What is a lead magnet?

If you browse the internet, I’m more than certain you’ve consumed a lead magnet at least once in your life.

You may even have one or more set up for your business. Nice work!

But if you’re not sure what a lead magnet is, or perhaps whether you’ve got a really good one in place, read on...

We are going to take a deep dive into the fascinating world of lead magnets.

“In a world of lead magnet creation”

(I really hope you sang that bit)

I’ll get into the nitty-gritty of what a lead magnet is, why some work well and some miss the mark, plus why you really should have more than one in your armoury! 

What is a lead magnet?

Simply put, it is a free resource you offer to your audience to get them to sign up. We like to think of it as a marketer’s secret weapon. 

When you need to fill your marketing pipeline and sales funnel with top-quality leads that have a high chance of conversion, lead magnets are a must have. 

Think of it as a method for taking someone from being totally unknown to your brand, to someone who knows, likes and trusts you. 

It could be someone who doesn’t know they have a problem and you’re helping them to both recognise and understand it. 

Or perhaps educating someone on a solution to a problem they are already trying to figure out.

Lead magnets act as incentives for people to give you the permission to contact them. 

Basically, you’re providing something that is of value to them in exchange for a mode of contact (usually email).

How many times have you given your email address to gain access to something you want? 

Guess what, you’ve gone straight into an email marketing list when doing so. 

Remember all those emails you started getting afterwards? They were probably using marketing automation when sending those to you. 

Lead magnets and marketing automation go hand in hand - more on that in a minute.

Lead magnet examples

So, we've established that a lead magnet should be something valuable that you give to prospects in exchange for their email address.

But did you know that they come in many different varieties?

Here are some quick examples:

  • A PDF download showing someone how to do something specific  
  • Newsletter or blog sign up
  • Live or pre-recorded webinar registration
  • Giveaways, competitions and discounts

Further into this blog you'll discover there are numerous lead magnets you can create. We’ve explored what a great ‘email series’ lead magnet looks like in our Examples of an excellent lead magnet blog, so hop over there if you’d like a nosey.

If you plan on using lead magnets, please for the love of God, back it up with automation. Unless you like spending every minute of the day manually tracking leads, figuring out what they actually want and sending it to them.

“I didn’t think so…”

If you’re not currently automating your marketing and you’re having a bit of a tizzy about what I just said, let’s take a quick segue into marketing automation.

Lead magnets and marketing automation

Marketing automation completely streamlines the emailing process. It works as a delivery service for your lead magnets and a sophisticated tool for continuation of the customer journey.

When someone signs up, their email address gets collected and stored against a predetermined list in the system. To do this you will have set up a campaign with specific tags. 

The first email they receive should contain the lead magnet and if you've set your campaign up correctly this will be delivered immediately after they sign up.

From here you’ll use targeted follow up campaigns: welcome emails, nurture emails with valuable information for them to consume - helping to build trust and better insight, sales emails (yes you can actually sell to them if you’re getting the engagement), re-engagement emails if they seem to drop off, more nurture and more sales… 

Basically your lead magnet is the catalyst for the customer journey to begin, and marketing automation does all the hard work for you.

Tried and tested

The Ninjas are experts in this field. We’ve been doing it for ourselves and our clients for years. We even teach people how to master it themselves. 

Marketing automation ultimately saves you time and money. It provides a collection of tools that deliver content across any given platform e.g. email, social media, sms, direct mail, ads, apps. 

It provides a shortcut to segmenting your list of contacts, putting them into smaller, more targeted and personalised lists. 

Implementing automation into your strategy will improve your customer journey and the experience your prospects and customers have with you.

All sounds pretty good right? There are of course many additional benefits of marketing automation, if you’re interested in learning more, have a read of this: What is marketing automation.

Our Marketing Automation Academy membership is growing. It’s full of people who want to learn about marketing automation, and even how to create amazing lead magnets. 

If you’d like to find out more about the academy and the membership benefits, take a look at the page linked below:

Types of lead magnet

Right back to the topic at hand. Let’s have a look at some examples of the types you can use.

