What are lead magnets and how do I use them

What are lead magnets?

Well, I guess the name kinda gives it away, but a ‘lead magnet’ is something that is designed to (magnetically) attract leads to your business.


The single most important attribute of any successful lead magnet is that it provides genuine value for the recipient, and it’s not just a gimmicky, clickbaity ephemeral piece of tat (which I’ve seen many try!).


Please don’t be one of those people!


You’ll hear the ‘lead magnet’ term is used interchangeably with others, like ‘problem solver’, ‘freebie’, ‘giveaway’, ‘bribe to subscribe’ and many more.


Essentially, when you give someone a lead magnet, you’re exchanging something of (real) value for a potential client’s email address details, with the intention of converting them into a paying client at some point in the future.


But what exactly can be used as effective lead magnets in your business?


Well, I’m glad you asked… because I have some ideas that will hopefully spark some creativity in your mind! 👇

20 Lead magnet ideas for your business

With each of the ideas listed, have a think about which specific lead magnets you could create for your particular business.

1. Checklists

Everyone loves a good checklist. Sometimes it helps us to remember what we already know needs to be done, and other times it educates us on the steps that are needed in order to complete a particular task.

For example, if you owned a travel agency business, you could create the “Free Holiday Checklist” that people going on holiday would find very useful. 

We obviously know what we need to do going on holiday, but it’s great to just tick that list as you cross off each task, like ‘Buy travel insurance’, ‘Book dog kennels for Maisie’, ‘Book the car into the airport car park’ etc.

Another example, where perhaps the process may be less well known, could be where a business coach could create a start-up checklist, making sure a newbie doesn’t miss anything as they begin their new adventure; e.g. ‘Open business bank account’, ‘Register your business domain name’, ‘Secure your social handles before you announce your business name’ etc., so more of an educational checklist than a mere reminder checklist.

A woman ticking tasks on her checklist.
Checklists make great lead magnets for attracting your ideal clients.

2. Cheat Sheets

Everyone loves a shortcut! Especially when it has a sense of ‘secrecy’ attached to it. The term suggests it’s something that we shouldn’t really have access to, and that it’s only for the exclusive few!


A cheat sheet is basically a short list of tips, tricks, key facts or strategies that can be used quickly and easily. For example, if you’re new to social media, you could create a ‘Cheat Sheet on How to Double Your Twitter Followers in 30 Days’. 


You can create cheat sheets for pretty much anything you can think of, so long as the premise can be boiled down to a quick list of bullet points.


The attraction of a cheat sheet is that you can use it to quickly and easily remember key strategies, facts or tips.

Lady using phone checking email

3. How-to Content

How-to content is a type of content that describes a step-by-step guide on how to complete a certain task or achieve a particular outcome. For example, if you’re potential clients are interested in starting a blog, you could create a how-to guide called ‘How to Start a Blog in 5 Simple Steps.

It’s a great way to build a relationship with your audience, as you’re sharing content that you know will help them to achieve something they aspire to do.

The important thing to remember about a how-to lead magnet is that it needs to come with a single outcome-based purpose, one that can easily be achieved by the recipient if they follow your steps.

How to instructions

4. One-to-one Sessions

Depending on your business type, and in particular your products and/or services, you may consider offering some of your time as a lead magnet. It’s not necessarily a good fit for every business, but if your business has some relatively higher-priced products or services, then giving away some of your time for free could financially be worth it.

For example, let’s say you are a retirement coach and help people plan for their future, then chances are you’ll gain considerable income from that client over a period of time. For someone to gain the trust of you and your business, they probably need to get to know you personally and often that can be best gained via a 1:1 interaction, e.g. a free ‘Strategy Planning Session’.

Of course, if you sell low-priced products or services, and especially if they’re in high quantities, then you’re unlikely to make a 1:1 approach well work for you – you’re simply too constrained by time.

one to one

5. Online Mini-Courses

People love to learn, especially if it’s skills or knowledge that will help propel their business or increase their income. Providing digital content via online mini-courses is a perfect way to share your value with your potential clients.

Again, much like other lead magnet types, mini-courses are best received when they are associated with an outcome, e.g. ‘Build your own website in just 2 hours’ or ‘Play your first guitar solo after just 12 lessons’.

Mini-courses can be a great way of allowing potential clients to learn more about you and your expertise, before making any financial commitments. If you can demonstrate your value using a mini-course, you’re much more likely to convert them into a paying client.

Online mini-course

6. Quizzes and Surveys

These are great for collecting data from your potential clients. People like to be challenged and by asking them a series of questions, you’re able to gain insight into their goals, needs and motivations, which allows you to tailor your content and messaging to better suit their needs.                           

Quizzes and surveys are sometimes confused with one another, but there are actually distinct differences between the two. A quiz is normally used to elicit a result from an individual, whereas a survey is a tool that allows you to gather collective responses from a large group of people to analyse and report on.

