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What is a Lead Magnet? 3 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 the engine in your lead generator. 

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.

Creating a lead magnet takes time and effort, which may seem unproductive since it entails you giving away an item or service for free, but they’re well worth the energy. 

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 modularization (more on these later).

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, timely, and valuable. That’s from both perspectives: your point of view and your audience’s point of view.

An effective lead magnet is all of the following:

Relevant to the concerns of your target audiences

Lead magnets, like your unique service propositions, address specific objectives and pain points of your target customers. Good lead magnets address one of the goals, pain points, objections, or behaviors of one or more of your ideal client personas in some depth. 

When marketing yourself to your audiences as a company, giving away well-crafted lead magnets that address their concerns proves that you have the capacity to solve their problems, meet their objections, or adjust to their behaviors. Lead magnets that are relevant to the concerns of your target audiences allow your service to speak for itself.

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. Assets like infographics and introductory webinars are better suited to people in the information research stage of their customer journey. On the other hand, buying guides and feature breakdowns are ideal for leads further along in their customer journey. Offering an incorrectly timed lead magnet is a wasteful use of a lead nurturing campaign.

Valuable for their use and potential for re-use

Since your lead magnets are relevant and timely, they’re going to be useful for your target audience. But to make them optimally useful for you, they need to be developed in a way that makes them easy to re-use for future campaigns and purposes.

Best practices for effective lead magnet development

Great lead magnets have a long shelf life and can be used repeatedly without diminishing returns. To ensure this, you need to:

  • Develop magnets that are repurposable. Repurposable magnets are those you can reuse with minor modifications for future campaigns so you don’t have to invest the same amount of time and effort in the creation of new ones. A cheat sheet for seasonal campaigns, for example, can always be quickly updated and repurposed for next year.
  • Develop with a modular approach. Modular magnets can be broken down into smaller components and those modules can then be put together or used in other campaigns. One example is a free introductory course with separate modules. Some chapters of the course can be taken apart and reused elsewhere, such as in blog posts or reports.
  • Make sure each asset can stand alone. Standalone assets are those that can be used even without the context of the campaign for which they were originally developed. Some examples are standalone videos that can be deployed elsewhere without needing much editing.

Pro Tip: Make sure your lead magnets are set up with excellent intake forms that don’t suffer from some of the biggest contact form mistakes. Regardless of how well-crafted your lead magnets are, if your contact forms fall short of ideal, you won’t be maximizing returns on your investment.

3 lead magnet ideas and examples 

So what sort of lead magnets work best? That depends entirely on your business model, services, and audiences. Of course, there are always best practices that apply regardless of industry and audience.

Remember that lead magnets are meant to be relevant, timely, and valuable. Here are three lead magnet ideas and examples of how to use them:

Templates/checklists/cheat sheets 

Templates are especially useful for service-based business models that rely on multiple processes and pipelines. Additionally, cheat sheets or checklists can help them as quick reference materials that help with quality assurance and deployment of services or products.

Templates, checklists, or cheat sheets that are customizable and reusable can position you as a reliable resource for the service or product that your target audiences focus on, too. These lead magnets open up future conversations about how you can offer more in-depth assistance to the leads who downloaded them. This sort of lead magnet would fall under the category of free tools, which is one of the three most popular types used by marketers.

Whitepapers or e-books 

The most popular lead magnet with nearly 30% of marketers using them, whitepapers or e-books are actually quite broad. 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 decide to create a series, as is usually what happens with case studies and reports.

Tutorials or quizzes

Tutorials or quizzes of reasonable length are similar to templates in that they showcase your expertise while simultaneously being a knowledge check or reviewer for your audience. 

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.

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.

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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