Lead Magnets 101: The Perfect Solution to Build an Email List (Complete Guide)

This post is the ultimate guide to lead magnets.

If you’re having a hard time growing your email list, and if it has become a pain in the you-know-what then you don’t want to skip this.

. I recommend it to those who want to learn how to create effective lead magnets because they are the perfect solution for list building.

Let’s start.

Lead magnets 101

What are Lead Magnets?

Lead magnets are a free downloadable piece of content that is used to get people to sign up for your email list.

But why do you should care about something like this?

Here’s why.

Normally, when people come to your blog, a large percentage is going to leave your site and never come back. This is not good, but if you have a lead magnet, you’re going to be able to snare the contact information of a certain percentage of people who are attracted to that lead magnet.

Once you’ve got their contact information, you can start educating them on a long-term basis and potentially have them buy your offer or send them to your affiliate offer.

And that will make you money.

How Lead Magnets Work

Remember, the point of your lead magnet is not to take your prospect to their goal, you’re just taking them one minor step towards that goal.

So why just one minor step?

Because they won’t take action if it’s something big.


There are two reasons why most people don’t take action:

  1. They don’t trust you.
  2. They don’t trust themselves.

Now, when your audience sees your offer, a lot of people do believe that you can achieve the result that you’re demonstrating, and maybe even that you’ve helped other people achieve that result.

But the real issue here is that they don’t believe that they can achieve it.

So one of the main goals that you have as a marketer will be to inspire your prospects to believe that they can achieve the goal for themselves.

And when you create a powerful lead magnet, you’ll be delivering on your promise, and your audience will love you for it.

Once you take your subscribers one minor step towards their goals, they’ll trust you. And the fact that they can take action and achieve results, even if it’s just a small step will make them excited.

And if they’ve always wanted to achieve their goal in the past, but they’ve never gotten results, then who do you think they’re going to trust to take them to their next goal?

There’s a big chance it’s going to be you.

This is because after you’ve demonstrated that you can take them even the smallest step towards their goals, you’ve gained their trust, and they’ll be more likely to want to continue the relationship with you and become your customers or clients in the future.

Types of Lead Magnets

Anything can be a lead magnet. As long as it solves one small problem for your audience.

Here are some types of lead magnets.

  • Ebooks
  • Checklists
  • Cheat Sheets
  • Resource Guides
  • Worksheets
  • Email Courses
  • Templates
  • Webinars
  • Case Studies
  • Tutorials
  • Video Training
  • Courses
  • Quizzes
  • Product Samples
  • Free Trials
  • Consultations
  • 1:1 Calls
Common types of lead magnets

What Type of Lead Magnets Works Best

In 2020 Getresponse completed a study to try to find out what types of lead magnets work best.

They started the study with a single-answer question about what types of lead magnets had the highest conversion rates in respondent cases.

They found out that there are two most popular formats of lead magnets, selected by 47% of the respondents:

  • Video (24.2%)
  • Written (22.8%)

The other types of lead magnets followed: 

  • Visual (11.8%)
  • Tool or Access to something (11.8%)
  • Discount (10.5%)
  • Quizzes (7.9%),
  • Audio (6.1%)
  • Other (5.2%)
Lead magnets chart

The next thing they wanted to know is what type of content shows better results, short-form or long-form content.

They only asked this about video and written lead magnets, because they seemed to be the most popular types.

And what they found out is that when it comes to video content, the majority of respondents (73%), said they are getting the highest conversion rates with short-form content, like short tutorials, video clips, and video samples.

Only 27% of them said they are getting better results with long-form video content, like webinars, online conferences, and recordings.

Video lead magnets chart

When it comes to text-based lead magnets, the results were similar. But the difference wasn’t as significant.

58.6% of respondents said that short-form written content like cheat sheets, checklists, or ebook samples had the highest conversion rates.

41.4% of respondents said that long-form written content, for example, guides or reports, generated the best results for them.

Written lead magnets chart

Cool, so you want one but don’t know how to create it?

Here’s how.

How to Create Your Lead Magnets

First, you have to figure out what exactly your audience is looking for.

Do they share a specific problem that needs dealing with?

Do they need certain information about your topic in particular?

Put together an offer that can deal with those issues.

