Lead Magnets: What They Are and How to Use Them To Grow Your List

If you’re looking to grow your email list, there are a few logical first steps to take. First, you sign up for an email service provider (ESP), then you create opt-in opportunities on your site. Next, it’s time to make a lead magnet.

A lead magnet is any download or special offer you create and give away for free in exchange for an email address. You may also hear the term content upgrade, which is essentially the same thing.

Lead magnets can be a great list growth tool, as long as you put in the time and energy to create a valuable offer. Since lead magnets are such a popular tool for growing your list, quality is important. How can you ensure success for your next lead magnet?

Let’s jump right in.

Why Use A Lead Magnet

Before you put all the time and energy into creating a lead magnet, you may be wondering why exactly it is a technique worth trying.

Lead magnets are more effective than simply asking readers to opt in to your email newsletter because they give them a reason to sign up. If you can find the right offer that is irresistible to your target readers, it’s a golden ticket for list growth.

Lead magnets can also give you something to promote on social media to encourage conversions in addition to web traffic.

Plus, lead magnets will also help you to be seen as an authority, a trusted resource that your readers continue to turn to for information on whatever your expertise is. If you can provide great information in your download, the readers who download it will be sure to come back for more.

Content-Focused Lead Magnets

Content-focused lead magnets are probably what you traditionally think of when you think about lead magnets. These are items like ebooks, checklists, blog post summaries, and pdf files that provide additional content that goes beyond the information on your site.

Content-focused lead magnets are sometimes challenging to get right because they are so commonly used. If everyone’s doing something, your version is going to have to be excellent to stand out among the crowd.

That said, a great content lead magnet is not impossible. Brennan Dunn has gotten over 20,000 opt-ins on his email mini-course lead magnet.

Double Your Freelancing Content Lead Magnet

Want to try a content-focused lead magnet on your site? There are a couple important guidelines to keep in mind:

1. Use Original Content

If your lead magnet is simply repeating the blog post your reader downloaded it from, or regurgitating information that can easily be found on your website, it’s just not going to be interesting enough to garner leads.

Think of information you can provide that expands on your blog post, or at least provides a visually appealing summary or checklist.

2. Provide Value

Whatever the final result is, push yourself to provide real value to readers. An unhelpful lead magnet might get you a few leads, but are those readers likely to return to your site or see you as a resource? Probably not.

Check in with yourself to ask if your download is providing real value or not, and be honest. If it’s not helpful, go back to the drawing board until you find something your readers will love.

3. Communicate Value Pre-Download

If you have an offering that provides real value, you’re going to want to communicate that with readers before they opt in. You could have the best lead magnet in the world, but if you don’t tell anyone about it, it won’t grow your list.

Use an app like Sumo or Leadpages to include an opt-in box within relevant blog posts, in your footer, or in the sidebar of your site. Focus your headline and copy on the value your lead magnet will provide for readers.

4. Follow Through

In your ESP, set up automatic delivery of your freebie so that your new subscribers will get their free gift right away. Don’t stop there, though. Welcome them to your list with an email welcome sequence, and check in a few days later to be sure they liked the lead magnet you sent them.

Stay engaged with your newest subscribers to keep your open and click rates high, and ensure a happy, healthy list.

Alternative Lead Magnets

Content-focused lead magnets may be the most common type, but they aren’t the only option to grow your list. Nowadays, the options are endless for alternative lead magnets.

For example, Colin Whitlock of Pixel Surplus, our fastest growing publisher of 2017, told us that he grew his list by offering digital products that normally retail for about $10, for free in exchange for an email address.

Pixel Surplus offers free digital downloads as a lead magnet

Similarly, CoSchedule uses their Headline Analyzer as a lead magnet, asking for your email before you can see the results of their calculations.

As hard as it may be to imagine having the time and energy to put into such killer lead gen options, they can be worth it.

While content-focused lead magnets are very commonly used, these alternative lead magnets are less common, meaning that they’ll feel new and fresh to your audience.

Plus, you can reuse lead magnets like these more often. Instead of coming up with a new one for each blog post, these lead magnets can often be reused on many similar content topics. It could even become a signature offering of yours that you link to across your site.

Grow Your List

Ultimately, the best idea if you’re really looking to skyrocket list growth might be to use both kinds of lead magnets in a combined strategy. You can create some custom content upgrades for blog posts, combined with a couple of super-helpful alternative lead magnets that require more time and energy to create.

Once your email list growth takes off and you’re ready to monetize, be sure to sign up for the Paved marketplace. Not only will we bring advertisers right to you, but we will help you create a killer media kit and ensure that you get paid the same day you send. Sign up for Paved today to see how easy sponsored content can be.