The reality is, you’re unlikely to get enough customers or clients to sustain your business by just talking to them once. How often do you Google something completely new, find a business you’ve never bought from before, and click buy – within minutes? Probably never. So how do you build a relationship with prospects in today’s fast-paced world? Through social media marketing and email marketing. And lead magnets are the key to being effective with the latter.

How to Use Lead Magnets

What are lead magnets? To summarise, they are an incentive you use to ‘trade’ value with your prospective customers or clients. You give them something, they give you something. This typically means giving a resource, some information, or other exclusive tidbits (such as a discount) in return for someone’s email address.

But you could use a lead magnet to get other contact information, too. For B2B services or suppliers, it’s typical to ask for a lot more information: company, phone number, job title, etc. For B2C companies, you’re more likely to just ask for an email address, and maybe their first name.

Lead magnets are meant to attract the right fit for your business. The incentive should be targeted to make sure you don’t get irrelevant people on your list. Irrelevant freebies might make your subscriber count look great, but that doesn’t mean anything if you aren’t able to convert them into customers or clients.

Why Every Business Needs a Lead Magnet

Everyone wants email subscribers, right? That’s an obvious reason why lead magnets are great. But more importantly, the right lead magnet can be a huge part of your (excuse the jargon) lead funnel.

Lead magnets will help you find the right people, at the right time, for you to offer your product or service in an effective way.

Email inboxes are increasingly crowded, and it’s important to give people a reason to connect with you in one of their remaining ‘private’ places online. A lead magnet tells them that you are a good fit, know how to help them, won’t waste their time, and have the same values as them.

It’s a win/win for everyone.

Examples of BAD Lead Magnets

Overall, generic lead magnets are bad. Such as:

  • Amazon or other mainstream retail website giveaways. (Subscribe for a chance to win £100 in Amazon gift cards every month! Cringe.)
  • An overly complicated or detailed guide. How are you supposed to guide the subscriber through a journey if you don’t have any idea of what their needs are? How close they are to buying? What they do need from you?
  • Unrelated, but trendy, incentives or giveaways. (Such as a free iPad. Why are so many surveys giving away technology?)

Too much value in a lead magnet is also a bad thing. It might devalue your service or product, or it might just make you look a bit too, well, desperate. If you typically charge £199 for a consultation but offer them out for free to subscribers (unless it’s a very limited or specific offer!) then it can give a bad impression.

The Elements of a Good Lead Magnet

So if those are BAD ideas for lead magnets, what makes a good lead magnet? Here are three key elements to keep in mind:

  1. Solve a problem. What’s the barrier between someone who’s ready to buy, and who isn’t? For example, if you sell cookbooks, someone might be worried they won’t like the recipes. So if you offer a free recipe or two for subscribers, they’ll be able to ‘try before they buy’.
  2. Make it quick. Focus on a QUICK problem to solve. The biggest element should be saving them time (and money), as well as solving the problem. So be specific. A one-page guide for one problem will be more effective than a 100-page eBook that doesn’t give them anything but more questions.
  3. Demonstrate YOUR value. This is the key to narrow it down to people who are relevant to YOUR business. If you’re a lawyer, would you expect relevant subscribers by offering a guide on dog leads? That’s an extreme example, but point being: stay relevant!

5 Timeless Lead Magnet Types to Grow Your List (+ 18 Specific Examples)

1. The One-Pager to Rule Them All: Checklist or Cheat Sheet

A checklist or cheat sheet is a delightful quick win that crosses off so many boxes – no pun intended. It’ll be highly relevant, attract the right people, show your expertise, won’t take up much of your (or their) time, and should be a fairly long-term lead magnet you can use again and again.

This is #1 on the list because it’s quick to create, and will let you start testing the angle quickly without a lot of investment. Anyone, at any stage of business, will be able to find a relevant checklist or cheat sheet to attract subscribers.

Examples:

  • 10 things to do before you publish a blog post
  • An attractive one-page printable of the best InDesign shortcuts for designers
  • A 12-month overview of when to sow, plant, and harvest local vegetables

Why it works:

  • They’ll remember you each time they use the reference. (You branded it and put some subtle contact info on it, right?)
  • It’s a quick, relevant win.
  • It’s only relevant to people who want to actually use it!

Email ideas to follow up:

  • “Hey ____, How did you get on with the checklist? I’d love to know how it’s helped you _____. Here’s what other people are saying about it: Screenshots of other feedback.
  • Explain why these specific points are important. Use a bit of storytelling to show your expertise, which is how you were able to narrow it down to being a one-pager reference.

2. Free Tools: Web Apps or Done-for-You Toolkits

Crunch.co.uk makes their take-home tool open without subscribing, but they have a strong CTA to encourage people to call. The key is that they show this, while also showing the clear value they could offer.

If you offer a free tool with enough value, people won’t mind logging in or giving their email in exchange for using it. Setting this up takes more time and resources on your part, so the key is to find something highly relevant that will remain relevant for a long time. You want to create something that people will come back to, again and again, because of the value you’re offering. You could even use this as a tactic to compete against a popular premium tool or solution provided by a competitor.

