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What is a lead magnet? 6 ideas and examples

A lead magnet is one of the best ways to capture potential clients who are interested in your expertise. Use these lead magnet ideas to get started and leverage content to build your email list!

Person on phone with lead magnet illustration

Digital lead generation can be extremely powerful given how much of your audience is online and actively (or even passively) seeking out the products and services you offer. 

To build your email list you can use a variety of strategies, including promotions, advertising, and content partnerships. But one of the most effective lead generation strategies for independent businesses is creating lead magnets. 

With some up-front effort, your lead magnets can attract targeted audiences. When users sign up for them and join your email list, you’ll have a group of qualified leads who you can then nurture and move toward converting into clients. 

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What is a lead magnet?

A lead magnet is a term for the service or item you give away — such as a free trial, worksheet, or template — to get contact information from your target audience. It’s one of the engines that can power your lead generation strategy.

Reports indicate that up to 50% of marketers who leverage lead magnets get higher conversion rates as a result. The most popular lead magnets include e-books, webinars, and free tools.

Lead magnets give you a direct line of contact with potential customers. This is because the calls to action attached to lead magnets ask people to provide their information and give you permission to reach out to them for relevant offers in the future. As opposed to paid media, your lead magnets are owned media you can repeatedly leverage through repurposing and remarketing.

Additionally, lead magnets are vital milestones in your lead generation pipelines that turns outer-funnel audiences into qualified leads. Because lead magnets are targeted to your ideal audience and related to your services, you know that people who sign up for them have the potential to convert. 

That’s why they’re called magnets — they attract audiences suitable for lead nurturing.

What makes an effective lead magnet?

In a nutshell, an effective lead magnet is relevant to your target audience, useful, and actionable. It should support a topic they’re already interested in and give them something more helpful than a standard blog post. 

Instead of just reading information on the topic, the lead magnet gives them a way to act on the information or continue learning about it in a different way. Here are some other characteristics of the most successful lead-generating tools.

Relevant to the concerns of your target audiences

Lead magnets, like your unique services, address specific objectives and pain points that your ideal client personas have. Though it might not be able to solve all of their problems, it gives them some solutions. 

Well-crafted lead magnets that address their concerns prove that you have the capability to meet their needs. Because of the solution you can provide through a worksheet or tool, they’ll have a greater understanding of what your brand does, and may keep you in mind if they’re thinking about using services like yours.

Timely for the appropriate stage of the customer journey

Effective lead magnets are useful for your target audiences in their specific stage of the customer journey. For potential clients at the very top of your funnel, your lead magnets should be purely informational and associated with a topic they’re already researching. At this stage, keyword research is the most helpful for developing ideas.

On the other hand, buying guides and feature breakdowns are ideal for leads further along in their customer journey. They might already know about your brand but just want more specific information about your services.

Before you create any lead magnets, they should have a clear purpose tied to a stage of your lead generation funnel

6 lead magnet ideas and examples 

So what types of content generate the most leads? If you’re just getting started, I recommend testing different types of lead magnets to see what works with your audience as well as what your business offers. 

Start by evaluating each of your services and see how you can spin parts of them into different content types. Here are six examples you can use to get started: 

1. Templates

Templates are a great lead magnet, whether you offer B2B or B2C services. Everyone’s operating on limited time these days, so offering a tool where that eliminates work for them is always helpful. 

Templates for design work might be the first thing that comes to mind, such as social media assets, sales collateral, and more. However, many other types of business owners can also use templates. 

If you’re a business consultant, for example, consider setting up template spreadsheets that your clients can use for tracking business goals, finances, and more. 

Keep in mind that templates can be one of the most time-consuming to put together on your end, but they can have some of the greatest value.

2. Worksheets or cheat sheets

Unlike templates, worksheets and cheat sheets can be some of the easiest types of lead magnets to create. That’s because these pair the best with blog posts and content you might have already created. 

For example, if you write a blog post about setting up a QuickBooks account (say if you’re an accountant), you can then provide a downloadable cheat sheet with the most important information. 

