Create and Optimize Lead Magnets

Whether you are new to online marketing or already a guru, we are all on the lookout for new strategies to attract customers and grow leads. One tactic is to use gated content, or “lead magnets” as we affectionately call them, on your website, blog, or other online property. Lead magnets are a compelling offer of educational content, which you exchange for a person’s email address or contact detail(s).

In this flight plan, we share five lead magnets that can help you grow your contacts:

  1. A compelling email opt-in offer to draw people in
  2. Engaging quizzes to enrich the customer experience
  3. Online video lessons to capture new leads
  4. Free reports, whitepapers and eBooks in exchange for an email address
  5. Swag marketing to grow your business with t-shirts

Plus a special bonus showing 5 strategic spots to place your lead magnets.

1. Craft a compelling email opt-in offer

The quickest win lead magnet is an enticing email opt-in offer. Your goal is to convey in 2 - 3 sentences the value subscribers will get for giving you access to their inbox. Potential subscribers are asking “What’s in it for me?” and writing a compelling offer sweetens the deal for people to sign up.

By not writing an offer, you could end up with a generic form like this:


The above form functionally gets the job done but it lacks an offer that compels people to subscribe and leaves readers in the dark about what value they receive.

On the other hand, let’s take a look at an example from Pam Slim, an author and business consultant who does a great job of drawing in leads with her email opt-in offer.


She is offering a community, tools, examples, and a PDF for free. There is not an invitation to buy anything...yet. When a person becomes an email subscriber, it is just the beginning of a relationship to be nurtured over time with relevant and helpful content that helps you stay top of mind until a contact is ready to buy.

To craft a compelling opt-in offer for your own business, you have to find your “sweet spot.”

The sweet spot of your email opt-in offer

You may or may not know it, but the valuable insights you’ve gained over the years running your business could provide tons of value for potential readers. The sweet spot of an email opt-in offer lies in the intersection between your expertise and your audience’s interests.


To show you what finding the sweet spot looks like, let’s look at an imaginary example of Red Fields, a five-year-old ecommerce wine business trying to grow their email list.

Their expertise

  • Wine flavors
  • Processes for shipping wine internationally
  • Food and wine pairings
  • How to run an ecommerce business
  • The best wines for every occasion

Their audience’s interests

  • “What is the best wine to get my dad for his 50th birthday party?”
  • “What kind of wine will impress my girlfriend?”
  • “What wine tastes the best with filet mignon?”
  • “I just like wine and want to learn more about it”
  • “What’s it like working at a winery?”

Email opt-in offer

“Join the Red Fields community of wine lovers to receive recommendations of the best pairings, grow your vino knowledge, and get an inside look into the lives of sommeliers.”

As a next step to find your sweet spot, write down 3-5 things your audience wants to learn from you and 3-5 things you can teach your audience. Use this brainstorm to craft a short, compelling offer to join your email list.

2. Sweeten the customer experience with engaging quizzes

Quizzes are an engaging way to create personalized experiences for your website visitors. They are not just all fun and games either - the best types of quizzes ask questions to identify specific problems for your target market and conclude with an offer exchanging the solution for contact details. Think of it as a hyper-targeted lead magnet.

For example, here is a schematic from a golf business showing the power of quizzes to identify an audience’s problems and create a tailored, personalized offer that grows your contact database.


To move from the macro level of how quizzes lead to targeted offers, let’s explore a concrete quiz example from Club W - a wine business that asks new visitors to fill out a 2-minute Palate Profile Quiz.


After the user completes the quiz, there is a popup window to fill out a form to join the club. To sweeten the deal, there is an incentive to get a free bottle of wine on the first order after signing up. Who could resist?

Similar to the golf blog example above, the product offerings for Club W change based on the website visitors answers to the Palate Profile Quiz, which in turn drives higher engagement and a more personalized buying experience.


There are a variety of tools you can use to create your quizzes, including:

  • Interact: Allows you to embed quizzes in your website to engage customers and generate leads.
  • Formstack: An online form building software packed with optimization features to help you capture and convert your marketing leads. No coding necessary.
  • Typeform: Utilizes a one question format that keeps user focused and engaged. Just like a natural conversation.

In summary, quizzes help identify and route the needs of your website visitors, and by crafting a targeted offer, drive higher conversion and win over more people share their contact details.

3. Capture new leads by offering free online video lessons

As an expert in your business, your hard-earned on-the-job learnings represent a treasure trove of valuable insights for potential customers. Have you considered capturing these expert insights as video lessons or tutorials to drive brand awareness and grow your number of leads?

Take for example, Will Hamilton of who creates videos about improving your tennis game. Will offers all the videos for free in exchange for your first name and email address.


