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lead magnets

Looking to grow your email list? You’ve come to the right place. In this article we look at 10 proven lead magnet ideas and how to create them. By the end, you’ll know exactly what a lead magnet is, why it’s important, and which ones to use for your own company.

Sound interesting? Let’s get started.

What’s a Lead Magnet?

A lead magnet, also known as an ethical bribe, is a free incentive that a website gives away, free of charge, in exchange for an email address.

It’s basically a trade. A website visitor gets something valuable — an ebook, a coupon or special offer, access to an audio course, etc. — and the website gets the visitor’s email address and the ability to market to them in the future. Win-win!

Why Are Lead Magnets Valuable?

Lead magnets are valuable because they turn casual website visitors into bonafide leads. When you have a person’s email address you can contact them about your company’s products and/or services whenever you like. This is obviously a huge advantage because:

Email marketing produces an ROI of 4,400% in the U.S. That means email has the potential to net your company $44 for every $1 it spends!

Lead magnets also help to build trust between your company and its audience. They show that you’re capable of keeping your promises and delivering value. And as you continue to interact with them via email, you’ll have the opportunity to continue building that trust until your leads are ready to become paying customers.

4 Things Every Great Lead Magnet Needs

Yes, lead magnets can help you build your company’s email list and help to make the folks on it more receptive to your marketing campaigns — but only if your lead magnet follows a few tried and true rules. Make sure any lead magnet you offer is:

1. Valuable to Your Target Audience

This may seem obvious but we can’t emphasize it enough. If you’re target audience doesn’t care about your lead magnet, you won’t be able to generate new leads with it. Or worse, you’ll generate the wrong kind of leads.

So make sure that whatever you offer your website visitors has value and is targeted directly to them.

2. Easy to Consume

Rule number two: make your lead magnet easy to consume. A 30- page ebook may score high on the value scale, but it will also take a few hours to read. This will likely seem daunting to most of your website visitors and therefore won’t entice them to part with their email addresses.

Instead, offer a lead magnet that can be consumed quickly and will give your target audience immediate gratification. Think microwave, not oven.

3. Produce Quick Results

Finally, your lead magnet needs to promise and deliver a specific result for your new leads — and fast! What will your free offer help folks achieve? Now just make sure they can achieve it in a short amount of time

Every lead magnet your company produces needs to be valuable to your target audience, easy to consume, and able to produce quick results. If your free offers can do all three of these things, you’ll see your lead generation efforts go through the roof!

10 Lead Magnet Ideas

Now that we know what lead magnets are, why they’re valuable, and the three things each one needs, let’s move on to lead magnet ideas. Below are 10 classic examples that your company can use to aid its lead generation efforts.

A quick note: we’ve arranged this list order of easiest to hardest to produce. So if you’re looking for quick wins, ideas 1 – 5 will be your best bet. But if you’re willing to put in a little extra effort, ideas 6 – 10 may be the better way to go.

1. Coupons and Special Offers

Coupons and/or special offers are a simple lead magnet idea. They can also be incredibly effective. Think about it, who wouldn’t want to save money on products or services they were already thinking about buying? The answer: no one.

The type of coupon or special offer your make available is up to you. But in general, the bigger the discount, the more leads you’ll acquire. We recommend doing a little math and finding the sweet spot between “killer deal” and “OMG we’re going into debt.”

2. Free Giveaways

One step beyond a coupon or special offer is a free giveaway. This type of lead magnet can be extremely effective because killer giveaways have a habit of going viral. But you need to be extra careful with this strategy and make sure that whatever you give away is only attractive to your target audience.

Let’s say you run a small ecommerce shop selling surfboards. Were you to run a free iPad giveaway, you’d probably get a lot of surfing enthusiasts to enter. But you’d also attract a lot of folks who’ve never touched a surfboard before.

In other words, giveaway prizes that appeal to anyone will fill your email list with unqualified leads — definitely not what you want.

3. Fun Challenges

A challenge is just an offer to help someone achieve something specific over a predetermined amount of time. For example, a website selling running shoes could challenge its audience to run a 5k and deliver daily tips to help them accomplish this objective in 30 days or less.

