What is a lead magnet and how do you design one?

A lead magnet is an engaging piece of content that you offer to potential clients in exchange for their contact information. It could be an ebook, a whitepaper, a blog post, or a video - the most important thing is that your lead magnet is attractive to your target audience.
July 10, 2020 |
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How to create a lead magnet: Larry’s top tips


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Quick guide: how to create and market a lead magnet


  1. Identify your goals and KPIs
  2. Choose your buyer persona
  3. Summarise your value proposition
  4. Generate lead magnet ideas
  5. Create and design your lead magnet
  6. Market your lead magnet 

Step-by-step: creating and marketing a lead magnet

Before we get started… what is a lead magnet?

A lead magnet is an enticing piece of content that you place behind a data wall in order to gain prospect details. The idea of lead magnet marketing is to create a content piece so irresistible that your prospects happily hand over their contact details and enter your database in order to access it.

Lead magnets come in many different forms, including:

  • Whitepapers
  • eBooks 
  • Blog posts (how-to guides and in-depth advisory articles are popular)
  • Videos 
  • Webinars 
  • Free consultations
  • Infographics
  • Slideshows


Lead generation marketing jargon buster

Lead generation marketing – the process of attracting and converting your prospects through marketing campaigns
Lead magnet – a helpful piece of content that prospects can download in exchange for giving their contact information, and entering your database
Warm leads – prospects who have warmed up to the idea of converting with you, as they move to the middle of the funnel
Hot leads – prospects who are looking very positively inclined towards conversion
Marketing Qualified Lead – a prospect who has indicated an interest in your brand or product offering after seeing your marketing activity
Sales Qualified Lead – a prospect who has passed the lead scoring criteria and is ready to be contacted by your sales team
Sales Accepted Lead – a marketing qualified lead that has been reviewed and passed to the sales team for approval
Lead Scoring – assigning a quality score to your leads so that you can determine which ones are ready to send to the sales team, which still need nurturing with further marketing activity, and which are not viable and need to be removed from your database
Top of the funnel (TOFU) – awareness stage marketing, casting a wide net to attract prospects
Middle of the funnel (MOFU) – consideration stage marketing, highlighting the benefits of your offering and building trust
Bottom of the funnel (BOFU) – convincing your prospects to convert, providing a time-sensitive offer or incentive

Step 1: identify your goals and KPIs

What are your reasons for creating a lead magnet? What goals are you looking to achieve? It’s important to have your KPIs in mind before starting to plan. 

Here are some typical KPIs associated with lead generation campaigns that involve lead magnet creation:

  • Increase volume of sales-qualified leads 
  • Improve quality of leads entering your marketing funnel 
  • Increase revenue by attracting higher value prospects

Think also about the goals of your overall marketing campaign and how crafting a lead magnet will help you to achieve this. 

Step 2: choose your buyer persona

Every lead magnet should be designed with a specific buyer persona in mind. This will ensure that the information contained within it is timely, relevant, and operates as a strong enough hook to get your prospects to exchange their contact details for a download link or access code. 

Typically when creating personas, we factor in the below criteria:

  • Basic profiling information: Age, gender, location
  • Professional information: Job title, seniority, years of experience, career level, sector, industry
  • Personal information: Living situation, kids yes/no, hobbies, interests, causes 
  • Motivations: Personal and professional goals and objectives, drives, ambitions, and objections

You may also choose to factor in specific additional information that is relevant to your campaign, such as:

  • Favourite foods, music taste, movie preferences
  • Travel history, frequency of trips, interest in new locations 
  • Political views and religious affiliations 

Once you have defined the targeting criteria for your persona, you can create a backstory to help you visualise them when creating marketing funnels or lead magnets. 

For more advice on persona creation, read our in-depth blog post, “How To Create Powerful Marketing Personas”.

Step 3: summarise your value proposition

What is the one thing that your business can offer this persona group, which nobody else can? How would you extrapolate this information into a useful and engaging content piece, based on a relevant topic? 

Case Study: Harnessing Value Proposition For Agriculture SaaS Lead Magnet

For example, a recent client in the SAAS sector needed to create a campaign to promote their newly launched satellite monitoring system for agriculture clients. In order to capture prospects’ contact details, they wanted to provide a valuable and engaging lead magnet on a relevant topic to a specific key persona group. 

We defined their unique value proposition as complete, continuous asset monitoring, something which helped their clients to predict and prevent failure – saving millions of pounds every year. 

In order to harness the value proposition effectively, we created a lead magnet that posed the question “How Can Satellite Data Solve a $300 Billion Pipeline Problem?” Within this whitepaper, written by an industry specialist, we then examined the state of the industry, the financial implications of not having continuous monitoring in place, and how the company’s solution was the answer. 

