service. You need high-quality (relevant) leads and subscribers that you can reach out to with content whenever you have something new to share. Lead magnets are how you grow your email list and fill your marketing/sales funnel with people who want to receive what you have to offer.

What are common types of lead magnets?

From free video courses to a downloadable checklist or eBook, there are a near-infinite number of lead magnets that you could create for your lead generation campaign.

Here are a few common lead magnet examples to keep in mind:

  • Ebooks
  • Checklists/cheat sheets/resource guides/tip sheets/FAQ sheets
  • Worksheets/workbooks
  • Email courses
  • Swipe files/templates
  • Webinars/webinar replays
  • Calendars/action plans
  • Industry reports
  • White papers/case studies
  • Live demos/tutorials
  • On-demand video trainings/courses
  • Contests
  • Quizzes
  • Product samples/free trials
  • Consultations/1:1 calls

Which lead magnet is right for your audience?

Sure, the sky’s the limit when it comes to what lead magnets you can create. But which type of lead magnet is right for your audience and for your specific lead generation campaign? How will you make sure your landing page’s traffic sources are effectively targeted in order to attract visitors that will engage with your lead magnet?

The most successful lead magnets are those that are thoughtfully tailored to attract a very specific audience and meet a very specific need at a particular point in that audience’s experience with your business.

There are a handful of variables you’ll want to consider:

Before you decide what format your lead magnet should take, first consider:

  1. Who is your audience? How engaged are they with your business? How hard are they willing to work to get value from your offer?
  2. What (specific) problem are you trying to solve for your audience? What solution do you propose?
  3. What’s the ideal content format to deliver that solution?
  4. What do you have the ability to create? (text, video, audio, graphics, etc.)
Matrix: choosing a lead magnet format

Which lead magnets are right for your marketing channels?

When creating your lead magnets, it’s important to tailor them to each marketing channel—and audience you’re reaching out to. For example, the colder or less familiar an audience, the easier the lead magnet should be to consume (i.e. a checklist vs. a long ebook).

How do you make a lead magnet on Facebook?

We often hear people asking about which lead magnet is right for Facebook. We recommend matching the audience type to its needs rather than the channels. This way you’re able to focus on what your audience truly needs and not get lost chasing what your competition is creating

How do you make a lead magnet?

If you’re not a professional writer or designer, making your own lead magnet can feel daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. Here’s how to get started:

  1. Hone in on a single problem that your audience cares about
  2. Create content that addresses that single problem
  3. Commit to a format that suits your topic and type of audience
  4. Include an opportunity to upsell
  5. Create ads and landing pages that help you bring your lead magnet to the world

10 Tips to Get Started with Your First Lead Magnet + Lead Magnet Examples

Are you new to lead magnets and not sure how to get your lead generation off the ground? Not to worry. You’ve likely seen opt-in offers all over the internet and now that you’re tuned into this marketing technique, you’ll spot even more!

Keep your eyes open to learn from other businesses and to inspire what’s possible for your business. But in the meantime, here’s our lead magnet checklist to get you started.

1. Hone in on a single problem

Don’t try to ‘boil the ocean’ or solve every problem with a single, downloadable worksheet – you’ll drive yourself nuts! Keep it specific.

Lead magnet with highly specific offer

In this lead magnet example by Bold and Zesty, they keep their offer highly specific: 3 must-have drip email campaigns in 1 PDF.

2. Connect the dots

Ideally, your lead magnet ties back to your primary service or offer. Think of this as the first step in your product pyramid. You can (subtly) mention your products or services, but definitely, don’t try to use your lead magnet as an advertisement.

At Leadpages, we build this strategy into everything we do. Here’s one example:

Lead magnet that ties back to offer

We used to offer lots of free landing page templates to download and follow up with invitations to put those templates to good use inside a free 14-day trial of Leadpages.

3. Say it Straight

In most cases, you won’t have a lot of space to wax poetic about what your lead magnet is and why people should download it. You’ll need to get straight to the point and answer three key questions in as few words as possible:

  1. Why should your audience care?
  2. What are you offering?
  3. What action should they take next?
Lead magnet for webinar offer

In this lead magnet example, all three key questions are addressed: why your audience should care (How to 3x site traffic in 6 months), what it is (free live webinar), and what action you’re asking them to take.

4. Don’t get greedy: ask for the minimum

The more information you ask for in exchange for your lead magnet, the less likely your target audience is to take action. Keep your form fields down to a minimum. If possible, stick with just an email address (and possibly a first name if it’s absolutely necessary).

Lead magnet with simple form

This lead magnet opt-in form from is a great example of keeping required fields down to a bare minimum.

5. Make it bite-sized

If you’re in the market to generate new leads from total strangers, you’ll need to make it super easy to say ‘yes’ to your offer. Cold traffic (those unfamiliar with your business) won’t be willing to work all that hard to get to know you. That means you should keep your offer short, sweet, and simple.

Lead magnet with bite sized offer

In this lead magnet example by Marie Forleo, a simple 1-page checklist is all it takes to deliver value.

6. Tie it with a bow

Product packaging is everything and lead magnet design matters. Make an attractive mock-up of your product or create an eye-catching header image that will carry through your ads, landing pages, and email delivery.

