How to Use a Lead Magnet to Generate Leads for Your Business

What is a lead magnet? A lead magnet is an irresistible offer or bribe giving value to a prospect in exchange for their contact information. With the goal of adding them to your email list, to create trust, while adding them to your sales funnel to convert them to paying customers.

Bob Bly (one of the most successful modern day marketers), in his "The Copywriter's Handbook - A Step-by-Step Guide to Writing Copy That Sells - 4th Edition", wrote the following about lead magnets:

"Free content offers are used as "bait" by many marketers to get leads from prospects. For this reason, free booklets and other free content were called "bait pieces". Today they are known as "lead magnets". Today the preferred term for "free content" is "lead magnet," the idea being that the tempting offer of valuable free information is like a magnet that draws people into your ad and gets them to respond and request the white paper or other free content."

What Is A Lead Magnet In Marketing (USING FREE BAIT) [How to Generate Leads]

Why Do You Need a Lead Magnet?

To answer the question of, "Why you need a lead magnet." ... let's start off with what exactly is a lead?

A lead is a potential buyer. And more importantly, a qualified prospect that has been proven to be interested in your products or services. potential customer or client. A lead isn’t guaranteed to buy, but they are far more likely to because they’ve shown interest in your niche market.

How does one go about generating qualified leads?

You need to entice them to offer their contact information in exchange for something of value. It might be a free report, a training video, a discount or coupon, or something else—but it should be something they would be interested in only if they would also likely be interested in whatever you’re selling.

In other words, offering a discount coupon for a coffee shop is NOT going to get you qualified leads if you’re selling model cars. A guide on how to lose weight is NOT going to get you qualified leads if you’re offering a graphics design service. Sure, a few of those people might be interested in what you’re selling, but you want people who have clearly demonstrated some level of interest in the types of products or services you are offering.

Here is a simple example:

If you’re offering dog walking services, you might offer a free report on training your dog, or how to get bargains on pet supplies, or even a coupon for 50% off the customer’s first walking session.

Take note, there are four main elements to generating leads:

  • The system
  • The lead magnet (offer)
  • The squeeze page/entry funnel
  • Traffic 

It's important to know and understand all four of these elements, as you learn more about how to start generating leads and get ready to start connecting with red-hot prospects in your niche market so you can instantly maximize your income and expand your outreach.

But in this post we are focused on "The lead magnet" ... so, let’s get started!

It’s kind of like fishing, where your leads are the fish, and your lead magnet is the bait that lures them in.

Remember, this offer should appeal directly to your chosen demographic. You can’t expect to catch a catfish with a flashy lure meant for bass. While it’s possible, it’s not likely, and you’d stand a much better chance of catching a catfish with something that is known to appeal to them—such as chicken livers, or earthworms, or stink bait.

Try to think about what might appeal to your target audience.

What would they be interested in learning that they don’t already know?

What would they be interested in getting a discount on?

Most people create a special report as their lead magnet.

It’s usually 10-20 pages, but may be up to 50 or so, depending on how much you want to say.

Longer reports are more appropriate when you have a complex subject and aren’t selling information on the topic.

For example, if you’re in real estate and selling houses, you can give away a 50-page guide on how to find the perfect house, including information about stuff like zoning regulations, homeowners’ associations, utilities, road frontage, home inspections, etc.

But if you’re selling a course on SEO, a shorter report, say 20 pages, on a small segment of the topic would be much more appropriate, because you don’t want to give away all your information for free.

You can always outsource the creation of your lead magnet, or purchase a high-quality PLR product that you can use. This will save you a lot of time.

If you are in the Internet marketing or B2B (business-to-business) fields, you might be interested in signing up for the Automated List Profits monthly program, which delivers two fully-automated lead generation packages per month and includes a report, squeeze page, and thank you page. All you have to do is paste your opt-in code and upload everything!

You might also consider just offering a hefty discount coupon to leads, especially if you have a product that is in demand in your niche. This is especially useful if you have a recurring business model or a sales funnel with upsells that will allow you to use the initial sale as a loss leader and make more money on the back end later.

Once you have your lead magnet ready, be sure to add a link to it to your autoresponder service as a follow-up after people opt-in. You don’t want to have to send all those freebies out manually!

Check your autoresponder’s help files to find out how to set up a follow-up email that contains a link to your lead magnet. The process will be slightly different for each service, but it’s not difficult. It’s about as easy as sending an email.

Then it’s time to create the squeeze page to promote it!

Here’s an important fact: the vast majority of your prospects are going to leave your site without taking action. 

That number may be as high as 99% percent. Seriously. Yikes.

