How to Create a Lead Magnet That Actually Converts

Learn how to create a lead magnet that actually works with this article, including the types, steps, and examples for conversion success.

A lead magnet (also known as a content upgrade) is an asset or piece of content used to collect lead contact information and bring them into your funnel. The best lead magnets offer relevant value to your audience and are attractive enough for potential leads to opt-in on their own. To help you create one that works, we've provided a list of the most common types of lead magnets and who should use them, including a few simple steps to getting them live.

How Lead Magnets Work

Lead magnets are part of the first stage of the lead generation funnel and incentivize prospects to provide their contact informationlike an email addressin return for an offer or perceived value. Think about lead magnets as the introduction to your sales process. Lead magnets need to do one thing and one thing only and that’s get people to opt-in. The rest of the lead nurturing process is used to make the sale.

There are many types of lead magnets to choose from. To create your own, first pick the type that fits your business, such as a template, ebook, or discount code.  To help identify which lead magnet is best for you, brainstorm ideas based on your existing content, as well as talking directly with your customers or by studying competitors.

Example email newsletter lead magnet
Example email newsletter lead magnet

There are several content design tools on the market that can help you create a quality lead magnet. Many use powerful options like Adobe Photoshop or InDesign, but they can be pricey and hard to use if you don’t have a design background. More cost-effective options include preset templates using Canva, which offers free and paid options but may lack customization.

Once you’ve chosen and designed your lead magnet, get it live and offer it to your audience using lead capture software or a landing page builder. Now that you understand how a lead magnet is most effectively used, let’s take a look at the five common elements of high-converting lead magnets, as well as a breakdown of the different types with examples.

Pro Tip:

Don’t make the mistake of thinking you have to sell with your lead magnets. Lead magnets are meant to be a foot in the door so you can make more targeted sales efforts later on. The best lead magnets get people to consent to being sold to without them even realizing it.

5 Elements of an Effective Lead Magnet

While there are many types of lead magnets, the best all follow specific guidelines and include specific elements. Before diving into the different lead magnet types and examples below, check out this list of the five essential things your lead magnet should have, regardless of type:

  • Actionable: If someone opts-in to a content upgrade they should be able to immediately put it to use and apply it.
  • Specific: A lead magnet should focus on addressing one particular pain point, not provide generalized information.
  • Accessible: Make it simple and easy for people to opt-in to and receive their content upgrade.
  • Value-adding: Your lead magnet should not only appear valuable but also be actually beneficial to your audience. 
  • Relevant: Make sure your lead magnets are relevant within the context of your industry and the products/services you offer.

8 Types of Lead Magnets With Examples

There are many types of lead magnet types that convert, ranging from a simple newsletter to a complex, 90-minute training webinar. However, rather than creating multiple lead magnets, focus on testing one or a few high-quality options. Low quality and low effort lead magnets can actually hurt your lead generation efforts, so make sure they’re something you can be proud of.

Pro Tip:

According to GetResponse, 58.6% of marketers said short-form written content like cheat sheets, newsletters, or eBook samples had the highest conversion rates. These are pieces of content that are easier to create, so you can experiment with different versions and see which ones convert the best.

1. Industry-Relevant Study

Who it’s right for: B2B salespeople looking for industry-specific contacts.

One of the most powerful types of lead magnets for a B2B seller is an industry-relevant study. Whitepapers, industry reports, trends or forecasts, and other related content are some of the more common industry-related studies used as content upgrades. For example, if you’re in the marketing industry, you may create a study on the best ways to drive sales using event based-marketing.

The main challenges with industry studies include gathering data and conducting research. If you don’t have a partnership or agreement to use someone’s independent research, you may get in trouble using someone’s proprietary data. You can get around this by conducting your own research using experiments, observation, aggregating existing research, or by collecting your own internal information (through surveys or existing data) and compiling it into a report.

Example industry-relevant report
Example industry-relevant report

2. Checklists or Cheat Sheets

Who it’s right for: Consulting or service-based sellers who offer a process for solving customer pain points.

Checklists, sometimes known as “cheat sheets”, are a good way to incentivize people to sign up by promising information with repeatable guidelines. The value of a checklist is it helps potential customers address an ongoing problem that your company solves. Cheat sheets are also shorter than content like eBooks and guides, making it easier to create and iterate.

