What is a “lead magnet” and how can it improve results from online ads?


So, you want more sales leads.

Obviously, getting someone to give up their contact information requires more than just saying, “Hey! Give me your email address so I can try to sell you something!”

People don’t want more sales emails. You need to give them something that makes the exchange of information feel worth it.

What can you give them? A lead magnet.

What is a lead magnet?

A lead magnet is a free piece of relevant and valuable information that you give away in exchange for a potential buyer’s email address or phone number.

It’s called a magnet because as long as what you give away is aligned with your prospects needs and has real worth, people will be drawn to it. And as an added bonus, well-planned lead magnets require very little maintenance to generate a steady stream of new sales opportunities.

Lead magnets also help you kick off the relationship on the right foot. You’re essentially saying, “Here’s a free resource to show that I’m here to help.”

Of course, an ill-conceived plan can backfire. The lead magnets that generate the most sales opportunities are:

  1. Relevant to your website content, business vertical, service, and product.
  2. Full of easy-to-understand information that readers could not easily find somewhere else.
  3. Focused on solving problems that your ideal customers struggle with.

Here’s an example of a lead magnet that fits those criteria for this article:



Where should I publish my lead magnet?

The short answer is: Anywhere that your prospects might be ready to advance their relationship with you. That could be at the end of a sales email, the bottom of a service page on your website, or as part of a targeted advertising campaign.

Some people just aren’t ready to buy yet. Lead magnets give those people a step to take that doesn’t require parting with their money.

For instance, imagine that someone searches for “personal injury lawyer near me” and sees one of your pay-per-click ads on Google. They click on it, skim over your site, and like what they see.

But instead of calling you, they bookmark your site alongside half a dozen other firms they’re considering. Now you’re in a seven-firm race for that person’s business.

But what if after clicking your ad, you offered prospects expert advice that none of the other firms provided? You’d be way ahead of the pack.

Run that scenario 1,000 more times and you get a clear picture of how a lead magnet can supercharge your digital ads. If 5% of your ad viewers exchange their contact info for your free advice…that’s more than two new leads per business day!

What makes a lead magnet stand out?

There are three essential characteristics of any great lead magnet:

  • Simple – When you confuse prospects, you make their decision for them. It’s early in the business relationship so keep things simple.
  • Specific – The more specific and relevant the lead magnet is to your ideal customer, the easier it is for them to identify with your products or services.
  • Surprising – Sharing unexpected insights will not only make you more memorable, it will also cement the idea that you’re trustworthy.

We guarantee that if you create a lead magnet full of simple, specific, and surprising information, you’ll eventually generate more prospects than you have time to talk to.

Types of lead magnets

Alright, you understand the concept. But what would a lead magnet connected to your advertising efforts actually look like?

In most cases, you’d have a short and sweet advertisement (displayed on Google, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.) that links to a page with more information. That page would include a segment showcasing your lead magnet (i.e. “Fill out this form to receive your free [lead magnet topic]”).

These are the most common examples:

Checklist: These are quick and easy to create. And they’re simple and specific by design. As long as you have something relevant (and, ideally, surprising) to share, you’re set!

Email course: If you have something complicated to share, break it down into 5-10 subtopics and create an email for each of them. One email per week ensures you don’t overwhelm leads with information and keeps them engaged over a long period of time.

ebook: Longform lead magnets are great for B2B industries and long sales cycles. You’re giving prospects enough information to keep them reading until they’re ready to make a decision (just remember: longer does not mean more complex!).

Where to go from here

Lead magnets require a lot of upfront work. But with enough advance planning they need very little ongoing maintenance.

It’s like that quote from Abe Lincoln, “Give me six hours to cut down a tree and I’ll spend four sharpening my axe.”

So before you do anything else, spend a few hours considering these questions:

  • What surprising information can I provide that none of my competitors are providing?
  • What format would my ideal customer like the best?
  • Where will prospects sign up for my lead magnet?
  • What contact information do I need from them?
  • How long should I wait before giving another sales pitch to people who grabbed my lead magnet?

When you’re ready to promote your lead magnet, all you need is a website design team and advertising specialist to make it happen. Request a consultation with us today to see what we can do for you.


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