The leads you worked so hard to attract are now clicking around your website, thinking about whether or not they should become a client.
And then, many of them vanish without a trace. If those website visitors don’t turn into buyers, you may never know who they are, how to contact them, and what you could have done to follow up and earn their business.
That’s why it’s important not only to attract leads but also to capture them—ideally, by using a lead magnet.
A lead magnet is an offer compelling enough that a prospective client would provide their contact information in order to receive it. It could be a piece of valuable content (like a case study). Or it could be a free trial, a discount, an entry to a contest, or any other offer that your prospective clients would find valuable.
Lead magnets are a win-win for your business and your prospective clients. A lead magnet assists prospects with the problem that brought them to your business, whether it’s a tutorial video that helps them develop a skill, a quiz that helps them determine what to buy, or a sample of a product they want to experience before purchasing.
And in return, your business receives a prized possession: access to the email inbox.
Getting contact information allows you to start the conversation that can turn a stranger into a client and fan of your business. The real value of the lead magnet is in the follow-up, just as it is in networking. It’s great to meet people at an event, but the relationship can only continue if you get their business cards—and then actually call or email.
But if you emailed the lead magnet to each prospect individually and later followed up with them one-by-one, those tasks could start to consume your day. That’s why lead magnets are used most effectively and efficiently when paired with marketing automation software.
A tool like Keap, which combines marketing automation with customer relationship management (CRM), allows you to deliver and follow up on lead magnets without having to think about doing so. When someone completes a form on your website to request the lead magnet, the software automatically sends the asset via email—while also storing the information in the prospect’s CRM contact record for future reference.
In the following days, the software can then send automated emails in which “you” ask the prospect for her thoughts and questions. Meanwhile, the software tracks her behavior, recording which emails she opened and links she clicked—allowing you to evaluate her interest and determine your next move.
Any small business can use a lead magnet to capture leads, especially with the added help of automation. In this guide, we’ll explore how to choose a lead magnet offer, share 20 ideas for lead magnets, and explain how automation can help you convert those new leads into clients.
Before you start writing, filming, speaking, or offering, consider these three steps to strategically creating a lead magnet that helps you convert leads into clients.
Who are you trying to attract with a lead magnet? The answer shouldn’t be “everyone.” Just like a real magnet, lead magnets should both attract and repel. Your lead magnet should target your ideal client, not anyone who happens to come across it.
Attempting to sell someone who isn’t qualifed for your business only results in wasted time and effort for both of you. For example, a real estate agent who specializes in luxury homes could attract leads with a guide called “10 Steps to Selling Your Home”—but a guide called “10 Steps to Selling a Million-Dollar Home” would produce leads that are much more qualifed for her services.
Think about what would compel someone to give away his email address. The chance to get more marketing emails isn’t exactly a rare opportunity. A prospective client will be more likely to sign up for your lead magnet if she sees it can help solve her problems. Write down a list of common client questions, then brainstorm ideas for various types of lead magnets that answer those questions.
A website visitor downloads your lead magnet. Then what? Don’t simply hope she decides to buy. How you follow up on a lead magnet and what you offer should be part of your strategy from the beginning.
Your lead magnet should guide people toward a product or service you’re selling—eventually, anyway. The nature of your lead magnet depends on your business and the buying journey of your clients, taking into consideration the time, money, and information they need to buy.
Businesses with a short buyer’s journey might offer a lead magnet like a promo code or a free trial—something that quickly inspires someone to become clients. But when the buyer’s journey involves weeks or months, it’s better to offer an educational lead magnet, like a piece of content, than push the prospective client to make a decision.
For example, someone considering a yoga studio might only need to experience one free class before purchasing a package of classes. But someone considering a six-month diet and fitness program—a purchase involving more time, money, and research—might benefit from educational guides or videos that help her understand whether the program is right for her.
Your lead magnet should do more than collect email addresses. It should also offer just as much benefit for the person downloading it, whether the lead magnet consists of content, a freebie, experience, or valuable information. Here are 20 ideas for lead magnets to use in your business.
Ebook or guide
Create a guide or ebook that will help people understand a specific topic related to a problem your business can solve. Content helps illustrate your business' expertise while providing the information people need to make an educated purchase. Create it as a PDF to ensure readers can’t make accidental changes and that the design and fonts remain consistent across devices.
Use a tool like Canva to design an ebook with free photos and graphics. (If it doesn’t need to look pretty, simply convert a Microsoft Word document into a PDF.)
Starting a new endeavor—like working with your business—might involve a to-do list for prospective clients. Help with the homework by creating a downloadable checklist that educates them on the tasks ahead. A completed checklist can help in your sales process, too. For example, a financial planner could offer a checklist that outlines documents to prepare and goals to identify before the initial consultation.
Got a list of tips worth saving for future reference? Compile them into a cheat sheet that can serve as a preview of your services or the downloadable companion to another content piece. For example, a nutrition specialist could offer a cheat sheet about calorie counts, meal timing, and healthy snack ideas that prospective clients could save and reference on a regular basis.