An easy way to create a checklist of your own is to outline the steps involved in addressing a problem, or part of a problem, that your business directly solves. For example, a home inspection company may create a content upgrade cheat sheet like, “Home Inspection Cheat Sheet For Buyers”. Start from your product or service offering and work backward.

Example checklist lead magnet
Example checklist lead magnet

3. Industry-Specific Email Newsletter

Who it’s right for: Online businesses that create consistent content to share with their audience.

Email newsletters that are niche-focused are one of the top performing lead magnets and one of the best community building tools. Salespeople and marketers use an email newsletter as a way to share and repurpose existing content in a way that adds value to their readers. This includes things like sharing internal blog posts as well as relevant, third-party content and information.

Starting an industry-specific newsletter doesn’t have to be complicated. To start, send 2-3 emails per week to your audience and provide value-adding content. Usually, this takes the form of an article roundup with as many as 3-5 article features, but can also be a single-post send if your business isn’t big enough to generate that much content. Still, it’s not a bad idea to share other people’s content as well as your own, thereby maximizing the value of the newsletter.

Example industry specific newsletter
Example industry specific newsletter

4. Free Trial Offering

Who it’s right for: Subscription or membership-based businesses.

A free trial is a great lead magnet for those selling subscription-based services, because it gives the lead a chance to test drive your offering and gives you a chance to nurture the prospect. The key to using a free trial offering successfully as a content upgrade is by making it limited. This could mean a time constraint, cap on available features, or some combination thereof.

Example free trial offering
Example free trial offering

5. Free Templates

Who it’s right for: Salespeople targeting an audience that uses specific systems or performs repetitive tasks.

Templates are great tools that can be targeted toward specific tasks, processes or problems. Anything that’s frequently performed or very repetitive is something you can create a template around. For example, a B2B salesperson may create a template report that’s helpful for people in the industry he or she is targeting. Then, relevant leads download the report, and if they find it useful, will be more apt to a sale.

Example free templates
Example free templates

6. Free eBook

Who it’s right for: Businesses or salespeople who want to be seen as an expert in their field and provide in-depth information.

Free eBooks are a great way to get people to trade their contact information for access to premium content. The most effective eBooks to use as lead magnets are typically ultimate guides or how-to guides on a niche topic, which can help your audience solve a problem or achieve a goal with more in-depth information than with other lead magnets.

The best part is, if you already create great content via engaging blog posts or something similar, you can combine or repurpose multiple blog posts within a single topic into a high-value eBook that contains more depth on a subject than they'd get reading your individual blog posts. eBooks also serve as a way to position yourself as an expert on a subject, building trust and credibility with your leads.

Example Free eBook lead magnet
Example Free eBook

7. Case Studies

Who it’s right for: Brands with a proven track record of success or at least one good “win story”.

Case studies are highly valuable pieces of content because that combine the educational aspects of industry studies with the social proof of customer success within a single content upgrade. The best case studies focus on one specific story that highlights customer success, and uses things like testimonials and data to prove the value-add of your product or service through a real-world example with an existing customer.

The basic format of a case study includes the overview, the challenge, the approach, the solution, and the results. Use customer interviews and data points to highlight tangible numbers you were able to achieve, and show specifically how they were accomplished. Case studies can be branded or anonymous. Branded case studies have much higher value, but make sure you get permission from your customer first.

Example case study
Example case study

8. Webinars

Who it’s right for: B2B and B2C brands with audiences that rely on self-development or individual learning.

Webinars typically denote some type of training, education, or thought leadership. Oftentimes you’ll find webinars are focused on a specific type of persona (for example training for HR professionals) or a specific skill (for example software coding). Webinars have the flexibility of pre-recording them or doing them live. Many webinars are also evergreen content, meaning they can be reused over the long term.

Examples of common webinar content are training materials such as “How To Effectively Build A Sales Pipeline From Scratch”. Make sure your webinar is adding value to people and is authoritative and informative enough to make a strong impact on viewers. Someone who attends a webinar should walk away feeling empowered and equipped.

Example webinar
Example webinar

Where to Find Lead Magnet Templates

To help design the best lead magnet possible, there are many templates available to use. Some like Copy Goals provide a roundup of as many as 100 lead magnet templates. Other solutions like Canva offer customizable templates that you can use to create and download your own lead magnet. For those with design skills, you can also try to use lead magnet templates directly in software like Photoshop, which may not be a good option for design novices.

