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18 Data-Backed Lead Magnet Ideas to 10x Your Email List Growth

You’ve read seemingly every article about creating lead magnets. Yet you’re still settling with a generic “subscribe to get updates” form on your website.

Meanwhile, savvy marketers are feasting on ridiculous conversions by giving away free resources in exchange for an email address. 

Sleeknote went from a 0.37% opt-in rate to a 4.14% opt-in rate just from adding a content upgrade on a blog post.

Blog post A:

Blog post B:

It’s time to step up and finally create a lead magnet (or many) that will change the trajectory of your business.

This guide covers what a lead magnet is, how to create one, and proven examples to help you grow your email list.

What is a lead magnet?

A lead magnet, also known as an opt-in offer or an ethical bribe, is an incentive for someone to take the next step and sign up for your email list. It’s a free resource that you give away in exchange for contact information. This resource could be a digital report, a book, a tool, or some other piece of content.

Why have a lead magnet? Is it really worth it?

If executed well, a lead magnet will:

  • Make a notable impression
  • Establish your brand as a trustworthy authority
  • Convert more sales
  • Grow your email list like crazy

Let’s highlight that last point for a moment.

One of the most effective methods for measuring your lead magnet’s success is calculating your email opt-in rate.

Your opt-in rate is simply the number of new subscribers who signed up for your mailing list via your lead magnet divided by the total number of visitors to your opt-in form.

Opt-in Conversion Rate formula

Say 1,000 visitors see your generic email opt-in form. You got 10 sign-ups. That means your opt-in rate was 1%.

According to Sumo, the average email opt-in rate is 1.95%. However, the bottom 25% of marketers get a measly 0.8% sign-up rate while the top dogs average a 6.5% opt-in rate. 

This discrepancy is essentially the difference between not using a lead magnet and using one. We’re talking about a 5% increase in leads to your business.

So is it worth having a lead magnet? Damn straight it is! But with one caveat. It needs to be good.

What makes a great lead magnet?

3 elements make a high-converting lead magnet, including:

  1. Immediacy –  a lead magnet should solve an immediate problem for your audience. Meaning you need to deliver a result as quickly as possible. By facilitating a quick win, your audience starts to visualize what it’s like to work with you to get more results. 
  2. Value – your resource needs to add tangible value to your target customer. They should feel like they’d pay for what you’re offering. While you don’t want to give away all your knowledge for free, you want to remain generous. 
  3. Relevance – the best lead magnets are a natural extension of a core offering. Giving away a resource related to your product or service enables you to seamlessly integrate it into your sales funnel to increase your sales conversion rate. 

Reflect on what motivated you to sign up for an email list. If you did, did you use it? Why, why not? Take note and apply the learnings when building your free resource. 

How to create and distribute a lead magnet

  1. Reverse engineer your customer.
  2. Design and build your lead magnet.
  3. Collect leads.
  4. Deliver your lead magnet

Step 1 – Reverse engineer your customer

Once you’ve identified your target audience, think about what they’d love to receive.

The key here is to find out why people buy from you. What do they want? What problems do they have? How can you help them?

Creating your lead magnet should feel like you’re building a small paid product. So invest some time surveying your audience, jump on calls with them, and document feedback from comments, book/course reviews, and social media interactions. 

At this point, you’ll have an intimate understanding of what tools and resources will deliver immediate and relevant value (back to the previous point) to your potential customer. 

Step 2 – Design and build your lead magnet

Don’t get too hung up on design aesthetics when creating your lead magnet. As long as your resource is user-friendly and is valuable, your prospects won’t care about how pretty it looks.

You can use Google Workspace, Microsoft Office, or Apple’s productivity tools to create PDF checklists, spreadsheets, and ebooks quickly.

Canva is a fantastic, easy-to-use free tool with over 400k templates to choose from if you want more designing power.

If you’re delivering video, start with free tools like Loom and Zoom or choose from many webinar apps.

If you’re strapped for time or aren’t confident in your abilities, another option is to hire someone to create your lead magnet.

Lastly, look to see if there are any articles, social media posts, podcast episodes, or videos that you can repurpose into a lead magnet. 

By repurposing, you not only save time by reusing content, but you also get to see how your audience responds to validate the idea before turning it into a free resource. 

Step 3 – Collect leads

Once you’ve developed your lead magnet, it’s time to promote it and collect those leads.