These educational videos don’t outright pitch “Hey buy my tennis courses!!!” Instead, the videos focus on teaching people lessons that solve their specific tennis game problems. To apply this to your business, avoid the temptation to sell, sell, sell. Focus on making videos that are informative, educational, and even inspirational - which is the type of content that helps people move from stranger to lead.

4. Exchange a free report or eBook for an email address

Create a short 3-4 page report, whitepaper, or eBook of solid content that is enticing and valuable enough for readers to give you access to their inbox so you can nurture the relationship over time. You could take an in-depth look at a topic you have already covered in your blog, share results from a study, or create a workbook with checklists and step-by-step instructions a reader could do on their own.

In this example, a small business marketing agency captures new leads by offering a free report:


Another example, here at Autopilot we shared the results from a study involving 327 companies from 10+ industries in the 2015 Marketing Automation Performance Report:


Up until this point, hundreds of people have given us their email addresses in exchange for the report. These are people who are interested in our industry, product, and thought leadership. Because they opted in, we can nurture the relationship over time by sending relevant and personalized content based on what they have downloaded and any other information they have shared, like company size or industry.

Here’s a few other examples to get your creative juices flowing:

  • Artist divulging his secrets in an ebook called “30 Secrets to Creativity”
  • Real estate agent sharing a report about the state of the housing market in San Francisco
  • Marketing consultant offering a “3 Must Have Marketing Tools for Small Business Owners” whitepaper
  • Productivity guru giving away “The Ultimate Time Management Checklist”
  • Winery telling all in “Life Lessons from a Sommelier”

Reports, whitepapers, and eBooks are an opportunity for you to share your hard-earned insights over the years and simultaneously draw in new leads to grow your business.

5. Grow your business with swag marketing

Did you know swag can be a lead magnet? Companies like New Relic, Atlassian and Dropbox are using t-shirts (the best type of swag!) to grow their business.

New Relic’s Patrick Moran explains the genius behind New Relic’s swag marketing: “To get people over the hump of ‘hey, neat idea – maybe I’ll try it someday,’ and move ‘em to ‘Rockin,’ now’s the time!’ We offer incentives. We’ve tried RC helicopters, but t-shirts are much more cost effective. So far, we’ve given a few hundred of these incentives away, and we’re not going to stop.”


The company hasn’t shared exact numbers but if you do the math 75,000+ shirts probably equates to 75,000 new signups and deployments. The cost of the t-shirt is nothing compared to the gain of overcoming two of the hardest challenges for the company:

  • Getting new people to try New Relic
  • Getting people to implement the software

Swag marketing can draw leads new in, but can also be a walking advertisement for your business. Imagine 75,000 of your company shirts being worn around the world - it’s the physical lead magnet that keeps on generating returns.

Bonus: 5 strategic spots to place your leads magnets

Every spot you place your offers are an opportunity to grow your contact database. What follows is a list (with examples) of five high-value places for your lead magnets to call home.

The website footer. Place the lead magnet on the footer of your website. Visitors often scroll to the footer when figuring out how to navigate your website so this a good spot to increase your opt-in form’s visibility.


Your blog sidebar. Visitors are in the mood to learn when they are on your blog.  This is a chance to invite them to greater commitment by asking for their email address and/or other contact details.


A popup box. Popup boxes are effective because readers have to choose between signing up or exiting. To avoid being spammy, set rules so the box only shows to people who are engaging, like to a blog post reader who has scrolled halfway down the page or spent 3 minutes reading. SumoMe makes implementation easy.


The end of every single blog post. A reader is more likely to opt-in at the end of a blog post after receiving value from content you wrote. If your content is good, there is a good chance they will want more.


Your “About” page. The about page is one of the most visited pages on a website where people go to see who you are and what you do. This is also the perfect spot to put a lead magnet because it invites them to stay in touch with you after learning more about you. For example, marketer Brian Dean added an opt-in form to his about page that converted 4x better than any blog post on his site.


Place your lead magnet in these five strategic spots on your website to give more opportunities to join your contact database.

Wrapping it all up

Lead magnets don’t have to be lengthy. Or complex. Or time-intensive to create. You simply need to solve a specific problem with a specific solution for a specific segment of your market.

To recap, the five irresistible lead magnets to grow your contact database are:

  1. A compelling email opt-in offer
  2. Engaging quizzes
  3. Online video lessons
  4. Free reports, whitepapers, and eBooks
  5. T-shirts and other swag

By implementing any or all of the above five proven lead magnets, you will grow your contact database and ultimately your company's bottom line.

What’s next? Learn how to attract traffic to your lead magnets →

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