Lead Magnet Ideas 2022: The Ultimate Guide to Creative Lead Generation

graphic illustration of woman holding large magnet

The best lead magnet is an eBook, according to our survey of business leaders. In this guide we’ll explain all about what lead magnets are, and give you ideas to create your own.

A lead magnet pulls in potential customers and gives them a taste of your business expertise. It’s a useful tool for gaining better leads and converting more sales. Moreover, they’re pretty simple to set up, and the long-term benefits strengthen your brand.

What is a Lead Magnet?

A lead magnet is a gift, such as a discount or piece of bonus content, which is given to a potential customer in exchange for something, often their contact information. Lead magnets can be used to achieve many desirable conversions, like subscribing to a newsletter, following your business on social media or an “opt-in” to email marketing.

Lead magnet ideas graphic illustration

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What's the Point of a Lead Magnet?

The idea of a ‘magnet’ means attracting more sales leads than your website usually would.

How can you do this? If your company offers something valuable for free, such as a calculator tool, a PDF download or a discount, web visitors are more likely to hand over contact details in exchange. Therefore the focus has to be on creating a high-quality bonus or free gift that will convince readers you can be trusted with their personal data. That’s your lead magnet.

Smart business leaders know how to create just the right kind of lead magnets to attract qualified leads that convert to sales. In this guide we’ll look in-depth at some lead magnet examples, statistics and templates to start making your own.

Let’s get those customers flocking to your business – and converting at the rate you need.

Hubspot offers a download of their free report in exchange for contact details and company information.

Conversions and Content Marketing: Why Use a Lead Magnet?

Creating digital assets takes a lot of time and resources – giving them away for free sounds like a risky strategy. Won’t people just take the free thing and run?

When you’re learning how to grow your small business, it’s vital to ensure your lead magnets are targeted at very specific audience segments. Your engaged audience will willingly hand over their contact details, meaning you can pitch targeted marketing at them later.

Email marketing can produce an ROI of $36 per $1 spent – a staggering 3600%. So you see, lead magnets are the first steps to establishing an ongoing connection with new customers.

Moreover, content upgrades such as in-depth guides encourage conversions. Customers feel more confident in your products and services because longform downloadable content inspires trust in the brand.

Even if the user doesn’t make a purchase but they’ve signed up for the discount (or newsletter subscription, free guide or whichever other lead magnet you’ve made), you’ve now got an email address to send abandoned cart emails, product updates and other company news to.

What are the Best Lead Magnets?

The best lead magnet is an eBook, according to our independent research. It’s a meaty text guide to a particular topic that your business specializes in. Web visitors are happy to hand over contact details if they get a free eBook for their trouble, according to almost one in five business leaders.

Bar chart of study results

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We surveyed small business leaders from a range of industries including ecommerce and software as a service (Saas) they said the following lead magnets generated the most conversions:

Question: “Which of these lead magnets generates the most conversions”?

Answers:

  1. eBook – 19%
  2. Discount -15%
  3. Webinar – 14%
  4. Video – 11%
  5. Guide – 10%
  6. Free trial – 8%
  7. Checklist – 6%
  8. Infographics – 4%
  9. Free courses – 4%
  10. Free tool – 3%
  11. Free consultation – 3%
  12. Free shipping – 1%
  13. Worksheet – 1%

If you're looking for a long-term relationship with your prospects, I'd advise you to go with an eBook. It's easy to digest and gives prospects something they can refer back to again and again. An eBook also gives you the opportunity to build a relationship with your prospective customers by adding hyperlinks that lead them back to your site.

If you're looking for a quick conversion, then a discount or free shipping offer may be more effective.

Steve Spagnola
Steve Spagnola CEO, Stevesie

It’s good to know that the resource-intensive digital assets such as eBooks are well worth the pay-off according to nearly one in five (19%) of respondents. These lead magnets are particularly suited to industries with complex offerings and longer sales cycles such as software, business services and consultancy.

On the other hand, businesses centered on retail and lower-value products may benefit from discounts. However, ecommerce companies need to be cautious with discounts, as customers may hold off on buying without a discount available. This can quickly eat into profit margins per product.

Let’s look at some lead magnets in detail now.

