Article | 15 min read

What is a lead magnet? The ultimate guide (+10 examples)

Are your lead magnets attracting the right customers? Here are a few tips to make them even more powerful and grow your audience.

By Peter Alig, Contributing Writer

Published February 17, 2022
Last updated July 29, 2022

Imagine you recently moved to a new city and want to find a yoga studio. You see a flyer on your office’s bulletin board promoting a studio that just opened a few blocks away. You show up for a session, only to learn that taking a single class requires a hefty membership fee. Feeling deflated, you walk out the door.

Just because a consumer enters your store or website doesn’t mean you’ve secured their business. To increase your win rate, you need to attract the right customers and build a relationship with them.

This is where an effective lead magnet comes in handy. As the name implies, lead magnets pull in prospective buyers with an enticing offer. By creating the right lead magnet, companies can bring in more high-quality leads and convert them into paying customers.

What is a lead magnet?

A lead magnet is a free asset or special deal offered to customers in exchange for their contact details. It can be a discount code, webinar, white paper, ebook, template, or another resource. To gain access to the lead magnet, a consumer must provide their name, email address, and/or company information.

Once you capture those details, you can regularly nurture leads through content that builds brand awareness, answers customer questions, and reiterates your company’s reputation as an expert in its industry. Every interaction is an opportunity to connect with leads and push them further down the sales funnel.

Research shows that lead magnets are incredibly effective lead generation tools: 50 percent of marketers experience higher conversion rates when they use lead magnets. The reason? Lead magnets provide insight into what makes your prospective buyers tick—your sales team can leverage that information to increase their chances of converting them into customers. This is why lead magnets are a critical component of any customer acquisition strategy.


What makes a good lead magnet?

A strong lead magnet provides value for sales leads. It grabs their attention and encourages them to engage with your business. The more they engage, the more data you gather.

To be successful, every lead magnet should have the following qualities:

Helpful

A lead magnet is helpful when it focuses on the customer. It should save a lead time, solve a problem, or provide a unique insight.

Say you sell accounting software for a startup, and entrepreneurs are one of your target customers. You could create a gated ebook that shares your founder’s lessons from the first year of business. This resource could benefit people who are thinking of launching their own company or who are in the midst of building a business.

Credible

Lead magnets must either establish your credibility or reaffirm it. The resource should offer trustworthy insights that are backed by experience, research, and interviews.

Imagine you work for an ecommerce platform that’s been running for the better part of a decade. You might offer a gated one-pager that provides tips from notable companies that use your platform. Leads who look up to these reputable brands will be eager to download the content and learn from the best.

Shareable

If your lead magnet is helpful and credible, your audience will want to share it. Make sure it’s easy for people to spread the word:

  • Link to your lead magnet from a social media ad that followers can share.
  • Add social sharing buttons to your lead magnet’s landing page.
  • Tag the experts you interviewed on social posts about the lead magnet.
  • Encourage employees to share the lead magnet with their networks.

Content creator Visme uses social sharing to promote its lead magnet: a free course. Leads have the option to share the course on their LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest profiles directly from the landing page.

Strategic

While it’s satisfying to see your database of sales leads grow, you need a plan to turn those new leads into paying customers.

You have a lead’s name and email address—now what? Do you continue to nurture them with a personalized email campaign? Do you treat leads who open the email differently from those who don’t? Create a lead scoring system to rank lead behavior and give the sales team a better idea of whom to pursue.

Say a consumer downloads your lead magnet, opens your follow-up email, and begins an order but then abandons their shopping cart. That level of engagement means the lead is now a true prospect and deserves greater attention from sales reps than a lead who stops engaging after the lead magnet download.

10 lead magnet examples to start growing your customer base

Lead magnets can take many forms. Check out the following examples, and brainstorm lead magnet ideas with your team. You’ll want to settle on a format that showcases your expertise and accommodates your potential customers’ needs.

1. Infographic

Long-form content is a popular type of lead magnet, but you may not have the bandwidth to create an ebook or whitepaper. Instead, consider highlighting key points from existing content in an easily digestible, eye-catching infographic.

First, use Google Analytics to identify your most popular content. Determine the important insights and takeaways from one of those resources, then use a free design tool—such as Canva or Venngage—to create an infographic with this information. Place a call-to-action button on the existing content page that prompts readers to download the infographic.