How to Create a Lead Magnet in 5 Steps

Now that you understand the various lead magnet types and how to leverage a template if you so choose, let's walk through the steps of actually creating and deploying a lead magnet. This way, you can quickly get up and running and begin collecting leads and iterating on your results.

1. Choose Your Lead Magnet Type

Choosing the right lead magnet type for your needs is the first step in  building and launching an effective lead magnet. Not only should your choice be something you have the resources to create but should also be valuable for your target audience. Consider what the most successful brands in your industry are using to gather leads and what would align with your customer base. There are a few questions you should ask yourself to choose the right content upgrade:

What Content Assets Do You Have?

Start your process by looking at your existing. You may already have a newsletter or a free trial offer available that you can use. Or maybe you have a series of blog posts you can package into an eBook. There’s no point struggling to create a lead magnet with new content if you already have existing copy you can deploy.

What Content Can You Create?

If you don’t already have content you can repurpose into a lead magnet, think about what you can create with the resources you have available. If you’re an individual business owner or solopreneur, you might be limited by your time or knowledge. If you’re a member of an organization, you could work with teammates or across departments to create one.

What Does Your Audience Want?

Think long and hard about what'll be truly valuable to your audience. You shouldn't try to fake the value of a lead magnet, it should actually be beneficial to your target leads. If you have existing customers, ask them for insight via a survey or direct outreach. If you don't, research your ideal customer's interests to zero in on something that will benefit the,.

What Are Your Competitors Doing?

One easy way to come up with ideas and tips for your lead magnet is to look at what your top competitors are doing. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel if you identify a system that’s clearly working for similar/competitive brands or within your industry. Identify the brands in your space that are the most successful with content marketing and recreate similar content in your own brand voice.

2. Design Your Lead Magnet

Next, actually create your lead magnet using a content design tool or pre-existing template. Regardless of your approach, make sure your content upgrade is something you're proud of. The actual look/feel of the digital assets your audience receives is important because the overall user experience can impact whether or not they choose to move forward with you.

To help you design an effective lead magnet, we've listed some of the top design options below:

  • Canva: Popular budget option for all kinds of unique graphic content and formats, which includes the ability to use a pre-built template.
  • Visme: Especially good for infographics, reports, and longer form content.
  • Crello: Easy-to-use with thousands of templates, especially for social media and video.
  • DesignBold: Very accessible with an intuitive A.I. and a large bank of stock photos.
  • Adobe Spark: Can be a great Canva alternative, especially for videos or web page designs.

3. Embed the Lead Magnet on Your Website

Once you've created your lead magnet, make sure it’s embedded on the most important pages within your lead generation website. Whether you embed it directly on a page or use some type of pop-up across multiple pages, your lead magnet should be easily accessible for your leads to see and download in return for their contact information. You can do this with the following options:

  • Pop-up forms 
  • A dedicated landing page
  • A linked image on your site
  • An embedded download form
bookmarks

Additional Reading:

Two of the primary ways you can embed your lead magnet is by using a landing page or lead capture software like a popup tool. For more information on both, check out our articles on lead capture software and landing page builders for the best options.

4. Deliver Your Lead Magnet

After the contact information is collected you need to deliver the actual lead magnet to the prospect. This is typically done through an automated email response via a tool like Mailchimp that directs the prospect toward the download of a PDF/template or a membership account granting access to a subscription/free trial.

5. Consistently Promote Your Lead Magnets

The point of a lead magnet is to attract new leads, so make sure you're continually re-marketing your lead magnet across different channels to ensure new leads consistently come in. Lead magnets yield the most ROI when you can make them once and distribute them forever.

When you’ve properly set up a lead magnet, your active and passive marketing efforts should both contribute to driving more traffic toward it. You can also direct more targeted traffic toward your lead magnets in your social media posts and email outreach when appropriate. Use these content distribution tips to get the most mileage from your lead magnets:

  • Republish: Don’t be hesitant to simply repost a content upgrade if it’s still relevant. 
  • Repackage: You can split up long-form content into short blurbs and combine short-form content to make longer content.
  • Repurpose: This is similar to republishing content but framing it in a brand new context or within a new conversation.

Bottom Line

Lead magnets are one of the most important parts of inbound lead generation. Now that you understand how to create and deploy them, you can go out and get new leads for your business. By taking advantage of content upgrades, you should be able to increase the volume and conversion rates of your lead generation funnels.

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