Lead Magnets: What They Are and How To Use Them To Get More Leads

One of the biggest challenges of online marketing is how to convert your website traffic into leads for your business. Sure, people that are ready to buy now might call or e-mail you, but what about those that aren’t ready to buy yet? How can you convert them?

For most small business websites, the only other way visitors can convert is through a “subscribe to our newsletter” type form. While this is better than nothing, out of the hundreds or thousands of people that visit your website you might only get a 1 or 2 to sign up for your newsletter. Even if they do sign up, how do you know what product or service they are interested in? How can you effectively follow up?

Lead magnets solve both of these problems. Effective lead magnets give your visitors a compelling reason to give you their contact information and qualify the product or service they are interested in. Not only do lead magnets give you a steady stream of leads, they also qualify them for you, allowing you to effectively follow up. What is a lead magnet anyway?

What Is A Lead Magnet?

A lead magnet is a piece of content that you give away to someone in exchange for a piece of contact information; usually their e-mail address.

As consumers become more and more wary of giving away their information online it has become tougher and tougher to generate leads, especially from those that aren’t looking to make a purchase right away. Nobody is willing to give away their information for nothing. In order to get something valuable from your website visitors (their e-mail addresses) you have to give them something valuable in return.

Lead magnets, therefore, are just another business transaction. Rather than trading money for goods and services, you’re trading information.

Consumers are hungry for information. They scour the internet looking for ways to solve various wants and needs. If your website offers information that can help solve their wants and needs, most are willing to give something up (their e-mail address) in order to get it.

Why Not Try To Sell Consumers First?

The most common objection we get when explaining lead magnets to small business owners is why they should use them at all? Why do all that work to only get an e-mail address? Why not get them to talk to a salesperson and close them right away?

As we alluded to earlier, not everyone that visits your website is ready to make a purchase. In fact, the vast majority of your website visitors are not ready to make a purchase.

To fully understand the power of lead magnets we must look at a typical consumer buying cycle. For the sake of simplicity we will break it into three steps.

The Simplified Consumer Sales Cycle

  1. Information Gathering – Consumers first recognize a need and search for ways to solve this need. Based on this information, they pick a short list of solutions.
  2. Consideration – After narrowing down their choices, consumers talk to salespeople and consider which solution they will ultimately pick to solve their need.
  3. Purchase – After making their decision, the consumer will then make a purchase.
a simplified version of the customer buying process
After recognizing a need, consumers typically go through three main steps, information gathering, consideration of their options and making their final purchase.

Until recently, the information gathering and consideration stage were almost the same. Before the rise of the internet the only real place to get information, other than from friends and family, was retail stores. Consumers would go from store to store to ask salespeople questions and collect brochures.

The Modern Consumer Sales Cycle

The internet has completely changed this buying process. It has effectively taken over the information gathering phase. Over 80% of consumers now gather information online first and will spend an average of 79 days gathering information before making a major purchase.

While the majority of consumers still make their final purchase in-store, the information that they gather online inevitably influences their final purchase decision.

Using lead magnets allows you to capture leads at the now critical information gathering stage. Capturing leads at this early stage not only allows you to influence their eventual purchase decision, it also allows you to follow up with more helpful information, keeping your brand at the top of their mind. When they’re eventually ready to make a purchase, your business now has the advantage over your competition.

5 Steps To Create An Effective Lead Magnet

1) Pick The Right Topic

The most important part of any lead magnet is it’s topic. Simply put, if your website visitors don’t find your lead magnet appealing, they won’t bother downloading it.

How do you know what is appealing and what isn’t? It all comes down to knowing your customer.

Before picking a topic for your lead magnet you must first define your target customer. What do they want? What do they need? What motivates them? What concerns might they have? How will your products or services help them?

Once you have properly defined your ideal customer, craft a headline that they would find irresistible. Be as specific as possible. The more specific you can get, the more appealing your lead magnet will be to your target audience. You shouldn’t be looking to get as many leads as possible, you should be looking to get highly qualified leads.

While there might be 1000’s of articles and e-books about how to buy the right guitar, there are probably only a few about how to buy the right guitar for modern jazz. If your ideal customers are guitarists interested in jazz, this more specific topic will be much more appealing.

Not only are these specific topics more appealing to your target customers, they also act to qualify them. Using the example above, you now know that not only are the interested in guitars, they are also interested in jazz. This allows you to follow up with specific content relating to jazz and jazz guitars, rather than the more generic content found in most e-mail newsletters.

