The 17 Best Lead Magnet Examples For Lead Generation in 2017

Do you know the #1 worst kept secret of lead generation in online marketing? It’s probably obvious from the title, but the worst kept secret is lead magnets.

I know what you are thinking...everyone is talking about lead magnets already and it’s nothing new. You’re right, lead magnets are nothing new, but if everyone is talking about them then why is everyone still doing them COMPLETELY WRONG!

I’ll admit it, we do lead magnets wrong all the time! I’m not even ashamed of it! I want to take some time to tell you why and share the solutions to making great lead magnets for lead generation with 17 examples that work in 2017.

lead magnet examples 2017

Lead magnets, ethical bribes, content upgrades, or whatever you like to call them, are the equivalent of what direct mail flyers were in the 90’s.

Note: Do you want to build the perfect landing page? Check out my free 18 point checklist and learn how to ramp up your lead generation in 2017.  Click Here To Learn More - It's Free!


Do you remember the free AOL trial disks? AOL initiated a shotgun marketing strategy whose goal was to put so many free trial disks into the world that it was impossible to ignore.

At one point, over 50% of every CD produced in the world was branded by AOL. They spent over $300,000,000 on these disks.

You may not realize it, but the AOL trial campaign is likely the most popular example of a lead magnet ever made.

AOL’s shotgun approach was massively successful, but it was completely a product of the times and the brain power within AOL’s marketing team. In 2017, technology like Facebook pixels, UTM tracking, and countless other tools have turned our lead generation strategies into precise marketing tools that don’t need to rely on millions of dollars in advertising spend.


Even though the effectiveness of the AOL approach expired long ago, the same virality is alive and well on the internet.

For example, let’s think about Tai Lopez. His most famous video, “Knowledge & Lamborghinis”, started out as a youtube pre-roll lead magnet. It now has well over 600,000,000 combined views!

Your lead magnets may not receive 600,000,000 views, but if you follow the techniques and examples listed below, your lead generation will certainly be head and shoulders above your competitors.


Now that your brain is racing with the possibilities, I want to talk to you about the two most popular lead magnet creation strategies:

  • The Shotgun lead magnet approach
  • The Targeted lead magnet approach

The shotgun lead generation approach is exactly what AOL mastered in the 90’s. They released as many variants of their lead magnets as possible, remember 100 hours vs 500 vs 1,000?

There are a number of reasons that their approach worked, but the most important reason was financing.

They were able to spend $300,000,000 on disks alone! Add to that the capital they invested getting prime real estate space in every retail store across the country and it’s easy to see that their massive marketing budget was a key to AOL’s success.

This approach can absolutely still work in 2017, but the risk to reward ratio has drastically changed with the introduction of targeted advertising. This leads us into the next lead magnet strategy: targeted lead magnet offers.

Google, Facebook, Yahoo, & Microsoft have lead the charge in online data tracking. Things like your income bracket, if you own or rent your home and car, what your friends are purchasing online, and hundreds of thousands of other data points.

This type of big data has changed online marketing and has created a targeted lead generation strategy the most effective in 2017, and beyond.

Let’s say you are a realtor and you’re looking to get more listings. You could go door-to-door asking people if they are interested in selling their home (yes, people still go with this strategy. Yuck.)

Or…you could take advantage of the data that is provided to you by sources like Facebook. You could create a targeted lead magnet like “The Guide To Selling Your Home in Austin, Texas”.

This targeted guide can then be advertised only to people in the Austin, Texas area that are interested in selling their home. Imagine how much less time and money you could spend if you weren’t focusing on people who aren’t interested in your product.

Real estate is only one of thousands of industries that lead magnets work in. Here are The 17 Best Lead Magnet Examples For Lead Generation in 2017.


Content upgrades started out as a simple way to add extra value to a piece of content. You would come across a page that had an attached spreadsheet, downloadable diagram, or instructional guide.

​It didn't take marketers long to realize that these types of content upgrades could be used to great effect. If you found the content, you were obviously searching for something similar, and if you had made it far enough down an article chances are high you wanted more of this type of content!

While content upgrades aren't directly considered a lead magnet, they are often the main source of organically discovering lead magnets online.


How OK Dork Uses Content Upgrades

okdork content upgrade

The OK Dork post listed above went all-in on the calls to action. They ask you to sign up for their content upgrade as well as to comment to win a book that was new at the time.


Christian K Online - Lead magnet

Here is another great example of a content upgrade lead magnet from ChristianKOnline.

They do a great job putting their lead magnet right into the middle of the content without being too intrusive, but still standing out just enough to be noticed.



Brian Dean over at Backlinko is one of the best when it comes to creating content. According to a recent podcast with Noah Kagan, he’s spent as much as 80 hours on a single blog post.

It comes as no surprise then, that he wants to get the absolute most out of every piece of content. Just click on his content upgrade, input your email and he’ll send you the entire article in a PDF format so you can save it for later. It’s a fantastic way to reuse his most valuable content.


Authority Hacker - Lead Gen

Authority Hacker is another example of a company that does a great job reusing content for a lead magnet.

In the example above they have two options for the same piece of content. They can either link to another blog post to increase time on site, or they can change it to an actual opt-in light box with a downloadable file if they are looking for lead generation.


At Performance Marketer we focus on three key points before creating a lead magnet:

  • Can we provide value on this topic? 
  • Does our audience actually want this content?
  • Is there built in virality?

