Grow Your Email List with Lead Magnets

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What is a lead magnet?

A lead magnet is a “freebie” for your website visitors.

Remember the last time you read an article and a website invited you to download additional free content? It prompted you with a pop-up or a neat little widget on the webpage. All you had to do was share your name and email address in order to get the free content.

That’s a lead magnet and it’s the most effective way to build your email list.

Why are lead magnets important?

Lead magnets help you build your email list.

An email list is one of your business’s most valuable assets. In the digital marketing era, it’s your #1 form of contact with long-time customers or warm leads. With an email list, your reach is not limited by a social media algorithm or your Google advertising spend. When you send a message to your prospects, they receive it.

For this reason, it’s very important for you to not only build a website but also fill it with at least 5-10 pieces of compelling content, including social media templates, and at least 3 lead magnets to capture your visitors’ email addresses.

What are the characteristics of a good lead magnet?

Good lead magnets are relevant to your customers.

Good lead magnet ideas help you attract customers. For this to work, your lead magnet needs to be highly relevant to the problem that your typical customer faces.

Good lead magnets also put your customers in a buying mindset.

Because your objective is to close a sale, your lead magnet should put your audience in the mindset for purchasing.

  • If you’re selling an information product, the best approach is to tell a customer what to do, but not necessarily reveal all your secrets on how to do it.
  • If you’re selling a physical product, the best approach is to give customers plenty of information on how to solve their problem or tips for using your product. That way all they have to do is buy your product to solve their problem or enjoy the benefits your product offers.
  • If you’re selling another type of product, you’re welcome to email us and we can suggest lead magnets that can be effective for your business.

How do you develop a lead magnet?

Focus on your customer’s problem.

To develop a good lead magnet, first imagine what your customer’s problem or need is. As you create your website’s free content and your lead magnet, your goal will be to solve this need in a friendly way without being pushy.

Plan free content that leads to your lead magnet.

You can put a lead magnet directly on your homepage, but conversions are usually lower with this approach.

The best strategy is to plan subjects for free articles or videos that will live on your website. This free content draws customers to your website from Google or from offline.

For example, Deliberate Directions hosts a variety of free content in the Guides section of our website. These are not sales pages. Rather, they’re articles designed to deliver useful information to people when they search Google for advice.

Pair your free content with lead magnets.

Pair each of your free articles or videos with a lead magnet that takes the content further. (Because lead magnets “extend” the content on your website, lead magnets are sometimes called content extensions.)

What are some examples of lead magnets?

Here are 20 ideas for lead magnets:

  1. Case Study
  2. Challenge
  3. Cheat Sheet
  4. Checklist
  5. Consultation
  6. Coupon
  7. Course
  8. Ebook or Report
  9. Printable
  10. Process Roadmap
  11. Quiz
  12. Resource Guide
  13. Script
  14. Software
  15. Swipe File
  16. Template
  17. Trial or Sample
  18. Tutorial
  19. Webinar
  20. Workbook

Want to see specific examples?

OptinMonster has a list of 69 lead magnets with examples from companies across a range of industries.

When you visit a website, pay attention to their pop-ups. They often offer to give away something for free (their lead magnet) in exchange for your email address.

What kind of lead magnet should I use?

Refer to your competition.

Research your top 5 competitors and see what they’re using.

If you’re in a relatively small market, check what the major national companies in your industry are doing.

Long-form content is the best way to lead prospects to a high-ticket sale.

Long-form content is very effective, especially for high-ticket offers.

If you have the resources to write a 20-page ebook, and you can see that this format is working for your competitors, then you can go ahead and write one for your business. There’s a good chance it will pay off for you within a few year years, possibly much sooner.

Before you invest in long-form content, make sure there is demand for it. Review your blog, see what posts are getting the most views, and check the comments to see what questions people are asking. You can even run a poll on social media to see what long-form content would be most useful to your audience.

Short-form content is the fastest way to build your email list.

Short-form content requires smaller investments. This allows you to create more lead magnets, each one precisely targeted to the blog post or webpage where you’ll offer the lead magnet.

For most businesses, making 10 short-form lead magnets will be more effective than making one long-form lead magnet. It’s hard to predict ahead of time what lead magnet will bring you the most leads, so this strategy offers a key advantage by allowing you to test more ideas.

Checklists, cheat sheets, or PDFs designed as printables are among the easiest types of short-form content to produce. These can be just 1-6 pages. In these cases, you’re offering quality content that someone can easily refer to, rather than something that takes a long time to read. If you’ve never made a lead magnet before, short PDF documents like this are a great place to start because you can make them quickly and inexpensively.

Don’t forget about free consultations.

If you run a service-based business, a free or dramatically discounted consultation costs you an hour or two of time. If one out of three leads decides to buy from you, this offer can be well worth your effort.