If you offer services that require a lot of brainstorming from your clients, worksheets are also a great way to help them get their wheels turning. Consultants can offer worksheets geared toward developing business goals, for example.

3. Checklists

Checklists are a great way to consolidate your content into another lead magnet that’s easy to develop. If you tend to walk your clients through a series of steps, that list can be a valuable checklist for them. 

For instance, photographers can create wedding photo preparation checklists to help couples consider everything they need in order to book a photographer. 

If you’re a consultant or other B2B business, you might also want to consider combining your checklist and template lead magnets. For instance, you can create a checklist template for a project management tool like Notion that anyone can provide their email to use. 

4. Whitepapers or e-books 

The most popular lead magnet with nearly 30% of marketers using them, whitepapers or e-books are flexible lead magnets. The whitepaper can be a case study, in which you explain how you’ve resolved issues relevant to your audience for other clients. They can be industry or market reports, as well, which give your audience pertinent information they can use across a wide range of purposes while positioning you as an industry or sector leader with the numbers and insight they require.

Because they’re so broad, you can customize whitepapers and e-books to suit your purposes, and even make them a regular campaign (i.e. annual reports). Depending on how well previous lead magnets of the same type perform, you can also spin them into a series (multiple case studies, seasonal reports, and more).

5. Tutorials or workshops

Tutorials are essentially short-form courses that are focused on a singular task or subject matter in a more comprehensive approach compared to templates, and in an instructional manner as opposed to informational content like e-books. 

Note that tutorials are often sought after by users who want to find the right way to do something, and as such are often free and broad, so if you want to use tutorials as lead magnets, you will have to offer something valuable to your target market and specific enough that something similar is not readily accessible elsewhere.

Workshops can be a great option, though they can take a long time to develop. You can always record a few workshop sessions that are available for free, then gate the rest under a pay wall. 

6. Quizzes

Quizzes, particularly, straddle the line between entertainment for your audience and useful content that reinforces knowledge. They can easily draw in audiences who are earlier in their customer journey but are keen on double-checking the knowledge they already have about your subject matter. 

You can also design your quizzes in a way where after each answer, you provide additional context and best practices to add more value. This way, you can even exceed expectations and more successfully encourage quiz-takers to share the quiz with like-minded audiences.

Best practices for effective lead magnet development

Lead magnets take a lot of work, but when done correctly you can reuse them and repurpose them to continue reaping the benefits. 

To get the most out of your tools, keep in mind these best practices.

  • Optimize your landing pages – When you build your lead magnets, the best way to introduce them is through a landing page on your website. It might be a blog post or a standalone page. Either way, make sure you’re clearly communicating why you’re asking for emails and what the value is.
  • Build effective contact forms – When your visitors are interested in what you have to offer, it’s important to eliminate any friction between them and your lead magnet. Make sure you’re building simple contact forms that only collect what you need without turning leads away.
  • Leverage SEO and content marketing – Make sure you pair your lead magnets with SEO research and content marketing efforts you’re already using. As we mentioned before, many of your blog posts can be great starting points, and keyword research can help you understand what your audience is looking for.
  • Create a promotion strategy – Once you’ve put work into your lead magnets, don’t just wait for people to find them. Be sure to promote them on your social media channels, offer them throughout your website, and more.
  • Don’t give everything away for free – Your lead magnets should help solidify your brand and entice leads to work with you. But make sure you aren’t offering anything that people should pay for. It might take a while to strike this balance, but keep it in mind as you start to create and test your downloadables and tools.

Capture the right leads with HoneyBook

You could have the best lead magnets in the world, but if you’re not capturing them, your efforts will go nowhere.

Using HoneyBook, you can create customizable, branded contact forms that you can embed onto your websites. When someone fills them out, you can set up an automated sequence to send your lead magnet to your audiences. You can easily personalize each form to suit your needs, and you can do so quickly and without the need for in-depth technical knowledge.

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