The key to a successful challenge is to make the end goal something your target market wants to achieve. Then, deliver the necessary information so that each participant can be successful.

4. Interactive Quizzes

Well thought-out, interactive quizzes are pretty much irresistible. Who doesn’t want to know which superhero they are or what their spirit animal is?

Quizzes are effective marketing tools because they’re fun and make participants feel like they’re heard and understood. Just remember to ask for an email address before the quiz results are shown and you’ll likely be able to boost your email list quite a bit.

5. Handy Email Courses

Email courses have one advantage over other lead magnet types: they get subscribers used to opening emails from your organization. After all, the only way they can consume and benefit from the free content is to read your messages.

Fortunately, creating email courses isn’t all that difficult — especially if you already create valuable content like blog posts on a regular basis.

All you need to do is select a topic of interest to your audience and craft bite-size lessons explaining it. Then, sign up for an ESP like Robly and build an autoresponder sequence that will automatically deliver each lesson at a frequency of your choosing.

6. Digital Downloads

Digital downloads are some of the most popular lead magnet ideas out there. This type of free offer includes:

  • Ebooks
  • Templates
  • Checklists
  • PDF Guides
  • Workbooks
  • Calendars
  • Cheatsheets
  • Case Studies
  • Whitepapers

And pretty much any other digital piece of content that can be downloaded instantly by your website visitors. Make sure that whatever downloadable you offer has a high perceived value and completely delivers on any promise it makes to your audience.

7. Live Webinars

Live webinars have a high perceived value. Why? Because they aren’t just another download, they’re an experience. Folks have to commit to showing up at a specific time and place. This makes a webinar feel more important than other types of content.

There are plenty of webinar tools that will allow you to host seamless broadcasts. Our favorite is Clickmeeting but Zoom, GoToWebinar, and even Google Hangouts are popular options as well.

As with all lead magnet ideas, the key to a successful webinar is to overdeliver. Your attendees need to feel like they got way more value than their simple email address was worth. Make them feel this way and they’ll be much easier to sell to down the road.

8. Gated Video Content

Gated video content is any video or video series that can only be viewed in exchange for an email address. Which means your gated videos won’t be freely available on YouTube, Facebook, or Vimeo.

This is a great lead magnet idea because video marketing is so popular these days. Why not jump on the bandwagon and educate your target market on a specific topic?

We suggest emailing your new subscribers one video lesson every few days. That way they won’t get overwhelmed. This strategy will also allow you to contact your new leads multiple times over the span of a few weeks and get them used to opening your emails.

9. Gated Audio Content

Gated audio content can be thought of as private podcasts for your new leads. This strategy works well for folks who don’t want to be in front of the camera and don’t need visuals to get their points across. And also it’s an attractive lead magnet for website viewers because they can consume it while they do other things like drive to work or cook dinner.

The key to creating great audio content is proper planning. First, break your content into bite-size chunks. Then invest in a low-cost microphone and download a free software program like Garageband (Mac only) or Audacity to record and edit your audio.

Finally, host the content on your website, Soundcloud, or YouTube and direct new subscribers to it after the sign up for your email list.

10. Helpful Web Apps

For most companies, this will be one of the hardest lead magnets to create. It might even be out of reach for some. But for those businesses with the in-house technical know-how or the funds to outsource, a helpful web app can bring in a lot of leads.

A web app, for the purposes of this article, is any tool that lives on your company’s website and requires an email address to access and use.

Grow Your List With Lead Magnets

There’s no doubt about it, the right lead magnet will help you grow you email list. We encourage you to read back through the collection of 10 lead magnet ideas above and choose one (or two or three of six!) that you think will work well for your business. Just remember to always deliver value. Do that and your lead generation efforts should be quite effective. Good luck! 

Jacob Thomas is a freelance copywriter and content marketer based in Nashville, TN. His professional writing approach has helped numerous businesses gain more traffic, leads and sales. To contact Jacob, visit

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