2) Offer Quality Content

While a good headline will get people to download you lead magnet, it’s the quality of the content that will convince them to eventually buy from you. If you disappoint them with low quality content, they won’t be back when they’re looking to buy.

Make sure that your content delivers on what your topic promised. If your topic is how to buy the right jazz guitar, don’t spend half of it talking about classic rock. Straying off topic like this will only frustrate the reader.

When writing the content remember who you’re writing it for. What motivates them? What concerns might they have? Do some keyword research to find out what questions they might have about your topic, then answer those questions in the content of your lead magnet.

3) Pick The Right Format

Now that you know the subject and content of your lead magnet, it’s time to pick a format that will display it the best. Depending on the content, lead magnets can take many forms, here are just a few:

Cheat Sheets

“Cheat sheets” are worksheets that help consumers solve a specific problem. They can be very appealing on their own, or can be combined with an e-book to add further value to that e-book.

An example of a cheat sheet style lead magnet
Cheat sheets can be very effective on their own or when combined with other offers.


If the solutions you offer address complex problems than a checklist might be the best choice for a lead magnet format. They help simplify complex tasks by clearly laying out the steps needed to complete them.

Free Webinar

A webinar is a live meeting done over the internet. It allows you to talk directly to your leads over video and allows them to give you feedback and questions in real time by typing in the chat box.

As with all forms of lead magnets, the topic you choose for your webinar is critical. People generally won’t take time from their busy day to listen to someone unless they are really interested in what the person has to say.

Contrary to what most people think, webinars are fairly easy to set up and can be done with free online tools like Join Me.

Free Trial / Free Sample

Exactly what it sounds like. You give up a free sample of a product or a free trial of your service. This can be a powerful way to convert website visitors as it gives them a free way to trial a solution to their problem. If they like your solution, they are also much more likely to become a paying customer.

An example of a free trial style lead magnet
Free trials are powerful lead magnets as they give consumers a chance to try your solution risk-free. This can greatly increase their chances of purchasing your solution after the trial is complete.

Case Study

A case study is a report that shows real-life examples of how consumers used a particular product or service to solve a particular need.

An effective case study tells a complete story. It highlights the problem the consumer had, why it was an issue in the first place, the solution they chose and the results they obtained from that solution. It also backs up its findings with real world data.

4) Create A Custom Landing Page

Now that your lead magnet is finished, you need a way to capture e-mail addresses. The best way of doing that is with a custom landing page.

Landing pages are simply webpages that consumers “land” on after clicking on an ad or other weblink. Yours should be focused purely on getting people to download your new lead magnet. Keep your landing page simple, focused and highlight the main benefits of downloading your lead magnet.

For more landing page design tips check out our landing page design infographic.

how to design a landing page

5) Follow Up After The Leads

Your job isn’t over once you start generating leads, however. In fact, its just beginning. To really make lead magnets pay off requires a great follow up procedure.

As we mentioned earlier, lead magnets generate qualified leads. Take advantage of this by following up with more content that directly relates to their interests. Send them related posts from your blog, testimonials from customers who bought a related product or anything other marketing materials you may have that specifically relate to what they’re interested in.

Don’t have anything to send? Get some from your manufacturers or find articles, infographics or videos from other industry related websites. Third party content that backs up your point of view can be even more powerful to consumers than your own. If multiple businesses are saying the same thing, it must be true!

When sending a follow up to leads from lead magnets it is important to remember what stage of the buying cycle they are in. At this point, most are not prepared to make a purchase. Sending coupons or promotions won’t be effective, at least initially.

Instead of trying to close them right away, regularly send them quality content. After they’ve opened a few e-mails and really become engaged with your business, then begin adding in special offers and coupons to close them. How can you tell if they open your e-mails? Use an e-mail marketing tool. Most e-mail marketing tools like Mailchimp allow you to see exactly who is opening your e-mails, and how many times they opened them.

Wrapping Up

If you are one of the many businesses struggling to turn website visitors into leads, you need to start using lead magnets. Lead magnets are the most powerful way to drive consistent, qualified leads.

The vast majority of your website visitors are simply gathering information and aren’t ready to make a purchase. Capturing them at this stage of the buying cycle allows you to remain in the forefront of their mind and influence their final decision. This gives you a much greater chance of closing them when they eventually decide to buy.

While creating lead magnets is easy, creating effective lead magnets that generate targeted leads can be tough.

To create effective lead magnets requires knowing your customers inside and out. Once you know what they need and what they like, you can start creating content that they find irresistible!

So what do you think? How do you capture leads on your website? How do you follow up with web leads? Let us know in the comments below!

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