The ultimate guide to creating a high converting lead magnet

To be honest with you, we debated whether or not to write this post. Out of 30 plus ideas we brainstormed for March, we narrowed them down to 4. We stayed away from anything too basic and anything too broad, and this one was on the chopping block.

The thing is, we hear about lead magnets every day. In order to sell anything online, the first step is to get people into your funnel with a lead magnet.

But there really isn’t a great, comprehensive guide on how to create one using the top online marketing tools at your disposal in 2016. So we decided to create this ultimate guide.

Let’s go.

What is a lead magnet, and how does it fit into a marketing funnel?

Let’s get the basics out of the way. To sell something online, you need a marketing funnel. This is typically how it looks.

sales funnel

  1. Content (blog posts, tweets, Facebook posts, Instagram images, Snapchat snaps, podcast interviews, etc)
  2. Lead magnet
  3. Lead nurture
  4. Conversion

The role of the lead magnet is to get people from consuming your content into your funnel, so you can convert them with automated emails.

It’s a critical part of the process, so it’s something you want to get right.

Research

Examples of lead magnets

Ebook
A commonly used form of lead magnet, ebooks work well when they educate your customers and prospects whilst providing actionable insights and solving a problem.

Michael Hyatt, for example, offers a free ebook with a very specific claim – “Shave 10 hours off your work week”.

michael hyatt lead magnet

How it works:
Visitors fill out the form to opt-in and receive the free ebook via email or are able to download it.

Why it works:

  • The offer is specific
  • The copy is specific to those wanting to manage their time better
  • The ebook offers proven strategies from an authority figure

Checklist
A popular form of lead magnet is a checklist. A checklist is ideally used to simplify a blog post into more manageable and actionable steps.

high converting lead magnet - wpcurve

How it works:
The offer shown above is a content upgrade for a blog post titled The ultimate content promotion checklist: 97 questions to optimize every aspect of your content marketing.

Why it works:

  • Checklists eliminate guesswork and having to repurpose the content to accomplish an objective
  • It’s free
  • The value of the checklist has been established in the post, so there is little risk in subscribing to get access to the checklist

White paper or case study
A survey, white paper or case study are lead magnets that provide subscribers with insights into their industry in exchange for their contact details. Social Media Examiner uses this to great effect on their site.

social media examiner - high converting lead magnet

How it works:
Visitors to the site are asked to enter their name and email address to get access to the annual industry report on how marketers are using social media.

Why it works:

  • People like to be informed of current trends.
  • People are interested in knowing how they fare against others, what works and what others find challenging.
  • The fact that this is an annual industry-wide survey with lots of charts and other details positions Social Media Examiner as a leader in the industry and therefore, worthy of tuning into their content.

Tools

A tool based lead magnet could be software, quiz, a workbook, template or checklist.
Hubspot, for example, offers a website grader:

website grader - high converting lead magnet

While Curalate offers a quiz:

curalate quiz

How it works:
Visitors to the page are provided the opportunity to test their website in the case of HubSpot or test how in touch they are with millennials in the case of Curalate. People need to provide some basic details about themselves and answer a few questions in order to get the result or have it delivered via email.

Why it works:

  • The offers are simple.
  • It taps into people’s curiosity and vanity as they seek to compare themselves with others.
  • People are loss-averse and having invested a few minutes in answering questions, they are likely to provide their contact details.

Webinar
At times, prospects may be aware of your product or services but are not prime suspects for a webinar. By offering a free webinar, you can educate your prospects about a problem they face and how it can be solved with your products and services.

John Lee Dumas runs Entrepreneur on Fire, a regular podcast in the startup space. He offers a webinar on podcast training.

JLD - high converting lead magnet

The upsell during the webinar is to join Podcasters Paradise, which is a private community along with a course that teaches students how to create their own podcast and make a living doing so.

How it works:
The lead magnet which is the free webinar works to drive leads using a 2-step opt-in process. The visitor clicks on the CTA to view the pop-up form into which they enter their email address to get details of the webinar.

Why it works:

  • The offer is specific and simple in that it just requires an email address to register.
  • The offer is free yet valuable considering that John will be sharing tips and insights in an hour long interactive webinar.
  • There are a number of locations on the site that feature the free workshop and display the sign up form upon clicking the link or CTA.

