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Lead Magnets 101: What they are, how they benefit you, and 18 different types to grow your business

This is part 2 of an ongoing series called “Marketing 101”. In this series, we’ll discuss common direct response marketing lingo and break it down so it actually makes sense. In today’s article we’ll discuss “lead magnets”, or the basics of using a free “lead magnet” in your marketing funnel. 

What is a Lead Magnet

If you’re here, it’s likely you’ve heard of the term “lead magnet” and and to know more. You may know it’s needed, but what is it,  exactly? 

According to MarketingTerms.com, a lead magnet is: “A specific deliverable that is offered to prospects in return for contact information, typically to join an email list.” 

More specifically, they go on to say that: “To be a lead magnet, an offer must be specific and short-term in nature. A lead magnet can be though of as something that “sits on the other side of” an opt in form, just waiting to be triggered. This is the opposite of vague promises to join a newsletter and receive unspecified content at an unspecified time.” 

As a direct response marketer, one of the main tools in the toolbox is a lead magnet. It’s often one of the first marketing assets I build with clients or the first set of assets I recommend. That’s because lead magnets are so useful for identifying your ideal prospect, attracting him/her to your business, and nurturing them until they purchase from you. 

Benefits of a Lead Magnet

As mentioned, lead magnets are immensely valuable in growing your list of qualified prospects for your business. But that’s not the only benefit of going through the lead magnet building process. Here are a few more benefits of creating lead magnets for your business:

  • Helps you define the wants, needs, desires, and “psychographics” of your ideal prospect
  • Helps you identify where your ideal prospects “hangs out”, so you can reach them
  • Generates a value-first asset your sales people can use to generate interest (such as on LinkedIn)
  • Targets a specific portion of the population who has the problem you solve
  • Gives you an “open door” to nurture the prospect via email, mail, or phone, because the prospect as specifically requested to hear from you
  • “Proves” that you know what you’re doing as a consultant or information marketer by providing proof of your value up front
  • Grows your email or mailing list of highly qualified prospects
  • Contributes to you earning more revenue in your business
  • Serves as the start of your multi-step marketing funnel

With these benefits, it seems silly to avoid using lead magnets to grow your small business.

Lead Magnet Examples

Lead magnets are everywhere. To prove it, let’s look at a few examples so you can learn how to spot them “in the wild” for yourself. 

Ecommerce

Here’s an ecommerce example from a retailer selling a unique “gap-free” shirt for women:

A lead magnet example from the-shirt.com

The lead magnet here is the free coupon, which I can only claim when I exchange it for my email address. In ecommerce, lead magnets tend to come in the form of coupons, giveaways, and free samples. 

Note: Paid samples (such as miniature perfume sets for $10) are an example of a tripwire offer.

Lawyer / Legal Firm

Here’s another lead magnet, this time from a lawyer.

And another legal example of a lead magnet at play.

Executive Placement Firm

Lead magnets exist in all industries, especially B2B. I’ve written white papers for executive placement firms and have found that their preferred lead magnet is the white paper or special report. Here’s an example of a special report (“guide”) from Parker-Lynch.

Copywriter

Here ‘s an example of a copywriter using a lead magnet. (For some reason, finding copywriting lead magnet examples was difficult.) Here’s one from copywriter Abbey Woodcock.

Marketing Agency

Here are a few of the lead magnets we’re using as of the time of this writing. You’ll notice that each is designed to solve a specific problem or answer a specific question or provide a specific set of information. And each requires exchanging information (e.g., an email address) to get the resource.

Each of the lead magnets posted above lead to an opt-in form, which puts the prospect on an email list or into a prospect database. From there, prospects should be followed up with by email, if not also by mail and phone. Of course, reports, e-books, and white papers aren’t the only type of lead magnet. There are at least 18 different types to choose from.

18 Types of Lead Magnets

There are at least eighteen different types of lead magnets you as a business owner can test to grow your database of warm, qualified leads.

