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Christie McDougall

Christie McDougall

How to get new business leads: your comprehensive Lead Magnet toolkit

Chances are you may have already downloaded a Lead Magnet but not even realised it. Lead magnets are any type of marketing offer made in exchange for contact information (usually an email address) that allows a business to follow-up with someone who is either ready to make a purchase or who is likely to make one in the future.

Lead magnets are usually used for products or services that are of high value and high complexity (see our Social Content Ecosystem article for more information on this), and that aren’t likely to be ‘impulse purchases’ made online. Highly complex and high-value products or services such as a real estate agency or financial planning firm will need to “nurture” customers towards purchasing because people are not likely to part with large amounts of money to strangers – and fair enough! You would be pretty freaked out if someone you met in a pub suddenly asked you to marry them.  That’s where Lead Magnets come into their own in terms of value – it’s like the first date, which is far more reasonable to ask for.

The best lead magnets:

  • Feel like they are worth a lot, and deliver on that promise of value (it shouldn’t be information you could find for free)
  • Are really specific in terms of meeting the needs or concerns of your target market
  • Speak to a known and desired end result
  • Offer immediate gratification
  • Begin a positive relationship with your brand (i.e. the kind of first date that leaves you smiling)
  • Are rapidly consumed and leave the customer wanting the next step up (i.e. make them keen for that next date!)

Things to note with lead magnets:

  • The better your offer, the more questions you can ask up front in exchange for it and subsequently the more qualified your lead will be
  • You can also ‘value-stack’ by offering more than one item in a lead magnet to increase its value (e.g. free consultation plus PDF e-book)

There are lots of different types of lead magnets, but here are the top 15 that work like a charm!

Lead Magnet Options

  1. The Free Offer

This can include free software or tool download, a free trial of a product, sample or membership to an online community.

  1. The Checklist

Checklists eliminate guesswork and are very clear on what users need to do to accomplish a desired result or goal.

  1. The Coupon or Exclusive Deal

This could also include offers like free shipping or a discount off the first shop, and works well as people like to know they are saving money (and how much they are saving).

  1. The Assessment, Test or Quiz

Visitors get a brief overview of the benefits to taking the short (no more than 5minute) assessment. At the end of the assessment, they are asked to input their email in order to see their results. For example, “What will your retirement look like? Answer 8 simple questions to see”. Results are obviously broad range and the quiz usually appeals to a person’s sense of vanity or curiosity. This could also be used to help someone better understand their circumstances, for example, we recently created a lead magnet for an Aged Care provider designed to help them know if their parent was ready to enter into residential aged care.

  1. The Swipe File or Cheatsheet

A swipe file is a collection of templates that people can use to achieve a goal or desired outcome. This is helpful, as people love examples of how to do things, especially if it removes some of the guesswork from their jobs. This usually focuses on providing a solution to a problem. An example of this could be providing email templates or pre-designed flier templates etc.

  1. The Webinar, Recorded Video Training or Workshop

This offers a specific solution to a particular problem or teaches people how to achieve certain goals, without them having to spend lots of time reading and researching. Webinars are also interactive and allow for questions, which is a great way of getting people to interact with your brand and subsequently build trust.

  1. The White paper, Case Study or Market Overview

A case study demonstrates how a strategy was used to achieve a goal, how it was implemented and its results, or preferably successes. By offering one of these, you are letting potential customers know that you understand your industry deeply, and that others have seen success by using your product and services. This can be particularly useful for business-to-business (B2B) marketing too. It not only establishes you as an industry leader but encourages others on how they could achieve success too.

  1. The Toolkit

This offers visitors a free report, usually a PDF, with a simple list of tools that were used to achieve an outcome or result. This can also include links to relevant websites that will help people achieve a goal. For example, “How I used my iPhone to create videos for my business – get all the tools I used”.

  1. The Free Consultation or Quote

This offers potential clients a specified amount of your time at no cost to them, however, should still be about how you that you will help them in some manner, not just an open opportunity to sell to them. To encourage people that this offer actually has value it should be specific. For example, rather than just a “Free Consultation”, you could offer “A free financial assessment”.

  1. The Detailed Sales Material Offer

Offering detailed information that would usually only be offered during a consultation. This could also be in the form of a product catalogue or listing, or even the first part of your course or product.

  1. The E-Book, Guide or Report

This is probably the most common type of lead magnet and is often automated so that people get the report emailed to them as soon as they sign up. Offers usually include some kind of consolidated news, best practice or how-to information on a particular topic of relevance. This type of lead magnet should solve a particular problem for the reader, and be information that they wouldn’t be able to find elsewhere easily.

  1. The Infographic or Printable

This would need to be something really useful or ascetically pleasing that makes people want to put it up somewhere in their workplace or home and typically reminds them of something important or useful. It could also be something of use to help them organise or easily manage something – for example a Christmas Organiser or Budget Planner.

  1. The Calendar

This does not necessarily refer to a yearly calendar but would revolve around tasks or things to be done at specific points throughout the year. This would be really specific, for example, things to do over the space of 12 months to save for Christmas or things to do each month to keep your garden growing beautifully etc.

  1. The Newsletter

This would be an ongoing offer of interesting articles relevant to your industry, along with 5-10 quick tips for using your tool or service. This can be done weekly, fortnightly, monthly or quarterly. This type of lead magnet would probably be less likely to work unless the person already is quite familiar with your brand and knows that you offer good value.

  1. The Coaching or Mentorship Giveaway

This does not mean giving unrestricted access to your time, but could be a 30min coaching session and could be done in the form of a Skype or a phone call. You could even host a Google Hangout and include more than one person.

Another Option instead of Lead Magnets is Trip Wires

This is an offer of a really great deal upfront (e.g. a product or service of high value that is offered at a significantly discounted price). This will generate fewer signups as you are asking for money upfront, however, 100% of them will already be customers who you already know are willing to part with their cash. It can include online software membership, e-course, or having a book or toolkit delivered on a USB or CD.


Lead magnets are only the first step – a way to get your foot in the door. They begin the relationship and establish trust so that after a few more touch points (for example an email journey or sequence) you can ask for something bigger or of more value like a sale. In order for them to work successfully you should design them backwards, and no I don’t mean back to front! Know what you want your final offer to be (for example, purchasing a $1000 financial planning course) BEFORE you design your free upfront offer. Your offers should correlate or lead onto one another, so if your lead magnet is a free Christmas planning calendar, then people are going to be really confused and not sign up for your final offer.

You should also consider all your touchpoints in between the first and last offer and consider each one an opportunity to educate potential customers about your industry, your business and why they need your product. This needs to be done subtly however because if you slam them with hard car-salesman type content upfront you are going to annoy them rather than build trust.

It’s a fine balance, but a highly worthwhile technique once perfected. If you need help or would like advice on how to create and implement a successful lead magnet system then give us a call – we’re always happy to help!


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Christie McDougall
Christie McDougall

Christie is our Digital Strategy manager and looks after our playbook process. Although she is most skilled in Social Media and PPC and helped TheOnlineCo. achieved Facebook Marketing Partner status, she has a comprehensive and thorough knowledge of marketing in a digital world. She uses her talents in strategy and planning to help clients understand exactly how to grow their business online and have all their marketing efforts pulling together in a collaborative effort, thereby achieving scale and cost efficiencies.

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