Even if you have a great design, they’ll leave.

Even if you have a high-converting sales letter, they’ll leave.

And even if you have all your other conversion ducks in a row, the majority aren’t going to buy. (And that’s a waste of your time and advertising dollars.)

Sure, these visitors may have good intentions.

They’ll bookmark your site and tell themselves they’ll come back.

But just like everyone else who has a ton of bookmarks that they never re-visited, your prospect probably won’t be back to your site either, even though they still want the result that your product is designed to deliver.

That all sounds depressing, but there’s a way around this…

Simply get your visitors on your mailing list ... via a good lead magnet.

This gives you a chance to follow up repeatedly with your prospects, build a relationship, give them additional “useful, but incomplete” content, and point them to a paid product.

It’s an extremely powerful way to boost your conversion rates and start making more sales right away.

With that in mind, let’s walk through the steps of setting it all up…

How Do You Make a Lead Magnet?

Create a Lead Magnet

Basically, what you’re looking to do is create a highly desirable and valuable product that you can give to your visitors (for free) in exchange for their email addresses.

This could take the form of:

  • Ebooks or reports.
  • Access to membership sites.

  • Access to a webinar.
  • Videos.
  • Tools such as gear lists, worksheets, checklists, planners, cheat sheets and similar.
  • A done-for-you-service.
  • Access to a private forum.
  • Coaching/consulting/feedback.

Be sure to do your market research so that you create something that your audience really wants.

Also, be sure it’s useful yet incomplete – this means that it solves part of your prospect’s problem, while pointing towards your paid offer to solve the rest of the problem. Or points them to a paid product that further explains or enhances the free content.

Start with the End in Mind: Define Your Goal

To create an effective lead magnet it’s important to know what your goal is for those email addresses that you’ll collect.

Some potential goals for creating a lead magnet are general list building, product promotion (your own products or affiliate ones), service promotion, relationship building, and reputation building.

Defining a specific goal is critical so that you don’t just generate leads, but so that you generate targeted leads who are hungry for your products and services.

Let’s take a look now at 3 different types of goals for lead magnets and what a relevant lead magnet might be.

1. General List Building

If your business is relatively new, you may not have a specific goal right now other than to start building a relevant list of leads for your business.

To capture email addresses for these leads, you can market through social media channels, message boards, blog posts (guest and on your own blog) and more.

However, you still need to have a very good idea of who your ideal market is. Then you’ll need to create content that will attract them.

When seeking to capture prospects who you can nurture into future customers, you’ll need to target your audience in multiple channels using a lead magnet that is both specific to what you’ll eventually be promoting, as well as useful to your ideal audience.

Example: If you’re just trying to build your list in general, you could use social media to distribute a survey asking the audience two or three questions. For thanks, you could offer a guide that provides a list of your favorite resources for doing ‘X’ (with ‘X’ being something your target market is eager to achieve.).

2. Sales Generation for Products

If you have products to sell, it’s important to determine if you’re promoting a specific product or all of your products in general before you create your lead magnet.

Some ideas for your lead magnet are free samples, a demo, a discount, or free shipping for physical products.

Example: You want to sell your 12 week video course on how to use WordPress. Your lead magnet could be a short excerpt from the course on how to do something that takes less than five minutes from start to finish.

3. Sales Generation for Services

When seeking to build a list to promote services you also need to be clear about whether you’re promoting a specific service or all your services in general. Consider providing a template, a consultation, or an assessment to gain prospects or leads. In this case, the goal is likely to build appointment requests so that you can move the lead toward being a customer.

Example: You want to sell your social media management services. You could promote a free Pinterest Pin Board SEO checklist as your lead magnet.

Turning Leads into Customers

Once you know what your goal is, it will be much easier to determine the ideal lead magnet. However, the ultimate goal will always be to turn a lead into a customer.

A well-made lead magnet serves three functions.

1. Gives Leads a Sample

When people see your lead magnet, they need to feel thankful for receiving it.

More importantly, they need to get a good idea of what they can expect from you in the future from any products or services you offer.

You need to deliver value so high that they’ll be wowed and more than satisfied when they actually spend money on your offers.

2. Builds Relationships

Your lead magnet will trigger the start of your follow-up email series.

This email series must be directly relevant to the lead magnet itself and should start building your relationships with leads.

The perfect lead magnet is designed at the same time as your follow-up email series so that the two work together to provide value.

Ideally, your email series will ensure that subscribers are getting the value and results that you promised to them.

3. Weeds Out Freebie Seekers

By creating a lead magnet that is laser focused on your audience’s needs and desires, you automatically weed out people who will never buy anything from you.

