The Perfect Lead Magnet System

We all want more leads.

No matter if we have a list of 500,000 subscribers or just 50 strong leads, I can confidently say we all want more.

As business owners and marketers, a huge focus is lead generation.

The most effective way to generate more leads is creating an irresistible lead magnet. And that is much easier said than done. In fact, it was revealed in a recent State of Inbound report from ​​​​HubSpot that 63% of marketers say their top challenge is generating traffic and leads.

What is a Lead Magnet?

The term ‘lead generator‘ (or lead magnet) is a fancy word made up by marketers to describe the things you’re already familiar with, such as: discount coupons, free eBooks, free consultations, and giveaway contests.

While discount coupons might work great for a local product business or eCommerce stores (think: transactional sale), a higher touch offer that’s more immersive or educational like a free guide or tool works better for training, software, or services (think: consultative sale).

So the good news is that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. You just need to take what already works, and improve upon it.

Why Does Your Business Need a Lead Magnet?

The main reason to use a lead magnet is to generate new leads that will go through a lead nurturing sales funnel and convert to paying customers. The most effective method to lead nurturing is capturing their email address and sending them content to build a relationship.

the buyers journey

​Everyone out there is making content and you need to cut through the noise if you want to reach new leads. To do that you have to drive attention to a landing page and motivate people to share their personal information.

The problem with lead magnets is they’re difficult to create, plus they require both skill and planning. There’s a clear line between producing a weak piece of content and one that’s so impressive and valuable, people continue referring to and sharing your lead magnet long after they filled out the contact form.

Examples of Incredible Lead Magnets

If you want to build a large email list fast, you'll need to create an offer that your visitors won't be able to refuse. Most people use some form of downloadable content but that might not be the best fit for your business. Here are a few types of lead magnets that will help you attract new leads:

Option #1: The eBook

​An eBook doesn't have to be hundreds of pages long​. A ​buzz-worthy eBook could be 8 or 10 pages and still have a great deal of information inside. The best part ​is your eBook ​can easily spread, helping you attract potential customers beyond the original subscriber.

Option #2: The Downloadables

As long as you offer useful information that they can't find elsewhere on your site, ​this opt-in offer for lead generation is a great strategy to building a bigger email list.

Downloadables (think infographics, checklists, social media templates, etc.) will work best if you pack them full of rich, specific information. And be sure ​to highlight how they differ from ​the content already on your site.

Option #3: The Mini Course

Earn 'expert' status with a free mini-course or webinar.  If you have a lot of know-how in your field, it can easily be done.  Think, "What kind of information are visitors seeking when they come to my site and how can I teach them?"

Option #4: The Contest

This one depends on your business/website, but there could be a ton of options for a opt-in offer built on a contest. A contest to win one of your products or a special item is a quick and easy way to build up your email list. Just make sure not to give away your primary product and check for rules that vary depending on where your business is located.

Option #5: The Member's-Only Group

These member-only boards, Facebook groups, and Slack channels are a hot commodity in several niche markets. Step in and provide a place for your niche to meet and discuss. More than an opt-in offer, building a community around your niche will give you an incredible opportunity to learn more about your customers and what kind of products and services you can create to meet their needs.

Option #6: The Workbook

optin offers

Thriving Launch​​​ has a free workbook to capture the emails of new visitors interested in their services. Workbooks and worksheets make you feel like you’re taking action by filling them out, making them an excellent opt in offer for lead generation. ​

These simple lead magnets work best as a way to pull together an intense, lengthy blog post, and lay out how your readers can take action. Overall, it’s a highly valuable piece of content that your new subscriber can use over and over again.

Option #7: The Toolkit

A free toolkit allows your business to provide your audience with a valuable collection of downloads, tools, resources, and videos. Compiling them altogether in this format helps your reader get from point a to point b. And the best part is, these toolkits are so easy to make! Just list out the your process and compile the tools needed into a download ZIP file.

​There is nothing wrong with creating a highly valuable PDF or infographic downloadable as a lead magnet to generate ​leads and build your email list​, but there are so many other lead generator ​ideas to experiment with. ​Have fun and brainstorm a few ways that you could create something useful for potential customers!

