A step-by-step guide to lead magnets: grow your email list

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Are you looking to grow your email list and attract potential customers? Lead magnets are the answer! In this step-by-step guide, I explain what lead magnets are, why they’re essential for online businesses, and provide tips on creating effective lead magnets that resonate with your target audience. Plus, I’ll give you a comprehensive list of lead magnet ideas to help you get started.

What Is a Lead Magnet, Content Upgrade, or Opt-In Freebie?

Lead magnets, content upgrades, and opt-in freebies are all essentially the same: a free but valuable resource that you offer to potential customers in exchange for their contact information, usually their first name and email address. This could be anything from a free ebook, checklist, challenge, and more. There’s a comprehensive list of lead magnet types below. The purpose of a lead magnet is to attract potential customers and grow your email list. It’s a way to provide value to your audience and establish trust with them.

The name “lead magnets” indicates that they are designed to attract leads by offering something of value in exchange for their contact information, and “opt-in freebies” means they are free resources and that a person needs to opt in before receiving it.

Content upgrades are incentives directly related to specific pieces of content such as blog posts, podcast episodes, or videos. The goal is to engage individuals who are already consuming that content and provide them with additional bonus material in return for their contact details. For instance, if you have a blog post with tips for creating a self-care routine, a content upgrade could be a downloadable checklist encompassing all the mentioned tips. This allows interested readers to ensure they implement all the tips when crafting their own self-care routine. 

Why are lead magnets important? 

Lead magnets are essential for online businesses because they help attract potential clients and grow your email list. With a larger email list, you can reach more people with your marketing messages and increase your chances of converting them into paying clients.

1. Lead magnets provide a steady flow of leads to support your business.

As a small business owner, your time, energy, and manpower are limited when it comes to promoting your business, so it’s important to be strategic and automate what you can when it comes to marketing. Using email marketing software, you can automate the process of capturing leads from your website and promptly deliver the lead magnets they sign up for. Once they’re signed up, you can send them an email series that introduces them to your business, products, and services (commonly known as a welcome sequence, or nurture sequence). You can tag and segment them based on the emails they open, the links they click on, and the sequences they complete. This way, you can send them more personalized messages in the future. Once your email marketing shows success, all you need to do is bring in high-quality traffic to your lead magnet landing page and you can be confident that it will result in conversions. 

2. Lead magnets will give you valuable insight through subscriber data.

Lead magnets offer valuable subscriber data, allowing you to understand your target audience’s interests and enhance your marketing tactics. For example, you can identify the topics a subscriber is interested in based on which lead magnet they opted in for. Additionally, by analyzing the landing page where most subscribers signed up, you can calculate its conversion rate and figure out the elements that made it more effective. Finally, based on your highest-performing lead magnet, you can gain insights into your audience’s primary interests and create or adjust your products and services accordingly. 

3. Lead magnets can help you book more clients and get more customers.

Everyone wants to make sure they’re getting their money’s worth when making a purchase. So when your FREE lead magnet proves helpful to potential customers, they’re much more likely to purchase your paid offers. With your lead magnet, you can show potential clients and customers that you know what you’re talking about and you’re the right person to help them. However, if you fail to deliver the value they’re hoping to get from the lead magnet, it discourages potential clients or customers from booking your services or buying your products. 

Should lead magnets be free?

Yes, lead magnets should be free. The purpose of a lead magnet is to attract potential customers and provide them with value. By offering something for free, you’re building trust and positioning yourself as an expert in your industry.

Lead Magnet Ideas to Grow Your Email List

There are many different types of opt-in freebies that can help you to attract potential customers. Some of the most popular types of lead magnets include:


Full-length ebooks are generally less effective for lead magnets. They can be too long and detailed, which means people may not finish them and thus not get the value they were hoping for. Instead, consider a shorter PDF guide. Something less lengthy can be a great way to educate your audience and give them a quick win. They don’t have to take a long time to create; using my Ebook & Workbook templates for Canva, you can easily design a short ebook or guide that will attract potential clients. 

Fillable workbooks and worksheets

A workbook or worksheet offers your audience the opportunity to see what it would be like to work with you by walking through one of your core processes. If your workbook helps someone get to the core of a problem, or experience a business breakthrough, you can bet they’ll be interested to hear about the products and services that you offer to help take them a step further.

Examples of worksheets

Learn how to create fillable workbooks and worksheets using Canva using my tutorial here.


