The Ultimate Guide to a High-Converting Lead Magnet

Synopsis: A lead magnet or an optin freebie is a free resource you give away to your readers in exchange for their email IDs. This post explores the frequently asked questions (FAQ) related to lead magnets.


As a business owner, one of your main goals is to find leads and convert them into paying customers. Right? But how do you find those customers? In a brick-and-mortar business, your shop is your proof of concept but you may also mail flyers and possibly drop an advertisement in the local newspaper.

But what are your options in the blog world?

Well, you embrace the most popular medium of communication in the digital world–the email.

I tell you the email is the greatest invention of all times, especially for an introvert like me. I can open it when I want, I can mute it, I can ignore it, I can draft a reply for 1 hour and send then it…and for the most part, there is no “read receipt.”

Email is also a great medium for starting conversations. Recipients feel secure and in control of the situation (see above) while you still get to pitch your thoughts and offers.

But remember, you cannot send an unsolicited email pitching your awesome products or services without expressed and written interest from the recipient. Even thinking of doing so could get you sued!

So, how do you get that precious email ID to build your own email subscribers’ list?

You work for it! You earn it! You provide value.

Enter lead magnets.

The Ultimate Guide to a High-Converting Lead Magnet

A lead magnet or an optin freebie is a free resource you give away to your readers in exchange for their email IDs. This post explores the frequently asked questions (FAQ) related to lead magnets.

What is a lead magnet?

A lead magnet (or opt-in resource, freebie, etc.) is an additional piece of information or a tool that will help your readers accomplish certain goals. Think of it like a job-aid or a ready reckoner that your readers would refer to while completing a specific task or a series of tasks.

In the blogging world, lead magnets are typically either attached to your overall brand or to specific posts. You put the free information or tool behind a sign-up form and interested readers provide their email IDs in exchange for access to the resource. Typically, these resources are absolutely free.

When attached to the overall brand, lead magnets encompass a wider content idea while the ones attached to specific posts (also known as “content upgrade”) are more specific to the post they are attached to. For example, suppose you are a food blogger: your high-level lead magnet could be an eBook about “Meal Planning” or an “Affordable Food Pyramid” whereas your content upgrade could be a printable recipe card for each recipe you post.

Why should I create a lead magnet?

Lead magnets or opt-in freebies are a great way to build your email list. Basically, you barter your knowledge for your readers’ email ID.

Traditionally, opt-ins (or job-aids, as they are called in the Learning & Development circles) were provided to students as a ready reckoner or reference material–something they can print out and stick on their soft board. For example, Math students may want all trigonometry formulas in one place along with mnemonics to help them remember the formulas. Or, call center employees may want to refer to a checklist for every customer call they receive. So, in essence, lead magnets are nothing but tools to aid the user in completing their job.

But in the blogging world, which has now grown to be a mix of teaching + selling, job-aids (or opt-ins, if you will) are being created for the additional purpose of gaining email subscribers.

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(Actually, you don’t sell on your blog; you sell on your website of which your blog is a component.)

These resources help your reader gain additional knowledge on a particular topic you teach. Typically, this knowledge is complementary and/or supplementary in nature and builds off of what you have already covered in an existing blog post or series. Remember not to include radically new or unrelated information in your opt-in resources.

Mobile users, click here to sign up. You get 20 lead magnet formats + 35 lead magnet ideas across 7 profitable niches.

How often should I create a free lead magnet?

There is no correct answer to this. You can do this as often or as infrequently as you want. What is important, however, is that your lead magnet is truly representative of your brand. Don’t force yourself to create a free content upgrade for every post. Some niches allow for more opportunities than others.

That said, what I do and recommend is to plan your content calendar in such a way that there is a new sign-up opportunity for visitors every two or three months. Any fewer than this frequency and your readers may lose interest. Any more and basically your lead magnet, even though it is free, will sit in their Downloads folder and never see the light of the day.

Also, I have read a few bloggers who say that your free lead magnet should be easy to create and not time-consuming. But what is left unsaid is that anything and everything you offer your readers must still be “high-quality,” including your free lead magnet. After all, these are your gateways to your readers Inbox. Honor their trust.

How should I deliver lead magnets?

Your choice.