Lady taking online quiz from her bed.

7. Video Series

Undoubtedly, the most popular medium for consuming content is video. It surpasses all others, and by quite a distance (just check the growth over at TikTok!). Creating content and delivering it via video content, perhaps with accompanying PDF downloads, can be a very powerful lead magnet.

Whatever it is you want to impart to your leads, you can create a delivery plan with your content being split across a series of videos. For example, let’s say you were a sales coach, and your ideal clients were other coaches and consultants, and you wanted to give them a video series of sales strategies, explaining how to handle various meetings.

Let’s call it “How to convert your leads into clients, without being salesy”. You’d pick maybe 6 training elements of a best-practice sales method and record 6 videos, one for each element. Your compelling lead magnet would then be made available via a video hosting platform (e.g. YouTube, Vimeo, Wistia etc.).

video lessons online

8. Email Courses

A lot of people respond well to the written word. And if you’re comfortable creating written content, then you might want to consider using email as your medium and drip-feed value out to your leads at pre-determined intervals.

As an example, let’s say you run an estate agency and your target clients are empty-nesters who are thinking about downsizing their homes. You could create a series of emails that contain helpful information about how to prepare your home for sale, whilst also securing your new home.

You could call it “How to downsize and find your perfect new home, without any hassles – a 12-step process”. The emails could build a sequenced list of things to do or consider, e.g. ‘how to optimise the sale price of their home’, ‘how to prepare for viewings’, ‘how to find your ideal new home’, ‘how to pack for a safe move’, ‘how to choose your perfect estate agent/solicitor/removal company’ etc. – you get the gist. 

The 12 steps (or however many steps are relevant for you) in the process could be delivered every other day, over a few weeks so that the movers don’t get overwhelmed b their to-do lists. And of course, by being the company providing all the helpful content, you’d be the prime candidate for being chosen as the estate agent.

Email course icon on phone

9. Newsletters

Arguably one of the most common lead magnets being used by businesses, although not necessarily the easiest way of getting sign-ups due to the sometimes bland nature of people’s newsletters, It’s still a perfectly relevant option nonetheless.

Normally with a newsletter, you’d create a weekly, fortnightly, or monthly schedule and stick to it. Getting people on your list is one thing, but keeping them there is equally important, and therefore you must make sure that you’re publishing regular worthy content that keeps your audience engaged.

If you do decide to start a newsletter, don’t fall into the trap of trying to create the mightiest newsletter known to humankind! Just create enough content that’ll give your audience value, and at a level that you can consistently deliver at the expected frequency. Over time, you can then begin to add in other elements as and when appropriate.


10. Whitepapers

It’s not as common as some other lead magnets, but if your particular niche or sector lends itself to this type of document then you can use it to attract potential clients. By virtue of their technical nature, they can help to cement your reputation in your industry by demonstrating your expertise.

They do tend to be more prevalent in, but not limited to, businesses that are based on more specialised sectors like pharmaceutical, law, sciences, medical, or legislative, e.g. Government bodies.

A whitepaper is usually very long and very detailed, requiring many hours to create and publish. It can be a product description, marketing material, or some other type of document that is useful to potential customers.

11. Plugin or Widget

If you’re in a tech space or have a technical background, you could develop a solution that you could give away as a lead magnet. For example, if you run a website development business, then perhaps you could create a free tool that allows people to check the performance of their company website.

The free tool would require the user to supply their email address details in exchange for receiving their results. An obvious benefit for the lead is that they get a report showing them how their website is performing, and maybe with some recommendations of how they can improve it, and you as the business owner can offer solutions to overcome their challenges.

These are, of course, not limited to just tech people, as anyone could hire a tech resource to create such a lead magnet, but the price would be a factor to consider as it would be much higher than what it would cost a developer, as they’d have the skills to create it themselves.

12. App Demos

If your business offers a technical solution, e.g. an app or software system, then you could offer access to it as a lead magnet. You could offer either limited access to the app, i.e ability to use only some features, or alternatively offer full access for a limited time, e.g. ‘7-Days Free Access’.

This approach is very common in Software as a Service (SaaS) businesses. 

It’s also common for these types of businesses to operate a ‘freemium’ model, meaning that you can begin using the product for free (usually with restrictions) and as you go up through the list of offerings (and features), the price also increases.

people on zoom macbook scaled

13. Free Trials of Membership

If you have run a membership for your clients or considering doing so, you could offer a free period of access to your leads in order that they can experience what paying members get for their membership fee, and possibly convert into paying members too. 

For example, let’s say you’re a copywriter who creates content for your clients, but as a side income-generator, you also teach other people how to become copywriters. You could create a membership where you deliver lessons to your members, in return for a monthly fee.

You could then create a lead magnet where people get access for a limited time (1 week, 1 month etc.), after which time they either leave the group or subscribe as a paying member.

