Ashlee Sierra

I can’t have been the only kid who loved playing with every magnet I found around the house. It was the kind of science that made the most sense to me — positive and negative, attraction and repulsion. To this day, I’m still quietly fascinated by what a magnet can do.

Especially in the digital marketing world.

OK, OK — so a “lead magnet” and a “fridge magnet” aren’t the same thing, but it’s a similar idea. We’re talking about attracting something — in this case, a lead — with the power of science. We’re also talking about what happens when you use the wrong magnet and accidentally repel your lead.

A lead magnet is an asset that attracts leads to your website and encourages them to exchange contact information for highly relevant content. As you can imagine, there are plenty of best practices that go into this kind of lead generation — and a ton of great magnet examples, too.

Let’s have fun with magnets.

The Truth About Lead Magnets

We’ve established that lead magnets don’t stick to the fridge and that they’re a tool in your digital marketing toolbox. But what do these magnets really look like? How do they work? Where do they live on your website?

Before you can answer any of these questions, it’s important to understand what we’re working with here — and that’s leads.

Leveraging Leads

Leads are people or organizations that represent an opportunity for your company. They’ve likely encountered you before, either directly (commenting on a social media post) or indirectly (hearing about your product or service from friends). They can be drawn to your business in a variety of ways, but what makes them a “lead” is their potential to officially become a customer.

Organic lead generation takes many forms; as you’ve probably guessed, lead magnets are just one example. Depending on the approach you take, you may generate or attract different leads:

  • Marketing-qualified lead (MQL): An MQL is in the earlier stages of the customer journey and is essentially ready to be marketed to. They may not be receptive to a hard sales pitch and must be handled with care.
  • Sales-qualified lead (SQL): An SQL has been researched by one or more of your internal teams and is ready to become a proper customer. They may have previously been an MQL, or you may have brought them in from scratch.

Leads can also have different quality levels. A low-quality lead generally needs a ton of convincing, nurturing and support to become an SQL, while a high-quality lead may have researched your product already and just needs a nudge.

Mastering Magnets

Now that we know what a lead is, let’s take a closer look at lead magnets.

  • Function: The main purpose of a lead magnet is to attract leads to your company with the promise of intriguing content at no charge (except their email addresses, of course).
  • Format: A lead magnet can take many forms, but it’s most often a case study, white paper, eBook or similar asset; it is rarely, if ever, a blog post or landing page.
  • Value: When working with lead magnets, value matters. An eBook or case study may be the magnet itself, but value is the magnetic force — the thing that actively draws in leads and keeps them close. As such, your magnet content needs to be high-quality, interesting and relevant to your target audience.
  • Access: Lead magnets generally live on your website. They likely have a landing page that summarizes the asset, tells leads what benefits they can expect from downloading it and asks for contact information. 

These are all the foundations of an effective lead magnet — but you still have to build on this foundation. That means you need to create an asset that attracts leads instead of repelling them.

Attracting Leads

You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. Your leads aren’t flies, of course — but the point remains. It’s up to you to create a magnet that purposefully, effectively brings leads to your business. That means offering content they can’t get anywhere else — little-known tips, unique perspectives, original research, customized plans and anything else that will help simplify their business or personal life.

Repelling Leads

If you spent a lot of time playing with magnets like I did, then you know exactly how it feels to try forcing two magnets together when they’re actively repelling one another. The same is true when it comes to lead magnets. If you repeatedly offer content your audience has no interest in — or, worse, choose topics that make them dislike or distrust your brand — they’ll be repelled instead of attracted. 

How Lead Magnets Fit Into Your Marketing Strategy

The thing about magnets, as any real-world application will prove, is that they don’t usually work alone. A fridge magnet needs a fridge, right? 

This goes for your lead magnets, too. By themselves, they’re just quiet assets, waiting for someone to accidentally stumble upon them — an unlikely event, especially when there’s so much other content out there. However, if you add them to your digital marketing toolbox and use everything else at your disposal, those magnets become a lot more powerful.

Here are a few ways a great lead magnet can benefit from and complement other parts of your marketing strategy:

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Imagine you have a giant magnet. To attract as much as possible, not only you should identify best places to sell online but also create magnet that has a stand or frame of some kind — something that puts it in a good position, increases its range and helps it do its job more effectively.

That’s what SEO is to lead magnets.

SEO takes many forms, from keywords in a blog post to a well-written title tag for your landing page. Your ultimate goal is to make search engines see value in your content so they’ll recommend it to people searching for related topics and products. This means that, the better you are at SEO, the more likely it is that your lead magnet will attract the right people — and lots of them. 

