Lead magnets – What are they and why every small business should have one

If you’re building your mailing list you need an incentive to encourage people to join your list. That incentive is called a Lead Magnet (because it attracts leads!). Other names are “opt-in incentive”, “freebie” or opt-in giveaway”. It’s something of value that you offer in exchange for a prospects’ email address. The days of sticking a “Sign up for my newsletter” form on your home page and expecting people to sign up are long gone. The bar has been raised much higher and, as you know with the increasing volume of email we all receive every day, people are much more selective about which lists they sign up to.

What type of lead magnets can you offer?

Traditional lead magnets are ebooks, cheat sheets, checklists or tip sheets. These are easy to create and a great way to showcase your expertise to your potential customers. Here are a few examples from MMSpark (the first shows the “Squeeze” page the lead magnet is promoted from)



You can also get a bit more creative and offer an e-course, video series, or even a free download of a piece of music, app (if you’re selling software), WordPress plug-in, or screensaver. One of my clients offers a free mp3 meditation track to her potential customers.

Or you could offer a unique strategy as Matthew Woodward does on his pop-up lead magnet offer:


The do’s and dont’s of lead magnets

There are a few golden rules for creating the best lead magnets:

Firstly, make sure your audience can get a rapid benefit from your lead magnet. They need to see that what you’re offering works for them and give them something they can quickly put into action to get a result. It doesn’t matter how small that result is as long as they’re getting demonstrable value.



#2 Ideally you should be solving ONE very specific problem or pain. Here’s a great example from Ryan Deiss where he’s offering Facebook ad templates that you literally copy and paste.


#3 Give away your best stuff. Don’t use an old blog post that you dust off and stick on your website. Remember this is your prospective customer’s first interaction with you and you want to impress.

#4 Keep it short. Your lead magnet is showcasing your expertise and giving your prospects a quick win. It doesn’t need to be War and Peace and less is definitely more online these days. In fact, I heard a well-respected online marketer speaking on this subject recently and he said your lead magnet should be no more than one-page.

#5 GoPro with your images. Regardless of whether you’re offering an ebook, mp3 or e-course always have a professional image for your lead magnet. I always recommend Fiverr.com to my clients for their covers and images, or you can have a go yourself using Canva or Picmonkey, and Boxshot 3D (turns 2D covers into 3D which looks much better).

#6 Use an amazing headline. The title of your lead magnet should be compelling and attract your ideal customers. List headlines work well, such as “5 Top Tips To…” or “3 Quick Steps to” as do “Blueprints”, “Checklists” or “One-pagers”. Always talk about the benefit of the lead magnet and what it can do for your customer.

When and how do you deliver your lead magnet?

The main hub for your lead magnet is your website. It’s best to create a “Squeeze” page especially for your lead magnet. That way you can direct people to that page specifically to sign up for your lead magnet. The page should have no distractions or competing Calls To Action and the ONLY thing your prospect can do is to sign up for your lead magnet.

TOP TIP: Make it easy for your customers to sign up for your lead magnet. In fact, make it so obvious and simple that anyone can do it. And tell them where to “Enter your email address” and then “CLICK HERE FOR INSTANT ACCESS”. Studies have shown that telling people what to do (even when it seems blatantly obvious) increases sign-ups to your list.


Other places to offer your lead magnet!

As well as a dedicated squeeze page, you can offer your lead magnet on the sidebar of your website so it appears on every page.

You can also use a WordPress plug-in (my favourite is “Magic Action Box”) to automatically add a mailing list sign-up box under every blog post


Add a ribbon to your website (that runs along the top of your header or navigation bar)


TOP TIP: You can’t have too many sign-up forms so sprinkle them liberally across your website.

Where and how do you promote your lead magnet?


Once you’ve created your lead magnet (step 1) and your squeeze page (step 2) you can include the link to your squeeze page in your social media updates. Schedule regular promotions to this page using Hootsuite or Buffer so that you create a steady stream of leads.

Promote your lead magnet in your ezine or newsletter

You can also offer your lead magnet in social media groups and communities.

TOP TIP: If you’re using MailChimp you can create a sign-up form which appears as a tab on your Facebook page. It’s a great way to generate leads for your business, and build your mailing list.


Steps to creating your lead magnet

#1 Create a lead magnet that offers a solution to an ultra-specific problem, and solves ONE thing for your target market

#2 Condense your lead magnet down into one cheatsheet, blueprint, guide, checklist etc.

#3 Spend time writing a compelling headline

#4 Get a professional cover designed

#5 Create a “squeeze” page on your website to promote your lead magnet

#6 Create a “thankyou” or “download” page to deliver your lead magnet

#7 Use a professional email provider service like MailChimp or Aweber to create the sign-up form for your website, collect emails and send an automated series of follow-up messages.

#8 Promote your lead magnet everywhere and watch as your mailing list starts to grow

If you’d like to learn more about creating a lead magnet to build your mailing list and see the process in action, you can access a webinar I ran recently “Lead Magnets – How To Create A Blockbuster Compelling Free Offer In One Day

How are you using Lead Magnets to grow your list and build your business? I’d love to hear your results and ideas in the comments below.