Every day for the last 6 years I’ve spoken to 5 or more marketers, that’s over 1,300 marketing people. As the founder of a company that makes lead magnets in the form of quizzes, one question I always ask is “What kind of lead magnet(s) are you already using?” which is relevant if you’re making a switch.
Over the years I’ve developed a keen sense of what’s out there and what is working. Spoiler alert, a lot of what we’ll talk about here is how you can/should use different lead magnets in different places in order to maximize effectiveness, so there’s not one magic pill for how to do this.
Here’s my list, in no particular order, but with call-outs for how/where to use each type of lead magnet.
1. Email course
Most email is annoying, no one really cares about your new releases or whatever it is you’re sending out. However, an email course covering an important topic I’m interested, sent out over a period of time where I can pop in and out as my schedule permits can have tremendous value in helping me learn a topic I’m genuinely interested in.
That’s why an email course is #1 on this list, precisely because it’s useful. Think about the way we learn as working people, if we want to acquire a new skill while also holding down a full-time job, we must fit in hours of learning wherever we can. One of the most effective ways to do this is setting a weekly meeting for a class or with a coach, and when you do that it’s regular set-aside time for learning.
If I want to learn using my own time, let’s say setting aside 20 minutes during my commute in the morning (considering I take public transit and can read while going), or if I set aside 15 minutes at the end of the day for reading industry news, then having a new email queued up that I can just pull up and read through is actually super helpful in achieving my goal of acquiring that new skill.
Without going too far into how you can create an email course, that’s a whole different topic, I can say that what you should be thinking about is what you would teach someone if they were to be meeting with you every day to learn the topic of your course. Prepare the materials like you were helping a friend learn the topic for the first time and your email course will do extremely well.
How to use this: I put this lead magnet idea first in the list on purpose because I often talk with people from B2B or technology companies who are stuck in their old ways of downloadable whitepapers as the center of everything they do. I mention that because my favorite place to use an email course is for people who aren’t ready to start a trial of your SAAS product but are interested in the topic of what you’re offering.
I’ll admit my own bias here and say that we’ve been a customer of Close.io for nearly four years now and they got me hooked with their free email course. I consider myself pretty well-versed in marketing BS, most things quickly show their lack of usefulness and fall short of high promises. However, as I was searching for a CRM to use and Close.io offered a free email course with sales strategies I subscribed just to try it, and they actually delivered on their promise to teach me startup sales.
After the course they offered an extended free trial and that was an easy choice to make now that I had actual strategies to employ. If you’re in B2B software people do a lot of research and reading before committing to a trial, even if you think the trial is there for people who aren’t ready to commit. If you put together answers to the most commonly asked about questions etc. you can win people over by providing that information in an email course and beat out the competition.
Flipping the script, you can also use an email course with Facebook ads, but I’d follow the same principle. Just like people might commit to a course on your website when they aren’t ready to start a trial, you can retarget people who have visited your website home page but didn’t start a trial or purchase with an ad for your email course and use it as a way to re-engage and draw people back who were interested.
What Tools To Use: My favorite tools for creating email courses are Drip and ConvertKit, I’m not affiliated with either of them except as integration partners at interact, and the reason for recommending them is that they both have super easy-to-understand visual builders that let you easily segment your subscribers based on activity and engagement, which can really mean the difference between people following through on your course and losing interest.
With the amount of options for marketing campaigns it can be overwhelming to try and do everything. In fact, the most common word I hear from people using interact to make lead magnet quizzes is “Overwhelming.” The life of a marketer often consists of finding new strategies, trying them, and then moving on to the next thing until you find something that works and dig in. Knowing that, if you want people to try whatever you are selling you should provide them with a test kit they can use to see if your strategy is effective for them without making the person learn everything about your industry and do everything themselves.
What I just described is a template, a pre-made module people can plug into their business and use without any effort.
How to Use This: A template should be used in context, meaning that if you are talking about starting an online business you should give people a template or toolkit for that when you are talking about how to start an online business, like this example from ConvertKit The thing about templates that I still don’t quite understand is that they tend to do better as PDF’s instead of actual tend to work almost as well as lead magnets as fully formed campaigns. Perhaps because they’re easier to share.
Interact is a quiz company, I started it, and I fully believe in the power of quizzes as a lead magnet. Perhaps the best way to show an unbiased stance is to tell you that quizzes are not the only lead magnet you need and they don’t always work. They’re not magic, they’re not going to solve all your business problems, and I’m not going to “sell you” on using them.
However, what a quiz can do is create a conversation with your website visitors and act as the receptionist to your company.