Does anything stand out? It's really not too late to get going with creating one of your own...

We’ve even got a handy workbook that will guide you through creating an awesome lead magnet to attract the right kind of leads for your business.

“Lead magnets are dead”

This is starting to look like quite a bit of work isn’t it? Is it really worth going to all this effort… 

It’s been said, by some, that lead magnets have no real place in marketing. 

Well, I beg to differ! And here’s why...

In 2019 & 2020 Semrush conducted annual surveys, these are some of the statistics:

I mean just look at that; it’s ALL about getting more leads and traffic with great value content.

That’s the whole purpose of a lead magnet.

So to say they are dead is ludicrous. They are VITAL

Here’s another great statistic this time from our friends at HubSpot - inbound marketing costs 62% less than outbound marketing.

Makes sense when you consider the cost of online and offline advertising, how much email marketing platforms charge when sending thousands of emails, printing and distribution of brochures/flyers etc., attending exhibitions and conferences, and time spent cold calling vs conversions gained.

HubSpot also found that “Inbound Marketing can result in doubling the average website conversion rate from 6% to 12%”.

People that come to you, are FAR more likely to convert because they are genuinely after something! 

Ok so benefit of the doubt here. The reason why people may think lead magnets have indeed kicked the bucket, could very well be down to the fact that they don’t always work.

Yup, unfortunately you can spend hours, days, weeks even, on creating one and it just falls flat.

It hurts, but it’s common and it can happen to even the largest of companies.

Let’s explore why some lead magnets don’t work.

Why lead magnets don’t always work

I’ve seen some disconcerting marketing emails about lead magnets in the past, one quite recently really ruffled my feathers. 

Basically it proposed that you can create an entire lead magnet in under 10 minutes. 

I’m sorry, what now?!

Let me rephrase that - you can create a entirely s**t lead magnet in under 10 minutes.

Yeah, I said it. I mean COME ON… lead magnets require strategy, they need a bit of research and g’dammit they need some TLC.

So, let's explore why some don’t work aside from the fact you’ve not put the graft in.

  • You haven’t considered what your audience wants. Perhaps you’ve given them what you think they need - which I totally get - you want to help them but that’s not what they are asking for.
  • The awareness level of your audience for a particular lead magnet hasn’t been determined. If you’ve offered something to someone when they’re not ready, they won’t consume it and frankly they’ll just end up confused.
  • It’s not actually a lead magnet, it’s promotional material. Stop selling! This is not the time, you’ll get a chance to do that later on. First you need to give your audience some value, build trust and educate them.
  • You’re not even distributing it. I know this sounds ridiculous but so often you do have a great lead magnet, you’re just not putting it out there. It’s either in the wrong place or perhaps you haven’t done the work to drive traffic to it.
  • Follow up. Yup, all lead magnets require follow up. Don’t just put them out and let them disappear into the ether. The whole point is to get more high-quality leads. If someone consumes the lead magnet you should engage - and do it well!

Psychology also plays a part...

We think it’s also incredibly important to understand the psychology behind why they work and why they don’t. This is all based on the human brain, and what a wonderfully complex thing it is.

Fortunately, we’ve explored this - if you didn’t know already buyer psychology is a big thing for us.

Take a look at our blog The psychology behind high performing lead magnets and we’ll give you the lowdown.

