What would you do to get 4000 new subscribers who want what you’ve got?
People who are genuinely interested in your content.
Who open your emails and forward them to friends and colleagues.
At GetUplift, it all starts with the lead magnet.
To be honest, I’m not a huge fan of the term “lead magnet.”
It sounds deceptive.
Like another marketing “hack” that will “grow your email list by 423,000 subscribers”. Guaranteed.
That’s partially because – a lot of the time – lead magnets SUCK.
Meet the (pointless and irritating) lead magnet
Yes… There are a ton of crappy lead magnets out there.
Ones that pop up as soon as you land on a site, giving you no option to say no and obstructing you from clicking on the thing you’re actually there for.
Like Gilt, demanding I sign up before I’ve had a chance to look at their shoes and decide if I like them…
Or the RealReal, that won’t let you browse their site before you sign up for that credit.
And those are the “good” ones. The lead magnets that are pushy but don’t mislead you… I’m looking at you, New Balance:
Typically, if you want to subscribe to a brand’s newsletter, you gotta tick a checkbox at the bottom. This shows them you’re interested. And keeps things GDRP compliant.
In this pop-up, New Balance flip the script. Here, you gotta click if you DON’T want to receive their emails. This tactic may sound good on the surface to the bright spark that came up with it.
But – when you pause and think about it for longer than two seconds – it’s incredibly damaging to the brand’s reputation (AND, counts as a dark pattern).
You’re essentially using lead magnets to build a list of people who don’t want to hear from you. Who are not actively interested in what you’re selling. Which means your sales rates will be lower. And your “send to SPAM” rates will be higher… Which will kill your deliverability rating, leading to even lower sales… Damaging the potential of email marketing forever. (Or until you seriously scrub your list and upgrade from rookie “tactics” and define a better lead gen strategy.)
And – believe it or not – these are still not the worst offenders…
The number one spot for that dubious honor goes to the bait-n-switch. The lead magnets that promise one thing and end up being complete scams.
Quicksprout’s old website was a great example for this behavior: They would persuade you to enter their website to get a free traffic analysis…
And then inform you (no matter what website you entered) that your website has major errors, is in a terrible state and the only way to fix it is to hire them.
So yeah… You could say that lead magnets (and pop-ups) are the root of all evil…
The light side of lead magnets
But… Just because some marketers use lead magnets to confuse, doesn’t mean that the tool itself is evil. Or useless. Or intrinsically irritating…
If you’ve spent any time on our website, at some point you saw this exit pop up:
One of the many free resources we offer. This is the exit pop up we have on our site.
The resource itself appears in multiple places on our site (more on that below). To this day, it’s led to over 4000 new subscribers joining us.
And the feedback?
There’s a reason this lead magnet works where others fall short.
Essentially, it comes down to one thing:
We invested a lot of time carefully researching and analysing our audience so we could create something valuable. Something that would help you.
Because – ultimately – bamboozling people into signing up to your list doesn’t do you any favors. The number one business reason to grow an email list is so that you can – eventually- sell products to your audience. To buy from you more than once, folks need to like you. And trust you.
That’s why building a strong list of engaged people who want your stuff will always beat out marketers desperately chasing vanity metrics.
I’ve seen first hand how a, value-based lead magnet can provide a TON of value for your subscribers AND help you build a relationship that leads to more trust and conversions.
That’s exactly what I want to show you how to do today.
Let’s take lead magnets back and use their power to build strong lists full of people who want what you’ve got.
This means digging into how to create a lead magnet that your prospects really need. How to promote it to them. How to stand out in the crowd of self-centered marketing and prove you’ve have a ton of value to provide.
Here’s what we’re going to be talking about today:
- Why you need to leverage lead magnets in your business
- Lead magnet examples and inspiration
- How to create a high-converting lead magnet for your audience
- How to drive people to your lead magnet
Why you need to leverage lead magnets in your business
Lead magnets are essentially resources you create for your audience and invite them to grab them for free. They lay the foundations for longer, value-packed relationships with your customers or clients.
When you create something that’s truly valuable- something that’s actionable, immediately usable and helpful – you’re building a meaningful relationship and setting expectations. You’re providing a solution to one of your reader’s problems, showing that you care. That you’re helpful, knowledgeable and trustworthy.
A valuable lead magnet grants a sneak peak to what working with you is like. That way, when you eventually sell something, your subscriber won’t immediately send you to spam. Instead, he’ll pause and take the time to evaluate your offer.