The only downside to using this as your only lead magnet is that sometimes prospects may require more time to get to know you before they will be interested in a consultation. This is why it’s useful to get a prospect’s email using a short-form lead magnet and then begin building a stronger relationship with the prospect over email.

Just make sure your lead magnet leads prospects to your paid offer.

Your lead magnet should relate strongly to your paid offer.

  • If you’re a course instructor, offer the first few modules of your course.
  • If you’re a book author, give away the first chapter.
  • If you’re a real estate agent, make neighborhood guides for the top neighborhoods in your market.
  • If you’re a fitness expert, share your 3 favorite recipes that you give to your clients.

Deliberate Directions can advise you on how to identify the best lead magnet opportunities for your niche and execute them on budget.

How do you make a lead magnet?

Write your content.

A typical 20-page ebook with 300 words per page will require about 6,000 words. Most freelance writers charge $0.10-$1.00 per word, so writing long-form content like an ebook will cost you $600-$6,000.

You’ll need to supply a clear brief and some examples to clarify what you want. After the article is written, you’ll also need to format it into a PDF or upload it to your website on a locked page.

On the other hand, a typical printable (like a checklist or a cheat sheet) may only require 600 words, so it will cost $60-$600 to write.

Design the final delivery.

It’s easy to hire a capable print designer. Just search Fiverr for “lead magnet” or “design PDF” and you can review gigs offered by Fiverr’s freelance community.

For best results, send your designer examples of lead magnet designs that you like. You can find examples by downloading lead magnets, the Architect design brief for instance, from quality businesses in your market.

Formatting and designing graphics for a lead magnet will usually cost $100-300 for a long-form piece or $30-100 for a short-form piece.

It’s best to work with specialists.

If you have writers and designers on your team, then you can assign them to handle the lead magnet production for you and coordinate with your web developer and list manager to ensure it integrates with your website and email marketing service.

If you don’t have writers or designers on staff, then for most companies, we recommend hiring specialists to produce your lead magnets. This way, you’ll get it done faster and get a quality result.

If you’re dissatisfied with the text your writer produces, you may find it easier to re-write it yourself and have the writer finish a final draft. Usually if you’re dissatisfied with a designer’s work, you may just need to give clearer instructions on the style you want or hire another designer.

How do I decide what to use for my lead magnet?

Do market research.

Before you make a lead magnet, find a few customers you have a good relationship with and ask them for their advice. Offer some suggestions for lead magnets and ask what assets or resources they’d be interested in.

You can bounce title ideas off them in person or use an online form. (You can try Survey Monkey, Facebook surveys, or Google Forms.)

If you publish a lead magnet, be aware that you’re going to have to drive web traffic to the webpage where your content lives.

You can get web traffic by:

  • setting up a Google My Business profile and linking to your website
  • publishing free articles and videos on your website
  • sharing website links or QR codes directly with your prospects and customers (for example, on business cards or customer rewards cards)
  • sharing website links or QR codes at local events or public speaking opportunities
  • sharing links to your free content on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Reddit, or wherever your audience hangs out
  • writing guest blog posts or being a guest on another company’s video channel or podcast
  • running ads on Google or Facebook

If you only do one thing…

At minimum, set up a Google My Business profile and add your website URL to it. This will help people in your local area find you when they search for your product or service.

If you don’t have a website, Deliberate Directions can refer you to an affordable web designer and content writer.

What if no one downloads my lead magnet?

Even a small number of leads can be valuable.

Remember that even if your lead magnet delivers a small volume of leads (5 leads per year instead of 100), it can still be well worth your investment. Yes, your list grows slower and you can’t apply sophisticated marketing tricks like list segmentation yet since it’s too small — but it’s still valuable if one or more of those leads buy somethings from you.(This of course depends on your profit margin per sale.)

Think of your lead magnet like a conversation with a prospect. You take the time to talk to prospects, even though you know that not everyone will buy from you. In the same way, you want to take the time to produce content to speak to your prospects online.

To optimize your lead magnet, get feedback and iterate.

If people don’t respond to your content, lead magnets, or sales messages, then get feedback wherever you can. You can get feedback from acquaintances, past customers, a successful business in your niche, a mastermind, or a business coach.

It’s important to ask questions to ascertain what part of your marketing funnel is broken. Is your market size too small? Is the free content on you website not interesting to your market? Do people enjoy your free content but just don’t feel a need to get your lead magnet?

Take the feedback and either adapt your existing work or start from scratch with new content, lead magnets, or sales message.

With practice and experimentation, you’ll get better at creating lead magnets that resonate with your audience.

How can I fix a lead magnet that no one downloads?

It happens.

Here are 6 common conversion issues and their solutions.