There are many ways to present your lead magnet and collect leads through an email sign up form, including:

  • Headers and footers
  • Landing page
  • Welcome mat
  • Notification bar
  • Content upgrade
  • Pop-ups

Test which distribution channels yield the best conversion rates. 

For a code-free execution, you have 2 options for collecting leads:

  1. Use your CMS. Check to see if your website theme enables you to add different email forms on your website and if they integrate with your email marketing tool. This would be the most convenient option as you don’t need to learn or pay for a new tool. The downside is you won’t get too many customization options, and you’d have to track your conversion rates either through Google Analytics or manually. 
  2. Use a third-party tool. Apps like OptinMonster and Leadpages specialize in lead capture and offer a variety of features to optimize your results. You can create super-powerful forms and pages promoting your lead magnet with a ton of customization options. Additionally, you can access helpful reporting to check the performance of your lead magnets and different forms. However, keep in mind that these are paid services and can get quite pricey.

Step 4 – Deliver your lead magnet

Delivering your lead magnet is a piece of cake in Encharge. We integrate with pretty much every lead generation tool and form out there, so it’s just a matter of adding a single automated confirmation email to your flow with a link to where folks can access your resource. 

If you’re really committed to delivering value, add another email to your flow with a 7-day follow-up message to ensure your leads are getting the most out of your lead magnet.

The visual flow builder in Encharge enables you to dynamically add highly targeted messaging to move prospects through your sales funnel. 

12 lead magnet ideas (including conversion rates)

Below we’ve curated 12 lead magnet examples, including their performance, to give you some inspiration when creating yours. 

Note that the volume and source of traffic heavily impact conversion rates. For instance, you’re likely to get different results from Google traffic from blog posts vs. visitors coming from paid ads. 

The businesses in the examples below have relatively diverse traffic sources with varying degrees of traffic volume. 

1. Webinars

A webinar is like a live event (think roundtable or presentation), but it doesn’t have to take place in person. They’re recorded and made available for folks to watch online at their convenience. 

While a ticket fee is required to access some webinars, marketers also use webinars as a lead magnet. 

McGaw.io is a cutting-edge marketing consulting firm. They increase leads for their clients daily, so it’s no surprise that they’ve mastered lead generation for their own business.

While McGaw.io offers a variety of lead magnets, webinars are their highest performing offers.

If you can create one quality webinar lead magnet, you’re doing well. But McGaw.io are overachievers and have dozens of online workshops available on their resources page for new prospects to access. It’s literally an archive of lead magnets with category filters 😳

To put this into perspective, their Marketing Analytics Trends Webinar converts at 36%. And it’s all the more impressive when you consider the user needs to hand over quite a bit of information to sign up.

How does McGaw.io get such results for their free webinars? There are many factors, but what stands out is the credibility and social proof they infuse into their workshops. They partner with industry-leading experts to deliver exclusive content that would be hard to get otherwise.

Further reading: How to Automate Your Webinar Follow-Up Emails for Higher Attendance and Conversion

2. Coaching templates 

A coaching template is a tool that coaches can use to help their clients. It’s like an outline or a road map for the client to follow, but it’s not just about what you want your client to do; it also includes how they should be feeling and thinking at different points along the way.

Alex Khrapov, the founder of Headway Coaching Group, helps folks transform their coaching practice into a thriving business. 

To generate leads, Headway Coaching offers a variety of free coaching templates on a dedicated landing page.

From 531 impressions, 163 people have signed up, resulting in an impressive 30.7% opt-in conversion rate.

Upon signing up, you’re redirected to a thank you page, including the next steps and access to the coaching templates.

The templates are professionally designed PDFs, including fillable fields to brainstorm your ideas. 

Besides the excellent conversion rate, we like that this lead magnet acts as a first step or sample Headway Coaching Groups’ core offering. This relevancy makes the leads all the more valuable as they’re more likely to convert into sales.

3. Directory lists

A directory is a list of valuable contacts or opportunities to help users find the best resources in your industry.

Flycast Media is an award-winning digital agency in London. They’ve tried a few types of lead magnets over the years, including a comprehensive guide on content marketing.

However, they’ve found that simpler resources achieve better results.

“Even though there is much more value in something more complex, we found that it got very few downloads”, says Managing Director Shane McEvoy.

Flycast Media now offers a directory of all the places you can advertise for free on the internet. 

The free directory has an average email opt-in rate of about 10% — generating a steady stream of leads.

Here’s another example.

Brick Finds & Flips is a website that shares tips on how to collect, invest and resell Legos. 

