Build Your List: 7 Irresistible Lead Magnet Ideas

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by Dave Bender Email marketing requires huge amounts of time to do right. Time spent writing emails, coming up with strategy , and te...

by Dave Bender


Email marketing requires huge amounts of time to do right. Time spent writing emails, coming up with strategy, and testing, testing, testing.

However, none of the above is possible without a list of folks who are ready to receive your marketing messages. So, before you spend an afternoon crafting the perfect subject line, let’s talk about your list. Or, more specifically, how you can build your list using lead magnets.

What’s a Lead Magnet?

Lead magnets are possibly the single easiest way to begin adding interested, qualified leads to your email list. They’re typically bitesized, snackable pieces of content that your readers can access (for free) in exchange for their email address.

Most web users won’t think twice about handing over their email if it means they get free content as a result— especially if that content is interesting, useful, and relevant to their interests. This makes them extremely powerful when done correctly. Keep reading, and we’ll talk about 7 of the best lead magnets you can begin putting together today!
  • Free Checklist

If you have a blog, creating a one-page checklist or worksheet is a great way to turn any of your blog posts into a list-building machine! For example, let’s say you run a men’s fashion blog and have just finished a post about choosing a good pair of shoes. At the bottom of the article, you could create an opt-in box that gives away a free gift, “The Gentleman’s Shoe-Buying Checklist”.

This is a piece of content that will help your readers choose a sharp pair of shoes in exchange for their emails. And, because you’ve included it within the context of the footwear article, you know they’ll be interested in shoe-related marketing emails later on.

Make sense? Here’s a few real-world examples to help you wrap your head around the concept.
On The Social Butterfly Gal, author Christina Jochoa has put together a good article about creating opt-in content for your readers. At the end of the article, she’s added this short form:

This offer fits in neatly with her target audience (entrepreneurs who are new to blogging/social media marketing). It also compliments the content of the article and makes sense within its context.
In another example, an article about creating a resume by The Interview Guys offers, “The Perfect Resume Checklist” to anyone willing to enter their email address:

Again, this is a perfect marriage of lead magnet and content. When creating your own lead magnets, make sure the offer is relevant to your readers and the kind of content they expect from you.
  • White papers, Reports, eBooks, or Case Studies

Offering new information to your readers is another great way to get them to hand over their email address and join your list. Try compiling reports, white papers, or case studies that are relevant to your audience.

For example, if you’re a driving school trying to drum up business using the web, you could add leads by giving away, “FREE Report: Driver’s Training Can Add Up To Five Years to Your Life”.

Again, just like with the checklists we mentioned above, this kind of lead magnet is sure to draw attention from folks who are interested in what you have to offer (driver’s training). Otherwise, why would they waste their time reading about its benefits? In your own business, think about what kind of data, facts, and statistics are important to your audience. Then, either collect the data yourself or compile it from other sources. 

Want to see a great example of an email marketing lead magnet?

Click here to receive our free eBook, Inbox Better and learn how to maximize email open rates, engagement, and CTR.

In this example, Clear Story Data offers a whitepaper that promises to teach readers why Data Intelligence is, “the new way”. If you were a business intelligence professional, this might be right up your alley.

In another example, Kindle publisher Steve Scott offers a free eBook aimed towards anyone looking to dip their toes in the Kindle publishing industry (Steve’s target market). This is a fantastic example of marketing done right— notice how Steve is offering this lead magnet on his 404 page! So instead of losing leads when they arrive at a dead end, he’s turned his 404 page into yet another lead-generating page.


And, once you click that big, tempting, please-just-click-me button, you’re hit with this pop up:

Now, Steve can collect email addresses from anyone interested in Kindle publishing. In one-click, they’ll be added to his list.
  • Toolkits

The last two lead magnet ideas require you to create your own content. This can take a lot of time, especially if you’re putting together entire eBooks or white papers. If you’d like to put something together quickly, try giving away a toolkit.

A toolkit is a collection of resources software and other tools that you feel will be useful to your readers. For example, if you owned an authority site about women’s fitness, you could put together a list of helpful apps to help folks track their exercise and workouts. This takes very little original content creation, as it is simply a curated list of great tools.

