(Almost) Everything you need to know about lead magnets to build your email list and turn strangers into subscribers
Growing businesses hungry for more customers 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 – well, you’re pretty much stuck on the sidelines. Lead magnets are the #1 way to generate leads and grow your business online.
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 address.
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 video, free consultations, webinars, etc. But we’ll get into this later.
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:
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.
Your email list/ database of leads is your #1 resource for marketing your product or service. You need high-quality (relevant) leads and subscribers that you can reach out to with (non-overwhelming) content whenever you want to. 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.
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:
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:
When creating your lead magnets, it’s important to tailor them to each marketing channel—but even more important that they suit the type of audience you’re reaching out to. For example, the colder or less familiar an audience, the easier the lead magnet should be to consume: checklist vs. a long ebook.
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
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:
New to lead magnets (maybe still even confused as to what are 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.
Don’t try to ‘boil the ocean’ or solve every problem with a single, downloadable worksheet – you’ll drive yourself nuts! Keep it specific.
In this lead magnet example by Bold and Zesty, they keep their offer highly specific: 3 must-have drip email campaigns in 1 PDF.
Ideally, your lead magnet ties back to your primary service/ 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:
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.
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 3 key questions in as few words as possible:
In this lead magnet example, all 3 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.
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 first name and email address.
This lead magnet opt-in form from AuthorityHacker.com is a great example of keeping required fields down to a bare minimum.
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.
In this lead magnet example by Dexma, a simple 1-page checklist is all it takes to deliver value.
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.
This lead magnet example from Diabetes Strong showcases exactly what’s up for grabs in a very visually appealing way.
Most businesses think their ‘regular newsletter’ qualifies as a lead magnet – but oooh no, that’s not so. 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.
A better way to promote your free newsletter would be to focus in on values and benefits rather than offering free email updates. Source: themodernentrepreneur.com
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!’
A lead magnet strategy can often help establish you as an authority in your industry (or even a 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 a greater value and increased access.
This lead magnet example from Neilpatel.com 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.
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!
In this lead magnet example, the free guide is delivered right inside the thank-you page and an up-sell invitation is made.
Think of your newly captured lead as a new acquaintance. 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 invites them to share their feedback with you.
There’s no single easy lead magnet format that works best for everyone, but many entrepreneurs find success 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.
You want to be able 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. You can 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 that goes out when someone submits the proper form in your email service contain a link to or attachment of your lead magnet file.
Either way, of course, you’ll also want to make sure the opt-in form is connected to an email follow-up sequence of your choosing.
No, 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:
In this lead magnet example, a free coupon is used as a freebie giveaway.
A content upgrade is a specific kind of lead magnet designed especially to offer 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.
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.
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:
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 to your landing page. Focus on creating a high-value lead magnet that will attract, engage, and convert your visitors.