What is a Lead Magnet? A Beginner's Guide, Plus Ideas and Examples

What is a Lead Magnet? A Beginner's Guide, Plus Ideas and Examples
Colin Newcomer
Colin Newcomer Apr 22, 2022 — 9 min read

You know how important email marketing is, so you've probably taken the first step and added an email signup form to your site.

And then…the results were a little disappointing, right? You thought tons of people would sign up, but it's easy to end up with just a fraction of a percent.

Don't worry — we've all been there. You know how valuable your email newsletter content is. But look at it from your visitors' perspectives — their email inboxes are probably packed full of unread emails, which means they're not jumping to give out their email to yet another site.

So how do you convince them to sign up? You need to make your offer a little sweeter and lead magnets can help you do that.

In this post, we'll introduce you to what lead magnets are, inspire you with some lead magnet ideas and examples from real sites, and then show you how to create your own lead magnet.

What is a lead magnet?

A lead magnet is a special free piece of content that you offer in exchange for a visitor's email address. This way, instead of the one-sided situation (you asking for an email address), becomes beneficial for both of you.

You get their email address — they get special content. Everyone is happy. And this usually means you can expect a noticeable bump in your email opt-in forms' conversion rates.

For example, Brian Dean saw his conversion rate jump from 0.54% to 4.82% after implementing this strategy.

So what is a lead magnet in real life? Well, the most common example is a free eBook or checklist that people can download in exchange for signing up for your email list:

But you can also get more creative with videos, audio files, and more — we'll dig a little deeper into lead magnet examples and ideas in a second.

Lead magnets vs content upgrades

Lead magnets are closely tied to another term — content upgrades. However, while the two are quite similar, they're also slightly different in approach, and it's helpful to understand the difference.

Generally, a lead magnet is a specific offer that you promote sitewide. For example, you might even have an entire landing page dedicated to promoting the lead magnet.

A content upgrade, on the other hand, is a special offer that's tied to a specific post. For example, if we wanted to create a content upgrade for this post, we could create a PDF checklist for “X steps to create the perfect lead magnet”.

Get the idea? It's the same approach — offering an incentive in exchange for an email address — but a lead magnet is usually a generic offer, while a content upgrade is an add-on for a specific post.

Content upgrade example from Getsitecontrol’s blog

Lead magnet ideas and examples — broken down by industry

To help give you some lead magnet ideas, we'll start off with some general types of lead magnets you can create, and then get into some more actionable ideas for specific industries, along with examples from real sites.

Here are some common lead magnet ideas, usually provided in PDF form:

  • A checklist that shows people how to do something relevant
  • An eBook that covers a relevant topic in detail
  • Original data that you've collected
  • A white paper that analyzes data from other sources and collects it in one place
  • A template for something. An email template that you used to generate leads, for example.

But don't feel like you're limited to PDFs.

For example, you can also offer video content or audio lead magnets, which you'll see in some of the examples below. Or, you could create custom spreadsheets to help people track something related to their site. And if you're running an eCommerce store, a coupon or special discount always makes a good lead magnet.

Basically, feel free to get creative with your lead magnets! The only real criterion is that your lead magnet has to be something your visitors find valuable. As long as that's true, the format itself doesn't matter.

Now, let's get a little more specific and actionable and dig into lead magnet examples and ideas for popular niches, including:

  • Bloggers
  • Ecommerce
  • Fitness or nutrition
  • Realtors
  • Photographers or filmmakers
  • Coaches or consultants

And even if you don't fit one of those niches perfectly, you'll still come away with some great ideas and see how other successful sites are using lead magnets.

Lead magnet ideas for bloggers (+ examples)

Bloggers have a lot of latitude when it comes to the types of lead magnets they can create. Some popular ideas are:

  • Guides
  • Checklists
  • Resource collections
  • Templates

Adam at Blogging Wizard actually does a bit of all of that. Rather than creating a single lead magnet, he created a dedicated lead magnet landing page that offers “15+ Guides, Checklists & Templates To Accelerate Your Blog's Growth”:

Lead magnet example from Blogging Wizard

Now, you don't have to go all-out like Adam did. But creating that type of content is always a good starting point.

Lead magnet ideas for eCommerce (+ examples)

If you're running an eCommerce store, one of the most effective lead magnets you can offer is a coupon or discount.

You've probably seen this approach before…

You land on an eCommerce store. Then, after a few seconds, or when it seems like you're about to leave, up pops a window that offers you a special discount in exchange for your email address:

You can offer:

  • Flat-rate or percentage discounts
  • Free shipping
  • A special gift
  • Buy one get one free
  • …any type of offer that adds value

If you don't want to go the discount route, another good ecommerce lead magnet idea is a shopping guide — especially for high-value or technical purchases. For example, you could create a guide that breaks down purchasing a high-end stereo setup.

Lead magnet ideas for fitness or nutrition coaches (+ examples)

Fitness and nutrition open up some interesting types of lead magnets. Beyond the general tips we discussed above, some good options are:

  • Meal plans
    For example, you could offer up a one-month meal plan for free.
  • Workout plans
    The same idea — offer up an exercise routine that isn't available publicly.
  • Tracking spreadsheets
    If you've already published the routine or meal plan publicly, you could offer up a custom-built tracking spreadsheet to help people stay on plan.
  • Recipes
    Offer up delicious recipes that are also healthy.

For a real-life example, check out Say No To Broscience, which offers a free tracking spreadsheet for a popular weightlifting routine in exchange for visitors' email addresses:

Lead magnet idea for fitness bloggers – free tracking spreadsheet

Lead magnet ideas for realtors (+ examples)

Buying or selling a home is a big decision, which means you have some great opportunities to create educational lead magnets around topics that are relevant to both home buyers and sellers.

