Why your website needs a lead magnet

The vast majority of first-time visitors to your website are on a research mission. They’re not ready to invest in your product or service. They won’t email, call or download. They’ll come and they’ll go without your knowing who they are. 

That’s why you need to give visitors a reason to tell you who they are. That reason is called a lead magnet. And when you know how to use lead magnets, your email list grows and your website conversion rate rises.

What is a lead magnet?

A lead magnet is something a website offers for free in exchange for a prospect’s email address. (And, if you’re feeling lucky, other contact information — like name, phone number…)

Why is a lead magnet important?

If you are looking to recruit customers on your site, you will need an email list. Too few customers will take action the first time, and those who don’t might never find their way back to you unless you start the breadcrumb trail by getting their contact details then emailing them.

To get the details you need for email marketing, you’ll need the perfect lead magnet. And the lead magnet will have to be damn compelling because the average visitor stays on a website for 15 seconds or less, never to return.

If you’ve put a lot of effort into getting that slippery visitor there in the first place, your effort (and ad spend) could be wasted if you don’t have a way to remind them about you and to call them back.

This is why you won’t visit the website of any top marketer without being offered downloads, sign-ups, opt-ins, courses and a host of other types of lead magnet.

Top marketers and successful businesses know that first visits are fleeting. They know they need to get the prospect’s details to build a relationship and call them back for the sale.

Top marketers also know that lead magnets and email list building go hand in hand. Sure, you might get someone to sign up for your newsletter, but you’ll get more people who are happy to get your newsletter if they’ve had something of value first.

3 essentials of a killer lead magnet

You might be giving your lead magnet away for free, but that doesn’t mean it can be cheap. Your prospects have high expectations. If you don’t meet them, no email address for you.

A good lead magnet:

  1. Looks and feels valuable. This is why “sign up for our newsletter” is such a limp lead magnet. Your newsletter might be fabulous, but without the promise of something that definitely looks valuable first, no one will find out.
  2. Satisfies instantly. Your audience is on your site because they’re looking for an answer to their problem NOW. They don’t want to sign up for something that might take months to get around to answering their question. (Or that might not answer their question at all.) not an answer that might possibly come in some newsletter you send out
  3. Supports your unique selling proposition. This part isn’t important to your audience, but it matters to you. Convincing someone of your USP brings them closer to buying from you, so every aspect of your marketing should be promoting your USP.

5 other reasons a lead magnet is important for your website

A lead magnet is going to grow your email list, but it’s also going to:

  1. Make you look like you have something to say
  2. Get you talked about (write a good lead magnet and people will share it)
  3. Help your SEO (by increasing the amount of time someone spends on your website and perhaps by persuading Google to send you some visitors to sign up)
  4. Segment prospects according to what lead magnet they sign up for
  5. Allow you to send targeted follow-ups depending on how you’ve segmented the subscriber

Examples of lead magnets

These are some of Taleist’s lead magnets. As discussed below, many are also available as long-form blog posts on this site.


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How fast will a lead magnet grow your email list?

Here’s a handy formula you can use to predict how fast your lead magnet will grow your list:

  • Shit lead magnet = bugger-all sign-ups
  • Wow-that-solves-my-problem lead magnet = bonanza

Put another way:

“Sign up for our free newsletter” = sounds of silence

“4 ways you can make an extra $3,299 TODAY” = cha-ching (as long as the reader believes you can deliver on the promise).

Who should have a lead magnet?

If you want your website to work, you need a lead magnet. Full stop.

Websites are great and social media is just dandy, but there’s no form of online marketing more effective than email. And there’s no way to email people without their email address and their permission.

Without something valuable to offer in exchange, you won’t get that address and permission to use it.

How often have you given your email address in exchange for a vague offer of “updates”. Now, how many times have you given your email address for a PDF of specific actions you can take right now to achieve a specific result?

How to create a lead magnet

One of the easiest ways to start coming with ideas for a lead magnet is to think of a lead magnet as a content upgrade. That works like this:

  1. Someone has come to your site. Why? What did they type into Google? What’s their problem? What’s the job they’re doing?
  2. What could you offer them that will get them miles further down that line? An offer that has them thinking, “All that, just for my email address? Done!”

What is the best type of lead magnet?

There’s no lead magnet that applies to every website. The lead magnet needs to be something the reader wants or it won’t capture their email address. So you need to know what your readers want and then give it to them.

If it helps, break it down. On this website, we don’t offer the same lead magnet to someone looking for help with writing a LinkedIn profile as we do for someone looking for how to write a great About Us page.

Similarly, you might not be looking at just one lead magnet for your website. You might have different target readers with different problems.

If in doubt, ask some people what they might find helpful.

What makes a good lead magnet?

