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Lead Magnets 101: Why You Need Them and How to Use Them

Your Facebook ads fell short. The expensive videos you had made didn’t go viral. Your online presence is quickly dwindling into nothing. What’s the next best step?

Here’s the short answer: Harness the power of lead magnets as a great way to grow your following, nurture qualified leads, build a strong email list, and ultimately scale your revenue.

This blog post will tell you all you need to know about lead magnets.

If you enjoy watching a video rather than reading, here’s the explainer video for this blog post about lead magnets:

Here’s the long story.

What Are Lead Magnets?

First, let’s start with the basics. What is a lead magnet, anyway?

A lead magnet is a “freebie” such as an ebook or a cheat sheet or any other content upgrade that you offer your website visitors as an incentive in exchange for their contact information, usually their email address, for the purpose of lead generation and email list building.

So what are some good lead magnet examples? Common types of the best lead magnet ideas are:

  • Reports
  • eBooks
  • Guides
  • Cheat sheets
  • Case studies
  • Checklists
  • How-tos
  • Toolkits
  • Resources
  • Video training

Here’s an example.

example of lead magnets

When people enter their contact information such as their first name and email address and click the button on this type of lead magnet, they’ll receive this free download of a guide as a content upgrade.

Websites will frequently deliver lead magnets in pop-ups, although we’re seeing them more and more in blog posts, landing pages, Facebook ads, and even with Facebook Messenger chatbots.

Lead magnets can be seasonal/time-sensitive or evergreen, meaning you can use them any time of year.

A great example of a time-sensitive lead magnet is one that teaches people how to start a garden in spring.

An evergreen lead magnet is one that teaches people how to grow a garden inside their homes, which you can do whenever you want.

Once people provide their email, you can send the lead magnet to their inbox.

Aside from the fact that great lead magnets help to build trust and authority, it also allows you to continue email marketing to the people who opt in.

Why Do You Need to Be Using Lead Magnets?

“Ugh, I’m so sick of getting new customers,” said no business owner ever.

In fact, customer acquisition could possibly be the hardest part of keeping the doors to your business open — nevermind increasing your revenue.

And you don’t need us to tell you that many new businesses will fail, but we will anyway.

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy’s 2018 Frequently Asked Questions About Small Business, about 80% of small businesses make it past one year, and only half make it five years or longer.

Now, what does this have to do with lead magnets?

The benefits of lead magnets are many. Let’s break down a couple of the biggest benefits of effective lead magnets.

“Customer acquisition could possibly be the hardest part of keeping the doors to your business open — nevermind increasing your revenue.”

Lead Magnets Help Build Trust and Authority

We’re going to take a wild guess and say that you have a lot of competition in your industry.

Add to that the fact that most business owners think they simply need to exist in order to get people’s attention, and you have a recipe for disaster.

It takes a lot more to stand out.

The first hurdle you’re going to need to get over is potential customers who aren’t ready to spend money on your business or service yet. Why are they like this?

Simple. They don’t know you. Especially in the very beginning, they have one question on their minds: “What’s in this for me?”

You need to make sure that you nurture the relationship, build trust, maybe even offer a free trial and prove you’re an authority in your industry.

That’s one way Allison Lindstrom does it, and it works. She proves people can trust her as an authority by providing massive value for free.

allison lindstrom lead magnets

By providing free information — read: free value — you’re accomplishing a few things:

  • This helps you show your potential customers that you’re not just trying to get their money.
  • You prove that you know what you’re doing and know how to help them.
  • It allows you to position yourself as an expert in your industry.

While business owners and marketing managers understandably roll their eyes at the thought of needing to spend additional time nurturing leads, don’t underestimate the power of lead magnets.

Yes, it’s a little more work up front, but a lead magnet brings you long-term gain.

Lead Magnets Help to Grow Your Email List, Which is Invaluable

As you know by now, you can use different types of lead magnets to help grow your email lists, and email marketing is the stuff dreams are made of.

Make no mistake about it: connecting with the right target audience and delivering valuable content is a real struggle for businesses.

Entrepreneur, Forbes, and Investopedia name these as some of the biggest reasons so many businesses quickly close.

Email marketing can effectively eliminate both of these problems.

For starters, it helps you collect warm leads — meaning people who have already been familiarized with you.

Unlike cold leads, you can be certain these people are at least somewhat interested in what you have to offer.

The bridge between you and the sale is just a little be shorter.

“Email marketing is the stuff dreams are made of.”

Furthermore, depending on what lead magnet they took and how you’re segmenting your email lists — meaning how you organize the addresses you collect — you can deliver the exact kind of content that your subscribers want.

For example, perhaps in order for someone to receive your lead magnet, they have to provide two things: their email, and what aspect of your business they’re most interested in.

You can then deliver to them, over time, information relevant to them specifically.

Email marketing is likely the biggest moneymaker for your business. Unbeknownst to many people, a strong and growing email subscribers’ list is the backbone of any company.

It’s cheap to produce and has a higher ROI than most other types of marketing. Take Facebook ads, for example.

You might need to spend anywhere from $500 to $1,000 minimum to start running and experimenting with Facebook ads just to determine what might work. (To be clear, Facebook ads can be highly profitable.)

Email marketing, on the other hand, can deliver results for a fraction of this price.

And what does it all start with? Lead magnets.

So… You Give Away Information for Free?


So often, business owners are steadfastly against “giving stuff away for free” — whether it’s physical a product or service, or even just information.

Why give it away when you can sell it? Here’s the problem: You’re not going to sell anything if you have no way of attracting new leads in the first place.