And, if you really want to develop something amazing, you can always have a tier of free and paid options to use the tool.

Examples:

  • A utility comparison tool that only lists green energy companies
  • A calculator to work out the marketing ROI of different activities
  • A dashboard that pulls together all their favourite industry news resources in one place (and includes your relevant content, too)

Why it works:

  • To use your app or tool, subscribers (or registered users) have to return to your site again and again. Every visit is an opportunity to share your latest services, offers, products, and more.
  • Creating a free version of an app or tool is a highly targeted way to get paying subscribers or users.

Email ideas to follow up:

  • Offer a discount or freebie if they subscribe to your paid solution.
  • Send them to a relevant, subscriber-exclusive tutorial or webinar that ends with a clear call-to-action for your paid services.
  • Ask subscribers to share the tool on social media or elsewhere in exchange for a relevant reward: giveaway entries, a discount, the ‘next level’ freebie, etc.

3. Targeted Templates: Copy-Paste or Customisable Solutions

Templates cover a huge range of possibilities. These can be graphic templates, document templates, WordPress themes, word-for-word content to copy-paste, spreadsheets, you name it. The idea is, your subscriber can download it, customise it a bit, and reap the benefits. You get to offer value at scale, without it taking up more of your time – and you’ll show your expertise, too.

Examples:

  • Free Photoshop files to create a customised poster for an event
  • Word-for-word email copy or a sales script you used to make XXX in revenue
  • A GDPR-friendly privacy policy template

Why it works:

  • You’ll show off your expertise and value while letting them benefit. You’re the champion of that little success.
  • These templates clearly show what someone needs right now, and therefore you have a clear stepping stone to follow up on.

Email ideas to follow up:

  • “What did you do with the templates? Let us know how it’s helped you. We’re building the next template. Hit reply to let us know what you would find the most helpful.”
  • “Don’t know how to use it properly? Tune in live on Facebook on [date/time] where we’ll be going through the templates and answering your questions!”

4. Lead Magnets for GTD: Organisation, Planning, and Practice

Everyone has a to-do list. Whether they’re shopping for clothes, building a business, planting their garden, or just trying to juggle work and home life, there are ways you can help. Worksheets, printable planners, relevant calendars, and similar productivity tools are a brilliant way to become a helpful part of someone’s routine.

Examples:

  • A calendar of all major industry events over the year
  • A weekly planner targeted to your audience, e.g. parents tackling work and home life, a ‘bricks and mortar’ shop owner tracking their employees, etc.
  • A set of Filofax printables with an attractive, branded design
  • Prompts to help them stay focused and be consistent

Why it works:

  • This is a quick win: designing it should be simple, and it’s easy for people to use. (Seeing a trend here?)
  • By adding personalised details relevant to your audience, you’re showing you understand their needs and offer value.

Email ideas to follow up:

  • Send them more tips relevant to the planning they have in mind: work/life balance, employee motivation, etc.
  • Share how YOU use the planners. (They’re good enough for YOU, too, right?)
  • Share your latest designs – premium, of course.

5. Share a Sample: Whet Their Appetite

Almost as simple as a one-pager, samples are a fantastic way to make sure subscribers are interested in your paid offers. And since you already charge for it, you probably already have it prepared.

Instant gratification (so an automatic download or instant access) is typically more effective, but you can offer 1:1 time or a bespoke solution, too. It depends on your offer and your business.

Examples:

  • The first novel in a series of books
  • A recipe from your online cooking course
  • A 30-minute consultation (specific is best, like our free social media audit)
  • A recording of last year’s keynote speech at your annual event
  • Literally, a sample: they get a free product for subscribing

Why it works:

  • Just like a food sample, you’re offering a taste of the real thing. You’re showing off the quality, flavour, customer service, you name it. You’re removing the barrier of someone saying, ‘I don’t know their business. Can I trust them? Is it worth it?’
  • It’s a fantastic way to build up to a new launch and get people ready for your product or service ahead of time. Sharing the first chapter before a book is released, to encourage preorders, is a classic example.

Email ideas to follow up:

  • Ask for a review. Dead simple. They have enjoyed your product or service, so a review makes sense! You can keep it private, but encourage feedback.
  • If it’s just a teaser, email them to remind them there’s a paid option! Do they want to buy the full book? Do they have questions before they sign up for the course?
  • Remind them if there’s a limited time offer or deadline coming up, so they don’t miss out.

And remember, just like our advice for free YouTube subscribers, every subscriber on your list is a human. You know some humans, right? Don’t be shy about reaching out one-on-one, to ask people you think are a good fit to take up your lead magnet.

A quick private message just has to say: “Hey, I made this guide/freebie/video/etc and thought it might help you. Would love to know your feedback.” And then if it is a good fit, they might go for it.

Enjoyed this article? Get more insight, tips, opinions, and need-to-know info on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram.


Anna Simmonds
Anna Simmonds

Anna, Head of Social, knows her beans when it comes to social media. She keeps her finger on the social pulse, funnelling her knowledge and experience into creating engaging social media campaigns. She’s also pretty decent with a camera and Photoshop.