Visually appealing lead magnet

This lead magnet example showcases exactly what’s up for grabs in a very visually appealing way.

7. Remember: A Newsletter is not magnetic. (And ‘updates’ aren’t sexy)

Most businesses think their ‘regular newsletter’ qualifies as a lead magnet—not the case. Unless you’ve done the legwork to sell your email newsletter as a valuable information product in its own right, when you add opt-in points like these to your site, your visitors are likely to look at them and see: free sales pitches. As if people would generally pay for the privilege of receiving marketing emails. Instead, offer a bonus that gets people excited to subscribe, then immediately delivers info they’ll devour.

Lead magnet for newsletter with bonus offer

This opt-in offer from Content Marketing Institute is brilliant because it focuses on the value, gives a free download, and adds a pinch of social proof: ‘join 40,000 of your peers!’

8. Use thought Leadership to capture leads

A lead magnet strategy can often help establish you as an authority in your industry (or even just a place to turn for cool stuff). Be benevolent and generous with your expertise—don’t hold back! As soon as your audience trusts your credibility, they’ll be ready to pay for greater value and increased access.

Lead magnet with thought leadership

This lead magnet example from puts his expertise right there in the headline. Thanks to powerful copywriting, you simply can’t help but trust him and want him as a mentor.

9. Deliver on your promise

Double, triple, and quadruple-check that your lead generation tool is integrated with your email service provider (ESP) so that you can instantly deliver your free content. Don’t leave a single lead hanging!

Lead magnet with immediate offer

In this lead magnet example, the free guide is delivered right inside the thank-you page and an up-sell invitation is made.

10. Back it up with some love: don’t neglect your nurture sequence

Think of your leads as new acquaintances. Don’t kick off this fresh friendship by neglecting to follow up for months. Take immediate action by (1) delivering what you promised and (2) offering next steps. You might suggest that they check out a blog post related to the topic, send over another free offer that takes the topic one step further, or invite them to share their feedback with you.

What’s the Best (and Easiest) Way to Create a Lead Magnet?

There’s no single easy lead magnet format that works best for everyone, but many entrepreneurs find success in offering a lead magnet PDF download of highly useful content, such as an e-book or a single-sheet resource guide. You can also start with a lead magnet template and quickly plug in your own copy and content. lead magnet creator

Create Unlimited Lead Magnets With

Sick of fumbling with freelancers or formatting PDFs and PowerPoints? is a powerful lead magnet builder - 100% free.

How Should I Deliver My Lead Magnet?

You want to promise instant gratification when you offer a lead magnet, so you need to make sure it’s delivered automatically when someone opts in.

If you use Leadpages, our lead magnet creator system is incredibly easy. Use our built-in Lead Magnet Delivery system to upload your lead magnet files and link them to your Leadbox opt-in forms. Then, when someone opts in, they’ll get what you promised right away.

If you don’t use Leadpages, you’ll want to set up an autoresponder email in your email service provider. Have the first email contain a link to or attachment of your lead magnet file.

Either way, make sure the opt-in form is connected to an email follow-up sequence of your choosing.

Does a Lead Magnet Have to Be a Digital Product?

Not necessarily! If you’re a retailer or a brick-and-mortar business, you can have great success giving away a coupon, free pass, or discount code in exchange for someone’s email address.

Here’s a great example:

Lead magnet with free coupon

In this lead magnet example, a free coupon is used as a freebie giveaway.

What’s a content upgrade?

A content upgrade is a specific kind of lead magnet designed to be offered on one particular blog post. You can think of it as the milk to your blog post’s cookie, or the wine flight designed to pair with a good meal. It enhances the information you’ve learned in the post and perhaps makes it easier for you to implement in your life.

What are the different types of leads?

Most small business owners offer more than one product or service—which means their lead generation will focus on acquiring a few different kinds of leads.

Therefore your lead magnets should be tailored to your audience and the types of leads you need for your marketing/sales funnel. This can be done by identifying who they are, what their primary pain points are, and how you can deliver value via free content. From there you can begin to brainstorm which content/style of lead magnets your audience would benefit from and begin your lead magnet creation process.

How do I know if my lead magnet or content upgrade is good enough?

Of course, the surest way to know what kind of lead magnet will get downloaded is to put it out there and watch what happens.

If you’re wondering what a strong lead magnet conversion rate looks like, the best place to look is at your historical performance and what’s worked in the past for your particular audience.

Then again, if you’ve got a certain number of leads or sales you need to make this month or this quarter, your risk tolerance might be a little low for that.

So you might want to test-drive your lead magnet idea first. You could:

  • Send it out to a small group of trusted customers
  • Broadcast your opt-in page to a very limited audience with a low-budget Facebook ads campaign
  • Ask a few friends in (or outside) your industry to give you their thoughts
  • Post in forums asking whether users would find value in the resource you’re considering creating

If you’re a Leadpages customer, post it in our Leadpages Community Facebook Group and see what your fellow entrepreneurs think.

Want to know if your lead magnets are working? Test them! Utilize A/B testing to determine which types of lead magnets are more successful than others. You can also test which calls to action, headlines, and copy best “sell” your lead magnet. Learn how to test your landing pages here.

Bottom line: Lead magnets are the backbone of your landing page. Focus on creating a high-value lead magnet that will attract, engage, and convert your visitors.