Creating the lead magnet

Conversion principles

No matter what lead magnet you choose to create, your choice will need to be based on your audience, the product or service, and your goals.

However, to make it effective, you will need to ensure that you use conversion principles to maximize the chances of a person acting on your call to action. Here are a few tips:

  • Invest in great design so it looks professional and appealing
  • Include proof elements to build trust such as seals, number of subscribers, video, etc.
  • Use a compelling headline that taps into pain points and grabs attention
  • Use color and contrast to make your calls to action stand out
  • Tell your audience what they will get now, not later on in time
  • Choose the right verbs, and let directional cues point to your call to action
  • Highlight benefits of what your audience will receive, as opposed to features alone
  • Use urgency and scarcity to prompt decision making
  • Overcome apathy by crafting copy that makes everything feel required, urgent and relevant.
  • Use the friend test with your copy. If you spot words or sentences you wouldn’t use in conversation with your friend, change it.

The lead magnet from Copyhackers below uses a number of conversion principles.

You’ll notice it presents itself (like in the image below) as you scroll down a blog page.

copyhackers 1

On clicking on the element, a pop-up appears like in the image below. You’ll notice that a number of conversion principles are used for this lead magnet.

copyhacker 3

  • It features an image of the ebook that you will get
  • It emphasizes the value of the book.
  • The headline focuses in on the value that the reader is getting.
  • The highlighted call to action makes the choice obvious to the audience.

Tools for creating lead magnets

You can turn just about any existing content into a document or PDF. Once the content has been typed up, you can use Microsoft Word and a free tool like PDFCreator to turn the document into a PDF.

Alternatively, you could use Google docs to prepare your lead magnet via a reusable template, and then provide that to a designer to create a document with your branding and styles. Google docs now allows you to export documents as an .epub file.

To make up a nice front cover design, you could use InDesign.

To create audio content, all you’ll need to do is read out loud your written content and record yourself doing so. To record and create an audio file, use a free service like Audacity. Alternatively, a paid service like GarageBand, Adobe Audition or Twisted Wave can be used.

Consider adding transcripts as well for those who like to read. A service like Rev, Casting Words or Scribie will have the transcript of your audio file produced in a day or 2, less if required.

Have you recorded a webinar, a conference presentation or a workshop? If so, you could offer a portion of that as your lead magnet. You could offer downloadable videos or links to your video clips hosted on an Amazon S3 server or on Wistia.

If you have had experience with editing videos, you can extract or modify the video fairly quickly with a tool like Camtasia. If not, seek out a video editor on Fiverr or Upwork.

Templates

Templates for creating your lead magnet can help shorten production times considerably.

How?

  • You can have it set up to reflect your branding and business.
  • You can repurpose and reuse it for various lead magnets.

How do you develop a lead magnet template that works for your business?

Not to worry we have solved the problem for you by developing an editable template that you can customize for your lead magnets.

Get high converting lead magnet templates

Tools for creating the lead magnet images

People love visual content, however most people feel they don’t have the skills to produce great designs.

So how does a person with no design skills transform their content with great design? Use apps and tools like:

Canva

This is one of the most popular and widely used tools for creating graphics, since it makes graphic design really easy for non-designers. You can use Canva’s pre-made templates or even create your own templates with their drag and drop interface, variety of fonts, image library and more.

canva - lead magnet design

MyeCoverMaker

One of the challenges in creating ebooks is to create a great looking ecover that you can show on your sign up form. Myecovermaker helps you create great looking covers for cheap in a matter of minutes.

Just pick one of the book types, apply your design or choose one of the existing designs on offer and make modifications as required. Then save it and export the file. The video below provides a detailed overview of how it works.

Photoshop

Photoshop is another option when it comes to designing lead magnets, especially coversheets for ebooks or graphics to be used alongside sign up forms.

An easy way to do this, for example, is to keep a PSD file (layered Photoshop file) to use for all your covers. You can have a designer create one specifically for you or you could use a template that we provide you with (read on to get the template at the end of the post).

Even if your design skills aren’t crash hot, you should be able to click and move things around quite easily in Photoshop.

There are a number of other tools that could help in the process of creating images for lead magnets some of which are covered in this post by Buffer.

Tools for lead magnet landing pages

You know that landing pages are an essential part of the conversion funnel. However, creating a landing page from scratch can be complex and require copy which isn’t cheap.

