“Join My Newsletter” is not an effective call to action. Unless you have a unique and powerful positioning, it won’t help you grow your email list.
Think about it: Why would you give your email address away — for nothing?
Here’s an A/B test I ran on my personal blog. Having a lead magnet converted 2.7 times better than not having one.
Using a lead magnet to grow your email list isn’t a new strategy.
Today, I’m going to show you nine real-world examples of how successful businesses use lead magnets effectively — and creatively.
These examples will show you how to create lead magnets in no time, increase your conversions, and turn new subscribers into paying customers.
Ready? Let’s dive in.
Need more ideas on what you can use as a lead magnet? Here’s a list of 20 tried-and-true ideas you can use to grow your email list now.
Creating a lead magnet seems like a ton of work. But it doesn’t have to be if you’ve been creating content for 6-12 months.
Andrew Chen, an investor at Andreessen Horowitz, who previously led growth teams at Uber, has written 650+ long-form essays on startup and growth marketing.
Instead of making a lead magnet from scratch, Andrew took all of his 2018 articles and turned them into a 54-page PDF ebook.
Andrew offers the lead magnet publicly using a simple landing page with a letter-style copy.
And a call-to-action with an opt-in form at the end of the copy.
To make it easy for readers to find the lead magnet, Andrew also added the link in the top navigation menu.
You don’t need to add every post to the lead magnet. Instead, start with the most popular posts you’ve published.
Go to Google Analytics. Click Behavior > Site Content > All Pages. Here you can see the traffic each page of your website gets.
Pick five to ten of your favorite articles that got significant traffic. Copy and paste them into a Google Doc.
To make the offer more appealing, design a cover using templates in Canva or hire a cover designer from Fiverr.
When everything is done, download the Google Doc as a PDF. Voila! You have your lead magnet ready to go.
We did this at Sumo, packaging our most shared content into a book called “Black Rhinos” then offering it for free as a lead magnet on our main blog page.
It converts traffic into email subscribers at a 4% conversion rate:
To set this up inside Sumo, create a new form then select the following settings:
My Goal = Collect Emails
Form Type = Popup
Then in the Design tab select the Include a Tab option. This will show a tab on the bottom right of your site that people can click to open the form and opt into your lead magnet (see the FREE MARKETING BOOK tab in the screenshot below).
The Takeaway: If you’ve been writing for some time, make use of your most popular content to create a lead magnet quickly.
If you’ve been following the Sumo blog, you may have noticed the strategy we use to grow our email list:
Custom content upgrades.
For example, in our post about ecommerce email marketing automation, we offer an email marketing automation flowchart as an upgrade.
In our Supreme marketing case study, we offer a PDF version of the marketing playbook as the content upgrade.
Custom content upgrades help convert highly targeted visitors who already enjoy your free content.
Which means they convert much better compared to general popups.
Look at the conversion rates we get for our content upgrades using Sumo Click Trigger forms:
Follow the instructions in this video:
Start by creating content upgrades for posts with the most organic traffic on your site.
To find which post get the most organic traffic (preferably in the past three to six months), go to Google Analytics. Click Behavior > Site Content > Landing Pages.
Then, change the segment from All User to Organic Traffic, and click Apply.
After you get your five most popular posts, it’s time to create the content upgrades. To make sure they convert, follow this simple matrix.
Some of the highest-converting lead magnet types include:
For example, our Power Words cheat sheet is a simple one-page PDF with a complete list of the power words mentioned in our power words blog post.
It converts at 57% and has generated over 11,000 email signups:
The best thing is lead magnets like this are usually easy to create, since you already have the content.
When you have the content upgrade ready, upload it to the cloud storage service of your choice (Google Drive, Dropbox, etc.), and set the setting to “public” or “view by anyone who has the link.”
Next, go to your Sumo dashboard, click Forms > Create New Form.
For Form Type, select Click Trigger Popup.
After you have the form set up, go the Success tab. Here, you have two options to deliver your content upgrade:
Set up an Automatic Email Responder to send an email to new subscribers with the link to your content upgrade.
Paste the link of your content upgrade in the Redirect the user to this URL field under the Subscribe Success Redirect section to take your subscribers straight to the content upgrade after they opt in.
The Takeaway: Offer custom content upgrades on your top-traffic posts with Sumo Click Trigger forms.
When paired with strong, valuable content, well-designed lead magnets make your brand memorable. MindBodyGreen does this well with their Ultimate Gut Health Shopping List.
Ten seconds after landing on the site, visitors are shown a pop-up form. It’s well-designed with attractive graphics that fit with the title about gut health.
The design of the PDF matches the opt-in form. Each page has high-quality graphics and images that go well with the content, and the format and typography are organized to make the lead magnet easy to consume.
At the end of the PDF, MindBodyGreen adds a section where readers can create a food journal and add notes. This encourages readers to participate instead of just reading the content.