How to create a GOOD lead magnet

  • Be specific
    Don’t create something really broad that’s trying to cover a load of topics, be niche and hone in on one area.
  • Solve a real life problem
    Focus on a specific pain point and give them something to help ease the pain.
  • Provide a quick win
    Research has shown that detailed eBooks and whitepapers that take longer to consume aren’t as popular as they used to be.
  • Ensure its instantly accessible
    Do NOT make them wait for it, give them something to use right away and deliver it immediately.
  • Make it easy to consume
    Don’t use crazy technical language that people may not understand yet and make sure it’s easy to implement.
  • Offer high value
    It must be something your audience is asking for and they will benefit from so they can see it's value.
  • Demonstrate expertise
    Showing you really know what you are on about builds trust and makes your audience more confident in using the lead magnet.
  • Make it about the customer not you
    As always make it about them, what they need, what they want and what they are getting out of it.
  • A newsletter is not a lead magnet
    Enough said!
  • Get your lead magnet out there
    Please, please, please use it! Make it easy to find and sign up for.
  • Follow up EVERY lead magnet
    You can give them even more value then too, and they’ll love you for it. Keep that lead nurture going people.
  • Don’t sell!
    You’ll get a slapped wrist from the Ninjas if you do. Lead magnets are part of the nurture, not the sell.

Why you should be using more than one

Your audience is diverse. They aren’t all dealing with the exact same problem, at the exact same time and looking for an out of the box solution. 

They have all sorts of personas and special requirements, they have different buying cycles and budgets, their awareness levels differ and the way they consume will alter. 

The more lead magnets you offer the more chance you have to engage multiple leads. 

You need to do some groundwork to figure out what type to use, what it should look like and when and where to use it.

This is your lead magnet strategy.

Getting started with a robust strategy and lead magnets that really work

At Automation Ninjas we love helping people create super impactful lead magnets and robust strategies.

Often we get approached by businesses that:

  • Struggle to find the time to create one themselves
  • Don’t know how to introduce lead magnets into their current strategy
  • Are overwhelmed with the amount of marketing tasks at hand
  • Have implemented lead magnets that don’t work well
  • Just have no idea what a lead magnet really is or how to create one
  • Want to get to grips with using lead magnets and automation together

If you find yourself falling under one of those categories then consider getting in touch with us. 

There’s no point in not having a lead magnet just because it requires some time and effort to create one. You could be missing out on a huge amount of qualified leads and the chance to present your business as the 'go to' in your industry. 

Lead magnets help to position your brand and increase the likelihood of conversion, simply by providing useful, valuable resources to prospective and current customers for free.

We have two options available to businesses that are serious about success.

Option 1 - Marketing Automation Academy

This membership leads you by the hand, with foundational courses to take you step by step through what you need to do, challenges to help you get it done, ongoing training and how-to, expert feedback and support. 

There’s an entire chapter dedicated to attracting leads and customers to your business, in which:

We go in depth into lead magnets, the psychology behind why they work and how understanding awareness is vital to getting attention. We’ll take a look at what makes a good lead magnet and how to choose the right one to create.

We’ll romp through list building and how to build something both powerful and conversion friendly. You’ll learn how to use psychographics and leverage the power of ingroups to understand your audience and create a list people actually want to be a part of.

The membership costs just £37 per month and you will learn so much more than how to create a great lead magnet.

You’ll get access to training and worksheets on lead validation, how to create a checklist, eBook and buyers guide lead magnet with worksheets and templates, including those for Canva. 

Find out more about the academy and how to sign up by hitting the button below.

Option 2 - A Lead Magnet Project

This project is us working with you to create a lead magnet you can be proud of. 

We’ll work to either: 

  • Write the copy and design it 
  • Help you to write the copy yourself and then we design it


This is a great option if you really don’t have the time to commit to learning and producing a one yourself.

However you must be willing to commit some time as we need to pick your brains in order to bring some brilliant content together that your audience will want to lap up!

Once we’ve completed your lead magnet, we’ll hand it over and you’ll go off and implement it yourself, set up your own campaign to deliver it and follow up as you wish.

This is a great option for those of you who already have marketing automation in place, but need a helping hand getting an awesome lead magnet produced. 

Take a look at Everything you need to know about our lead magnet project to find out more about the process, or hit the button below to get in touch about starting a project.

If you’re still unsure what’s the best option for you, just contact us to get discussions underway about what you need and how we can help. Hit the button below to drop us a line!

Contact the Ninjas

We’ve got some other great resources and blogs that will help you get to grips with lead magnets. 

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