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

If you’re eager to build up your email list and drive sales, it’s likely you’ve heard all about the benefits of lead magnets. But what is a lead magnet exactly, and how can you build an effective lead magnet for your business? Are lead magnets really the silver bullet that could take your business to the next level?

what is a lead magnet - The Brains
July 10, 2020
15 mins to read
what is a lead magnet - The Brains

Email marketing is a hugely valuable tool businesses use to generate interest in their products and services while increasing conversion rates. Done right, email marketing can build brand awareness, and credibility, boost sales and build strong customer relationships. Lead magnets, especially e-commerce lead magnets are a great way to build your email list.

In this guide, we’ll explore exactly what lead magnets are. We’ll cover what makes for a good lead magnet and how to reach potential customers with the perfect lead magnet. We’ll also talk you through how to create and market a lead magnet in six straightforward steps.

If you’re not sure about any of the steps in this guide, or you’d like some personalised advice from a funnel marketing expert, feel free to request a FREE digital marketing consultation.

What is a lead magnet?

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.

For a lead magnet to do its job and encourage prospects to sign up and enter your marketing database, it must be an enticing piece of content, placed behind a data wall. 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.

However, as you may already know, people are not usually willing to hand over their personal information without getting something in return. This is known as a value exchange; their data in exchange for your lead magnet. Therefore, a lead magnet has to provide content that informs or educates people in some form.

Understanding the lead magnet conversion path

Before getting into examples of lead magnets and how effective lead magnets can start generating leads for your business, let’s review the conversion process and how email marketing plays a pivotal role.

  • Call to action (CTA)

Having a clear CTA that allows prospects to link directly to your website’s landing page is the first stage of the conversion process.

  • Landing page

The landing page is where your CTA leads your prospects, and it’s where you should have your contact form that allows people to enter their personal information.

  • Response page

The prospective client is then taken to a response page where you will thank them for entering their details.

  • First email of the campaign

Once the transaction has taken place, an email will be sent to prospects to follow up. From here, the email marketing campaign begins, and the conversation begins during which you can start to move them through the various stages of your marketing funnel.

Lead magnet jargon buster

Confused about lead magnet terminology? It can be a minefield. As a starting point, here is our 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

Elements of a good lead magnet

First and foremost, a lead magnet has to provide the user with something valuable, whether it be a discount code, an educational piece of content, or an invite to an exclusive webinar – the user has to know that what they are receiving is worth giving up their personal information.

So, let’s look at some of the vital elements of an effective lead magnet.

  • Solves a problem

Your prospects have a problem that needs solving, which is why they’re looking at your business in the first place. As a result, you need to identify this problem and ensure that your lead magnet can solve it or put them on the right path to solving it.

  • Good quality, easily digestible content

Although you might have stacks of data, charts and statistics that prove you have helped people in the past solve similar problems, the truth is, most people don’t want to spend massive amounts of time reading over data charts. Therefore, your content needs to be easy to digest and readable for your target audience if you want them to stick around.

  • Display your knowledge

Your content needs to show confidence in your abilities and demonstrate your knowledge of the problem in question. So, make sure your content shows your industry authority and gives your audience a reason to trust your judgement.

  • Leads to further action

Once users have consumed your content, there needs to be a link for them to take further action. This could be anything from a CTA to another piece of content or a link to a consultation booking. Whatever you choose, make sure that the journey for your prospect continues.

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

Now you know all about what a lead magnet is and the elements of an effective lead magnet, let’s dive into how to successfully create and market your lead magnet.

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 what you are going to create.

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. While it may take time to build up your email contacts, it will certainly be worthwhile in the long run if you’re able to successfully design an irresistible lead magnet.

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, family situation, hobbies, interests
  • 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 that nobody else can? How would you extrapolate this information into a useful and engaging content piece, based on a relevant topic? Making sure you maintain a clear focus on this through creating your lead magnet is key if you’re to appeal directly to your personas and encourage them to convert.

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 in-depth 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 examples or 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:

  • 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


  • Plan your prospect’s journey from downloading the lead magnet to entering your marketing funnels and being nurtured into a sales-ready lead.


  • 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?


  • 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.


  • Whilst the purpose of a lead magnet is more about lead generation than rankings, you could consider whether there are keywords you could optimise your lead magnet for. Consider working with an SEO agency or an SEO content service to boost the digital visibility of any content you create.

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

Types of lead magnets that can generate conversions

If you’re still not sure whether you have the right lead magnet, or you’re struggling to decide on the right lead magnet offer, we have a selection of ideas that will help you generate leads and boost conversions. Here is a list of the most popular lead magnet examples:


  • Webinars
  • Whitepapers
  • Checklists
  • eBooks
  • Guides and How Tos
  • Case studies
  • Templates
  • Email courses
  • Quizzes
  • Seminars or online events
  • Free trials
  • Contests and giveaways
  • Special offers

Lead magnet examples to inspire you

Lead magnets are becoming increasingly popular, and with more businesses using them to attain the details of prospective leads, there’s no better time to start exploring lead magnet examples that might work for you! Here are a few to get you inspired, starting with our very own:

B2B Marketing Psychology Guide from The Brains

Our most recent lead magnet covers the psychology of B2B marketing, and since we released it, the content has helped a number of B2B businesses adjust their marketing strategies to incorporate more persona awareness and psychological selling techniques. This in turn has helped companies generate more leads, increase revenue and boost brand awareness.

Leads-On-Tap Guide from The Brains

The first lead magnet we created, Leads-On-Tap, has helped many of our clients generate unlimited leads using our proven Brainy lead generation system, developed by our very own Larry Kotch. Within this lead magnet, you will find effective and creative ways to attract and convert prospects into SQLs (sales qualified leads) while also lowering your CPL (cost per lead).

Website Grader Tool from Hubspot

Hubspot has once again taken things to the next level with their website grader lead magnet, which provides your website with an accurate SEO score by analysing site speed, responsiveness and mobile-friendliness.

How To Transform Your Small Business Sales from The Sales Evangelist

The Sales Evangelist helps small businesses boost their sales, and their extensive guide (like most lead magnets) is free to download. The lead form captures the email of the prospect, which will then move them into an email marketing funnel.

Finance Roadmap from Clever Girl Finance

This lead magnet offers something truly unique – actionable finance advice to empower women to be better money managers. Clever Girl Finance have created a community in which members can discuss financial matters and speak to experts to gain valuable insights into personal finance. Again, the lead magnet works by capturing data and leading prospects through to the funnel.

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. We’re here to help you supercharge your growth and turn your website into a lead generating machine.

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