Founder Jeremy Stake creates a directory of retiring lego sets to give his audience leads on where to buy legos at a discount. This directory is updated regularly to provide users with the most up-to-date information.

This lead magnet converts at a remarkable 29.5%.

4. Dashboard/tool or calculator

A dashboard is an interactive, visual display of data that allows users to see at a glance how their business or industry is performing. Dashboards help track progress towards goals and identify trends and patterns.  

Industry Alerts is a SaaS company that provides competitor marketing intelligence. They’ve taken a unique approach and created industry-specific research dashboards to offer as lead magnets.

In the founders’ words:

“These dashboards are created by analyzing thousands of searches made on Google, from dozens of locations, in order to identify which businesses have the best rankings on Google within a local area.”

Industry Alerts first dashboard has been converting at 33% and attracted PR opportunities while increasing repeat visitors to the website. The team plans to roll out more free dashboards in other locations and industries.

At Encharge, we’ve built our very own free AI Subject Line Generator. The tool allows you to generate a few dozen subject line examples per day before it asks you to sign up for Encharge, where you can get unlimited AI-generated subject lines. Yes, lead magnets can also be used to get people to sign up for your product or service.

So if you have programming and design skills, creating industry-specific software as a lead magnet could be highly effective.

Another great example of a lead-generating tool is the interactive calculator. The team at Brew Interactive built an ROI calculator for a client in the solar energy space. More than 16,000 people used the calculator to calculate their savings if they installed a solar air conditioner. The business managed to collect 3,300 leads and close 195 deals from this lead magnet! With a total of 35,000 web visits to the calculator page, that’s an opt-in rate of 9.4%, but the most important part is that this lead magnet makes a significant impact on the bottom line of the business.

5. Coupons

Coupons are a tried and true tactic to incentivize people to purchase products. Digital coupons are also fantastic for capturing new leads. 

FragranceX is an online perfume retailer in New York that uses coupons to boost leads and drive sales.

According to Chief Customer Officer Leanna Serras:

“Our customers love a good deal, so we invite them to sign up to our email list to receive exclusive coupons and promotions. Customers on our email list are also signed up to our loyalty program, which rewards them with a point per dollar on every purchase they make.”

FragranceX gives their customers free coupons on the landing page while also providing an opportunity to sign up for more exclusive deals. 

How effective is this strategy? Very.

Their coupon page is now one of the most trafficked pages on their website, with a conversion rate of 27%. Sales data shows that customers with coupons spend 33% more than regular shoppers.

FragranceX is a wonderful example of driving leads and sales simultaneously through promo codes.

6. eBook

An ebook is a digital version of a printed book. It’s a collection of text, images, and other media in the form of files that can be read on computers, tablets, or smartphones. Ebooks are also one of the most popular types of lead magnets.

YAY offers customizable online diaries for family adventures — printable as a photo book. YAY also offers a variety of free ebooks to its audience to drive leads. 

YAY’s flagship lead magnet is a guide on how to come up with meaningful ideas for your baby journal. No more blank pages as you tap into inspirational prompts to capture the best milestones in your baby’s journey.

A whopping 75% of visitors to the ebook landing page (the German version) sign up to YAY’s email list. It gets better. 

As the lead magnet is closely related to the core product, YAY enjoys a 95% retention rate, and 20% of leads download YAY’s second ebook.

YAY’s example proves that ebooks can still be effective if you make them ultra-relevant to your business goals. 

Another example of an ebook lead magnet is Qoruz, an influencer marketing platform in India. 

In exchange for an email address, Qoruz offers an ebook to help consumer brands go digital. 

This eBook converts at a nice 3.25% and drives a bunch of demo requests.

One more ebook example. Promise!

Prokuria is a sourcing and supplier management software that also uses ebooks to drive leads and signups. 

At the time of this post, they offer three ebooks tailored to specific needs in the sourcing journey. 

These ebooks convert between 20 and 28% — speaking to the relevance and value delivered to their audience.

7. Case study

Case studies, also known as customer stories or success stories, are a great way to demonstrate the value of your product or service. They’re an effective way to show how your company has helped people achieve their goals and overcome challenges.

CLCK Digital is a marketing automation agency based in Australia. Director Damien Elsiing and his team leverage a video case study to drive leads and build trust with potential clients.

The case study has resulted in a 34% email opt-in rate and plenty of new business.

Your prospective customers want the blueprint of how other people have gotten to where they want to go. So if you’re not capturing your client case studies, start now. You can turn them into blog articles, social media posts, podcast episodes, or do what CLCK has done and use it as a trust-building lead magnet.