If your company conducts original research, consider constructing an infographic that displays a few exciting data points from the report. The consulting firm Gartner allows site visitors to download an infographic on edge computing in exchange for their email address.

2. Free consultation

If you have the staff, offer website visitors a free consultation. They can explain their needs to a team member and learn more about your product or service.

Australian consulting firm KeyCommerce offers a virtual consult as a lead magnet. The company presents a calendar of available 30-minute time slots, and visitors submit their email to reserve an appointment.

If you have limited resources, you can make a free consultation a giveaway prize instead of offering it to everyone. But when you announce the winner, include a link to a bonus piece of content so the other participants feel like they gained something from the experience, too.

3. Quiz

People love lead magnets that combine value and fun. Quizzes strike that balance well—they’re a great way to build knowledge of a subject, and they’re fun to take.

Digital marketing consultant Jon Loomer offers a Facebook ad quiz as a lead magnet for his audience. He offers a teaser quiz upfront, but to unlock his deep archive of topical quizzes, people must enter an email address.

You can require a lead to provide contact details before taking the quiz, or you may opt to withhold the quiz score until a lead enters their information.

When you send a confirmation email with the score, include a link to a blog post that covers topics related to the quiz. This should lure leads back to your website. Alternatively, you can reveal the score on the page where a lead submits their contact information so they don’t have to leave. You can also include links to related articles that entice the lead to linger on your site a bit longer.

4. Free trial

Free trials are a common lead magnet, and for good reason—they’re very effective. Consumers appreciate a chance to try a product or service for free, so they’re often willing to share their information to do so. Free trials aren’t time-intensive for companies, either. Once you have your free trial set up, prospects can sign up without any assistance from your team.

Encourage leads to continue using your product or service by pairing your free trial with email marketing. Website builder Squarespace, for example, sends an email the day before its free trial ends to ask leads if they want to extend it at no charge. The company also includes links to its customer resources to push recipients to keep building their site.

Instead of offering a free trial extension, you could surprise the lead with a special subscription discount. You can include this promo in your email confirming the free trial or, like Squarespace, closer to its expiration.

5. Private networking or knowledge group

A piece of content is an excellent lead magnet, but it generally focuses on a single topic. What if you let leads access a knowledge-sharing community that covers multiple topics?

The influencer platform AspireIQ offers this incentive by granting leads access to its “Coffee Shop” community in exchange for their contact information. Here, members of the AspireIQ team lead conversations about influencer marketing, community building, brand strategy, and more.

It’s not difficult to set up a private networking or knowledge group. Use Zendesk’s community forum software to create a space where members can interact with your team, connect with other customers, and easily find topics that interest them. A Slack community is also an option, along with these alternatives.

Regardless of the route you choose, you’ll need to devote time to moderating the community, both to keep the conversation going and to remove anything inappropriate.

6. Free class

Courses are a great way to prove your expertise while providing something valuable to leads. And with tools such as Teachable and Thinkific, it’s never been easier to build an online course.

Your course doesn’t need to be very long, either. You likely already have all the building blocks in the form of existing blog posts and how-to guides. The course can incorporate video, too, or simply be a series of slides with voiceover.

Gate the full course, and convince leads to submit their contact details by offering a teaser of the class to whet their appetite.

Semrush sells SEO and other digital marketing tools, which it demos in a series of online courses. You must create an account to access them. Some of its courses take an hour to complete, but Semrush divides them into chapters to make them more digestible.

7. Template

Many marketers dread creating resources from scratch—whether that’s a spreadsheet with complex formulas, a custom Google Analytics report, or an email HTML template. Take this work off someone’s plate by making a lead magnet template.

If you have a library of templates, offer one template as a teaser and require an email to unlock a subset (or all) of the rest.

The digital collaboration platform Mural offers hundreds of templates that make it easier for teams to solve problems together. The templates only work on its platform, but leads can take a template for a test drive after creating a free account.

8. Free tool

Tools can save leads time and help them uncover key insights, so they make excellent lead magnets.

Analytics platform provider ProfitWell gates a free tool to calculate customer acquisition costs. Leads can unlock it with a name and email address.

If you don’t have the resources to build a tool of your own, compile a resource that lists your favorite tools and how to acquire them. Calendly doesn’t gate this blog post covering 11 productivity tools, but it could easily work as a lead magnet.

9. Guide

Chances are, there’s a topic your target audience is curious about and would love a comprehensive explainer. Offer them what they want by creating an in-depth guide.