Here’s a simple series of steps you can follow now to help you determine the goal for your lead magnet.

1. Determine whether you have a product or service to promote right now.
2. Determine whether you want to build your list in general or promote a specific product or service.

Stop and Think About it:

Think about your business. In planning a lead magnet, what is your goal or purpose?

Define Your Ideal Customer

Everything you do in business should start with answering the question: “Who is my ideal customer?”

Knowing your ideal customer is one of the most important aspects of marketing that exists.

It’s how you create products and services that truly resonate with people.

It’s also how you determine the best way to market those products and services to them.

Finally, it’s how you avoid issues and problems that come with trying to sell to people who aren’t truly part of your ideal market.

What if you don’t have customers?

If you don’t have customers of your own right now, you can look to your competition to get to know your audience.

Find a business that markets similar products and services to the audience you believe is ideal.

Join their lists, observe their discussions on social media, and note what questions the audience asks the most.

Understanding all the factors that define your ideal customer will help you identify ways that you can provide value to your target market and become top-of-mind when they’re ready to buy something. 

Here’s a simple series of steps you can follow now to help you determine who your ideal client is so that you can create a compelling lead magnet.

  1. 1
    Gather demographic and psychographic information on the customers you want.
  2. 2
    Look to your competition if you don’t have enough or any customers of your own yet to study your audience.
  3. 3
    Specify why you’re the ideal person to offer your ideal customer a solution.
  4. 4
    Map your ideal customer’s buying process.
  5. 5
    Write out your ideal customer’s profile.

Pick the Topic for Your Lead Magnet

Now that you’ve identified your target audience, it’s time to narrow down some ideas for creating a lead magnet that will get results.

One way to do that is to ask yourself two key questions about your audience.

  1. 1
    What questions are you asked most often?
  2. 2
    What are your customers’ top pain points that you can solve right now?

You can find out answers to these questions by asking your clients directly what they struggle with, by simply observing what your target audience discusses in online forums or sites they frequent, or with a survey (if you're allowed to post in the forum or group, check the rules first.) 

Another option is to run the survey through a Facebook Advertisement, which will allow you to target your audience whether you have current customers or not.

When you do ask your potential customers about their needs, be sure to give some options for answers.

Otherwise, you risk getting answers that are completely irrelevant to the solutions you offer.

Explore some typical questions people are asking, and then ask them which ones are most important to them.

You can then leave an open-ended question for people to fill in their own answer.

Guidelines for Effective Lead Magnets

Once you have answered the two key questions, you can start to generate a list of ideas for your lead magnet.

Follow these guidelines to make sure your lead magnet is effective:

Make it Specific

An ideal lead magnet should solve one pain point of your audience.

Instead of trying to solve every problem, solve one simple problem.

It’s tempting to try to offer multiple solutions, but that actually does a disservice to your potential customers. It can overwhelm them and delay getting any results at all.

Example: If your audience is someone who wants to be more organized, provide a simple printable calendar with daily 5 minute chores on it, instead of a detailed year-long schedule of every organization activity they need to take.

Provide Immediate Gratification

Your lead magnet should provide a real solution that provides results right now vs. a future solution.

It’s not a time to sell something that comes later in the follow up emails.

Example: Don’t give them a long sales video as the free offer. Your lead magnet shouldn’t be one big advertisement. You’ll only alienate your prospects and they’ll never come back. Instead, give them a short video that answers a burning question they have. They’ll be thrilled to have a quick answer and will want to come back for more.

Make The Offer Simple

Your lead magnet should be quick and easy to consume and implement.

You want them to be able to do something with the information easily, without a lot of complicated steps or extensive decision-making.

Example: Provide a detailed checklist that they can implement right now instead of a long book that they have to read in order to decipher the “to do” before they can implement. 

Here’s a simple series of steps you can follow now to help you pick a topic for your lead magnet.

  1. 1
    Study your client avatar.
  2. 2
    Write down their pain points.
  3. 3
    Write down the questions they ask.
  4. 4
    Write down the subjects they discuss most often.
  5. 5
    What challenges do they encounter?
  6. 6
    What can you offer that addresses one specific question and which is related to the products and services you want to promote with your lead magnet funnel?

Stop and Identify:

Identify a topic for your lead magnet by answering the following questions:

  1. 1
    What are the 3 top questions you are constantly asked when people find out what you do in your business?
  2. 2
    What are your ideal customer’s pain points?
  3. 3
    What might you offer your ideal client that they won’t be able to pass up?