Ebook

An ebook is a digital version of a printed book, oftentimes created to be digital-only. Ebooks serve to make great front-end lead generators, because they offer significant value to prospects who want to learn more while also positioning the author as an “expert”. Make sure you follow up with prospects who download or purchase your ebook.

Print Book

Print books are another, more traditional type of lead magnet. Print books work well with the “free + shipping” funnel model. As with the ebook, make sure you follow up by mail and email with your prospects.

Special Report or Guide

A special report is a written lead magnet which is information yet sales-focused. For example, a copywriter might publish a lead magnet addressing the “5 Myths of Email Marketing”. This guide should reframe a prospect’s understanding of a situation, and then “sell” the prospect on the solution. Special reports are written in both the B2B and B2C space, however are not as respected in some circles as the white paper is.

White Paper

A white paper is a written lead magnet most often used in the B2B space. A white paper is generally 7 to 20 pages in length and features a set structure, such as executive summary, problem statement, solution statement, body, conclusion, and call to action. White papers are generally “information first”, rather than sales-focused. White papers should be as impartial as possible and cite references. White papers work well as front-end lead generation tools. 

Webinar

A webinar is a type of video-based sales presentation that generally lasts between 45 and 90 minutes. According to Digital Marketer, webinars are “middle of funnel” lead nurturing tools, rather than “top of funnel” front-end lead generation tools. Webinars are also often delivered automatically as an “evergreen” webinar.

Masterclass

A masterclass is a type of webinar, often longer in length, such as a “3 hour masterclass” that teaches a process more in-depth. Often, the masterclass has less sales elements than a traditional webinar. I’ve seen Masterclass funnels used effectively as part of LinkedIn prospecting. 

Shock and Awe Package

A “shock and awe package” is something I first learned about from Dan Kennedy of “GKIC” fame. A “shock and awe” package is a direct mail package you send to prospects when they requires more information from you – such a s a report plus a book, newsletter, and special report. Or some other group of gifts that pique their interest and encourage them to respond. 

Quiz or Survey

The survey/quiz is more popular than ever thanks to Ryan Levesque’s popular “Ask Method” program.  His method,

“[T]urns passive readers into active participants – and is a powerful way to get your prospective customers to provide information so you can:
1. Pre-qualify every user who takes your quiz as a lead based on how they answer.
2. Ask certain questions to find out key buying signals.
3. Put each lead into special buckets and receive custom messages.

https://www.riddle.com/blog/ryan-levesque-ask-method-quiz-creator/

Surveys are a great way to encourage engagement while also getting valuable information from your prospects you can use to group your prospects. That way, you can create targeted messaging and offers that will appeal specifically to the different segments.

Checklist

love checklists as lead magnets. They’re easy to consume, provide actionable value, and encourage implementation of information. They’re also very easy to create. Checklists are useful for consultants and best placed as a CTA to blog posts or as a giveaway in a webinar. Here’s an example from the Indiana Direct Response Marketing site and from LynnSwayze.com:

Cheat Sheet / Infographic

If you can’t figure out what to offer at the end of a blog post to transform it into a mini-funnel, you can always create cheat sheets and infographics of the content. This gives people an opportunity to download and save the information in a usable format. Obviously, make sure there’s a call to action to take the next step and follow up with prospects several times by email.  Here’s a great example from Pat Flynn:

Audio Interview

One of the less commonly used lead magnets (at least anymore) is an audio download. I’ve seen audio downloads (or CDs, or MP3s, or transcripts) most often in the form of an interview. So a consultant will interview another expert (ideally, one the prospect respects) and offers it as a lead magnet in exchange for opting in to an email list. 

Free Sample

Free samples are another example of a lead magnet. Free samples are most commonly used in ecommerce businesses to boost retail sales. For best results, follow up with prospects after they’ve tried the sample you send them. 

Free Trial 

Yes, the “free trial” IS an example of a lead magnet. Free trials are used to sell SAAS subscriptions, membership sites, magazine subscriptions, and membership programs to generate more sales and identify potential buyers. Trial lengths last anywhere from a certain number of sessions to weeks and often require registration or an exchange of information, including credit card information.   