Instead of just another marketer, a powerful lead magnet helps you become someone your subscriber trusts. Someone whose emails are worth opening. Worth recommending. Worth working with or buying from.
Here’s what a lead magnet is not:
- it’s not a step-by-step tutorial on how to use your software.
- It’s not a PDF detailing your company’s story, product and features
- It’s not an eBook containing 10 pages about you, and 2 pages of actual content
The lead pages above do not count as something valuable your prospects can use to solve a particular challenge they’re facing and it won’t do the job it’s meant to do: Position you as a knowledge base and build a trustworthy relationship.
So what are successful, meaningful lead magnets? Let’s take a look at a few examples of companies doing it right.
1. The ultimate guide to your prospect’s deepest desire
The ultimate guide solves a specific problem. It’s a preview of how you solve these kinds of problems, digging into your frameworks and your approach.
This type of guide focuses on understanding the overall challenge your target audience is experiencing and showing them how to solve one piece of it in a very actionable way. You want your reader to walk away from this guide feeling she knows something new. Or like she’s got a set of tactics she can apply immediately to check off a key challenge from her to-do list. Here’s what this lead magnet looks like in action.
Teachable targets entrepreneurs interested in creating their own winning courses. One of the key roadblocks their audience faces is figuring out how to turn the rough drafts strewn across countless Google docs and scraps of paper into beautiful slide decks. Into gorgeous, well-produced videos people will love to consume. Teachable’s complete guide helps course creators learn how to create professional content, giving them exactly what they long for.
Dr. Buzby’s Toe Grips – an E-commerce store that provides a special product to prevent senior dogs from slipping – also tackles the number one challenge her people face.
Instead of just offering a discount or free shipping (the traditional go-to lead magnets for e-commerce stores) Dr Buzby’s creates value for shoppers by giving them the information they need. When you understand the WHY behind the purchase, what motivates them, you can create a guide that helps them solve it too.
Amy Porterfield teaches entrepreneurs how to put together their first online course. Her lead magnet focuses on helping you plan and map out that program. It’s valuable to future course creators, struggling with the overwhelming number of things needed to kickstart the process… And – at the same time – it’s valuable for the business because it targets ambitious self-starters ready to make that first step.
2. The use-me-now-to-get-results worksheet
Who doesn’t love a highly actionable template or worksheet you can download and use immediately? This highly tactical lead magnet pulls your reader out of a world of “shoulds-be-doing” and “could-be-doing” and makes it simple to take action. Now.
This could be an email template for people to simply fill in the blanks and hit send, Like Copyhacker’s product launch template that puts an end to hours of confusion and frustration:
Or a template for figuring out the dreadful seating arrangements at your wedding so that you could go back to looking forward to The Day instead of wondering when this hellish exercise in table-to-table matchmaking will come to a swift end…
Or free copywriting formulas for Facebook ads, a personal goal-setting worksheet or a worksheet for figuring out your business plan, like Melyssa Griffin offers.
The worksheets or templates are designed to help you solve one specific problem in a very quick and efficient way. These lead magnets can be as short as one page and need to be highly actionable.
3. The “just-a-taste” free course, webinar or workshop
This lead magnet isn’t for the faint of heart (or for those short on time). It’s robust. And it needs a lot of prep. But it’s powerful.
Essentially, a free course, a webinar or workshop series is a preview to a full course you’re offering.
Think of it as a way to show your audience your teaching style. To highlight the value you’ll provide during a complete course. To give people a sense of how it would feel to learn with you. And – from a business perspective – this gives you the opportunity to introduce the full course itself and give people the call to action for enrollment.
Amy McCready at Positive Parenting Solutions gives a highly actionable one-hour webinar where she teaches one of her highly effective tactics for getting your kids to listen to you. After walking you through her step-by-step process (in which she also provides a worksheet to follow along with) and shows how helpful these tactics are, she explains about her full course, how it’s helped other parents and why you too, should enroll.
AJ&Smart take the same approach, promoting a one hour free webinar where they show you how to grow your consulting business. During the final minutes of the free webinar, they pitch the full course.
But before we move on to the next type of high-converting lead magnet, a word of warning:
To be effective, this webinar needs to offer actual value. It’s not a bait-and-switch. It’s not designed to just sell. Instead, it’s an opportunity to deliver real value first.