Look at how this Australian real estate agency offers a free guide for first-time home buyers:

An example of a lead magnet for realtors

Other topics you can explore include:

  • How to understand what you are looking for in a future home
  • How to properly inspect a home to make sure there are no surprises
  • What to consider before signing a home purchase contract
  • How to take pictures of your house for selling
  • Etc.

Finally, if you work with more commercial clients, you could also offer neighborhood market analyses or a special list of foreclosed properties.

Lead magnet ideas for photographers and filmmakers (+ examples)

If you're a photographer or filmmaker, you already know why people are interested in you, so go ahead and lean in!

For example, Matt D'Avella, a popular filmmaker and YouTuber, created a 20-minute mini-documentary that he offers in exchange for visitors' email addresses:

Lead magnet idea for photographers

People who are visiting Matt's website probably already know him from his films on YouTube, so the offer of an exclusive film that isn't available on YouTube is sure to be enticing.

Photographers can do something similar. For example, you could offer special high-res versions of images that aren't available elsewhere, or you could offer previously unreleased images.

If you're more client-focused, you could also create a lead magnet that targets clients. If you're a wedding photographer, something like “15 questions to ask before hiring a wedding photographer” would probably be pretty enticing to potential clients!

Lead magnet ideas for coaches or consultants (+ examples)

A lot of the general lead magnet ideas apply to coaches and consultants, but one way that you can be a little more aggressive is by offering a free consultation or discovery call in exchange for an email address or other contact information.

You'll need to be careful that you don't waste your time talking with unqualified leads. But, if you do have a good lead qualification system in place, a free consult is a great way to open the door.

For example, Seven Career Coaching does a good job of putting potential leads through a qualification process before signing them up for the discovery call:

How to get coaching leads using lead magnets on a website

How to create your own lead magnet: everything you need

Now that you've got your creative juices flowing, let's finish out this lead magnet guide with a look at how to create a lead magnet for your own site.

There are three steps to creating your own lead magnet system:

  1. Creating the lead magnet itself
  2. Creating the front-end lead magnet opt-in form
  3. Delivering the lead magnet to people who sign up

To that third point, you definitely don't want to have to manually message your lead magnet to everyone who signs up for your list.

Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to automatically deliver your lead magnet as soon as someone signs up for your list.

But let's go through each step from the beginning.

Step 1: Create your lead magnet content

The exact process here depends on what type of lead magnet you're creating, but we'll focus on any type of PDF lead magnet because that's the most popular approach.

While creating a PDF lead magnet can be as simple as just saving a Word document as a PDF, you'll probably want to put a little more effort into the presentation to make your subscribers feel like they really are getting premium content.

Thankfully, gone are the days when you needed to be a professional designer to create a good-looking eBook or document. Now, anyone can do it — you just need the right tool.

To that end, Canva is a great starting point for both designers and non-designers alike. While a lot of people know this tool from its image editor, it also works great for PDFs, and even has a dedicated eBook option.

To get started, click this link to open a new eBook design. Then, you can use one of the free templates as a starting point or create your design from scratch.

Creating a simple lead magnet using Canva

To add another page, just click the + Add a new page button and keep designing.

When you're finished, you can choose to download it as a PDF.

Step 2: Create your opt-in form

Next, you can use the Getsitecontrol email subscription popup builder to create an email opt-in form, along with an enticing message that describes your lead magnet.

First, create an account on Getsitecontrol. Log in to your Getsitecontrol dashboard and hit the + Create widget button.

Getsitecontrol lets you create slide-ins, modals, sidebars, bars, and more. You can even embed forms into your webpage, so you can get creative with how you showcase your lead magnet:

How to create a subscription popup to offer lead magnets

Feel free to use any of the templates in Getsitecontrol’s gallery to make the process faster.

Add an image that reflects the content of your lead magnet and write a clear call to action. Your pop-up email form should be shaping up looking like this:

Email opt-in form featuring a lead magnet, Getsitecontrol widget editor view

Read a more detailed guide to creating email opt-in forms in Getsitecontrol to learn all the ins and outs of the form creation process.

When you are done editing the copy of the form, move on to the Targeting tab and play around with the settings to control exactly when and where your opt-in form displays.

The targeting settings of the popup

If you want to see all the steps in more detail, check out this video tutorial.

Step 3: Create an autoresponder to automatically deliver a lead magnet

To automatically deliver the lead magnet to people who enter their email address, you can use Getsitecontrol's built-in autoresponder functionality.

This feature, which you can find in the Notifications tab, lets you automatically send a welcome email to everyone who signs up through this form.

Before you set that up, you'll need to upload your lead magnet file to your website's server. Or, if you don't have access to your website's server, you could also upload it to Google Drive or Dropbox — that's totally fine.

Then, include a link to that file in your autoresponder message:

The autoresponder settings in the Notifications tab

Save & close your form and that's it! Now, all new subscribers will automatically receive an email that includes a link to download the relevant lead magnet.

If you want, you can even create different lead magnets and use Getsitecontrol's built-in A/B testing feature to find out which one gets you the most subscribers.

Create your lead magnet today!

Lead magnets are a surefire way to get more email subscribers to your site.

You will need to put a little effort into creating the lead magnet at the beginning, but it's a one-time investment that will pay off long term. You’ll ultimately get a higher conversion rate for your email opt-in forms.

To get started, you can use a tool like Canva to create a great-looking lead magnet. Then, you can use the Getsitecontrol form builder to create an email capture form and automatically deliver your lead magnet to your subscribers.

Give it a try and start growing your email list today!

Colin Newcomer is a freelance writer with a background in SEO and affiliate marketing. He helps clients grow their web visibility by writing primarily about WordPress and digital marketing.

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