Types of Lead Magnet Examples

1. eBook

What: A thorough explanation of a particular topic, usually in the form of a downloadable text file that the reader can easily navigate to find relevant chapters.

Why: Attracts users who have a genuine interest in your niche. Businesses can show off their expertise in a particular field.

Example:

monday.com offers eBook and report downloads to share expertise and build brand awareness as well as generate leads.

An eBook lead magnet is a form of a content upgrade. This refers to any kind of bonus digital asset which goes into more detail about a topic the viewer is already interested in. Importantly, it is only accessible in exchange for something, so ensure you’ve set up a website journey that offers the download only after contact details have been correctly submitted. Alternatively, you can send the eBook via email.

2. Checklist

What: A visually appealing summary of a long article or guide that serves as reference material to the reader.

Why: A useful resource for the reader that they will want to refer back to more than once or share with peers in their industry. This spreads brand awareness and builds trust in your business.

Example:

checklist request form screenshot

WinSavvy offers a content upgrade of a startups’ mistakes checklist at the end of an article on the topic.

A pain point companies can successfully draw on is “common mistakes”, such as the example of WinSavvy above. This type of lead magnet draws on the positive psychological aspects of a gift – an item given to a friend or community member to strengthen their relationship and delight the receiver. Try to directly address your audience’s pain points and deliver a handy list of recommendations to demonstrate your expertise in resolving them.

3. Guide

What: A comprehensive explanatory booklet (usually PDF) of a product, process, trend or phenomenon.

Why: One of the best customer touchpoints because it convinces the reader your business has specialist knowledge in this particular niche. Builds trust in your authority, as well as improving brand awareness and appreciation.

Example:

screenshot of venngage guide download

At the end of an article about infographics, Venngage offers a content upgrade in the form of a guide to designing them. The reader has to register with their details to access it.

As you’ll see from the above example, a guide does not have to be heavily text-based and could be mainly visual, taking the form of graphics templates in this case. The guide is a consolidation of specialist know-how delivered to the reader in an easily digestible form.

A training institution, for instance, could offer an introductory guide to certain paid classes. For example, a quick guide to treating burn patients for a relatively unknown physiotherapy school. This type of lead magnet can be hosted online and advertised via QR code on leaflets, banners or posters at jobs fairs or on public transport.

4. Discount

What: A money-off voucher emailed directly to the user, usually as a precursor to further direct marketing emails.

Why: Creating a discount either with a code, a click-through link or another kind of limitation creates a sense of urgency and exclusivity, encouraging purchase conversion.

Example:

discount pop up window offer

Discount offers are popular with ecommerce brands who face relentless competition. Maeleys offers users the chance to choose a “body goal” as they sign up with email to receive a 10% discount.

On a webpage, lead magnets may take the form of a banner or pop-up window, inviting web visitors to submit their email address in exchange for a free gift, like a discount. This sign-up form will usually include a short text explanation, a space to enter an email address and a “Send/Submit” button. Completing this form triggers an email to the user which contains a discount code.

Best practice dictates you should include a sentence about the email address’ use for follow-up marketing. Though most web users will already understand the implications of giving an ecommerce website their email address, you should strive for transparency about how you’ll use this personal data.

5. Webinar

What: A livestream or recording of an online broadcast for the purposes of education or insight that can include interactive elements.

Why: Creating a positive learning experience for the user who gains brand awareness and should hunger for more of the same good quality content thereafter.

Example:

General Assembly workshop advert screenshot

General Assembly regularly hosts webinars on a range of professional skills in exchange for email subscription sign-up.

Similar in function to the free guide, a webinar is a chance for experts to share knowledge in the hopes of sustaining long-term interest in paid services. Consultants can position themselves as thought leaders in a certain industry by presenting a lecture, giving a demonstration or hosting a discussion via webcam online. Of course, this is a huge benefit to companies hoping to reach a broader market than those who walk past their brick-and-mortar store.

Not many people want to be “sold to”, but you’ll hold the attention of a much wider audience if you’re offering truly useful insight – for free. Not everyone has a lust for education, however, B2B brands can see success with this tool as professionals are motivated by improved career prospects.

6. Course

What: An online educational series of articles or videos that teaches the user about a specific topic.

Why: Create buy-in by teaching the user how your product works. Demonstrate your company’s authority on a certain set of topics.

