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What Is a Lead Magnet?

February 6, 2018
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Today’s markets are seriously overcrowded. The competition to get your product or service to stand out in a sea of options can oftentimes feel like a Herculean feat.

In order to cut through the noise, you need to implement an effective content marketing strategy and strategy-driven advertising campaigns. You need to be on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, you need to blog, send emails, and run a podcast. Sounds exhausting, right?

Well, the good news is that there is an option where you don’t have to try so hard to get leads—and option that will bring them straight to your front door. Of course, we’re talking about the lead magnet—also known as the opt-in bribe—and what it can do to help you grow business.

What Is A Lead Magnet?

Chasing down leads can be an excellent exercise in futility so why not turn the tables and find ways to draw them in? That’s exactly what a lead magnet is—it’s something your company offers to the prospect in exchange for their contact information. This is literally a win/win situation. You get the information you need to start sending your lead highly target advertisements and promotions, while they get something of value in return.

So, what exactly can you offer your prospects that will draw them to your company? Before you can adequately answer this question, you need to get to know your audience.

Conduct In-Depth Target Market Research

The more you know about your target market, the better. Why? Because what might sound like an irresistible offer to one target may be a total snoozefest to another. Case in point: A B2B finance professional might find a white paper more valuable than a coupon for $5 off, whereas a broke college student might snap up that $5 coupon in a heartbeat.

So, in order to accurately select a lead magnet that your target will happily trade for their contact info, you need to find to outline basic demographic information like age, gender, ethnicity, location, interests, etc. Then, you’ll need to dig deeper. Things to consider researching:

  • Common behaviors
  • Desires
  • Fears
  • Needs
  • Wants

You can find this information out in a number of ways. A few of the more popular methods include:

  • Surveys – Either create your own or see if you can access the data from a company that has conducted a similar survey on your target market.
  • Interviews – One-on-one interviews can be extremely beneficial when conducting target market research. Find some willing interviewees and ask them a series of open-ended questions that will help uncover what it is they want or need. Try to avoid asking any leading questions—you want their answers to be unbiased.
  • Social media chatter – Find out what your target market is talking about on social media. With the use of the right hashtags you might stumble on some interesting conversations that will provide you with invaluable information about the target.

In our data-driven, digital world, there are numerous third-party sources you can use to find more information about your target market. The U.S. Census Bureau is an excellent resource to start with but with a quick Google search you can find plenty of others.

Use Segmentation When Possible

Let’s say you’re in the healthcare industry and your overall target market is basically everyone on the planet who wants good health. That target might be a bit too broad when it comes to deciding on a lead magnet everyone would value. This is where it can be helpful to group your target into individual segments and consider which opt-in bribes might work the best for these groups. The segmentation process will work to personalize the experience for your prospects and make a greater impact.

Lead Magnet Ideas

So, now that you know all there is to know about your targets—and have segmented them out when possible—let’s discuss some lead magnet options. The following list contains several tried-and-true possibilities, but don’t be afraid to think outside the box. As long as you’re providing value to your target, you can’t go wrong.


It is nearly impossible to resist a good freebie, but the goal is to give away something your prospects will value. The following are a few ideas on freebies that might pique your prospects’ interest:

  • Free trial: Ah, yes, the free trial—it’s a tried-and-true classic. From service-based software companies to product-driven food companies, offering a free trial is a great way to attract leads. The premise is to let your prospects try the product or service out for a specific amount of time—then, at the end of the trial, they can decide if they want to purchase. But, no matter what they decide to do, you can capture their contact information in the process. So, even if they chose to not purchase, you’ll still have the option to keep in touch with a very warm lead.

Example: KIND Bars

KIND Bars is currently offering an interesting twist on the free trial. They’re placing advertisements in podcasts with a special URL that provides leads with a free trial of a 10 snack variety pack—all you have to do is pay for shipping. And, of course, KIND captures your details in the ordering process.

  • Gift: Offering a free gift as a reward for signing up for a newsletter or creating a profile is another great way to attract leads. The key here is to give a gift your target audience will love while also making sure it ties to your company or brand. If you can somehow imprint the gift with your company logo, even better.
  • Consultation: A free consultation works particularly well with service-based businesses but it also makes sense for some product or retail businesses as well. A store like Home Depot would do well offering a free 15-minute consultation with a kitchen design pro in exchange for contact information. Whereas an ad agency might also see the benefits to offering a free consultation with their pros.
  • Contest: Who wouldn’t love to win an all-expense paid trip to Europe? Or a brand new car? This is one of the many reasons why running a contest is one of the ultimate ways to attract and capture leads—almost no one can resist. In fact, a well-planned contest even has the potential to go viral so make sure you plan accordingly.