Some impressive lead magnet examples we've seen lately include:

  • ​CoSchedule's ​Headline Analyzer ​is a useful ​tool that's targeted towards generating leads from ​content marketers. Enter your headline and you'll be asked to share a few details ('just once' they say) while they calculate the details. Only then will CoSchedule provide you with suggestions for ​improving your headline. ​​​
  • Personality based quizzes are a tool for self-discovery that make us feel like we belong. They are psychologically irresistible, fun to create, and can help you generate leads and collect plenty of customer data to use for segmentation.
  • ​If you're in a creative industry, trying sharing freebies that your potential customer would normally pay to have​. ​Both marketers and bloggers can find incredible success ​generating leads ​giving away freebies such​ as stock images, WordPress Themes, and Lightroom Presets.

As you see, there are a wide variety of opt-in offers that you can create to get today's cautious consumer to hand over their email. With some customizing, any of the above lead generation ideas could build you a highly-targeted list of leads. Just remember, the key to creating a lead magnet that is effective and enticing is applying the creativity that is right for you and your target audience!

What Makes a Lead Magnet Great?

Before we dive into how to create an incredible and high-converting lead magnet, you should know the 3 characteristics that every effective lead magnet has.

what makes a good lead magnet

1. Easy to Consume

The ads and corresponding opt-in offers you run should look similar in design and deliver the same message​. This ensures when people click your ads, they see the same message delivered and don't feel confused.

2. Solves a Single, Specific Problem

“Don't make the all too common error of a lead magnet that is trying to solve all the problems.”

​Creating a lead magnet of high value is a must if you want it to convert. One way to create a lead magnet with high value is promising one specific and quick win. And then you must deliver on that quick win with your lead magnet.

The more specific you can get with the topic of your lead magnet, the better. Give your potential leads the answer to achieving something fast. You’ll be amazed at how important this specific thing is.

3. Outlines a ‘Next Step’

Like in all marketing and advertising, you need to wrap things up with a strong call-to-action. Show your new leads how your lead magnet is just one part of an incomplete puzzle and give them a clear ‘what to do next’. Now that they can understand the importance of how you or your product can solve their problem, you have to pave the way for them to take the crucial next step.

The ‘next step’ could be anything such as: come into the shop, book a call on your calendar, download slides, join in on a webinar, upgrade to a paid account, etc.

How to Craft Your Perfect Lead Magnet

Creating an effective lead magnet is the most important part of your marketing sales funnel. This is the single piece of educational content that you will use to turn a visitor into a lead. It’s how you get started off on the right foot with new leads while making a great first impression. Plus, if you get this right you can scale and grow your business 10x faster than you were before!

Step #1: Identify Your Audience and Create a Customer Avatar

The first step in crafting an effective lead magnet is to identify your audience and create a customer avatar if you haven’t already.

In the most basic sense, a customer avatar is the broad representation of each segment of your audience. It's a collection of goals, values, and mindset that large portions of your audience share.

It isn't just a set of demographics. Ideally, you’ll have a general understanding of each avatar's ultimate desire. Because each customer avatar has unique desires, most companies have at least two or three unique profiles.

One easy starting point when you create your avatar is to use demographics and split your target audience into pie graphs. For instance, here are a few common metrics that could give you a strong starting point:

  • Yearly salary
  • Profession
  • Gender
  • Age

A full customer avatar will have a lot more to it, but hopefully the example below gives you an idea of how in-depth you can get using our customer avatar template.

customer avatar

Step #2: Identify the One Problem Your Customer Needs to Solve

When you set out to create a lead magnet, it can be hard to pick one thing to cover. Remember, the key to an effective, high-converting lead magnet is one that is precise and aims to solve one specific pain point of your target customer.

How do you find out what your targeted customers biggest problems or headaches are? Easy, use any of these three below marketing tools to find topics and questions that can inspire your next lead magnet!

  1. Buzzsumo
  2. Google Keyword Planner
  3. Quora
NOTE: Take time to brainstorm what problems your ideal customers are having. Think about what your audience needs most that they are not receiving from your competition.

Step #3: Market Research to Identify how Your Customers Consumes Materials

The perfect scenario for you is to build an email list of raving fans who have accepted your offer and are now telling their spheres of influence about you. That involves knowing where your prospects are and delivering content that meets their current needs​.

If you offer an irrelevant item to an uninterested crowd, how excited do you think they will be to tell people about your products and services?

Yes, they may be very happy to tell people about the discount coupon received from you to their local eatery.  But think about it, who receives the prominence of attention with that approach?

You, or the delicious meal they enjoyed?  Sure, you get some attention, but you're second place while having done an awesome job of marketing the local eatery.

Bottom line is what you offer as an incentive does matter and should be thought all-the-way through. Including which outreach methods ​leads opt into.