Example:

online course lead magnet idea AWS screenshot

Amazon Web Services offers free digital courses on how to use its software products in exchange for creating an online account.

A wide range of industries offer free courses to generate interest in their business and foster brand loyalty. Some well-known religions, fitness companies and social media broadcasters use this tactic to entice new sign-ups. Courses are an ideal lead magnet for service-based industries, Saas and software providers as well as educational groups, skills coaches and counselors. The reason being you’re offering exclusive insider knowledge to an audience hungry for that information.

An introductory course is a great way to pique curiosity. As the saying goes, “knowledge is power,” and you can draw in new subscribers, followers and business prospects with an educational video, email chain or set of articles. If your new students like the basic free version of your course, they’re more likely to sign up for further paid training or hire you as a consultant.

Our most effective lead magnet is a free 5-day crash course on plumbing tips and tricks every homeowner should know. DIY basic plumbing is a subject that every homeowner should know so that they can save on plumbing costs in their home. About 120% of our total qualified leads per quarter comes from this course, making it our most efficient, effective way of generating highly qualified leads.

Nathan Sanders
Nathan Sanders CEO, Plumbing Navigator

7. Infographics

What: A creative visualization of research findings, processes or complicated information.

Why: Infographics can quickly communicate important information and influence beliefs and priorities. These can be extremely useful for business leaders encouraging staff to adopt cultural changes because of the authority statistics can hold. This valuable communication tool must be high quality in order to positively influence potential leads.

Example:

infographic bar chart lead magnet ideas

Databox created an infographic to display the results of their research into ecommerce business challenges during 2021.

Infographics can be tricky to exchange for contact details, as many blogs publish them in freely available articles. However, long-form infographics can entice email address submission if the web visitor believes they’ll really benefit.

High-quality infographics are designed by professional graphic designers and are integrated in full research reports where they truly add value by illustrating complicated data. Infographics are easily shared, so you should include a company branded logo somewhere within the design. This ensures recognition of your brand if the infographic is reproduced more widely.

Companies that carry out quality research and illustrate it with infographics can inspire trust and confidence in potential customers looking for informational services.

8. Video

What: Popular with coaches, mentors and educational institutions, video content in exchange for email and other contact data is a tantalizing lead magnet. The video might play in browser or be sent by email.

Why: Many web users prefer to watch and hear information rather than read it, making video an excellent format for conveying tutorials and testimonials.

Example:

Video from Yale advert lead magnet ideas

Coursera offers a selection of their videos at no cost when the user registers for an online account with personal data including name, email and other contact details.

Video continues to be an increasingly important form of digital marketing. Platforms such as YouTube, TikTok, LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, Vimeo, Reddit plus your own website offer video hosting which can easily be gated for subscriber-only access. It’s an extremely versatile medium which replaces in-person contact and hugely expands the capacity of outreach for small businesses with few staff. Instead of having the same cold-contact conversation with four hundred visitors to a county fair, why not create some short videos to show off your products, services, skills and premises instead?

A lead magnet video will differ from a standard paid ad in a few important ways: it should be longer, more in-depth and somewhat interactive if possible. Your video needs to be so informative, exciting or otherwise essential that it’s really worth handing over personal contact details for.

9. Free trial

What: A time-limited opportunity to use proprietary software or another product at no cost to the user.

Why: Allows the user to sample – and enjoy – the product without financial risk. Some companies may take payment automatically once the trial period expires and others offer the option to upgrade for a fee.

Example:

Hootsuite free trial lead magnet ideas

Hootsuite offers a free trial in a pop-up window which is twice the length of its free trial offer on its homepage. This can be the difference between a user selecting Hootsuite vs Buffer, which only offers a 14-day free trial.

We’re all familiar with the concept of free trials: give ‘em a taste and leave them wanting more. While many larger companies offer a free version of their product or free tools to use, the free trial can be more successful at encouraging conversions due to its short-lived nature.

A free trial is particularly easy to facilitate with a software product but is also possible with almost any kind of physical product too. Cosmetics companies have been giving out perfume and moisturizer samples for decades, with the idea being once the customer runs out of it, they’ll want to go and buy more.