A few reasons to choose a tool for landing pages includes:

  • They are generally the cheapest option
  • You don’t need to find a copywriter just fill in the template you use
  • Minimal graphic design work is required

Tools that can be used include:

OptimizePress

OptimizePress is an awesome tool for building landing pages quickly. It offers a great drag and drop page builder and the ability to easily clone pages for additional lead magnets. It’s also an affordable one-off fee, which makes it a nice option for people getting started.

The Merrymaker sisters, for example, use OptimizePress to set up a landing page for their goal setting lead magnet

msb

LeadPages

We use LeadPages for our landing pages, like this one for the Trello quick start kit. It is fast loading and really quick to build pages given their proven templates. They have beautiful designs and can handle more complex things like lead magnet delivery.

leadpages wpcurve

Clickfunnels

Clickfunnels is another alternative to LeadPages. It has the ability to create the elements for every step of your sales funnel and incorporate multiple lead magnets. They have great designs to choose from and is also fast loading and can handle more advanced things such as one time offers and upsells etc.

Richard Patey from funnelengine says –

I build all landing pages in Clickfunnels as it has the most advanced and intuitive interface, but also because landing pages such as squeeze pages or sales pages should not operate in isolation; they need to be part of a funnel that maximizes value from opt-in through to order forms and upsells. This way you can track every metric and get exponential results from optimizing each step in the funnel.

Foundr magazine, for example, uses Clickfunnels for their landing pages including this one for their ebook on gaining your first 10,000 Instagram followers.

founder free high converting lead magnet

Integrating the lead magnet with the funnel

Lead magnet delivery

So now that you have created your lead magnet, how do you deliver your lead magnet to subscribers?

An easy way to do this is to provide a link to access the lead magnet on a Thank You page. However the Thank You page is also a powerful page for converting your subscribers to other things (sharing, upsells etc).

Either way, you need to email the lead magnet to the person for their record and to establish a relationship over email. You can do this by either hosting the file and emailing a link to it, or emailing the actual lead magnet file. Here are a few options.

Your landing page provider or email marketing tool might provide a ‘lead magnet delivery’ feature. We use Leadpages which provides this feature.

For example, our Trello quick start kit lead magnet uses LeadPages to capture a user’s name and email address.

trello lead magnet

Your lead magnet can be uploaded to the Lead Magnet delivery section of LeadPages and then configured for delivery via an email generated from LeadPages.

To activate the email toggle the on switch and select your lead magnet from the drop down.

lead pages delivery 1

Then customize the email that gets sent.

lead magnet delivery

If you want to host the file yourself, you can either host it on your site (not generally recommended) or host it on an external service like Amazon S3, Google Drive or Dropbox. If it’s a video, you could use Wistia or YouTube.

You can use your email marketing service to send out the lead magnet.

We also make sure we are clear about what the ongoing relationship is.

At times, we use Infusionsoft to deliver emails. The Campaign Builder section in Infusionsoft is where the email delivery is set up. It also allows you to tag the subscriber to the content they signed up for.

infusionsoft campaign builder

You can then tailor the email that goes out to provide access to the lead magnet, with the lead magnet being hosted on options as discussed above.

infusionsoft 1

Analytics and Tracking

To ensure that you are able to track the performance of your lead magnets, you will need to have your Google Analytics account configured and goals set to track them. That way you can track high and low performers.

Goals need to be set to track visitors as they arrive on the lead magnet Thank You pages, like below.

goals1

You can view conversion by traffic source by clicking in the Goal Set tabs at the top of your reporting. You can also see a top level view of all traffic sources by conversion goals, and drill into each source to view granular details.

landing page traffic

Goal completions tell us more about which goals are performing better than others.

wp conversions 2

Examining acquisition sources generates the following report which also displays the conversion rate of the various sources.

acquisition 1

Landing page behaviors provides us with data on which ones perform best and which ones not so well.

landing page behaviors

A few final conversion boosters

Varying lead magnets up

By now, you should know that the lead magnet you choose to use must be relevant to your audience. In fact, we have found using different lead magnets for specific posts yields much better results than just using one throughout the site.

The great thing about lead magnets is that you can change them at any time to ensure they stay current and relevant. The data and insights obtained from your analytics will allow you to vary the lead magnets and make them more relevant to your subscribers. This in turn will better serve them and increase conversions.