4. The exclusive research report
The research report brings together a lot of data and insights your audience can learn from and leverage. Usually this data is presented in a heavy-designed, infographic format that allows for easy consumption of the content and so you can easily interpret that data and know how to utilize it.
Social Media Examiner offers their yearly social media report for free. In it you’ll find benchmarks on how people use Social Media, strategies businesses follow, their results, the platforms that are most engaging and successful.
Since Social Media Examiner’s audience is made up of social media professionals, this data is highly relevant to. It helps them stay ahead of the trends, keep up with the competition and get fresh new ideas to test from a reliable and respected industry source.
Unbounce offers a conversion benchmark report full of original research, facts and figures.
After surveying their entire audience and analyzing their own internal data, they present the data in an easy-to-digest way, highlighting the top performing pages, industries and businesses.
If your business gathers a lot of data and insights that your audience could benefit from, you could use this type of lead magnet to position yourself as a leader in your industry, the hub of all knowledge on this topic, and the go-to resource when people search for the most updated data.
5. The make-fast-track-your-process checklist
This short-and-actionable lead magnet is a less annoying version of a to-do list. It helps you ensure you’ve got everything you need before you perform a certain action.
For example, at GetUplift we have a Google Analytics checklist. It’s ultra specific. You can use it to make sure you have all your ducks in a row and that tracking is set up correctly before launching a landing page.
On the longer, more detailed side we’ve got a cognitive bias list. It breaks down the top psychological biases that affect our decision-making and show you to use (or avoiding them) throughout your website. While long, this isn’t a guide. It’s a list designed to explain what each bias is and details how to check if you’re using them correctly and on which pages.
This checklist lead magnet doesn’t have to be a pre-launch checklist or a 50 page guide. Running On Real Food offers a grocery list you can follow when you’re grocery shopping. The list includes all of the grains, vegetables, fruit and nuts you should have in your kitchen and helps with meal plans.
This type of lead magnet can work for any type of business, from E-commerce to a B2B solution. Once you know what type of actions your audience has to take in order to achieve their goal, you can create a list that will ensure they’re taking all the right steps and don’t forget any on the way.
6. The “help me make the best decision” quiz
Quizzes are one of the most popular lead magnets these days. Combining gamification and personalization, a quiz is a great way to encourage people to take action with you. To get to know them better and provide very specific help.
A quiz is setup is a way that invites you to learn something about yourself. In a fun way.
ThirdLove invites women to figure out their bra size in less than 60 seconds.
TopShop invites you to answer some questions to get specific suggestions for you wardrobe.
And Warby Parker helps you find the perfect frame for your glasses using a quiz.
The great thing about creating a quiz is that they’re fun to do. From a consumer perspective, once you fill them out, you get relevant offers. From a biz perspective, quizzes help you segment your list according to the results and send highly-personalised emails to each of your readers. Double win.
You don’t have to be an E-commerce business to use quizzes, Service providers can use them in a great way too (like Jenna Kutcher does)
Now that we’ve covered some of the best lead magnets you can offer your audience. It’s time to tackle the biggest questions people have when it comes to creating a high-converting lead magnet:
- How do I choose the right one for my audience?
- And how do I create one that people will sign up for?
How to choose and create your own winning lead magnet
The path to creating a high-converting lead magnet is pretty much the same path to creating any high-converting landing page, email or ad. It’s all about knowing your audience.
Before creating any lead magnet at GetUplift, we follow a specific process (that I’ve detailed here below so you can simply swipe it and use it for yourself):
Step 1: Identify your prospect’s challenges and roadblocks
Your goal is to identify what’s holding people back on a day to day basis. What’s getting in the way of completing a task? What’s the one thing they’re unsure of or feel insecure about?
For example, a weightlifter on an e-commerce store searching for shoes, may be held back because they’re unsure of the right size to order, or the type of shoe that’s best for their specific discipline.
A product manager using a collaboration and task management platform may be having a hard time prioritizing tasks. Adding them into the platform is easy, but knowing what’s most important and building a schedule can be a hard process.
These issues are a great opportunity for a lead magnet. The e-commerce store could offer a checklist (or quiz!) that helps people find their perfect size and shoe. The task management platform can create a worksheet that helps you work through prioritization and how to get things done.
Your lead magnet doesn’t have to fit your entire audience. It could address a specific challenge a section of your audience is experiencing.
For example, let’s say you have a blog where you share lots of recipes and videos on how to make healthy vegan meals. During your research you learn that many people on your blog aren’t vegan. They’re dabbling. Considering. Looking for interesting recipes but not completely sold on the vegan way of life.