Of course, this relationship goes both ways. Lead magnets can also benefit other SEO endeavors:

  • Keywords: It’s not always easy to organically and creatively use common search terms without resorting to bad habits like keyword stuffing. Promoting and offering your lead magnet assets gives you a chance to use high-value keywords in titles, landing pages, calls-to-action (CTAs) and more.
  • User experience: Search engines prefer websites that are always up-to-date, user-friendly and engaging. Lead magnets help optimize your site in all these ways and more.
  • Intent: When a search engine attempts to categorize or otherwise understand your website, it looks for anything that indicates your intent. A lead magnet asset is an opportunity to clearly state what you offer, why you’re unique and why customers should care.
  • Internal linking: Every time you link to your lead magnet’s landing page as a CTA or reference in a blog post, you’re building up your internal linking strategy — one more thing search engines like to see.

Blog Posts

A blog post is the perfect way to promote your lead magnets. Blog posts can be shorter than an eBook, white paper or case study, allowing them to cover key topics and summarize important ideas without “giving anything away.” Blog posts are to lead magnets as teaser trailers are to your favorite movies.

Say you’re in the business of selling actual magnets, and you just wrote an eBook about how to use magnets in manufacturing. To build hype around the new asset, you might write a blog post about magnets in various industries — and when you mention manufacturing as an example, you have the perfect excuse to push your new asset.

Social Marketing

Social media is flexible, fun and informative. It’s also highly visual. That means you could take your lead magnet asset, pull out the most interesting stats and visualize them with an eye-catching graphic (and a powerful caption, of course). You can also play with emojis, short-form video content, hashtags and other approaches to help your audience see that lead magnet through a fun social media lens.

On the other side of the coin, you can use lead magnets to drive social media engagement. Encourage leads to share their thoughts on their favorite social site — that way, they’ll encourage their friends and followers to check out your content, too.

Email Campaigns

Lead magnets and email campaigns have an interesting relationship. In some cases, a lead magnet can be used to generate email leads; in other cases, email campaigns drive people to download the lead magnet.

In the first example, your magnet asset is supporting your email marketing approach. That’s pretty clear, as you’d need to get email addresses before you can begin your campaign.

But what about the second example? If you already have those email addresses, why push the magnet asset to these people in the first place? The answer is value. You’ve already created this asset — so offering it up won’t cost much time, money or energy, even if you don’t get the same direct benefits. Plus, it can help flesh out an email campaign that’s promoting other assets — and it can nurture a deeper relationship with leads who may not be sales-qualified just yet.

Lead Nurturing

Speaking of lead nurturing — what happens after a lead downloads your magnet asset? The good news is that the marketing relationship doesn’t end, and neither do your opportunities for success. Instead, you get the chance to interact with leads in more specific ways.

Let’s go back to the example of the eBook about magnets in the manufacturing industry. Once a lead has downloaded this asset, you have their email address — which means you can follow up. That could be an email campaign with more manufacturing content supporting the eBook, a direct message from your magnet sales department or even a personalized offer. Better yet, if your eBook is structured with questions and key takeaways, you can encourage leads to reach out to you to learn more.

Biggest Benefits of Lead Magnets

A great lead magnet isn’t just a way to boost your content marketing efforts or give yourself something to talk about on social media. Instead, lead magnets are a powerful tool, and they come with all kinds of unique benefits:

  • Simplicity: Lead magnets aren’t necessarily easy to research, create or market — but the reality is that you probably already have all the information you need to get started. That’s especially true if you choose to focus your energy on thought leadership content, which not only creates value for your audience but also positions your business as a creative mind in your industry.
  • Perception: Everybody likes free stuff, right? When people find your lead magnet asset, they’ll realize they’re trading email addresses for content — but if you give them something they actually want, they won’t complain. Instead, they’ll see you as an honest business giving them the freedom to provide contact info of their own volition (instead of purchasing it without their knowledge or permission).
  • Quality leads: When you create and position your lead magnet content in the right way, you’ll attract the right people. After all, the average internet user probably wouldn’t download that eBook about magnets and manufacturing — but someone who has interest in the industry definitely would. Right away, you’re weeding out lower-quality leads.
  • Bragging: You probably wouldn’t want to create a lead magnet that’s all about how great you are — but if you play your cards right, you can make the same point without being obvious. For example, by explaining an in-depth process to potential customers, you’re proving that you have experience and expertise — and that you’re more than capable of using that knowledge effectively.

3 Lead Magnet Examples (And How to Make Them Yours)

There’s a lot of power in a lead magnet. That’s because you don’t have to limit yourself to a single approach — or even a single kind of asset. Magnets come in all shapes and sizes, and so do leads — which means a quiz might capture one potential customer’s attention, while another might not be interested until you promise an exclusive offer.

Check out these lead magnet examples to see what works and what you can learn from the pros:

Financial Worksheets and Calculators – Clever Girl Finance

Have you ever wished your budget would just do itself? I don’t have a marketing tool for that, unfortunately — but I do have an example of a lead magnet that can help you out.