10. Other gated content: free tool, free consultation, free shipping, quiz, printable/PDF version files

What: Gated content refers to any written, audio or visual media that can only be accessed after submitting some personal details. There’s a very wide range of digital products – or even services – that you can offer in exchange. For instance, a free tool, free consultation, free shipping on products, a quiz (recommendation engine) or a printable/PDF version of the article.

Why: Convincing the web user of your authority and credibility or making customers feel they are saving money.

Example:

Lead magnet ideas free consultation

Scott Reid CPAs attracts leads with free consultations for anyone who fills in their web form with their personal information and a request.

A free consultation can be particularly effective because it’s an opportunity to showcase your professional expertise “in-the-flesh”. Plus it requires quite a lot of commitment from the web user to make time to meet and speak with you, increasing your chances of conversion compared with generic marketing.

JC Penney lead magnet quiz screengrab

JC Penney has a seven-question quiz for parents to take with their children based on Back to School clothing. The results are sent by email.

JC Penney lead magnet quiz results message

A fun quiz plays the dual role of entertainment plus super-specific lead generation – now JC Penney knows exactly what kind of school clothing to market to the user.

Now we've covered how different types of lead magnets work, here's a guide on how to create a truly effective lead magnet for your audience.

funnel graphic with checklist on creating best lead magnets

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How to Create a Lead Magnet: Checklist

Firstly, you should realistically assess what capacity you have for creating a stand-alone content upgrade for your web visitors. It takes time and resources to create a new web app and custom imagery for an appealing lead magnet.

But lead magnets needn’t drain digital marketing costs too much; research shows SMBs can save up to 80% on brand asset creation costs with a centralized digital asset management platform. The reason is such technology helps streamline and automate processes as well as reducing duplicate work and eliminating unnecessary purchases.

With your budget in mind, decide what kind of lead magnet will best suit your audience (read on for examples below). Next, you can get to designing and creating the lead magnet.

What makes a good lead magnet? There are four main features of an excellent lead magnet, and you’ll want to make sure you’re hitting all of them in order to optimize conversion rate:

  1. Relevance
  2. Trust
  3. Reward
  4. Design

1. Relevance

The most important function of your lead magnet is to attract the right kind of user. We’re not talking about “lead shovels” here, where we pick up every single human with a smartphone and an internet connection. No, a quality magnet picks up steel, leaving copper and brass unmoved. That means your lead magnet is built to draw in leads that need or want your services. And no one else.

Lead Magnet Dallas Neil Patel example

A targeted lead magnet only attracts a specific audience segment: web visitors who actually desire your services.

So you’ve got to match the wording, imagery and placement of your lead magnet to the exact service or product you are advertising. An effective way to do this is to ask a question and make your unique value proposition clear. The example above is from the homepage of Neil Patel’s digital marketing agency. A clear question, “Do you want more [web] traffic?” produces a clear next step: “Yes [I do want more web traffic]” leads to typing in your website URL. Conversely, “No [I’m not interested]” leads to scrolling down to browse the other offerings on the website.

This website happens to use a location identification script to insert the web browser’s geographical whereabouts into the value proposition. That’s a nice touch of personalization which engages the reader even more directly. Good to know, considering website personalization increased conversion for 94% of companies.

2. Trust

Secondly, your lead magnet must instantly communicate your brand’s authority, credibility and expertise. The web visitor will only choose to hand over personal contact information to a reliable entity. This is your chance to prove your business will treat this sensitive data carefully. There are several ways to achieve this, including “trust signals” such as a collection of logos from brands (clients) that already work with your business. This works as a form of social proof, meaning your users will approve of you because brands they already trust endorse your services.

Sprout Social displays “trust signals” from recognised tech brands which endorse their credibility through social proof.

A similar technique is to establish brand partnerships with social media companies such as Meta (Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram), Google and Microsoft. Once your business becomes an official partner of such companies, you can display an icon next to your call-to-action within your lead magnet. That’s another subconscious signal to the web user that you’re endorsed by recognized authorities.

In the above example, Sprout Social are offering a free trial of their product, as indicated in the green CTA button in the top right of their homepage. Users who are not yet convinced they trust this company scroll down and spot the three icons of popular tech review brands that vouch for Sprout. That free trial icon is frozen along the top of the screen, so it’s always in view should the web user change their mind and opt in at any point while reading the homepage.