A great way to segment these people and send them more personalized emails, is to create a lead magnet that helps them. First, you’ll need to better understand their challenges (for example: perhaps they’re concerned about missing dairy products or switching out eggs for bananas). In this case, you’ll want to focus your lead magnet on introductory content that simplifies the stages for them and shows them how simple making the switch can be.
A few ways to learn about what your audience struggles with include:
- Running surveys with your existing clients
- Running a survey on your site
- Reviewing Facebook groups and sub-reddits around your niche and finding repeating complaints, questions or concerns people bring up
Once you have a list of several challenges and roadblocks your audience has, you can move on to the next step.
Step 2: How to help your people achieve the thing they want
Now that you know what challenges your audience faces, you need to decide what type of lead magnet will be most suitable to help your prospects with their challenge and what it’s going to include.
To figure this out you’ll start by searching for lead magnets and articles that attempt to solve the specific issue you want to address. For example, let’s say you’ve decided to create a lead magnet that helps parents know exactly what to pack for their family trips so they don’t forget anything and have to rush out to buy supplies while traveling.
In this case, you’ll search for family traveling packing lists and the most high-ranked articles around packing for family trips.
Once you’ve identified those top articles and lead magnets relevant to the problem you’re trying to solve, you’ll want to analyze them and make notes of the following:
- What they all have in common (what they include, what they mention, specific topics, methods or processes they mention)
- What reviews, comments and feedback are they getting? (what are people missing? What do they need more clarification on? What do they find most helpful?)
- Make a note of what’s missing in these lead magnets and articles, and what you could add to your own one.
- Outline you lead magnet – What will it include? (Make a basic list)
Step 3: Create your lead magnet
Now that you have a better understanding of what your lead magnet should include, it’s time to create it.
I like to sit down in front of a Google doc and plan it out. No need to get into design elements yet, the goal is to map out each section and write the content itself.
Usually this is when the question; “How long should my lead magnet be?” comes up.
Remember: it’s not about how much content is in the lead magnet, or how many pages it includes. What matters is how actionable and valuable it will be to your audience. Some of our best performing worksheets at GetUplift are one pagers.
Once you have most of the content planned out in your document, here’s a few things to consider:
Step 4: Design your lead magnet
The design depends on the type of lead magnet you’re creating. While complete guides are much longer and robust, a checklist or a template can be a simple one pager. My go-to is a simple Google doc that I transform into a PDF or a Google spreadsheet I share a link to.
However, there are a few tools you can consider for more design-heavy lead magnets:
#1 Canva – A great tool to help you create a checklist, report or worksheet.
The pros: With multiple templates at your disposal, you can create something that looks professionally designed.
The cons: Canva produces PDF’s or PNG’s, so if you’re looking for live text or a different format, it won’t really work well for you.
Pro tip: Use Google docs to create your lead magnet and then Canva to design the PDF cover for it.
#2 Typeform – A great tool for creating a quiz on your website. You can choose from multiple templates and simply fill in the blanks or edit the questions already in there. The best thing about Typeform is its usability. It creates a fun experience for prospects, and makes it super easy to fill in with one stroke of a key.
#3 Interact – If you’re looking to create a quiz with visual options in addition to the text fields, Interact offers a free quiz platform that can be hosted easily on your site.
#4 Visme – I used this tool to create our complete guide to landing pages that convert. A guide or an ebook require a lot more formatting, design and structure, which is why I chose to use a different tool than Google docs. Visme offers many templates and allows for easy editing, duplicating pages and design (at a cost).
Here’s the thing most people miss though. Creating the lead magnet may take some time (especially if you’re a perfectionist like me.) However, the one thing you should spend the most time on, is the distribution of the lead magnet.
4 Ways to drive people to your lead magnet
When it comes to creating content, I spend a lot of time writing, researching and editing. Some blog posts, free resources and workshops take me weeks (and even months) to put together.
But here’s the thing:
When it comes to content, writing it is just the first step. If you want to use your piece to its full potential and get that ROI, you need to distribute it. So let’s talk about some of the most effective ways to get people to find your lead magnet.
1. Use a friendly, helpful exit pop up
Adding an exit pop-up to your site is one of the most common and effective ways to get your lead magnet in front of folks.