If you’re not sure of the answers to the above, put together a survey and send it to your current customers, your current leads, your Facebook fans, or run an ad on Facebook.

Try offering a gift card or reward for people filling in the survey.

Now pick a topic for your lead magnet based on the guidelines discussed in the module and the goal you defined for your lead magnet.

Types of Lead Magnets

Pick the Best Format for Your Lead Magnet

Remember, we've talked about the guidelines for effective lead magnets.

In short, make it specific, immediate and simple.

This includes determining the right format in which to deliver your lead magnet.

The format in which you deliver your lead magnet will be determined by the type of lead magnet you choose.

That in turn is based on your audience’s problems and the solutions you can provide.

Lead Magnet Ideas

There are numerous ideas that you can choose from when it comes to the format of your lead magnet.

Here is a list of ideas that you can use.

Perhaps you’ve already thought of some ideas different from this list.

Add your own.

  • Assessment or Test
  • Catalogs
  • Cheat Sheets
  • Discounts
  • ECourses
  • Free download
  • Free Shipping
  • Free Trial
  • Guides
  • Handouts
  • Quiz or Survey
  • Reports
  • Resource Lists
  • Sales Material
  • Software
  • Tests
  • Toolkits
  • Training
  • Training Resources
  • Video

More Lead Magnet Ideas

How to Choose the Right Format

You’ve already laid the groundwork for identifying your lead magnet earlier when you researched your target audience.

You looked at who they are, what their main problems are, and which of their problems you can provide a solution to.

Now you simply need to figure out how you’ll provide the answers.

There are many formats that you can choose from listed above.

Now, you just need to narrow it down to the most appropriate one. The best way to determine this is to go through the following exercises.

Study Your Metrics

Your auto responder service has analytics that you can view to find out how well your previous actions have worked.

You can study the numbers to see what formats for any product work best for your audience.

Study Your Competition

While you can’t be absolutely certain about what works best, you can take a look at what your competition is doing to get some ideas.

If someone is spending a lot of money on ads, then what they are doing is likely working.

You don’t have to do exactly what they do, but you can try to recreate their methods within your means.

Study Social Media

Look at social media to find out what type of lead magnets others are promoting to your audience or a similar audience.

On Facebook you can see how many likes an offer is getting as well as how many shares to find out if it’s popular.

Know Your Capacity

What can you afford to create, and what do you have the talent to create?

What can you outsource given your available resources?

Only choose a format that you can reasonably accomplish with the resources that you have, including time.

Owned Assets

Do you have anything that you can repurpose to use as a lead magnet?

If you have something low priced but valuable, can you make that work?

Here’s a simple series of steps you can follow now to help you narrow down the format of your lead magnet.

  1. 1
    Check your metrics.
  2. 2
    Study your competition.
  3. 3
    Look at the assets you already have.
  4. 4
    Take note of your resources.

​Questions to Ask Yourself at This Point:

Based on your target customer and the topic you chose, what type or format of lead magnets would be the most suitable? Pick one for the purpose of this course. When in doubt, pick the format that will be easiest and quickest for you to create, such as a pdf checklist or list of resources.

Time to Create Your Lead Magnet

Using all of the information you gathered in the course so far, you can finally start drafting your lead magnet now. 

First, let’s review the steps we’ve covered:

  1. 1
    Identify the goal of your lead magnet
  2. 2
    Define your ideal customer
  3. 3
    Pick a topic for your lead magnet: [What questions are you asked most often? What are your customers’ top pain points? What solution can you provide for one specific problem?
  4. 4
    Choose your lead magnet format.

Now you’re going to get down to the nitty-gritty and do the work to actually create your lead magnet.

Lead Magnet Checklist

As you start creating your lead magnet, use this checklist to ensure that it meets all the key criteria that we discussed earlier.

Is it Specific?  Your lead magnet must offer a very specific solution to a very specific problem to a very specific audience.

Does It Address One Issue?  You’ve identified your audience’s one big issue or problem that you can solve. Stick to just one thing.

Does It Solve The Problem?  Does your solution truly qualify as a solution? Your lead magnet must truly offer up what it promises to do.

Is it Valuable?  Not only should it have a perceived as high value, it should actually be of high value. Your lead magnet cannot look, feel or seem free. Your audience should be wowed when they get it.

Does it Offer Immediate Gratification?  Leave the long video courses and multi week solutions to upsells for later. This lead magnet should be something that they can put to use and see results with now.

Can They Consume It Quickly?  You’re bringing people into your product funnel with the lead magnet so you want them to be ready to move on to a paid product as soon as possible.