The first two seem obvious, but the third, not so much. Remember the example of Tai Lopez above? One piece of viral content put him on the map. Now he has dozens of high priced courses, a massive youtube channel, and even more lamborghinis…

Checklists, cheat sheets, and swipe files are some of the easiest ways to “go viral” in lead generation. Topics like the “18 point checklist to (whatever you’re doing)”, or “The Social Media Swipe File” have a bit of virality built directly into the content. You can grab a user's attention with a catchy title and have them sharing before they even have a chance to check out the content.



Here is an example of one of our most popular lead magnets. We have been running this lead magnet for around six months, and it’s still bringing us a consistent flow of qualified leads.

We wanted something that was catchy, and motivated people to share. We also wanted to get straight to the point so people weren’t confused about what they were downloading.



When it comes to swipe files, our friends over at Digital Marketer have mastered this type of content. They excel at giving away a TON of valuable content to build up the goodwill.

This philosophy has paid off huge, and it’s evident in their massive fan base.


Similar to swipe files, templates are another great way to generate leads. Anything from email templates, page layouts, or blog posts like the example below:

Digital Marketer Blog Post Templates

Note: Do you want to build the perfect landing page? Check out my free 18 point checklist and learn how to ramp up your lead generation in 2017.  Click Here To Learn More - It's Free!


Here is an example of a “cheat sheet” lead magnet from Social Panda.

Social Panda has been doing some really cool paid marketing lately, especially with Facebook comments, but their standard lead generation methods are not something to ignore.

People love cheat sheets, they are a like Cliff Notes for whatever your audience is looking for. Everyone loves a good short cut.

Social Panda FB Targeting Cheat Sheet


The free ebook or PDF is one of the most popular lead generators in 2017. When you are thinking about buying a new book you can expect to pay $10 - $15 bucks at Amazon. That intrinsic value gives extra credibility to ebooks.

LEAD MAGNET EXAMPLE - Physical Book (that isn’t actually physical

Frank Kern is a master marketer, even if he refutes that claim himself, and using images of physical books is just one example of this.

Although his ads aren’t always the most attractive, he takes care to craft some of the best copy in online marketing.

His advanced copywriting knowledge, with his eye for recognizing important psychological triggers like showing a physical book, help boost the value perception of his products.


Here is another great example of a lead magnet from a company called NeoMam Studios. They use a real book to leverage the perceived value.


Ontraport is another example of a company that heavily uses ebooks in their lead generation strategies. This first example is similar to the previous two, they used a physical book to imply value.

Ontraport Lead Generator

This is an example of Ontraport getting away from the physical book and relying heavily on their ad copy.

Here is another example of Ontraport using ebooks as a lead magnet. This time they relied heavily on their ad copy to promote the content instead of relying on the physical image.

Ontraport using social proof


The irresistible offer, also known as the ethical bribe, is one of the most interesting lead generation techniques.

You may not even realize it’s a thing until you start to really look for it.

Take the AOL example above. This is a classic case of “the ethical bribe”. They want you as a customer and are willing to give you an insane amount of free product to test them out.

After all, who doesn’t want free internet?

Take this example from Smartlook. They are clearly saying “look at your website through the customer's eyes!”.

This free trial will allow me to get into the minds of my potential customers.


Every year, on the day after Thanksgiving, millions of people flock to stores (and websites) to get the best deals. These deals are, by every measure of the word, irresistible offers.

You don’t need another TV, but Best Buy knows that if they flash a $200 TV in front of you that the wheels in your brain will start turning. Hey, while you’re here you should think about purchasing a new HDMI cable, a new DVD player, and anything else they can sell you.

The Hoth is a good example of companies that do ethical bribes on Black Friday.


Performance Marketer and Drop Ship Lifestyle have even been known to do a Black Friday ethical bribe once or twice. 😉

Here is another quick example of a free trial ethical bribe from Thrive Hive. Honestly, there are thousands of examples we could use in this category.


The real magic in ethical bribes comes when you start to pair them with scarcity, and physical products. That is why things like free + shipping are so popular.

Even though you have to pay for shipping, it’s still a fantastic deal!


With Membership Site Masters, our number one way of lead generation is our free mini-course. These types of lead magnets generally take more time but can have huge pay off if done correctly.

For Membership Site Masters, for example, we give away 10 videos, and each video is between 10 - 30 minutes long. As you can imagine, creating 5+ hours of content to giveaway can be a lot of work. For us though, we see a massive return on this lead magnet investment.

Membership Site Masters


Readers love case studies. It’s really simple, they see step-by-step what did work, and in some cases what did not work. This type of insight can be very helpful to someone looking to follow in the same foot steps. Take a look at this ad from The Inside Marketer.

They are advertising a “7 Figure Case Study” and they even have an irresistible offer, that allows you to “swipe & deploy” their entire campaign.

They aren’t saying you’re going to make 7 figures from this case study, but they sure are implying it.

The Inside Marketer

The above listed 17 lead magnets fall into a handful of categories, but the thing to remember is that there is a ton of crossover. You can offer a physical product, ethical bribe, and training course all in one lead magnet. More isn’t always better, but testing out what works for your industry is the key to success when it comes to building a winning lead generator.

Cory Goneke

Cory Goneke is the Director of Business Operations for Performance Marketer.  Over the past 12 months Cory has developed the marketing and content strategy for Performance Marketer and managed development teams for various marketing softwares, including Use Hype & The Performance Marketer Vault.

  • Yurii says:

    Wow, this is a ton of useful stuff. Thanks for sharing!

  • Patric says:

    Great article

  • Mary Beth says:

    I really like how you use content upgrades in an article that talks about them. Shows how they naturally fit into content.

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