Online success: Lead Magnet Ideas That will Grow Your Audience

Get Results: Opt in incentives
Get Results: Opt in incentives

What is a Lead Magnet and why is it important?

Lead Magnets otherwise known as “opt-in bribes” or “opt-in incentives” are the little bonuses you promise your website visitors in exchange for their email address.

Why do you want their email address you may ask, well you want it so that you have a method of contact, a direct way of keeping in touch with them, so that you can let them know when you have something to share.

Imagine what would happen if your website crashed and your audience couldn’t find it, you could simply send them an email to let them know where they can continue to follow you while it’s down and explain what has happened.

If you have a time sensitive offer that needs to be acted on quickly, you could easily send them an email to make them aware of it.

Getting your audience’s email doesn’t mean you should keep pestering them with endless communication. But it’s a way you can keep in touch with them directly, rather than hoping they can still find you or them having to keep checking your site to find new content.

In fact growing an email list is one of the most important things you should be doing in your efforts for on-line success, no matter what type of business you run, whether it is an e-commerce site, an affiliate site, or a site that just provides information, like this one.

You’ll need three things to grow your list, an opt-in form on your site, an auto-responder service (sends automatic emails to subscribers) and a lead magnet (see below for examples)

The list below is a general lead magnet list, but when you create a lead magnet yourself, obviously, you should make it relevant to your business/niche. It’s no good offering a recipe download when you’re in the furniture restoration niche.

Make sure it provides value in some way, and is not available elsewhere on your website without your visitors, first, exchanging their email address.

Lead magnets can come in the form of a PDF document, HTML page, video, audio file, slide presentation, or whatever best suits the content you’re providing. People like to have something they can keep and is easily accessible on their preferred device, whether that be phone or computer, and preferably, without having to go on-line to access it, so make it downloadable, where possible.

Lead magnet ideas

White papers – A white paper is an authoritative guide or report designed so the reader can understand a specific topic or issue. Traditionally they have been used by government bodies and business to business (B2B) marketing.

Re-organised blog posts – Put existing content into a PDF download and call it an e-book – Blog posts aren’t always particularly well organised, they are rarely in the best order to be able to consume information about a specific topic, but rather, in the sequence they were written and posted. So if you write an article about say, lead magnets and then do another post about the subject taken from a different perspective, some months later, the two posts may be separated by other content, which means the audience have to search for the two posts separately. If you’re organised you should link the two posts via page links, but many times this doesn’t happen. You could even put them under their own specific category, but if you talk about a lot of topics, this could become unwieldy. So putting the posts into one document and offering it as a lead magnet could be beneficial to the reader.

Ebooks – are one of the most popular choices as an opt-in bribe. They range from a few pages, up to hundreds of pages in length and are usually in PDF file format. If you’re very knowledgeable about your subject, share it in an ebook

Recipes – we used recipes in an early example of what not to do, but they’re a great idea as long as you”re doing a cooking related blog.

Resource lists – People love resource lists because they provide tools that actually help get things done. I have a resource list here, that you can check out

“How to…” guides/tutorials – Another favourite of many blogs. Teach people to do something that’s important in achieving their goal or solving a problem. These can be in text form as a PDF file or in video/audio format. If you’re going the way of video, host them on platforms such as Youtube or Wistia, you can always embed them within your blog posts, on your own website. Make sure that you don’t list them publicly though, otherwise, people won’t need to exchange their email address, to access them, they’ll simply go to your Youtube channel to view them.

Tips and tricks – if you have any nifty short cuts or other time saving tips and advice, when doing something specific, or using a particular piece of software, then share these with your audience via an opt-in.

Case studies – If you can access case studies that prove a point or show some achievement, relating to your niche, share them.

Quiz or Competition – Allow people to enter a competition or quiz in exchange for that all important email address. People love to spend time doing quizzes and winning prizes.

Offer a link to a Questions and Answers or a Frequently Asked questions document where you spell out important information that you know your audience are desperate to know the answers to.

Provide a “5/10/20” day training series in return for an email. A multiple video training series gives your audience an ideal opportunity to get to know you a little better We’re conditioned to deal with people face to face, and while this is not always possible, video allows viewers to see the person behind the brand. Make sure you give them some great information to-boot, and you’ve got a very compelling persuader.

Here are some other opt-in incentive ideas:

  • Tools, calculators, worksheets, templates, checklists
  • Ask for contribution/comment
  • Dates in the industry
  • Customer/company success stories
  • Something humorous (ie a story, anecdote)
  • Interesting statistics
  • Run a survey
  • Debunk the myth of…
  • Interview your client/supplier/yourself/industry leader/influencer
  • Tell a story
  • Reviews
  • What’s new/hot in your niche
  • Your opinion on (your industry, economic trends, best practice)
  • Discount
  • Software
  • Consultation
  • Free trial
  • Physical gift
  • Notification for future announcement
  • Newsletter/webinar registration
  • Notification of latest blog posts

The “Take Away”

The more perceived value your audience sees in your lead magnet, the more likely they are to opt-in. The best advice I can give you is, test different options and see what work for your particular niche. Use best practices as a starting point, and build on these, but you won’t know what’s best for you and your audience until you try and compare results.

There is some evidence that offering different lead magnets on individual articles, relating to the content of that article, can significantly increase opt-in rates, and this seems logical when you think about it.

If you have a site wide opt-in for say, “Facebook lead generation tips” and this appears at the bottom of an article about “Creating Content”, they reader is unlikely to find your lead magnet offer interesting, because it’s not relevant to their interest at that time, and as a result, they will most likely leave after reading the article without opting in. However if it was relevant to the content, they would surely find it more compelling to opt-in.

The added benefit of this approach is you are segmenting your audience into their specific interests based on which offer they opted in to. They may find multiple lead magnets also more engaging and encourage them to hang around on your site longer.

I recently read an article by Jeff Bullas that talked about “Content Upgrades” being an effective lead generator. Basically a Content Upgrade is something that is related to your article that adds extra value. So it could be a PDF version of the article that the audience can download and store on their device, or a checklist version of the article containing the main take-away points from the article. It could even be a video or audio version of the article containing extra value in the form of extra information or deeper insights into the material.


Getting email addresses from prospective customers should be one of the main objectives for your website, and lead magnets are one of the most effective tools available to you in achieving that objectives. It’s considered much easier to get new visitors to part with their email address, than it is to part with their money, so selling the click, is a sensible marketing strategy for new visitors, who don’t yet know you.

Use your email communication to build trust, liking and credibility in the eyes of the receiver, all which are needed before people will part with their hard earned money, and buy from you.

For more marketing information, check out our marketing guide.