Email Mini-Course

This lead magnet type combines the educational value of a course with emails, giving you a foot in the door in people’s inboxes. For best results, keep the course at less than 5 lessons and deliver them anywhere from once a day to once a week, and feature a call to action at the end which sells your core product or service. Here’s an example of a mini course based on email marketing from https://ariel-lim.com/ .

Example from https://ariel-lim.com/ 

Free Newsletter

An uncommon yet effective lead magnet is the free newsletter. This can be mailed to prospects for less than $10/year and work well to generate leads and referrals. Or you can offer a paid newsletter, as we have. To learn more about newsletters and how to write effective print newsletters, check out Shaun Buck’s “Newsletter Pro” book.

Catalog or Price Guide

Another type of lead magnet is the catalog or price guide. Catalogs can be printed or digital, however usually require the prospect to exchange their personal information in exchange for the catalog. B2B businesses would benefit from a price guide, especially if many prospects call asking for a quote. This allows you to build a database of qualified leads your sales team can then follow up on. When you build these, make sure you have special offers and a call to action built in. 

Coupon

As you saw above with the-shirt.com, a coupon is another great lead magnet idea, especially if you’re in the e-commerce and retail space. You can either offer a specific percentage off or a specific dollar amount. Some utilize an app that “randomizes” the special offer, which adds a touch of “gamification” to the whole process.

Case Study

The final type of lead magnet you can try is a downloadable case study. A “case study” is basically a long client testimonial written in a story-based format. To do it well, you’ll want to highlight your clients’ struggles before working with you, their experience working with you during their project, and then their after results. Use images, quotes, and quantifiable data when possible. Here’s an example of a downloadable case study from PAYJO.

How to Position a Lead Magnet

If you download my Lead Magnet Checklist, you’ll see a section which asks you about the positioning of our lead magnet. The positioning is simply how you approach the lead magnet and the qualities the lead magnet has. 

A great lead magnet, at least in my mind,  has the following characteristics: 

  • It solves a single, specific problem the prospect has
  • It provides a single, specific solution to the problem
  • It contains a benefit-driven title (obviously, indicating the problem previously mentioned)
  • It looks professionally produced, so as to be more trusted and respected by your ideal prospect
  • It has a built-in consumption mechanism, that lets prospects immediately implement what they’re learning from you
  • It has a call to action to the next step or upsell 
  • It logically correlates with your core offer

When I see lead magnets fail, they either miss one of these core components OR they lack fully optimized lead magnet marketing assets, which you’ll see in the next section.

Lead Magnet Marketing Assets

When I work with clients, they’re often surprised I can come in and rattle of 5, 10, or even 20 copywriting assets which need to be built for a marketing campaign. I want to reveal those assets right now, so you’ll never be surprised when a marketing consultant does this for you. 

A good lead magnet campaign contains all of the following marketing assets:

  • An Advertising Mechanism (FB Ads, email to your list, banner ad, etc)
  • An Ordering Mechanism (lead magnet opt-in page, squeeze page, form, etc)
  • A Delivery Mechanism (e.g., download page, download email)
  • Stick Letter to Frame the Delivery (lift note, download email)
  • Ongoing Marketing (follow-up emails, letters, messages)
  • Retargeting Mechanism for those who don’t opt in (retargeting ads, etc)
  • Follow-up Tripwire or Core Offer (upsell offer, call to action)
  • Ongoing Marketing for different offers (keep marketing!)

If you’re looking for a way to get more sales and grow your business, or if current marketing efforts are growing stale, then it’s probably time to try a new lead magnet. If you already have a written lead magnet, try a different modality (such as video or audio). Or if you have a video lead magnet, try adding in something written. And if you want help, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Lynn’s “Lead Magnet Checklist”

Checklist

I’ve created a FREE lead magnet checklist to help you make sure you have all the pieces required to create an irresistible lead magnet to grow your email list and provide value to prospects.

It’s yours FREE – simply sign up here to claim your copy.

About the author

Lynn Swayze

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