Checklists are awesome to provide alongside a post about some sort of process that you would recommend going through. Do you have a go-to process for something in your life or business that makes things quicker, easier, or better? If so, your audience might be interested to hear about it… and then get it from you in a checklist format.

Checklists are short, typically one-page-long PDFs that explain how to complete a certain process step-by-step. They generally convert well because they’re easy to skim and give your subscriber a quick win if they simply follow the step-by-step process.

Example of checklists

You can create checklists easily by using my Ebook & Workbook templates for Canva.

Calendars or planners

If productivity and time management are your jam, offering a calendar, planner, or agenda that totally jives with your philosophy on productivity might work for you. Maybe you find it beneficial to have a habit tracker included in your daily agenda, or maybe you find monthly calendars to be way too cumbersome. Why not design a custom alternative for your audience?

Example of planners and habit tracker

My Ebook & Workbook templates for Canva also include pages for calendars, planners, and habit trackers.


Cheatsheets are almost identical to checklists. The only difference is that a cheat sheet gives tips and shortcuts to achieve a certain task instead of showcasing step-by-step instructions. You can give some useful suggestions to speed up a certain task or process, and include keyboard shortcuts for the tool or tools used to complete that task.


These give subscribers an easy way to kickstart their projects and can be especially effective for designers and copywriters. If you’re a service provider focusing on a specific platform, like a Pinterest manager, you could also offer templates for the platform you specialize in.

Swipe files

A swipe file is a document containing a copy-and-paste solution for something. For example, if you wrote a blog post about the benefit of using canned e-mail responses, you could offer a swipe file with a handful of your own canned e-mail templates that readers could copy and paste to use in their own business.

Email Courses & Challenges

Email courses are a collection of email lessons that are sent out to subscribers each day. You can set this up as an automated sequence in your email list provider, like Mailerlite (affiliate link) or ConvertKit (affiliate link), so the emails are sent out to subscribers automatically.

Email challenges can be set up the same way, but you can also host a mini-course or challenge in a course platform if you’re already using one for paid courses.

Free email courses and challenges provide an engaging way for your audience to learn about your topic in detail. You could create 5-day or 7-day challenges focused on nutrition tips or fitness exercises – whatever your specialty may be! 

Emails should be short but informative, and each email should give readers an action to do that day, or another way for them to get a quick win from each email.

Keep in mind that you don’t necessarily need to offer up an entire course in order to get people to sign up. In cases where you’re trying to lead people into buying a course with a steep price tag, you could unlock one module and exchange that for an e-mail address to give people a taste of what you’re offering.

Video Trainings & Webinar Replays

A video training allows you to go more in-depth into a certain topic, but you can also set up a recording of a webinar as your opt-in freebie.

If you’ve hosted a webinar at any point in your business, it’s likely that the replay was sent out to the original mailing list and has since been collecting dust on your computer. Assuming the content is still relevant, why not try offering it to new leads?

You may need to crop out your pitch, or any mention of the product you were likely promoting at the time of hosting. Otherwise, this opt-in idea should take virtually no time or effort to create, but it’s an incredibly high-value item to offer your audience.


Quizzes tap into our natural curiosity and desire for knowledge, making them irresistible to participate in. By offering visitors the chance to discover something about themselves, quizzes create a sense of excitement and personalization that other lead magnets often can’t match. One key advantage of using quizzes as lead magnets is that they provide instant gratification. Unlike ebooks or webinars that require time and commitment from the user, quizzes offer immediate feedback and results. This instant gratification not only keeps users engaged but also increases the chances of them sharing their results on social media or with friends, generating organic referral traffic for your website.

Make sure to tailor quiz questions to align with your target audience’s pain points or interests, so you can gather valuable insights about your leads that can help you personalize future marketing efforts.

Free trials

If you offer a membership, offering a free trial as your lead magnet could be worthwhile. This allows people to test out your membership before they need to pay anything. Trials should be set up to get as many people as possible to purchase at the end of the trial period. They can spend some time seeing the value of your membership, which will make them more likely to buy.

Discount Codes

If you have a digital product shop or even an e-commerce store for physical products, discount codes are a very effective lead magnet. It’s a win-win: you collect an email address that you can send marketing emails to, and the customer gets a coupon, which also increases the likelihood of them making a purchase.

How to Create a Lead Magnet

When creating a lead magnet, it’s important to keep your target audience in mind. You want to create something that provides value to them and addresses their pain points. Here are some steps to follow when creating a lead magnet:

Step 1: Identify Your Target Audience

Before creating a lead magnet, you need to identify your target audience. Who are they? What are their pain points? What do they want?