This is Clever Girl Finance, and they offer a free library of financial assets — 40+ worksheets and counting.

lead magnets clever girl

Of course, if you want access to all that good stuff, you’ll have to give up your contact information.

lead magnets clever girl finance

The familiar setup might make this seem like your run-of-the-mill lead magnet idea, but the magic is in what’s being offered. This isn’t just one worksheet or one financial calculator — it’s a whole library. The landing page even takes the time to explain what you’ll get with your download, how you’ll benefit and how you can use your new financial tools.

The takeaway: Think of email addresses as payment. What are leads willing to “pay” for, and how much do you need to offer to make them a deal they can’t refuse?

What Type of Beardsman Are You? – Beardbrand

Confession: I don’t have a beard. That’s why I was fascinated to take this Beardbrand quiz that promised to tell me how my (non-existent) beard defines my personality.

lead magnets beardbrand

After a series of short, fun questions, Beardbrand hit me with this bad boy: a final, unskippable box asking for my email address. I could leave the site, sure — but then I’d never learn what kind of beardsman I am.

lead magnets beardbrand 2

This is a good structure for a lead magnet. After all, the quiz has intrigued me, and now I need to know my results — but there’s also “something special” in the first email, and I want to know what that is, too. Long story short, I — the owner of exactly 0 beard — am now subscribed to a beard-care newsletter.

The takeaway: When possible, make sure your lead magnet generates interest before ever asking for email addresses. That way, people feel like they’re missing out if they don’t take that next step.

Build Your Own Toyota – Toyota

Let’s say that, like me, you’re a fan of red trucks. You head to the Toyota website to build your dream vehicle, and it comes out looking something like this:

lead magnets toyota

Nice, right? Now, if you want to share this beautiful truck with your friends, Toyota has a handy feature allowing you to send your build specifications via email:

lead magnets toyota 2

This is an interesting lead magnet structure. You’re clearly entering your own email address and name, which means Toyota gets details about who’s interested in a potential purchase. However, you’re not trading contact information for an eBook or case study; you’re getting a more permanent version of something you created — which means Toyota didn’t have to worry about writing, formatting and marketing their own asset. In many ways, you just did the marketing work yourself.

The takeaway: You don’t always have to use the traditional lead magnet format. Let copies or downloads of user-created content be your gated asset instead.

3 Ideas for Building New Lead Magnets

Now that you’re an expert on quality content marketing, lead magnets and maybe even what kind of beardsman you are, it’s time to level up your inbound lead generation.

Here’s a lead magnet idea or two to help you build your own:

1. Lead Magnets Should Be Gated.

You’ve probably guessed by now that a lead magnet doesn’t really do its job if it doesn’t gather email addresses. The concept or promise of your content draws people in, but they won’t stick around if you don’t keep that magnetic attraction as strong as possible — and to do that, you need contact info.

When people try to access your lead magnet, they should be asked to enter their email address at the very least. You can ask other questions, too, but be careful; leads might lose interest if you try to drag things out or if you’re making them work too hard for the asset.

2. Forms Should Deploy Autoresponder Emails.

As soon as a lead has provided their email address, you’ll want to reach out to them. An autoresponder email does the work for you. These can be welcome messages, introductions to the asset or just a quick thank-you note for downloading your content. 

Why does this matter? Well, an initial email warms up the user’s inbox to your IP address. They’ll likely go looking for this email — and they might even hunt it down if it ends up in their spam folder — because they know to expect it and are already interested.

Just remember that there should always be a link to the asset in your automatic follow-up email. That’s not just to make things easier for the lead; it’s also a way to keep them coming back — because if they lose the link to your content, they might lose interest, too.

3. Follow-Ups Should Be Performed Carefully.

If you’re going to continue sending emails to this lead, do so carefully. You don’t want to flood their inbox, but you also don’t want them to forget about you — so it’s generally best to wait around a week before following up.

When you do send another email or message, remember to provide clear value. Ask a question about the content, offer help or even provide additional resources that complement the original asset. 

Depending on the nature of the lead magnet and the quality of the lead, you might be able to take things a step further by pitching services or offering exclusive deals. In some cases, you can also use dynamic forms to get additional information from people who have already downloaded your content. For example, maybe a user is presented with a lead magnet form asking for their first and last name, their email address and their company name. When the user returns to download a second asset, the new form asks for their first name and email to connect the record, but also asks for their job title. Now you have a new piece of information and the user doesn’t feel burdened by a questionnaire.

Become A Lead Generation Leader

Lead generation isn’t always easy — even with an effective magnet at your disposal. The good news is that there are plenty of creative ways to offer value to potential customers without asking much in return. All you have to do is think about who your audience is, what they want and how you can provide it to them. (Of course, a little SEO know-how, a nice landing page and some good content marketing go a long way, too).

As you become a lead generation leader, remember the science of magnets — and how it all comes down to attracting the right people.