To go along with the PDF, MindBodyGreen also set up a five-day email drip that guides the reader on their journey to better gut health.
The entire process is well-crafted. Instead of sending their subscribers a PDF, they deliver an experience that strengthens their brand trust and loyalty.
As a result, this single offering helps MindBodyGreen generate over 19,000 new subscribers.
You can hire a professional designer to do the design for you. But if you’re designing the lead magnet for yourself, here are a few simple rules to stick to:
Make sure the design of your form matches the look and feel of your lead magnet.
Match the colors, typography, and logo of your brand with your lead magnet.
Use high-quality images that match the content of your lead magnet.
The Takeaway: Use well-designed lead magnets (that match your brand) to encourage your subscribers to act and increase the perceived value of your brand.
Here is how to build trust with your audience:
Make a promise.
Deliver on the promise.
Trust is the key element of any sale. Before your audience buys anything from you, you need to win their trust first.
And your lead magnet can be a bridge to win trust.
For example, Onnit offers an "8-Week 8-Pack Plan" as a PDF.
To make sure subscribers read and follow along, they make the content as clear and actionable as possible using images and step-by-step instructions.
People actually talk about (and love) the program!
Onnit uses their lead magnet as a minimum viable solution to solve a problem for their audience.
To do the same, think about a problem you can solve for your audience, make the solution as clear and actionable as possible, then package it into a lead magnet.
If you don’t have a lead magnet or want to create a new one, focus on actionable content.
Think of the lead magnet as a simple and quick guide that takes readers from Point A (their problem) to Point B (their desired outcome).
Then, design and deliver your lead magnet in a way that generates results for them.
If you already have a lead magnet that focuses on information instead of getting the end result, add action items into each section of your blog post to encourage the reader to take immediate action with the new information they consumed.
For example, in our Supreme marketing PDF, we have a takeaway section under each strategy Supreme has used to make it actionable for our readers.
The Takeaway: Add images and clear instructions to make your lead magnet actionable and deliver the results it promises.
When you have a great product, the right positioning, and a growing market, all you need to make a sale is a reason for your audience to purchase NOW.
To make that happen, Perfect Keto pairs their lead magnet with an exclusive discount for visitors who join their email list.
This simple inline form on the blog header (above the fold) helps Perfect Keto generate over 142,000 subscribers.
After the visitor opts in, Perfect Keto prompts the visitor to download the lead magnet immediately via the browser (instead of sending it via email).
Then they send an email about an exclusive discount to encourage new subscribers to make a purchase.
This is the email list building sales strategy we recommend, paired with the power of a lead magnet.
Go to your Sumo dashboard, click Forms > Create New Form. Start setting up your new form.
After you have the opt-in form ready, go the Success tab. Under the Subscribe Success Redirect section, select the Download Content Upgrade tab. Then, upload your content to Sumo.
Next, create an email using the Automatic Email Responder and add the welcome discount code to the welcome email using the Coupon Code Template.
The Takeaway: Give people access to your lead magnet immediately after they opt in, then send a welcome email with a discount code to encourage sales.
What if you don’t want to discount your product? And you prefer to let your audience decide when they want to buy from you?
We get it!
Instead of closing a sale immediately, Pinch of Yum mentions two of their flagship products gently at the end of their lead magnet. They also include testimonials for social proof and let their audience check out their products if they’re interested.
In fact, Onnit does the same by mentioning their supplements at the beginning of their "8-Week 8-Pack Plan" program.
This method allows you to mention your product without being salesy.
First, decide which products you want to add to your lead magnet. To maximize the conversions, make sure it fits well with the context and content of your lead magnet.
You can mention your product:
Before your main content, to remind the readers about your brand and products.
Within your content, with a link that redirects users to your product page.
After your main content, as an option to add value to your readers if they want more.
The Takeaway: Turn subscribers into customers by mentioning your products in your lead magnet.
It quickly gets boring when every site on the internet is offering some sort of PDF ebook. To stand out, you can turn your lead magnet into an email course.
Examine.com is a great example that does this well.
When a visitor opts in, Examine automatically sends a five-day email drip (one email every 24 hours) sharing valuable content about supplements.
In fact, there are a few upsides to create a short email course compared to a PDF.
You don’t need to design a cover, format your ebook, and upload your content for a download offering. Simply copy and paste the content into a series of emails.
Instead of downloading your lead magnet and forgetting about your business, an email drip trains your subscribers to open your email.
Psychologically, a course is perceived to be more valuable compared to an ebook. Besides, the subscribers can consume the content in sections v.s. getting overwhelmed by a long-form ebook.
Prepare your email course in a document. Again, make sure your emails bring the readers from Point A (their problem) to Point B (their desired outcome).
In your Sumo dashboard, go to Contacts. Under Groups, click Create Group. This will segment every subscriber who will receive your email course into a group.