You might prompt the reader to download the guide with a pop-up that appears while the lead is reading a blog post related to it. Or, you may create a landing page for the guide.

The Social Media Examiner uses a pop-up to alert readers to its ultimate guide on the Clubhouse App. The pop-up appears once users scroll down this page containing a preview article.

10. Case study

You can illustrate your expertise on an issue with an ebook or online course, but can you also demonstrate the benefits of your product or service? Case studies allow you to do both: establish your authority and show how you generate ROI.

It’s not a good idea to gate all your case studies, as they can be invaluable sales-enablement tools. SupportLogic posts ungated case study summaries but requires leads to provide a name and email to watch complete interviews with its customers. The company uses engaging titles such as “Learn How Nutanix Reduced Customer Support Escalations by 40%” to attract leads.

As a bonus, include a link to the full transcript or video of the case study interview in your confirmation email. You can also offer a discount on your product if the lead schedules a demo within seven days.

How to create a great lead magnet

The success of a lead magnet doesn’t depend on only the type of resource you offer. You also need to remove any friction points that might prevent potential customers from finding and downloading your asset. Here are some best practices to help boost your chances of capturing leads.

Be strategic with the required number of fields

Lead magnets typically include a form where people submit their contact information. While there’s no magic number of fields to include in the form, the number you choose should be tied to your lead acquisition goals. Do you want to draw in more leads, or do you want to reel in more high-quality leads? In general, leads who take the time to fill in multiple required fields are more valuable than leads who fill in just one required field.

You can customize your lead capture form to gather any type of information you want. Gartner requires only an email address, while AspireIQ asks the lead to complete nine fields. AspireIQ’s lead magnet is a private knowledge group, so in the spirit of fostering community, they want to know a bit more about the leads they admit.

Send a thank-you email

lead magnet email

Gratitude is always a good idea. A lead who shares their contact details wants to hear that you’re grateful for their time and trust. A thank-you email shows this appreciation, and it also confirms that the entered address exists and that the lead will receive the content.

The thank-you email can play a role in your lead nurturing campaign, too. The email should include a call to action that brings the lead back to your site. You might point the recipient to more content, a soon-to-expire promo code, or (as we saw with Squarespace) an offer to extend a free trial.

Optimize your lead magnet for search

Your lead magnet may have the perfect call to action and content for your target audience. But if people can’t find it, you’re out of luck. Tap into organic traffic by creating an SEO-friendly landing page for your lead magnet.

  • Select keywords that match your audience’s search intent. Try to predict the keywords a lead would use to search for the solution you offer. Ahrefs can help you narrow your search and tell you which keywords you may rank for.
  • Use the keywords strategically. In addition to placing the keywords throughout the copy, make sure they appear in your title tag, meta description, headings, and image names.
  • Test loading time with Google’s PageSpeed Insights. Your lead magnet page should load in two to three seconds—at most.
  • Make your lead magnet shareable across social networks. If many people visit your lead magnet page, that shows search engines your content is reputable. Over time, the engines will place your page higher in the search results. So, promote your lead magnet on your social media channels, and make it easy for people to share it with their networks.
  • Leverage internal and external linking. If you have multiple internal pages linking to your lead magnet, that tells search engines it’s important and should be elevated in the search results. You can link to your lead magnet page from blog posts, case studies, and product pages. If you can find reputable external sites (such as Forbes.com or Mashable.com) that are willing to link to your lead magnet, you can further improve its ranking.

Test your lead magnet

test lead magnet

If your lead magnet isn’t performing as predicted, you may want to A/B test various elements to see where friction points are lurking.

With a tool like Leadpages, you can create separate landing pages for your lead magnet and change a single feature: the call to action, the number of required fields, the type of content you offer, etc. Once you’ve created these variations, see which page garners the most conversions.

Turn your new leads into customers

Lead magnets pull people into your sales funnel. But once you secure their contact information, you need equally powerful tools to turn those fresh leads into paying customers.

A robust CRM like Zendesk Sell will organize, track, and engage leads—facilitating the lead management process and enabling you to make the most of your efforts. Our software can even automate customized email sequences and cadences for different lead types at different stages of the sales cycle. At that point, the lead management tool can do its magic.

Pick a lead magnet idea to get started, and start reaching and converting more leads than ever before with the help of Zendesk Sell.

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