8. Quiz

A quiz is an excellent (and fun) way to build trust and rapport with your visitors. It’s also one of the most effective ways to collect email addresses from people interested in what you have to offer.

Jason and Caroline Zook the power couple behind Wandering Aimfully, a coaching and education program for entrepreneurs. 

They’ve developed a quiz to use as a lead magnet, which has generated nearly $300,000 in revenue! 

After adding the quiz, the Zook’s saw a 400% increase in email subscribers with zero change in website traffic. 

The opt-in gets a ridiculous 38.8% conversion rate. 

But more importantly, the quiz acts as a filter to attract quality leadsd. In their words:

“Creating a set of questions that people have to take the time to answer builds friction and anticipation. If someone doesn’t have the patience to answer seven questions, we don’t want them on our email list (especially because we write long-winded emails).”

Source

You can easily create quizzes to collect leads using a tool like Outgrow — which also has a Zapier integration with Encharge

9. Workbook

A workbook is a highly actionable document that helps customers and clients track, reflect, and develop a plan around a particular problem.

Dr. Aldea is a board-certified family physician offering virtual care to her patients. She’s created a free printable workbook to help patients lower their blood pressure without medication. The workbook includes lifestyle advice, a food guide, and a blood monitoring sheet. 

The workbook converts at an impressive 19.78%. 

Dr. Aldea currently drives organic traffic to her lead magnet landing page from posts on her Facebook page. What surprised the doc was that these visitors were mostly a cold audience — yet she’s booking consulting patience as a result of her opt-in. 

This proves that creating an ultra-specific lead magnet in the form of an actionable workbook is a highly-effective client acquisition channel for service providers. 

10. Challenge

A challenge is a program where you commit to doing something new every day for a defined timeframe. It can be anything from learning how to cook a new dish, starting a new hobby, or even trying out a new fitness class.

Nathalie Lussier is a digital strategist and entrepreneur who’s seen incredible results collecting leads by creating her iconic 30-day email list building challenge.

Upon signing up, you receive a new (short) training video for the next 30 days with one action to take towards building your list.

You also access a private Facebook group to hold yourself accountable for implementing the lessons. There’s tremendous energy in the community, which results in a 12% referral rate. So there’s an inbuilt virality in this lead magnet.

Furthermore, Nathalie has a dedicated domain name for the challenge 30daylistbuildingchallenge.com which makes it feel like a paid product and captures some organic search traffic from relevant keywords.

Nathalie reported an opt-in conversion rate of 43% for her challenge, which is what you’d expect from someone who teaches others how to build email lists. 

A challenge at this level of production is a significant undertaking. However, you can initially scale it down to a text-based email series and add video and community over time.

11. Gated content

Gated content requires the viewer to take a specific action to see your information.

We see this all the time for premium digital publications like the New York Times, where you get some articles for free but ultimately have to become a paid member to access their content.

Gated content can also be a neat lead magnet.

Whole Whale is a social impact digital agency that uses various lead magnets, including gated content, to drive leads. 

For example, Whole Whale created a list of non-profit conferences to attend. Some content is publicly available; however, you had to sign up to see the rest of the conferences on the list. 

This gated content strategy resulted in a 21.42% email conversion rate

Note that this method only works if you have exceptional content for which readers would be willing to hand over their contact information. 

Start by reviewing your most highly trafficked blog posts and experiment with locking a portion of the content. This may have an impact on your SEO performance. So you’ll need to weigh up the cost vs. benefit.

12. Branded newsletter

Unlike a generic newsletter with no plan or cadence, a branded newsletter has a name, theme, social proof, and regular schedule.

James Clear, the author of the New York Times Best Selling book, Atomic Habits, has mastered the art of the branded newsletter to build a ginormous email list.

His 3-2-1 newsletter goes out every Thursday and includes 3 short ideas from James, 2 quotes from others, and 1 question for the reader to ponder.

While we don’t have data on how well his newsletter form converts, we know it’s played a significant role in growing James’ email list to over 1 million subscribers.

A branded newsletter can be especially effective for thought leaders (or aspiring thought leaders) whose primary business model is to share cutting-edge/in-depth information in the form of books, talks, and teaching.

Wrapping up

If there’s anything to take away from this post is to make your lead magnet valuable, relevant and deliver an immediate result to your audience.

Get these elements right, and like the entrepreneurs featured in this post, you’ll also experience conversion rates well above the industry standards.

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