14. Your Book (or a few chapters)

You can use your book, or even just a few chapters, as a great lead magnet. Not only does it serve as valuable content for them to consume, but it also puts you front and centre as the ‘expert’ in your space as you’ve literally written the book on it!

Sharing content from your book can be done either via a downloadable PDF document, or if it’s in audible format, then via an audio file, all given in exchange for your lead’s email address details.

As well as serving as a lead magnet to get people on your email list, this approach can also boost sales of your book by offering a promotional rate for anyone who joined your email list via this channel.

Reading a book for a review

15. Free 'Live' Training

Figure out what you can teach a group of your ideal clients, design a ‘live’ training program that you can deliver via your preferred social platform, and then send out invitations across your networks.

For example, let’s say you’re a social media coach and you can help people to get more engagement on LinkedIn. You could schedule a 1-hour free training session to be delivered ‘live’ directly into LinkedIn via Streamyard (or any other compatible streaming app of your choosing), but you have a sign-up form that anyone wishing to join must complete. 

Your sign-up form would be connected to your email marketing platform, meaning that all interested people would automatically be captured in your email list. Once the free training has been delivered, you can then begin to drip-feed more valuable content with a view to converting them into paying clients.

16. Webinars

Webinars are one of the most effective ways to share your knowledge and help your business grow. They allow you to share your expertise and build your credibility, as well as help you generate leads and sales. It’s quite common for the format of a webinar to follow that of a more traditional seminar, with guest speakers and a range of topics to discuss.

You can also have a section reserved for questions and answers, where your prospects could bring their burning asks and have them answered by you and/or your guests. Much like ‘live’ training sessions, you would invite people to the webinar via a sign-up form that is connected to your email marketing platform, meaning that you’re growing your email list with each attendee.

webinar scaled

17. Discount Codes

I’m not necessarily a big advocate of discounting, however if you do decide to do this then you should make use of the opportunity to grow your email list. For example, let’s say you were a website designer who offered packages; you could introduce a discount code (e.g. WEB15 to get 15% off) that automatically gets applied at checkout, when your client pays.

Now, depending on which payment merchant, app, or plugin you use, the ease with which discount codes can be created and applied varies, but suffice to say that it’s simple enough to come up with a process that will result in the client getting a discount and you getting them on your email list.

Once on your list, you can then move them into a welcome sequence, meaning you can build on your relationship with a view to them becoming a repeat client over a long period of time – and hopefully one that then evangelises your products and services to others!

18. Templates

Creating documents, processes, calculations, spreadsheets can be very time-consuming and sometimes a bit tricky, depending on your aptitude for such tasks. That’s why templates can be such powerful magnets when it comes to attracting potential clients. People love a shortcut that gives them a desired outcome without all the hassle normally associated with creating the ‘thing’.

For example, let’s say you were an accountant who looked after the accounts of solopreneur business owners; you could create a template for a perfect ‘P&L’ or ‘Cash Flow Projections’, where they simply need to enter in some figures each month and the spreadsheet takes care of all the calculations for them. This would be gold-dust for non-techy solopreneurs and they’d be only too happy to share their email address in return for such a resource.

social campaign template scaled

19. Toolkit and Resources

Have a think about the list of apps, systems, platforms and tools that you use in your business, I bet it’s quite extensive- more so than you first thought! Check your desktop to see the apps you have on there. Look at your mobile phone’s screen to see which apps you have installed. Have a look through your bank account or credit card statement to see the subscriptions you have, and you’ll probably surprise yourself at the list.

This list is really intriguing to people who own a business just like yours. They are very willing to give you their email details in return for your complete list of resources that you use in yours. If nothing else, they get ideas of what they could use, if they have a need or desire to try them. Once on your email list, you can even have a sequence ready where they get drip-fed emails, each one unpacking something from your list, meaning they get even more value from you.

20. Challenges

Most humans respond positively to being challenged. Even if it’s just an internal challenge, we all love to set ourselves a goal and do whatever it takes to achieve it. Designing challenges that result in a particular outcome is a great way to do this. For example, let’s say you were a photography coach, showing other photographers how to start or grow their own photography business. You could arrange a challenge called ‘Start Your Own Photography Facebook Group in 5-Days‘. 

The challenge could involve each participant having to achieve each of the following, over a short period (e.g. 5 days);

  1. Create your images and text for Facebook.
  2. Set up your Facebook page.
  3. Create your Facebook Group.
  4. Create your first Facebook post.
  5. Invite 500 people to join your group.

So, the objective with such a challenge is three-fold; get leads (people who join), get interaction during the sessions (build rapport), and continue the relationship once the challenge ends – e.g. emails around continuing the support for their Facebook, all with a view to converting into clients.

John Bellingham Email marketing strategist for freelancers

John Bellingham
Email marketing strategist for freelancers.

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