​If you offer an irrelevant item to an uninterested crowd, how excited do you think they will be to tell people about your products and services?​

Click to Tweet

Step #4: Create Your Product Mind Map

Mind maps are a visual way to organize your thoughts around one topic using words, colors, images and numbers to highlight lead magnet ideas and draw connections. Invented by Tony Buzan in the 1960s, mind mapping is much more than drawing.

A mind map is a framework that helps you fully think through ideas for your lead magnets, and show how topics and lead magnet ideas are connected. Doing so allows more flexibility than using an outline or list.

How to make a lead generation mind map:

  1. Start in the middle with a central idea that represents the topic you’re going to map.
  2. Create branches to represent sub-topics.
  3. Add in details, photos, notes, and ideas to your lead magnet mind map.
  4. Make connections by drawing lines or arrows between lead magnet ideas. Keep expanding as much as you feel necessary.
  5. You might finish in one sitting, but it could also be something you return to and continue adjusting over time.

Here’s an example of one I created when writing this blog:

lead generation mindmap example

Step #5: Build Your Lead Magnet Based on the Information Gathered.

While the strategic work is over, you still have to put in some work and build your lead magnet. A lead magnet serves as your primary tool for generating new subscribers and leads. This piece of content should be highly relevant and valuable to your customer avatar, while still easy to digest and move the conversation toward the sale.

NOTE: As you build your lead magnet, remember who it is for and the value you’re promising. Keeping these two things in mind will ensure the creation process is straightforward.

How to Create Pages for Your Lead Magnet

Once you’ve got the asset created, you’re going to need an infrastructure designed to handle anywhere from two visitors to two hundred — automatically and without your involvement.

Here’s how the process usually works:

  1. A stranger sees your enticing ad and clicks.
  2. They arrive at your specially designed landing page.
  3. They provide basic information in exchange for receiving the lead magnet.
  4. They receive a carefully-crafted series of ‘drip’ emails to nurture them and then eventually buy something.

This process could get super complex and sophisticated, but it doesn’t have to at this stage.

For example, after people see an ad, they arrive at a landing page where your lead magnet is strategically ‘gated’ (requiring some kind of sign-up or opt-in to gain access).

You could go hire a designer, developer, and copywriter to build out your page.

Alternatively, you could simply sign up for something like ClickFunnels or Thrive Themes and have this system created in minutes (as opposed to weeks).

Both already provide ready-made templates, simply upload images and tweak the copy. You can hook up most major email marketing services that you might already be using, and it’ll take care of the gritty details of form submissions and ‘thank you’ confirmation pages.

ClickFunnels can help you build every type of marketing funnel your business needs to scale. There are two different plans you can get depending on how many visitors you have and funnels you need, $97/month or $297/month. You get a 14-day trial, so it’s a good way to test out the “smart sales funnel” builder software.

clickfunnels builder dashboard

​An example of ClickFunnels' page builder.

Thrive Themes is one of our favorite WordPress tools at Performance Marketer. From building landing pages using Thrive Landing Pages to Thrive Leads making opt-in forms easy, it makes life so much easier. And at $19/monthly, buying a Thrive membership is a great, and small investment to make for your lead generation efforts.

Our Recommendations for Opt-in Form Design

The opt-in form is the only place on your landing page where you ask visitors to give you something, all other elements focus on what you give them.

Form length depends on what you're offering, but some businesses might feel that a long form is necessary.

​Whichever route you go, remember that a longer form will just add more friction that prevents your potential lead from opting-in. Try to keep the form to opt-in short with ​only the essential ​fields you need.

Below is a graph with the top lead generation form fields by industry sector, from a 2012 MarketingSherpa Lead Generation Benchmark Survey.

lead generation forms

According to the 2012 MarketingSherpa Lead Generation Benchmark Report, email is the most important form field, across different industry sectors.

​Additionally, a 2015 ​BrightTALK ​report found that for B2B marketers, the ideal number of fields on download forms is between three to five. 16% of the survey respondents reported using six or more fields on their opt in forms.

Friction is any element on a landing page that prevents your visitors from converting on that page. For top-of-the-funnel visitors, a long form will intimidate many and scare them off.

​What is a long form? That depends on the necessary information your business needs to collect when generating leads.

Filling out long forms aren’t great for user experience, but it has its upsides. Shorter forms tend to have higher conversion rates. Test what works best with your targeted subscribers and business.