Next, create an email opt-in form for your email course. In the Success tab, select the group you created in the Add Subscribers to Group section. This setting will automatically add anyone who subscribes via this opt-in form into your chosen contact group.
Go to Email, under the Automations tab, click Create Automation to create your email course.
Give your automation a name and make sure you’re sending the automation to the right group.
Then, add emails to the automation by clicking the email icon below, and copy and paste each email you’ve prepared upfront. You can also change the number of days between each email sent by clicking the 1 Day beside Delay.
The Takeaway: Offering a short email course as your lead magnet can help your business stand out.
Here’s the hard truth: Your audience doesn’t care about you.
As an entrepreneur or marketer who invested so much into your business, product, and marketing, it’s challenging for us to realize that. But the fact is, what your audience and customers care about most is themselves.
If your lead magnet is all about how great you, your product, and your business is, you’re doing it wrong.
Because people generally care most about themselves, it’s so much more effective when your lead magnet is all about them.
16Personalities does this well. Instead of talking about how knowing your personality type helps or how accurate their personality test is, they offer their visitors a free personality test.
At the end of the personality test, the visitor gets results that are all about them.
16Personalities then encourage the visitor to read about their personality type result on the website or via email.
Besides focusing on the audience, this type of lead magnet works incredibly well because it uses the foot-in-the-door strategy:
Get visitors to perform an action(s) first. In this case, take the survey.
Ask visitors to opt into the email list or sign up for an account.
Visitors are more likely to convert into subscribers because they have done the first part of the action. If you want to go more advanced, you can segment your subscribers based on their answers.
Based on your desired customization, convenience, and the budget you have, choose a tool to create your survey.
Google Form. Free but comes with limited customization, and you need to import the emails manually to your email service provider.
SurveyMonkey or Typeform. More advanced survey tools with features like skip logic, A/B testing, and email integrations. You can start using them free but need to pay for them monthly to access the advanced functionality.
Build it in-house. If you want it to look and work exactly like you want, building it yourself could be the way to go, but this route usually takes more upfront time and resources.
The Takeaway: Encourage visitors to take a survey or test to find out something about themselves. This makes them more likely to opt in to get the survey results.
We’ve covered a lot of lead magnet examples that you can implement to get better conversions and sales immediately.
Now, what if you want to scale your efforts and take your marketing to the next level?
Here's one great way to do that:
Intercom created an entire library of downloadable lead magnets.
For each download, Intercom created custom landing pages with testimonials, helping maximize conversions.
To take it a step further, they run retargeting ads to visitors who don’t sign up and download on their first visit.
Scaling the lead magnet strategy has three benefits:
You get to build a large, segmented list by topic.
You establish expertise and authority in the topics you cover.
You get more organic traffic when people link to the library, and viral traffic when people are sharing your content.
Here are the referring domains and backlinks Intercom’s Books page has gotten over the years, according to Ahrefs.[*]
In all honesty, there are no shortcuts to implement this lead magnet strategy. However, here are a few tips if you’re considering using this technique:
1. Validate the idea upfront.
You don’t want to create a full series of long-form lead magnets, only to find that no one cares about it. You can test the water by looking at what your audience already ask for.
Brennan Dunn recently set out to create a ConvertKit automation course — and it all started with a single tweet.
2. Make sure you’re speaking to your target audience.
Create customer personas that help you understand the pain and need of your prospect audience. Here’re some actionable tips:
Create a list of the demographic and psychographic attributes of your target audience.
Take note of the language and vocabulary your target audience uses, and use the same words.
Put yourself in your audience’s shoes and find out what they content already see in your industry. Then, come up with something unique.
3. Always be testing.
There will be more moving parts when scaling things up. Don’t expect to get everything right the first time.
Put in the time and effort to test different components of your entire campaign, such as the headlines, landing page, call to action, and more.
The Takeaway: Create a library of content and build high-converting landing pages to convert more subscribers. Retarget visitors who didn’t download the lead magnet.
Here are the nine key takeaways:
If you’ve been writing for 6-12 months, use your popular content to create a lead magnet in hours.
Offer custom content upgrades on your top-traffic posts with Sumo Click Trigger forms.
Use well-designed lead magnets (that match your brand) to encourage your subscribers to act and increase the perceived value of your brand.
Add images and clear instructions to make your lead magnet actionable to deliver the results it promises.
Give people access to your lead magnet immediately after they opt in, then send a welcome email with a discount code to encourage sales.
Turn subscribers into customers by mentioning your products in your lead magnet.
Offering a short email course as your lead magnet can help your business stand out.
Encourage visitors to take a survey or test to find out something about themselves. This makes them more likely to opt in to get the survey results.
Create a library of content and build high-converting landing pages to convert more subscribers. Retarget visitors who didn’t download the lead magnet.
Need more ideas on what you can create? Grab my 20 most effective lead magnet ideas that are proven to work for both beginner and pro marketers.