Think about this, if you’ve been in business for a while you probably ask your potential new clients a list of questions to figure out the best way you can work with them and what you can do to help them. A quiz is where you put those same onboarding questions online for anyone who visits your site.
How to use this: My favorite way to use quizzes is front and center on your website, like this one from Kaye Putnam. If you set something up like that (where there is literally a link to take the quiz on the front panel of your site), then it can be used to filter people into the appropriate parts of your site based on how they answer the quiz questions, almost like a traffic director for your website visitors.
The second most popular way to use a quiz is as a Facebook ad which is the use-case you’re probably more familiar with, and the one that everyone goes all crazy over. Yes, it can work stupidly well, no I’m not going to guarantee that you will crush it and become successful overnight because you make one internet quiz on Facebook.
What tools to use: I’m not going to recommend anything except interact quiz maker it’s free to try so give it a whirl
4. Actual books made into ebooks
I got this idea from Priceonomics, one of my favorite companies I’ve been tracking since they were called something totally different and came out of Y Combinator in like 2011. Now they create amazing data-drive blog posts, which I recommend you check out if you want to see what real long-form content looks like.
The team over there turned their guide on content marketing into an actual book, and then back into an ebook (linked here). The thing is that ebooks are overdone and worn out because people kept turning blog posts into PDFs and calling them ebooks, which they weren’t, they were terrible blog posts turned into PDFs that no one cared about, and then gave their email address up for, then got spammed to heck, then unsubscribed – not a great experience.
So if you want to stand out in the ebook game now you can create an actual book and let people access it for an email opt-in.
How to Use This: Priceonomics has their book linked at the bottom of every blog post as a call to action to check it out and download it. That makes sense for them because they’re running a blog about content marketing and the download is a book about content marketing. I was also readying Rand Fishkin’s book Lost and Founder, which you should get and read if you do anything in the marketing world, and he tells a story about when he first created the Ultimate Guide to SEO which is pretty much a full book, and that one is linked from all over their blog and within blog posts.
Tools to Use: None really, just make a PDF of a book you wrote
5. Webinar Training
When Leadpages was on the rise they ran two webinars a week and they had this amazing informational webinar about how you can get more leads from static pages on your site by turning them into Leadpages. I specifically remember how they recommended using your 404 page as a lead magnet and I thought that was the smartest thing in the world. Because of that webinar I (and 25,000 other people) signed up for Leadpages and for a long time we only used it for our 404 page and not really anything else. Now we use it all the time and get a ton of value out of it, but I was sold by that one informational webinar.
I think webinars are overdone just like ebooks, how many times have you shown up to a webinar and just gotten pitched to for an hour? (Okay I’ve never done that, but people always tell me it happens so I’m going to use my best judgement and say that it happens). If you want to do one, just tell people how to do something important to their business that’s related to what your company does, and then just mention that your company can help do that thing. That’s the extent to which you should be pitching your products on a webinar.
How to Use This: What do you usually help people with? Make a webinar where you do that for free for anyone who signs up. That’s not super complicated, and if you have been in business for any amount of time you’re probably pretty good at the thing you help people with so it’s valuable.
6. Curated Lists
Marketers spend so much time researching, usually when it’s market research like finding all the companies in a space or all the bloggers in an industry. There is this company called GroupHigh that is a blogger outreach tool, and they give away lists of bloggers in certain industries for free in return for an email opt-in. It’s smart because it’s a taste of what they do as a business and also super useful on its own.
How to Use This: In any industry there are important things, things that everyone needs to keep up to date on and know about in order to remain relevant. Keep tabs on those things and make downloadable lists if people will opt-in for it.
Tools To Use: Nothing really, you can deliver the list via email after someone opts in
7. Ultimate Guides
1,000 words about some topic turned into a PDF does not count as an ultimate guide. An ultimate guide should have a glossary and a table of contents, and those should both be needed in order to navigate the ultimate guide, it should be like a book, with chapters, and lots of sources used to provide valuable information to the person reading it. This one from AdEspresso is a good example, and the one I mentioned from MOZ took several weeks to initially create.
To put this in concrete numbers, an ultimate guide should be at least 10,000 words, where a novel is usually about 80,000 words, so it should be like a few chapters of a novel. However, it should also be broken down into chunks so it’s not a novel, no one wants to read a novel.
How to Use This: My favorite implementation of ultimate guides is when they are used as “upsells” within a blog. That means if you have a bunch of content related to Facebook ads then you create an “Ultimate Guide to Facebook Ads” and have it as an upsell on all those articles having to do with Facebook ads. This means creating more than one “ultimate guide” but no one said content marketing was easy.
Tools To Use: Canva for free graphics creation, Leadpages or Instapage to host the download page for the guide