What would look like? Here’s a few examples to inspire you.

Here, Hero Health Room is offering a similar lead magnet to the hypothetical toolkit we discussed above. By entering your email, you’ll get immediate access to tools, checklists, and resources to help you get in shape. In return, they’ll add you to their list and begin marketing to you:

In the marketing world, WPBeginner offers its visitors “The Ultimate WordPress Toolkit”. Again, this is simply a collection of tools, plugins, and resources that first-time WordPress users might find helpful.

  • Quizzes and Surveys

Us humans, we love a good quiz (just check out Buzzfeed if you need proof). Your readers are no different. By putting together a quick, easy quiz (and sending the results via email), you can both collect data about your audience and build your list.

For example, check out Jean Paul Zogby’s quiz that promises to tell you how fast time runs in your mind— once you’ve given him your email of course.

After you’ve taken the quiz, Zogby follows up with your results and a subtle CTA promoting his book (also related to time perception). It’s an easy way for him to build his list while still providing value to his audience.
  • Webinars and Video Training

Video lead magnets can be particularly great for building your list. Why? Video feels valuable. It requires more effort, more commitment, and (hopefully) will provide more value to your audience than a 10-point checklist. If you’ve noticed that your competitors are all beginning to offer eBooks and text-based content to attract new leads, try mixing it up by creating video lead magnets.

Script Magazine offers a free webinar to readers who are interested in learning to write screenplays (their target audience). This gives them an opportunity to connect with their audience, position themselves as an authority in the space, and—their ultimate goal—build their list with qualified, interested leads.

In an entirely different industry, travel blogger and digital nomad, Stephanie Holland, offers free travel advice for anyone willing to enter their email. This is a particularly good example as she’s created a dedicated landing page for this lead magnet. It’s really well-designed page, and worth using as inspiration if you’re looking to do something similar.

Oh, and if you’re wondering where she’s collecting emails, it’s all hidden behind that purple, “Watch Now »” button. Once clicked, you’ll see the following pop up:

  • Free Quote

Ah, the free quote. This is perhaps the oldest lead magnet ever thought up. Car salesmen, insurance agents, real estate tycoons, marketing agencies— in just about every industry, the free quote has been a reliable way to gather information from interested prospects.

This kind of lead magnet may take a little more “backend” work than the rest. You’ll need some sort of tool that takes your users’ information and outputs a personalized quote. However, the benefit of this lead magnet is that it specifically talks about money. It’s a lot easier to move prospects from a quote to a sale than it would be to take them from a free report to a final purchase. If you do decide to build a free quote lead magnet, use the following examples to inspire you:

The website, lowestrates.ca uses a very powerful quote building system that allows visitors to easily get a ballpark price for insurance. However, the system also allows them to follow up through email once someone completes their forms.

At Plato Web Design, visitors can quickly get an automatic quote built for them using the web form. This is a much simpler version than the insurance quote above, but is still a fantastic way for Plato to collect emails.


  • Coupons/Discounts

If you’re an ecommerce guy or gal, this lead magnet is for you. Offer your readers a small discount in exchange for their email address. You’ll then be able to continue sending them marketing messages related to their interests.

In this example, big box retailer, H&M is offering 20% off any item when visitors join their email list. This will allow them to continue marketing to their customers long after they’ve used their discount code:



We would have preferred to see H&M advertise this offer with a pop up. As it is, users can only access this deal by clicking the small text, “SIGN UP FOR EMAILS” in the site’s header. Notice how in the example below, Austin Kayak uses a pop up to get their lead magnet in front of visitors and drive sign ups:


The Real Secret of High-Conversion Lead Magnets

So you’ve decided on a lead magnet, you’ve built it, and you’re ready to start building your list by exchanging it for email addresses. Great! Now what? As we’ve said again and again on this blog— you should always be testing. Keep designing and deploying new lead magnets for your audience and measure which kinds of content generate the most emails. Your first idea will likely not be your best idea.
So once you’ve finished creating your first lead magnet, start thinking (immediately) about the next. And, if you want more ideas, inspiration, and top email marketing tips, click here to join our newsletter.




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