No matter how compelling your website and marketing materials are, some people will always wonder, “But how would you help someone like me?” Show them through a case study on one or some of your clients. Describe in detail how the client solved a problem by working with your business, including any pertinent statistics that illustrate her success. Create a PDF or video requiring an email address to download, then follow up to ask for questions and feedback.
You’re an expert in your field. Prove it by creating a downloadable white paper, an in-depth report on an issue facing your industry. Isn’t that an ebook, you ask? A white paper is more detailed and research-oriented—the marketing equivalent of an academic paper. Use this lead magnet if your goal is presenting yourself as a subject-matter expert while helping prospective clients understand a complex topic.
A good quiz is irresistible. When asked engaging, thought-provoking questions, people can’t help but click until they reach their results. That’s why a quiz is also an effective lead magnet. With a hosted quiz, participants must enter an email address to see the outcome. Not only are quizzes fun, they can also be educational for you and prospecitve clients when they help both parties learn whether your business is the right fit. The answers from quizzes can assist your sales people by providing valuable qualifying information without having to ask.
If your product or service could benefit from visual learning, shoot a video showing your top tips, a tutorial, or a demonstration of what you do. Videos also introduce people to you and your staff, helping you build a relationship as you encourage them to become clients. To make a video into a lead magnet, use a hosting platform that captures email addresses, or send prospective clients a link to the video after they request it.
Use a tool like Animoto to turn photos and video clips into professional-looking videos. By uploading them to a video hosting platform like Wistia, you can control where your videos are watched and capture email addresses from viewers.
If only you could give a real-time presentation to clients outside your local area or even on the other side of the world. With a webinar, you can. Webinars are an effective way to share a tutorial, presentation, or interview with an expert—valuable content worth trading for an email address. After learning about you and your business through a webinar, people may be more ready and inclined to buy—especially when you send follow-up content.
To learn webinar basics, read our blog, "How to Host a Successful Webinar".
If the information you want to share in your lead magnet would require thousands of words or hours of video, consider organizing the content into a course or series that’s easier and less overwhelming for people to consume. Using automation software, you can automatically email content in installments over the course of days or weeks. Each installment can cover a different topic or become increasingly advanced.
It’s the bribe that works on practically everyone: an email address in exchange for a promo code. But beware: Some consumers might immediately cash in on the discount—only to unsubscribe from the very email in which it arrived, never to be heard from again. In that email containing the discount, be sure to explain what your future emails will entail (like exclusive offers or helpful tips) so that clients understand the value of staying on your list.
Using an ecommerce platform like Keap, create a promo code for a discount that can be applied to a specific product or to any product.
Think of the ice cream shop employee standing on the sidewalk with a tray of free samples. Some people will grab one and continue down the street, but others will be drawn inside for more. Free samples can turn into sales, especially when you collect clients’ email addresses and follow up with an enticing offer when you know the sample is spent.
If you can’t afford to give a discount or freebie to everyone, give it to one lucky winner. Host a giveaway, entering those who provide an email address. You make the rules, so you might as well ask for more, like a social media follow or demographic information that informs your future marketing efforts. While some entrants will bail once they don’t win, others will decide the giveaway offer is one worth paying for.
For service-based businesses, the relationship with a new client might begin with a little free advice. An accountant might offer a free consultation, a personal trainer can provide a free one-on-one session, and a digital marketing firm could perform a free website audit. In each case, the prospective client learns something from the business—but she’ll have to become a paying client in order to make lasting improvements.
Some products and services are best sold in person. Invite potential clients to sign up for a free event, like a class, seminar, or open house. If your business doesn’t naturally lend itself to related events, host a social outing like a happy hour or dinner where you can start getting to know your prospective clients.
The best way to experience something new is simply to try it. Give prospective clients a shot, whether you’re a gym offering a free class or a subscription service offering the first month free. Consider following up at the end of the trial with a time-sensitive offer that encourages them to commit to more.
If people need to see a demonstration to understand the potential of your products or services, ask for an email address before you show them how it’s done in a screen-sharing call, video, or interactive experience.
You likely have information all clients need to see before they buy, like pricing or a schedule. Rather than display it on your website for all to see, consider “gating” it so website visitors must enter an email address to access the information. This move might discourage casual browsers from becoming buyers—but if you’re looking to weed out unqualified prospects, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
In some businesses, prospective clients will want to check out your previous work before deciding whether to become a client. Create a collection of your best stuff—whether it involves photos, presentations, or content—combined with testimonials from former clients, and make it available for downloading in exchange for an email address.
Got a book, brochure, catalog, or other printed item best experienced offline? Ask for email addresses in addition to mailing addresses, then follow up via email to see what thoughts and questions your prospective clients have after receiving the materials.
Attracting leads to your website is great; capturing their information is even better. But most people who visit your website won’t give you their email addresses just because you want them. People are more willing to share their contact information if they receive something in return, like a piece of content, a discount, or an experience.
These lead magnets serve as the bridge between attracting leads and converting them into customers. A lead magnet allows you to further introduce yourself to your prospective clients and follow up with the kind of information, questions, and offers that encourage them to buy.
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