  1. You’re not focusing on an urgent need. This is the top issue we see in lead magnets. The best lead magnets offer something of interest to people who need your advice right now, and preferably who also need your service right away. You need to focus on a problem or need your audience feels immediately, not just something they might like to know about someday.
  1. You didn’t build trust. People need to trust that you have something valuable for them before they’ll give you their email address. Add some testimonials about the lead magnet on your webpage. Just 2 or 3 enthusiastic quotes will make a huge difference! You can go further by collecting reviews and links from other platforms. Please just don’t compromise ethics by writing fake reviews. If you need to get the ball rolling, a common approach to get testimonials is to offer a free bonus to one or more of your customers and ask that they write a review for you.
  1. You have bad promotional text.

    Promotional text for a lead magnet is usually 100 words or less. You can make sure you find the best text by writing a few drafts and asking friends which one they prefer. (If you have 100+ webpage visits per month, you can also run an A/B test.)

  2. You have bad promotional graphics. You can download free, high-quality graphics from Unsplash, Pixabay, and Pexels. Usually a web designer will just need a graphic (photo or illustration) plus your lead magnet headline. If you want more custom graphics, you or someone on your team can design original layouts using Canva, Photoshop, Affinity Designer, or another vector graphics application. If you’re short on time or not interested in designing graphics, you can also outsource to a designer on Fiverr.

  3. Your lead magnet is too generic. There are thousands of competing lead magnets on the Internet. That doesn’t mean you can’t provide a fairly generic lead magnet that attracts customers. But if you’re expecting monster results, you’ll need to make a lead magnet that solves a specific problem for a specific type of customer. First, get clear on who your ideal customer is and what they need.

  4. Your email autoresponder isn’t working. The issue could always be tech-related. What if people are downloading your lead magnet but you’re just not getting their email info? Ask a friend to download your lead magnet, then make sure your autoresponder puts their email address onto the right email list. If you encounter an issue, check your email platform’s documentation or write to their customer support team. (Here are the support links for MailerLite, ConvertKit and MailChimp.)

How can I fix a lead magnet that attracts subscribers but not buyers?

While you should expect that 10% or fewer of your subscribers will buy anything, you should at least have some conversions.

Here are 4 common sales problems and their solutions.

  1. You’re targeting the wrong prospects. When you try to close a sale with a lead from your email list, you’ll immediately see that quality leads are more important than the quantity of leads. If you want quantity, offer to give away a free MacBook if someone signs up for your email list. Very few people from a list like this will care about your emails and offers. Instead, you need to target people who need what you sell and who are are ready and able to buy from you. Make sure you’re targeting people who have similar needs and characteristics as your existing customers or customers who buy from your competitors.
  1. You’re overpromising. This one comes back to bite marketers who advertise a lead magnet called something like “The 10-Step Process I Used to Make $100k in 3 Months.” If you made $100k in 3 months, your new subscriber is inevitably going to conclude that there are a lot more than 10 steps to achieve these results, and those extra steps are definitely not in your free lead magnet. If you over-promise what your lead magnet will deliver, your customers are probably going to unsubscribe and avoid your business.
  1. Your lead magnet isn’t interesting. A lot of people download lead magnets and never look at them again. They were willing to share their email address, but they aren’t willing to spend their time reading your lead magnet. In fact, they’ll probably unsubscribe from your emails soon. To avoid this problem, you need to write content that is engaging and useful – content that is so good that people are just as excited about reading it as they were when they first read the title. Try creating a new lead magnet based on questions that customers have actually asked you or that customers are asking online (check Facebook groups, Reddit, or Quora). Make sure your text is relatable and fairly authoritative. If the tone isn’t right, bring this up to your writer, hire a new writer to go from scratch, or take a crack at writing the lead magnet yourself. If you overdeliver on your lead magnet, your new subscribers will be far more inclined to read it, open your future emails, and trust you with their money when you make them an offer.
  1. You’re not setting up a future sale. Your lead magnet is (but isn’t) a sales letter. It needs to provide real value to your new subscriber. But as you provide this value, you can also set yourself up for a future sale. The best way to do this is to establish your expertise. Consider including stories that show the results your company achieved for your past clients. You can even position your ultimate offer as a great solution that will save your readers time or money.

Is making a lead magnet worth the effort?

For most businesses, we think so.

It’s useful to know who your fans are and have a one-way connection with them that isn’t filtered by Facebook or another social media platform’s algorithm.

Your email list gives you instant connection to your best prospects.

Even with just 20 leads, you can reach out to your email list to share special offers and promotions or stay in touch by sharing links to your latest articles or videos.

Your list should accumulate more than 20 leads over time. If you stick with the strategy of producing new content and lead magnets each quarter, you’ll also see improved results as you get better at connecting with your audience of future customers.

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I'm Allison Dunn,

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