If you want a killer lead magnet, stir in these seven herbs and spices:

  1. Problem solving — We’re not talking about a problem you want the prospect to believe they have (because you can make money solving it). It has to be a problem that your reader already believes they have.
  2. Promises fast results – When asking someone to sign-up, promise them a result fast.
  3. Specificity – What exactly is the reader going to have as a result of signing up. “Access to our free templates” sounds nice but it’s vague. “A checklist to make sure your emails never land in spam” is specific.
  4. Gets to the point – You’ll have plenty of time to give your prospect the farm when you’re cozied up in business together. For now, stick to the primer, not the fourth-year textbook.
  5. Value – Sadly for the lazy among us, you have to deliver the value you promise.
  6. Instant access – Are you old enough to remember having to send away for something? Maybe, but do you want to wait? No, us neither.
  7. Brings home what makes you different – If your lead magnet doesn’t leave your prospect understanding what makes you different and better than the competition, what was the point? Get your USP in there. (And if you don’t have your USP nailed, read our guide to crafting your USP.)

How long should my lead magnet be?

Lead magnets lose a chunk of their impact if the prospect signs up but doesn’t consume the lead magnet. (All is not lost if they don’t use it, because you should be emailing follow-up anyway.)

To make your lead magnet most likely to be consumed, keep it short and straightforward. Don’t ask for too much of your prospect’s time. In an ideal world, your reader should have a result within minutes of getting access to your lead magnet.

It can be tempting to showcase your expertise in a course you deliver over a couple of weeks or in a “book”, but anything that long is unlikely to be specific enough for a lead magnet. And it certainly breaks the rules about delivering a fast fix.

Are ebooks and PDFs still effective lead magnets?

Your audience wants value without too much effort. That’s why we’re offered 6-day abs, not the kind of abs that come from giving up booze and carbs for life.

Call something an ebook and it sounds like more work than a checklist or cheat sheet. For that reason, you might get fewer sign-ups to an ebook. However, those sign-ups might be more likely to convert because they’re from people willing to do the work. (Not like those 6-day abs people.)

PDFs definitely work because a PDF could be anything from a single page to a million pages. PDF is just file format. So sometimes, it might just be a case of changing the language. Your “ebook” becomes a “guide”.

What does a lead magnet cost to produce?

A good lead magnet should cost you most in terms of your intellectual property. There’s no point giving something away if it’s not valuable. So you should be shooting for a lead magnet that feels like something you could charge money for.

Beyond that, a good lead magnet doesn’t have to cost too much. You want to make it sound good, so you might need to invest in writing help. And you want it to look good, but there are tools like Canva to help with that.

However, as we say, the highest cost is likely to be your time in thinking of what would make a good lead magnet and the expertise that you’re pouring into the content.

Are lead magnets dead or do they still work?

Lead magnets will work as long as the people visiting your website have problems and your lead magnets offer solutions. On this website, our lead magnets collect email sign-ups all day every day because we build them following this advice.

Marketers love to declare media dead. Radio, TV, even the web… They’ve all been declared dead. But what makes a grabby headline isn’t always true.

For a start, there’s almost no end to what makes a perfect lead magnet — from free trials to email courses to a great case study.

Lead magnets for SEO vs gated content

If you’ve been to the Taleist website before, you might have noticed that most of our lead magnets are available without the “gate” of an email sign up. Most of those lead magnets are long blog posts. You can read them all in one sitting if you want or you can download the PDF version in return for your email address.

This approach has pros and cons. The obvious con is that you don’t have to give us your email address to get the content. You could read everything we have and never give us your email address.

We’re willing to make that trade-off and keep most of our content on this side of the gate in exchange for the benefits of ungated lead magnets:

  1. Long blog posts are great for SEO — lots and lots of long-tail keywords. (By contrast, Google can’t see or send people to a PDF download that’s locked away.)
  2. By showing you the content before asking for your email address, we’re building trust — what you see is what you get, not some flashy promises about a download that might not live up to expectations.

What is a good lead magnet conversion rate?

We can’t speak for anyone else but the lead magnets on this website convert at between 2.14% and 50%. It really depends on the reader and the content.

How to optimize my lead magnet?

Optimising your lead magnet is as simple as:

  1. Thinking about how much value you’re willing to give away for free. The more you stuff into the lead magnet, the more people will want it.
  2. Making sure you present your lead magnet as a highly specific answer to your reader’s problem.
  3. Including a compelling call to action (connect the dots between the value you’re offering and what the prospect needs to do to unlock that value).

Find out how lead magnets can increase lead generation on your website, why they are important and what lead magnets should do for you as well as who should have a lead magnet.

Final thoughts on lead magnets

The lead magnet is an essential lead generation tool. Without lead magnets, lead generation would be limited to your website’s traffic taking actions like buying, emailing and calling. That’s a lot to ask when we know that less than 3% of first time visitors to a website are ready to take action.

Lead magnets give you an opportunity to keep speaking to your potential customers while they’re doing their research. And because you’ve had a chance to segment them, you can talk to those prospects in a personalized way to increase the chances of converting them into paying customers