3. Reward

Humans are highly reward-motivated. That means a lead magnet will convert better if it can provide instant gratification plus a sense of urgency. The experience you want to create looks like this:

Customer: “Yes, I’m getting a free thing! I want to get it right now while I have the chance!”

Psychological research has found we would rather complete an urgent and unimportant task (such as signing up to a newsletter) compared with a more important task (such as completing a work presentation) because “urgent tasks involve more immediate and certain payoffs. It’s known as the mere urgency effect, and you’d do well to include urgency-inspiring techniques in your lead magnet to create maximum appeal.

Let’s take a look at this pop-up discount offer from Sears, specifically focusing on how the language is used to create urgency.

This online discount offer from Sears seems irresistible because of tempting language creating a sense of urgency and immediate gratification.

The Sears pop-up offers a very clear call-to-action: all you have to do is enter an email address “to receive your discount”. This phrasing makes the reward appear instantly available, just one small step away. It’s therefore an easily achievable goal – no need to fill in five pages of a questionnaire or think hard.

The CTA button “Unlock $35 Off now” creates urgency because of the word “now”. It’s not an aggressive push. It doesn’t create hysterical panic. It’s a simple, attractive and effective offer. The bright orange button contrasts with the dark blue surroundings, drawing the eye instantly to the intended action. Plus “Unlock” makes the experience feel like a game, a fun challenge or a type of online puzzle.

Sears places this pop-up at the very beginning of the ecommerce journey – the window appears before the user has clicked on anything at all once landing on the website. There’s also no expiry date on the offer. Both of these factors combine to create a sense of a “quick win”, that the user is already “in profit” having the opportunity to “unlock” a monetary discount even if they do not intend to buy immediately.

4. Design

A good user experience (UX) is a must for any online business – with proper design underpinning all of the above three points. Professional design such as a clear call-to-action (CTA) button, well-written copy, branded imagery and colors all encourage the user to take part in the value exchange. Considered design elements convey to the user that they can trust the business with their data, understanding the valuable benefit they will receive in return and symbolize their active partaking (the “opt-in”) in starting a relationship with this entity.

Walmart graphic illustrations of delivery options

Walmart's clear graphic imagery helps users quickly navigate to various paid service offerings. 

A well-designed lead magnet is understood at first glance. If you’re unsure whether your particular lead magnet achieves this, engage a specialist firm to carry out user testing to determine if your design makes sense to the average Joe and Jane. Interacting with your lead generation tool should be so easy that even a child understands what to do next.

That means keeping design simple, text to a minimum, and ‘click me’ buttons large. Consider this example from Walmart home delivery services. Their web technology pulls in location data from the user’s IP address, indicating with green ticks that their local Dallas Supercenter is ready to offer two types of service. Simple, appealing icons denote choice of service, with an image in a circle for Shipping, Pickup or Delivery.

It should take literally two seconds for your web user to identify what the offer is, decide whether they want it, and proactively engage with it. If your design doesn’t facilitate these three things, it’s a waste of money and will only serve to frustrate users.

Lead Magnets Lead to More Prospects and Better Marketing

Lead magnets sit within your wider business strategy: within your sales pipeline to entice prospects and give a flavor of your services or products. But lead magnets also offer opportunities in broader content marketing too; building brand awareness and highlighting your industry expertise.

Remember, a lead magnet is a piece of bonus content that your audience finds desirable enough to exchange their contact details for. Lead magnets must be high quality and specific to your business’ particular industry in order to generate relevant leads. Your prospects should encounter the lead magnet at a lukewarm stage in their journey with your business: they’ve heard a little about you but aren’t willing to invest their money yet.

There are a number of psychological tactics you can test out to increase your conversion rate, including creating a sense of exclusivity, personalization, urgency and instant gratification.

Now you’ve got some excellent ideas to generate plenty of leads, you should ensure you’ve got a way to keep your customer records properly organized. Fortunately our guide to the best CRMs for email marketing automation can help you stay on track.

Sabrina Dougall

Sabrina writes about tech for business as well as consumer software. She covers topics ranging from digital marketing to ecommerce fulfilment, security systems, franking machines, and more. Having run her own successful small business, Sabrina knows first-hand how much there is to keep on top of. Writing with your company’s needs in mind, she distils truly useful product information (without the sales pitch).