Does it Help Build the Relationship?  If your lead magnet is created with the same pride you create paid products, it will do so much more than just bring them into your funnel. It will build the beginnings of trust and a relationship.

Create a Timeline

You’ll need a timeline for development, delivery and assessment of your lead magnet.

You can use this sample timeline and adjust it to fit your own schedule.

Depending on the complexity of your lead magnet, the entire lead magnet creation can be completed over a six day period or less.

Adjust the schedule as necessary to fit your own timeline needs and availability based on any other activities you have going on.



Research Your Audience

Day 1

Determine Your Topic

Day 1

Assess your Resources

Day 1

Determine the Type of Lead Magnet

Day 1

Determine Delivery Method

Day 2

Determine What Tools You’ll Need

Day 2

Write the Script or Design of Your Lead Magnet

Day 2

Make an Outline

Day 3

Develop a Draft of Your Lead Magnet

Day 3

Edit the Lead Magnet

Day 3

Finalize Your Lead Magnet

Day 3

Publish Your Lead Magnet in Final Format

Day 4

Set Up Promotion of Lead Magnet

Day 4

Set Up Follow-up Auto Responder Series

Day 4

Create Landing / Opt-in Page

Day 4

Push Traffic to Landing/ Opt-in Page

Day 5

Assess Results

Day 6 and Beyond

In addition, during the study of your audience, note when the best time is for them to receive the lead magnet.

You need to consider any holidays that affect your audience as well as the time of year it is. Different audiences will respond better at different times.

Keep your entire schedule in mind as you create the timeline for this project.

You don’t want to accidentally create roadblocks for yourself.

Schedule in everything that you have to do, and then work in the lead magnet creation so that you can get it accomplished on schedule.

Here’s a simple series of steps you can follow now to create your lead magnet:

  1. 1
    Create a timeline and put it in your calendar along with the other everyday things you do.
  2. 2
    Identify who can help you, and assign appropriate duties to them.
  3. 3
    Rid yourself of roadblocks.
  4. 4
    Set and stick to deadlines.

Conclusion and Next Steps

  1. 1
    Review all your notes regarding your goal, target market, problem to be solved, and format. If you have not completed these, create an action plan to do so. 
  2. 2
    Create your lead magnet and/or set a deadline to do so.

Now that you’ve learned how to create your ideal lead magnet and all the different pieces you need to put in place, you’re ready to start building a targeted email list for a specific goal.

As a review, here’s what you’ve learned in this post:

  • How to establish a goal for your lead magnet
  • How to define your ideal customer for your lead magnet 
  • How to identify a topic and format for your lead magnet by exploring key questions and pain points of your target market
  • A timeline for creating your lead magnet

The entire point of creating a lead magnet is to target your audience more closely so that the people who sign up for your email lists are truly interested in what you have to offer.

Don’t be afraid of making your lead magnet laser-focused on a specific target according to the ideal customer avatar you created.

Once you have your lead magnet and the different parts of your funnel in place, focus on sending qualified traffic to the opt-in page.

Use your blog, guest blogging, events (live and in person), and social media to promote what you have to offer.

The goal is to get very specific people in your audience to sign up for your email list so that you can use a targeted auto responder series to promote your products to an audience who wants and needs what you offer.

Final Learning Activity:

  1. 1
    Review all your notes, worksheets, and checklists from this post.
  2. 2
    Next, make a list of the actions you will take as soon as you get back to work. Identify the most important tasks that will lead to the biggest potential payoff.
  3. 3
    Set deadlines for each of the tasks you identified

Thanks For Taking Time To Read This Post, But Don't Stop Here

I want to hear about your lead magnet ideas and which ones you created and test out.

So be sure to leave a note in the comments, a link to your lead magnet even...

Tell me and everyone else that is reading this blog post about all the exciting details about how great and why they MUST HAVE your new lead magnet!

Garry Baker

My name is Garry Baker and I am the founder of Work at your online business for 30 minutes a day for 30 days and I guarantee you will have built something to be proud of as well as have a solid foundation that you can use to start to generate income online.

  • Heck of a post Garry, cheers buddy.

    • Garry Baker says:

      Thanks, hope it helps some folks out that need to get started or get a better idea of what their lead magnets should be doing for them in their business…

  • DAVID SHOUP says:

    This post is very well thought out and put together. Explaining the basics is very important as even experienced marketers have strayed from keeping up with the foundations they build their business on.

    • Garry Baker says:

      Hey thanks for the comment … we all learn and understand the foundations, but it’s easy to get caught up in wanting to try and do something “different” .. when really we just need to focus on what works and keep doing more of that.

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