The next thing you have to do is write captivating content in a way that appeals to your target audience. Make sure it aligns with your blog and of course is attractive enough for somebody to be interested in it.

You can use the SAGE formula to assure your lead magnets are good and attractive.

But wait, you might think what the hell is the SAGE formula?

The S.A.G.E. Formula

S stands for Short. That means that your lead magnets shouldn’t take more than 5 min to be consumed. If you make it too long it will be too overwhelming.

A stands for Actionable. That means that your lead magnets should provide insight, not just information, and should save subscribers time, money, or energy (or all of them). It should also include assignments you want them to complete.

G stands for Goal-Oriented. That means that your lead magnets should get them to make a small step forward as soon as possible, and they will trust you to help them with their bigger goal.

E stands for Easy. That means that instructions in your lead magnets should be simple so beginners can understand them easily. Also, you should use your everyday language to increase consumption and chances of success.

And voila, you have your lead magnet.

Done for You Lead Magnets

Now when it comes to having a done for you lead magnets, I recommend that you get a designer on Fiverr to design it for you, or that you buy private label rights content, or PLR for short, and add your logo to it.

No matter what path you choose, one thing that I want to say is that when it comes to lead magnets, impressions do matter.

This is your chance to make a great first impression with your potential customers. So I highly advise you to come up with your best content that you can and have it all laid out in the most visually appealing way possible.

Good clean designs make your lead magnets much easier to absorb, which gives them the best chance to achieve success with your content.

And that’s what you want.

Okay, let’s talk about hiring a designer first.

On Fiverr, which is the site that I recommend that you visit, a good designer should be able to create a beautiful PDF for your lead magnet, and the whole job will cost you between 5$-50$.

And the cool thing about Fiverr is that you can even search for lead magnets in the search bar, and it will show a lot of designers specialized in creating lead magnets.

The second option is buying private label rights content, or PLR for short, and adding your business name or logo to it.

I want to say that this isn’t my favorite option. But I’ve seen some people have success with this. So I want to include it here because you might find some high-quality PLR content available for redistribution in your niche.

Now in case you’ve never heard of it, PLR is a premade unbranded PDF or video that someone created. It’s like white label products that companies put their label on.

Now the good thing about buying PLR content for your lead magnets is that it’s very affordable, usually under 10$. And it will save you a lot of time because you have everything that you need to make it yours.

Sure, you might need to edit a few things here or there. However, since the big part of the lead magnet is already done for you, you can probably have it ready to go very soon, and this is the quickest option to have a lead magnet.

Here are a few links where you can look for PLR product:

Of course, it does you no good if you can’t get it in front of people, so how do you do that?

How to Offer Your Lead Magnets

The easiest way to do it is to have it live on your website. Here are the 4 best places for your lead magnets:

  • You can have it on the dedicated resources page where all of your lead magnets live in one place. 
  • You can also put together what is called a signature sub footer at the bottom of each page.
  • Another way to do it is to set up a website pop-up so that all visitors to your website are exposed to that offer.
  • Finally, you can have it live on a landing page that is optimized for conversion. This would also give you the ability to send traffic from elsewhere and still have people exposed to your offer.

How to Deliver Your Lead Magnets

I’m going to walk you through delivering your lead magnets to your visitor via email after they opt-in on your squeeze page.

You’ll also show you how to write your thank you email as well as how to host your lead magnet online.

Now, you might be wondering why we don’t just send your subscribers straight to the lead magnet right after they submit their name and email address on your squeeze page.

While you can do this, there is one main reason why you shouldn’t just send them to your lead magnets right away.

By sending your lead magnets in an email that guarantees that they’re giving you a working email address rather than typing anything just to get your free download.

You want their email address so you could follow up with them in the future. Develop relationships by delivering valuable content, learn more about their unique challenges and convert them into customers by selling them your products or your services, and sending them to your affiliate offers.

So now that you know why we deliver lead magnets through email let’s talk about what you need to send an email.

So first step, you’ll need an email service provider, or ESP like Convertkit (affiliate link) , or MailerLite (affiliate link).

And the way it works is once your visitor enters their email address on your squeeze page and hits submit, your ESP will automatically send your new subscriber a thank you message directly to their inbox.

This email will include a link to your lead magnet so that they can download it to their device.

If you don’t have an ESP yet, then I suggest signing up for either Convertkit or Mailerlite. Both of these options are free to start and easy to use.