Besides, we’re not telling you to spill all of your secrets — just enough to pique people’s interest with a free trial.

woman using smartphone

Running a business is a marathon, not a sprint. Relationships need to be nurtured.

It’s not as simple as offering your service and getting paid.

Lead magnets help you to connect with the right people and prove your value, so they’ll be likelier to spend money with you.

How to Create Lead Magnets That Convert

  • What Are Their Pain Points?
  • How Can You Help Them Have a Quick Win?
  • What Do You Want Them to Do Next?
  • What Should Your Lead Magnet‘s Opt-In Page Look Like?

How can you begin to craft a perfect lead magnet that’ll be enticing enough for leads to hand over their email addresses for it and increase the conversion rates for lead generation?

Think of these questions as you brainstorm ideas for creating a lead magnet.

What Are Their Pain Points?

What’s a common obstacle your leads are experiencing? Your lead magnet should help them solve a problem.

For instance, if you’re a personal trainer and you know that a lot of people struggle with finding time for the gym, your lead magnet might offer quick workouts that they can do at home with no equipment.

Don’t make this about what you want them to know. Make it about what they want to know.

Your lead magnet should address something they care about and need help with.

How Can You Help Them Have a Quick Win?

You don’t want to create a lead magnet that’s going to solve people’s problems six months down the line.

If you want your lead magnets to convert, they need to provide instant gratification.

Lindstrom does it in just one week, for instance.

allison lindstrom lead magnet 2

Using our previous example of a lead magnet above with the personal trainer, leads can opt in to receive that freebie and start exercising from home immediately, if they want.

It helps them overcome their obstacle — not having time for the gym — instantly. Oftentimes, giving people a quick win means that the lead magnet shouldn’t be too lengthy or complicated.

It might convert poorly otherwise. This means less work on your part to actually achieve greater results. We call that a win.

As an example of what not to do, imagine a lead magnet that helps them achieve their dream body in six months.

That takes way too long and there’s too much room for error.

Plus, that’s definitely something you’d want people to pay for. It’s a huge responsibility on your part.

Give your leads a quick and simple win.

What Do You Want Them to Do Next?

Yes, you create something such as a lead magnet to grow your mailing list, and you’ll be able to continue marketing to these people as long as they stay on that list, but don’t let it end there.

When coming up with lead magnet ideas, think about what you want to happen once someone finishes using your freebie.

What do you want them to do? Do you want them to schedule a free phone consultation? Purchase something using a coupon code?

Aside from having them on your email list, what’s your goal?

Your lead magnet should prompt recipients to take action of some sort.

This will help you further nurture your leads, move the relationship forward, and continue encouraging people to ultimately do business with you.

Continuing with our example of a lead magnet using the personal trainer, you might use your lead magnet to show people how they can exercise from home.

To further the relationship, perhaps you offer them a one-on-one training session, your accountability coaching services, or personalized programming through your lead magnet.

“Your lead magnet should prompt recipients to take some sort of action.”

It’s all about moving the relationship forward. The lead magnet isn’t the end of the story!

What Should Your Lead Magnet’s Opt-In Page Look Like?

You’ll very likely send lead magnets to people via the email course, but what about the one page where they sign up? How should you design it?

One word: KISS — keep it simple, stupid!

The more you say, the greater the opportunity people have to decide they’re not interested.

Don’t give them a reason! Your opt-in page should be concise and straightforward.

Tell them what they’ll get, how they’ll benefit, and how to get it.

Using our personal trainer example, your page would mention these things:

  • Get 10 workouts you can do at home with no equipment!
  • Achieve a healthier you, even if you don’t have time to go to the gym.
  • Just provide your email address and we’ll send the workouts to your inbox.


computer on desk

Sidenote: You can also accomplish this using a pop-up on your website or blog posts.

Great, But How Do You Get People to Opt In?

Creating the lead magnet is often the easiest part. It’s getting people to sign up for the lead magnet that proves to be tricky.

Here are a few suggestions to help you get people to sign up for your lead magnets.

Promote it on Social Media

Once your lead magnet is ready, post the opt-in page across all your social media platforms.

If it’s evergreen content, plan to promote the heck out of it on a regular basis, even a few times a week.

Really utilize all the features the various platforms offer.

For instance, you can post on your Instagram feed, but don’t forget Stories. IG Stories are extra cool because they put you at the very top of people’s feeds and make you more visible.

Since your organic traffic might be minimal on social media (don’t worry — that’s the case for a lot of business pages), you might consider spending a little money on this, which brings us to…

Drive Traffic to it Using Facebook Ads

If you’ve got someone on your team who’s a pro with Facebook ads, don’t be scared to pay to play.

Facebook ads don’t have the best reputation, but here’s the thing: When they work, they really work.

Send an Email Blast

Have you already started building up an email list? Fantastic!

We know we said you can use lead magnets to get new email address, but the people already on your list might very well be interested in the free or perceived value you’re providing via the lead magnet.

Don’t let them miss out on it. This could still lead to a sale.

So many businesses have yet to really take full advantage of lead magnets, but they’re a seriously powerful tool.

Start thinking outside the box, come up with a bulletproof strategy, and get working on your lead magnet. The results might just blow you away.

As you start collecting leads and turning them into paying customers with the help of your lead magnets, you’re going to need help maintaining those relationships online.

That’s where we come in. EngageBay’s CRM system is perfect for small businesses to organize contact information, email contacts, track deals, use your sales pipeline to grow sales, manage leads, and build meaningful relationships. Try us for free!

Let us know your thoughts about this blog post in the comments section below!

Check out this helpful guide on Lead Generation in our Resource Center:

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