  • What do people need to know/do before they’re ready to buy from you?
  • What’s the main problem people are struggling with when they’re ready to buy from you? Could you give them a quick win related to that?

Once you have a clear understanding of your target audience, you can create a lead magnet that resonates with them.

Step 2: Choose a Type of Lead Magnet

Choose a type of lead magnet that aligns with your target audience’s needs and preferences. For example, if your target audience is interested in health and wellness, an eBook on healthy eating habits or a checklist for a healthy lifestyle could be effective lead magnets.

Step 3: Designing Your Lead Magnet

Design your lead magnet to be visually appealing and easy to read. Use images, graphics, and colors that align with your brand and target audience. Make sure the content is well-written and provides value to your audience.

Don’t want to start from scratch? Get one of my E-book/Workbook Templates to get you started quickly! They’re available in US Letter as well as A4 size.

Step 4: Create a Landing Page

Create a landing page for your lead magnet that clearly explains what it is and how it provides value to your audience. Include a form for visitors to fill out in exchange for the lead magnet.

Step 5: Promote Your Lead Magnet

Promote your lead magnet on social media, your website, and other marketing channels. Make sure to target your promotions to your target audience.

Need help creating your lead magnet or setting up the tech for it? Work with me.

How to Name a Lead Magnet: Ideas, Titles, and Examples

When naming your lead magnet, it’s important to choose a title that makes it clear what it’s about and what it is – so people know what to expect when they sign up. You can use a more catchy and attention-grabbing headline on the landing page or popup forms. Here are some ideas and examples for titles:

  • The Ultimate Guide to [Topic]
  • [Number] Tips for [Topic]
  • [Topic] Checklist
  • [Topic] Workbook
  • [Topic] Cheat Sheet
  • [Topic] Template
  • [Topic] Quiz

Lead Magnet Examples

Here are some examples that might spark ideas for lead magnets:

Ebook Lead Magnet Examples

  • The Ultimate Guide to Social Media Marketing
  • 10 Ways to Boost Your Productivity
  • The Beginner’s Guide to Investing
  • The Ultimate Guide to Email Marketing
  • 10 Secrets to a Successful Online Business
  • The Ultimate Guide to Social Media Marketing
  • 5 Steps to a Healthier Lifestyle

Checklist Lead Magnet Examples

  • The Ultimate Travel Packing Checklist
  • The Home Buying Checklist
  • The Wedding Planning Checklist
  • The Business Launch Checklist
  • The Ultimate Checklist for Planning Your Dream Vacation
  • The Essential Checklist for Starting a Business
  • The Ultimate Home Cleaning Checklist

Are you a health or wellness coach? You may be interested in these 37 Lead Magnet Ideas for Health and Wellness Coaches that you can use to attract new leads to your business.

What is a landing page?

A landing page or opt-in page is a stand-alone web page that provides more details about the lead magnet and gets visitors to join your email list. You can link to this page directly from your social media channels, or when you’re in front of someone else’s audience, like you’re giving a video training during an online summit or you’re a guest on someone’s podcast.

You don’t need a separate landing page builder software. You can just use whatever you already have to build pages on your site – like Elementor PRO (affiliate link). Most mailing list providers, like Mailerlite (affiliate link) or ConvertKit (affiliate link), also have the option to build landing pages with them.

I recommend creating your landing pages directly on your website, so you can see your traffic data and set up goals in Google Analytics.

Lead Magnet Landing Page Examples

The most effective landing pages are simple & straightforward – no distracting navigation, no mixed messages, and only one clear call-to-action (CTA).

Other ways to allow people to sign up

Apart from the landing page, you can also put an opt-in form or pop-up on your blog posts, or other website pages such as your homepage, about page, etc. This allows you to capture visitors on your website even if they don’t visit your landing page. Most mailing list providers, like Mailerlite (affiliate link) or ConvertKit (affiliate link), have their own pop-up builders so you can create a pop-up and simply copy and paste the code to your website to make it show up. If you’re using a page builder on your website, like Elementor PRO (affiliate link), they usually also include a pop-up builder.


Lead magnets are essential for growing your email list and attracting potential customers. By creating an irresistible lead magnet that provides value to your target audience, you can establish trust and build a relationship with them. Use the lead magnet ideas, titles, and templates provided in this guide to create an effective lead magnet and start growing your email list today.

Need help creating your lead magnet or setting up the tech for it? Work with me.


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