How to Write an Email That Delivers Your Lead Magnet

Okay, now that you know how email service providers work, let’s get to the actual email that you’ll be writing. Okay, so this email has to be short and sweet.

So the subject line is Thank you. Here’s a free download.

Thanks so much for requesting (insert your lead magnet name). Here’s the link to your download (insert the lead magnet link).

I would love to know a little more about your unique situation when it comes to (your topic).

I’ll be creating new content over the coming weeks, and I want to customize the content to you and help you overcome any obstacle you might be experiencing at the moment.

Please hit reply and take a minute to tell me about your single biggest challenge when it comes to (your topic).

I’ll read your response. And I’ll work on creating content to help you solve your biggest challenge.

And then you write thanks again and talk soon, and you write your name.

You want to ask them what are they struggling with, so you can use responses to create content that will help your subscribers.

You might be wondering how to get the link for your lead magnet in an email. So I’ll quickly show you how to host the file so others can access it online.

How to Store Your Lead Magnets Online

The first step is to go to Dropbox and sign up for a free account. Dropbox is like a virtual hard drive that you can use to store and share files online.

Once you create your free account, you’ll be able to drag the files of your lead magnets, for example, a PDF, to your Dropbox and then grab the share link by clicking the share button, clicking Create Link, and then click the Copy link which copies it to the clipboard.

This is the link that you’ll paste inside your email. If you run into any problems, you can always refer to the dropboxes knowledgebase for help.

Now you know how to write your thank you email that gets sent out after visitors subscribe to your email list and request your lead magnets.

7 Good Lead Magnets Ideas

1. Checklists

Checklists are best converting lead magnets, probably because they are so easily absorbed. They shorten everything that’s needed into one actionable list.

Lead magnet checklist

2. Cheatsheets

Cheatsheets are almost the same thing as checklists, but they give the users a process that they can follow over and over again to gain a particular benefit.

Lead magnet cheatsheet

3. Case Studies

Case studies are real-life representations that show how someone used some product, service, or method. Case studies can help convince your subscribers who are undecided about some product or service.

Lead magnet case study

4. Templates

A template can be anything that delivers a starting point for your subscribers to get something done.

Lead magnet templates

5. Video training

Free training videos are a great way to start a relationship with your audience.

Lead magnet training

6. Quizzes

LeadQuizzes say that the average quiz has a 31.6 percent lead capture rate, which is very high.

Lead magnet quiz

7. Webinars

Webinars are a potent form of lead magnet and a great way to prepare your subscribers for your paying offers.

Lead magnet webinar

Lead Magnet Funnels

First I might start with an explanation of a funnel.

A funnel is the bundle of steps your visitor needs to go through before they’ll reach the conversion.

A lead magnet funnel is just a funnel where you build your list by giving away something in exchange for an email address.

You have to make sure that your lead magnets attract your ideal audience, because the goal after they sign up, is to make them an offer and move them up to your value ladder.

Here is what your typical lead magnet funnel will look like:

Lead magnets funnel map
You can map your funnels like this with funnelytics.io

With lead magnet funnels you can get more high-quality, motivated subscribers and waste much less time going after those who will never purchase anything. 

Watch this short video from Builderall to learn more about what a lead magnet funnel is and how it works.

Getresponse (affiliate link) is one of the few, if not the only one email service provider that offers Lead Magnet Funnel Creator.

Lead magnets funnel creator


That’s it. That’s my lead magnets guide.

I showed you what are lead magnets and how do they work.

You now know what types of lead magnets are there, and which one works best.

I showed you how to create your lead magnets and where you can get done-for-you lead magnets that you can edit and use as fast as possible.

I even showed you how to offer your lead magnets, how to deliver them, how to write an email that delivers them, and where to store your lead magnets online.

Now it’s up to you.

What do you think about this guide? Do you have something to add?

Tell me in the comments.

Anthony Miller is a blogger and freelance writer who helps busy bloggers get long-form, SEO-optimized content for their blogs, so they can focus on other important aspects of their online businesses.

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Lead Magnet Cheatsheet

If you're having a hard time growing your email list, and if it has become a pain in the you-know-what then get this great, quick, practical, and to the point cheatsheet. I really recommend it to those who want to learn how to create effective lead magnets.

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