The goal of an exit pop-up is to grab people’s attention before they leave your site and give them an offer that speaks to their goals and desired outcomes. At this point, your lead magnet should be the perfect offer – if you followed all the advice above and created something that people actually need.
Remember AJ&Smart’s free course? They use an exit pop up to invite you to it:
Drip created a relevant, seasonal lead magnet for Black Friday and offers it on their exit pop up:
The great thing about exit pop-ups (or any kind of pop up…) is that most tools allow you to trigger your pop up based on people’s behavior.
For example, we use Leadpages to create all of our landing pages and pop ups for this exact reason (Disclaimer: we’re a compensated affiliate and partner of Leadpages). So when we set up a new pop up on my site, we can segment it according to the amount of times someone’s been to our site, how long they’ve been on a page and set when to trigger it again if they close the pop up (at GetUplift we wait between 2-3 weeks before showing it to people again).
Another platform we use a lot for our clients’ pop ups is Adoric. One of the reasons we love it so much is it has a wonderful “In-page content” feature that allows you to display signup boxes within specific blog posts as part of the page. They’re completely integrated with the site and they’ve shown great results!
2. Add a dedicated resource page to your site
Another great way to feature your lead magnet(s) is through a dedicated resource page. Having a “Free Resources” link on your site’s navigation bar can really increase the amount of people viewing your lead magnets and free offers.
GetResponse went even further with their resources section on the site and created an entire hub of free resources that’s segmented to specific interests of their audience.
Pat Flynn at SPI offers something similar:
And so do we.
Our free resources page is one of the most visited pages on our website, and has the most conversions to sign up.
3. Add a registration form to your best performing pages
Head over to Google Analytics, and take a look at your best performing landing pages (Behavior→ Site Content → Landing Pages). Usually, you’ll find the homepage at the top of that list and a few other main pages many of your site visitors land on.
Those are the pages you’ll want to add an opt in option.
Brian Dean from Backlinko uses this strategy as the hero section of his homepage.
You can also follow in Oberlo’s footsteps and add a pop up to your best performing pages.
Side note though: Segmentation is important on this type of pop up too. Make sure you trigger the pop up according to people’s behavior (e.g – after scrolling 30% of the page), otherwise it may cover crucial parts of your website for people actually there to convert.
Other options, include adding a stationary opt-in box on the right-hand side of every page on your site. Making it repeatable so people know where to find it, and easy to opt in at any time (without the disturbance of popping screens).
Or adding an opt-in button in the footer of your site:
4. Reuse and repurpose your lead magnets
Next, let’s talk about even more ways to drive people to your lead magnets.
You’ve created a high-value piece of content, now, everyone needs to know about it. One of the best go-to strategies to get more people interested in your lead magnet is to create many more pieces of content around it:
- Create short videos on YouTube and other social platforms about the problem you’re solving and direct people from the video to download the lead magnet.
- Write blog posts on your own blog and as a guest writer for other blogs, going deeper into the pain you want to solve and promote the lead magnet (do the same on podcasts)
- Reach out to colleagues and influencers you know personally and have interest in the topic and ask them to share it with their audience.
- Head on into relevant Facebook groups and sub-reddits, answer people’s questions, get into conversations and invite people to your lead magnet
- Pro tip: Email your existing subscribers about the lead magnet and tag the people who download it to segment them better (you can also ask them to share it with their friends/colleagues)
This is the exact process we use to create lead magnets people subscribe (and actually use).
At the end of the day it’s about creating value for your prospects.
The process is simple to copy and easy to use for your own lead magnets.
Now it’s up to you to put it all into action.
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Designrr can be an alternative for Canva, especially for creating an ebook
This is great Talia! I love the bad and good examples and the steps to create my own magnet. It’s quite annoying when sites push pop ups without any thought to where someone is in their journey (ie: retailers pushing newsletter signup the first time you land on their homepage). Definitely got me thinking about ways to improve the type of content that I can share with my audience.
Amazing to hear that Steve! Glad you found it helpful!
Hi Talia, I really enjoyed this post as I NEED lead magnets for my affiliate marketing business so badly to 1. use as lead magnets & 2. use as bonuses. So, thanks for this post.
This is a very useful post, esp. the tools you’ve listed to create quizzes, graphics, etc. I feel it’s better not to have a pop-up at all. Instead, the email sign up form and lead magnet download link could be put up on the sidebar, footer, or as a separate page. But these two should be separate – users should not be compelled to give their email address to get the lead magnet.
Ok i need to create my lead magets now.