Example: United

United knows their target market of flyers want to get away from it all. This Dream Destination contest offers the possibility for this target to experience the ultimate getaway, while United gets their contact information in return. To be honest, I just signed up for this one—this lead magnet was too good to refuse!

Knowledge and information

We’re living in the Information Age and today’s consumers can’t seem to get enough info. There is a constant hunt for new information and if you can provide the answers your target audience is seeking, they’ll willingly hand over their contact details in the process. Here are a few of the more common info-share lead magnets:

  • E-book: Providing your prospects with an e-book of valuable information can be a really enticing opt-in bribe. This is an effective option for renowned thought-leaders who have valuable information that their prospects are dying to see. But, keep in mind, unless you’re a high-profile figure—we’re talking Oprah, Beyonce, or Bill Gates here—then most of your target won’t want to download a 400-page ebook. Try to keep it short and sweet, and worth the trade of your target’s contact information.
  • Webinar / e-course: Offering access to webinars or e-courses in exchange for contact information is another great option for thought-leaders or companies who are trailblazers in their respective fields. Let’s say Sephora decided to put together a series of webinars or an e-course on selecting the right foundation color. Chances are, a large portion of their prospects would eagerly share their information for access to these webinars.
  • Case study: Offering a case study is a fantastic option in the B2B space where the information provided by your company is irresistible to your target. For example, if a company was interested in using a software service and wanted to know how other companies used the software to succeed, then a case study would be a great way of getting this lead to provide their details in exchange for the study.
  • White paper: In a similar vein to the case study, white papers are another document chock full of information that your prospects might want to get their hands on. This authoritative report or guide might contain valuable information they need to make an informed decision or do their jobs better.
  • Quiz or assessment: Sites like BuzzFeed or Playbuzz have popularized online quizzes. On any given day you can take an assessment to find out what type of doughnut you are or which career you should invest in. When done right, offering a quiz to your prospects in exchange for their contact information might be an easy win for your company.

Example: Eventbrite

Evenbrite offered prospects a quiz to help them determine which social network might work best for the event they were planning. After going through the steps in the quiz, prospects could only receive the results via email—effectively capturing the lead’s contact information in the process.

  • Videos: According to ThinkWithGoogle, almost 50% of internet users look for videos related to a product or service before visiting a store. Imagine the number of leads—and possible sales—you could pull in by offering access to the right video as a lead magnet.


  • Coupon: Who doesn’t love to get a deal? You can easily attract leads with as little as a 5% or $5 discount. It doesn’t have to be a monetary offer, either—upgrades and other deals might also be enticing.

Example: Bed, Bath & Beyond

Bed, Bath & Beyond is well-known for their coupons so it only makes sense that they have a lead magnet in coupon form. This savvy company obviously knows and understands its target audience and is providing them with an opt-in bribe that will be hard to refuse.


The goal here is to equip your prospect with handy tools they might need or want. While the types of tools can change drastically from industry to industry, the following are two popular lead magnets tools your prospects can use:

  • Cheatsheet: This particular lead magnet is all about making life easier for your prospect. Let’s say your company sells household cleaning products. You might want to offer your target audience a cheatsheet of cleaning hacks that they’ll need for spring cleaning.
  • Checklist: Similar to the cheatsheet, the checklist offers your prospects a way to make life easier, depending on the industry or field your company is in. For a travel company, you might want to offer a “Foolproof Packing Checklist” as a way to get your targets to opt in.


People love to feel like they are receiving special treatment or are gaining access to something not everyone else can get. These lead magnet ideas cater to the sense of exclusivity and can be irresistible to prospects.

  • VIP access: Make your prospects feel special by offering them VIP access in exchange for their contact information. Bonus points if you make this offer only available for a limited time (trust me, it adds a sense of urgency and deepens the feeling of exclusivity).
  • Community: Create a special community where only like-minded prospects are allowed to join and participate. This could be a Facebook group or a special forum or section on your website.


Traditional Medicinals offers a space where anyone who is passionate about wellness can come and share their expertise—but they need to provide their email address in order to join.

Wrapping Up

You no longer have to imagine a world where prospects come to you. With the right lead magnet, you can attract your target market from anywhere in the world and gain valuable customer contact information in the process. The key to making this tactic a success rests solely on knowing your target market and providing them with something valuable they just can’t resist.


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