Here are three examples of the opt-in forms we most often use in our businesses:

Two-Column Form

A two-column optin form is one of the most common forms we use to capture data from new leads. One side is the form itself, while the other side will typically include four or five bullet points highlighting the benefits of the lead magnet.

two column optin form

Video Sales Letter (VSL) Style Opt-in

A Video Sales Letter (VSL) is landing page with a video front-and-center. These VSL opt-ins are used often by marketers because videos are high converting. The video could range anywhere from three minutes to 30, but ideally you want to create a video that is between 5-10 minutes long. It can’t be too long for people to watch, but you don’t want one that’s too short and doesn’t cover enough information.

video sales letter customer avatar

Lightbox or Popup

A lightbox or popup opt-in form is displayed on top of the content, covering it​. There are many options with a lightbox: for example, it can be set to only appear when visitors are about to exit your site, to only appear to new visitors, and so on.

Here ​are two examples of a Thrive Leads Lightbox:

lightbox optin form
single lightbox

Once you have all of this stuff published and ready-to-go, it’s time to promote and start generating new leads with your lead magnet!

Measuring the Success of Your Lead Magnet

So once your lead magnet is live and you start generating some leads, how do you know if it’s successful or not?

From your entire funnel, sales copy, opt-in form, etc. There are a number of factors that could contribute to the failure or success of your lead generation.

Understanding Conversion Rates and Optimizing

New research from Unbounce shows lead generation campaigns and their conversion rates by industry based on real-data of conversion (rather than reported data).

The chart below shows wide variation within and between industries with some businesses achieving lead generation conversion rates much higher than median.  So, to compare against your rates it's best to look at the median rates which vary between 2.8% and 6%.

lead generation conversion rates

How to Properly Split-Test Your Lead Magnet

Split-testing is a powerful strategy, and allows marketers to tweak and adjust their funnels to perform better. Put simply, split-testing, also known as A/B testing, works by offering two different versions of an element, page, or copy to any visitors.

What’s important when A/B testing is to only adjust one element at a time. Don’t make multiple changes and expect to figure out what went wrong or where to improve.

Here are a few ideas to get started:

1. Your Headline

One of the most important places to start split-testing your lead magnet is with the headline. A well-crafted headline translates to more visitors reading further than the first line of the page. What do you need to write, an incredible headline? These 4 simple elements:

  • Unique
  • Ultra-specific
  • Convey a sense of urgency
  • Useful

2. Call-to-Action

An excellent call-to-action (CTA) is simple and clear, and never asks visitors to take multiple actions at once. When spilt-testing, you’ll only compare the amount of signups each individual CTA brings in from the traffic you send.

3. Color

Split-testing the colors of your font, buttons, and images is less important than testing other elements, but it is still important. When testing these landing page elements remember to consider the psychology behind color and how they can subconsciously impact decision-making.

4. Opt-in Form Length

If you really need extra info from your new leads, consider running some ​A/B tests comparing a long opt-in form against a bare-bones minimal name and email address form.

At the end of the day, remember to continually test your opt-in forms to see what works best with your audience.

There are a few different metrics to track when measuring the effectiveness of your lead magnet, but there are a few other areas to look at as well.

​Focus on ​discovering what ​works (and doesn't work) in your lead generation campaigns through A/B testing and measuring metrics such as ​cost per lead (CPL), double versus single opt in, and even page speed. Whatever lead magnet converts the most leads in your campaigns ​should be the one you spend time optimizing.

Lead Magnet Conclusion

Make the right lead magnet for the right customer avatar in the right way and you will see great success capturing quality leads that will increase your ROI returns. Focus on generating new leads will give you a source of potential customers that will help you grow your business.  

When you have a new product or service to promote or share, your list will be ready to hear about it. Since they are beginning to know you, like you, and trust you, it’s safe to assume they’ll be more likely to buy from you.


Caitlin is an Austin-based digital marketer and writer with a passion for content. She is the newest member of the Performance Marketer team and brings years of marketing experience, as well as the best recommendations for where to go for lunch.

  • Tina Rubison says:

    Thanks for all content. Can I get three of the best lead magnet landing page templates you’ve ever created as mentioned in your email? Thanks again!

  • Rabiatul says:

    Mind Blowing! Thank you so much for sharing such a high quality content for free.

  • Wyster Desir says:

    Great content. I’m going to follow these exact steps for a new campaign I’m working on. Please share the landing page examples promised in the email.

  • Eric Ridley says:

    Wow. Really well thought out and great detail. Thank you for all your effort!

  • Robert says:

    Awesome content – thank you!

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