This lead magnet went on to form part of a highly successful lead generation campaign, netting the client hundreds of qualified leads over an initial four-month period.

When defining your value proposition, start to think about what sort of useful and interesting content this could translate into, which would be relevant for your defined persona group.

Step 4: generate lead magnet ideas

Now that you know what your KPIs are, which persona you are targeting, and what your value proposition is, you can start to generate lead magnet ideas. 

In order to be effective, your lead magnet should do one of three things for its target audience:

  • Solve a problem
  • Serve a need
  • Answer a question

Based on the above, think about which approach would work best for your lead magnet, factoring in the following considerations:

  • What sort of mood is your prospect going to be in when purchasing a product like yours? Is it a fun/exciting purchase, a necessary one or a preventative one? For instance, if you were selling funeral plans or seeking charity donations, a lighthearted article might not be appropriate. On the other hand, if you are selling once in a lifetime trips abroad, an exciting travel guide filled with fun and inspiring content would be ideal. Gauge the mood and intent of your buyer before planning your lead magnet.
  • What kind of content is already freely available and not behind a data wall? There is little point in you pouring time and effort into creating a killer lead magnet only to find that an equivalent article is already easily accessible to your prospects online; if they don’t have to part with contact details to get what they need, they’ll choose not to.
  • How interested are your prospects in the potential topic? It’s important to remember that while you may find a potential focus fascinating, it may not be as appealing to your persona group. Always be asking yourself, is this content dry/tired/done before/lackluster? Will it be distinct enough to warrant downloads?
  • Can you weave the narrative into a cohesive and engaging story? Even if your article is on a serious topic, you should still focus on telling a great story in order to keep the content engaging.
  • Have you got the necessary time, resources and budget to do the idea justice? Don’t half-heartedly produce content. It’s better to create a short, helpful piece than to wade into an indepth topic or commit to a big budget video or multimedia offering and then find out two months later it’s taken you way over budget and blown your campaign time frames.

Once you’ve got six or seven interesting ideas for lead magnets, whittle it down to three with the most potential. Then plan out what the article skeleton or asset outline would look like for those pieces, and write a short, snappy blurb for each, as if you were producing an ad. Which one stands out the most and best meets the needs of your persona group? That’s your lead magnet.

Step 5: create and design your lead magnet

Take the lead magnet outline you’ve just created, and use it to flesh out your content into a full piece. Pay close attention to the design, layout and visuals – the more visually arresting and engaging your content is, the more likely your prospect is to read through to the end and absorb all the information about your service or product offering. 

As mentioned above, your goal is to tell a cohesive, engaging story. Set out your article with a beginning, middle and end, weaving your narrative through until it reaches a satisfactory conclusion. 

If you are producing a video or an interactive media asset, such as VR, AR or an app, make sure that the quality, design and branding of your asset is reflective of your persona group’s preferences, biases and expectations. For instance, there’s no point in wasting time creating a VR experience of trying on your luxury men’s trainers if the experience is not premium and of the quality level expected by this audience. Similarly, there is no point in designing an app to market your SaaS service offering, if the technology used to deliver the app is slow, clunky or cumbersome.

For more in-depth information about how to create and design a lead magnet, take a look at this excellent guide from Hubspot.

Step 6: market your lead magnet

Now that you’ve successfully created your lead magnet, you’re going to be eager to implement it in your marketing campaign. Here are a few considerations when marketing your lead magnet:

  1. Craft engaging adverts promoting the lead magnet and linking through to the download form. These ads should utilise the same tone and style as the lead magnet itself, be visually appealing (try to use imagery from the lead magnet for consistency) and have a strong call to action
  2. Plan your prospect’s journey from downloading the lead magnet to entering your marketing funnels and being nurtured into a sales-ready lead.
  3. Continually tweak, test and learn – don’t be afraid to ask sales-ready leads who have engaged with your lead magnet what they thought of it, if it was useful, if there was anything they wish had been included that wasn’t, or anything they didn’t agree with. Use the stats you glean from running the campaign to determine click through rates, click to open rates and engagement statistics – are people reading the whole guide, do they use links or interactive features within it? Do they actively engage with any CTAs you’ve placed within the lead magnet?
  4. Don’t ever consider your lead magnet a dead resource that can simply be thrown out there and never looked at again. Even if your industry is slow moving and statistics are rarely updated, make an effort to update the information, imagery and key takeaways within your lead magnet on a semi-regular basis.

Now that your lead magnets are ready and your campaigns are running,  it’s time to move on to the next lead magnet!

Remember, if you need any help crafting your lead magnets or setting up your lead generation campaigns, you can request a FREE initial consultation with The Brains, London’s leading digital marketing agency. We’re here to help you supercharge your growth and ensure your marketing activity is fully optimised.


Not sure about any of the steps in this guide?

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