Split test landing pages

Split testing landing pages is important to determine what causes the best conversions. There a couple of tools we use to do this.

Google Analytics has free split testing capabilities that have now been built into it. Called Content Experiments, it provides a quick way to test your landing pages with few code implementations. With Content Experiments, you can test up to 10 variations of a landing page.

Some of the benefits of using it are:

  • Compare how different web pages perform using a random sample of your users
  • Define what percentage of your users are included in the experiment
  • Choose which objective you’d like to test
  • Get updates by email about how your experiment is doing

You can discover more of how to set up with Content Experiments here.

An alternative way to split test landing pages is to use LeadPages. This is available if you have a LeadPages pro account. The split test can be created for any existing landing pages you have set up in LeadPages. Variations can then be set up based on modifying the original or other landing pages.

leadpages split test

A conversion goal can also be set using a landing page or thank you page.

leadpages conversion goal

This makes it easy to determine winners of your A/B tests.

Lead nurture and topic based conversion

As a final thought, let’s look at what you can do when you get customers into your funnel. The screenshot below shows you how WP Curve uses what we know about our prospects already (based on which lead magnet they downloaded), to send them topic-specific lead nurture sequence.

nurture campaign

Click on image to view enlarged nurture sequence

If you like Content Marketing, we’ll put you on the content marketing lead nurture sequence; if you like productivity, we’ll put you on the productivity one. Stay tuned for the next WP Curve post about this exact strategy.

For now, feel free to download the lead magnet kit below, and leave a comment if you have any questions.

Get high converting lead magnet templates

About

Vinay is the content marketing manager for WP Curve. Follow him @wpcurve

  • Fantastic overview of creating Lead Generation magnets.

  • Great help indeed! The PDF file given inside is a steal. Thanks Vinay, must have taken you some time to work on them.

    I have one input with regards to high converting lead magnets, that is, how about creating free online courses as the magnet itself along with maybe a PDF version? Was wondering if attractiveness of having ebooks are dwindling, I’ve quite a number downloaded but haven’t got to reading them yet.

    Guess it works to just get the email addresses, but I’m thinking along the lines of engaging the visitors and re-engaging them after they take on the free material. What you think?

    • I am not sure if the attractiveness of ebooks is dwindling, however there may be a case for concise content to enable users to glean and or action the main points quickly.

      Free online courses work well too and offering different formats may appeal to more people. Testing will really give you an idea of what works best for your audience though.

    • Hey Marilyn I think the goal of the lead magnet is to get the email so yes it’s important that people read it but if you can get them into the funnel you can give them more stuff to read later. If people download it and never read it, I still think the lead magnet has done it’s job and things that look like books still have a higher perceived value than something like a course I think. i.e. if you see something that looks like a book you might be more likely to opt in. I do like courses from the point of view that they set up an ongoing relationship and you have more opportunities to deliver ongoing value and get them used to receiving emails from you.

  • Great post! Wondering when you have a different lead magnet for different posts how do you make the sidebar image/opt in different across different pages? Is there a wordpress plugin? Thanks

    • I am not aware of a WordPress plugin that handles sidebar images. If someone knows of one let me know.

      We use code to insert the sidebar images.

    • Hey Karyn yeah we use code with a plugin called Widget Logic. There is a slightly easier one to use called Widget Context. We use a plugin called Q2W3 Fixed Widget to lock it in place as well. There are other plugins that do it but this works for us.

  • Great post Vinay! I have a couple of questions. If we use the Lead Magnet delivery feature in Lead pages, would u suggest disabling the confirmation email feature of the auto responder? My 2nd question is the same as what Marilyn asked. How would u rate an online course or a 7 day video series as a lead magnet?

    • If you use the Lead Magnet delivery in LeadPages, your auto responder confirmation email may arrive after the email from LeadPages with the lead magnet. So yes, it is probably best to go with a single opt-in process.

      I have answered Marilyn’s question above.

    • Hey Jyotsna, the ongoing course is good from the point of view that it gets people used to getting ongoing emails from you which I like. The conversions may not be as high cause there is still a pretty high perceived value in something that looks like a book though.

  • Brilliant! Vinay I’m so impressed with the detail you put into these posts. I think moving forward I’ll just point everyone who asks me about lead magnets to read this post!