As mentioned before, in the blogosphere, lead magnets are used as a way to gain email IDs. You may choose to include a link to your resource in the Thank You page of your opt-in form or in an actual email.

Another related question that often pops up is “should I host all my lead magnets in a single library, or should I create separate “events” for each lead magnet?”

Again, it’s your personal choice.

However, one massive advantage of creating separate sign-up events for each lead magnet is that you get to segment your email list according to their interests.

For example, if someone signed up to receive my SEO checklist, I know they are interested in learning about SEO. In future, if I ever have something special to share about SEO tools or techniques, I know who would be interested.

On the other hand, if I have a global sign-up button to my “library” or “vault,” there is no way for me to know who downloaded what. I imagine that’s a missed opportunity to know your audience better.

Should you email new freebies to your existing email subscribers?

Your email subscribers should get first dibs on everything you create. Of course, I assume you have already segmented them and know what resources and offers they are truly interested in.

Additionally, it’s highly likely that even though someone signed up to be on your email list, they don’t actively follow your blog. In that case, they will miss out on your awesome lead magnet.

Makes sense? I thought so.  

What are the features of an effective opt-in form and landing page?

Without an effective opt-in form/landing page, your readers won’t be interested in your free resource. And you already know the importance of getting those readers interested.

This is the meat of the matter.

However, the opt-in form, or the landing page depending on how you want to promote your resource, deserves its own post. I will write a separate blog post soon detailing the design of an effective opt-in form and/or landing page. There’s a lot to cover there.

Broadly though, there are some quick tips you should incorporate in your copy:

  • Write a super-inviting headline. Click here to get some ideas on crafting compelling headline in this post I wrote.
  • Highlight the problem that your resource will help solve. What is your reader struggling with? Why have you created this freebie? What can they do better if they download your freebie? Identify your potential client’s pain points and highlight those. Additionally, where possible, outline the features and benefits of your resource–how can your lead magnet help them–without giving away too much information. Typically this is difficult to do in a typical freebie opt-in form versus a full-fledged sales page but do what you can.
  • Ensure the form’s aesthetics are simple and clean. I know there are some forms that are a riot of colors and elements but also remember those designs complement their owners’ personalities. Take a cue from your writing…for example, I write in a casual language but it’s not as carefree as some others. If I blast up my opt-in form with confetti bits, it will absolutely go against the understated aesthetics of my “brand.”
  • Do not ask for more information from the user than necessary. To me, first name and email ID are the only two pieces of information you should need. Some may even be happy with just the email ID. And yet, I came across a form a few weeks ago that asked for my zip code and phone number. That person lost a potential customer even before a sign-up.
  • Pay attention to the Call-to-Action (“Sign Up”) button. According to several studies (here’s one), the use of a contrasting color–especially reds and oranges–in the CTA button increases the chances of a sign-up. Additionally, modifying the default CTA text “Sign Up” also helps increase sign-ups. Change the default CTA text to a first-person action such that the reader feels compelled to take action. For example, instead of “Sign Up,” you can write “Send me the freebie,” Ï am interested,” or something such.

Mobile users, click here to sign up. You get 20 lead magnet formats + 35 lead magnet ideas across 7 profitable niches.

Should I use a Single Opt-in form or a Double Opt-in form?

To begin with, read this article outlining the differences between the single opt-in and the double opt-in processes.

Single opt-in may be easier to sign up with, but it may also leave your Inbox more vulnerable.

A single opt-in form doesn’t require the user to confirm that the email address they have entered is valid. Sometimes, a user may enter an incorrect email ID due to a typing error, or simply because they don’t want to reveal their primary email ID. In both cases, you will be riddled with email IDs that serve you no good because nobody will ever be opening your emails.

You could, however, purge your email list monthly or quarterly and remove the “bad IDs.”

On the other hand, a double opt-in form mandates that the user confirm their email ID by completing an action right from my Inbox. Once they confirm, they can access the free resource on the delivery platform you have chosen (over email, over a blog page, over Dropbox, etc.)

Of course, there is no guarantee that users who signed up via the double opt-in process will open all your emails in the future but at least you can be sure it’s landing in an active Inbox.

My personal choice is a double opt-in.

Getting your emails opened is another story. Here’s a great article to help you get higher open rates.

What are the features of an actual lead magnet?

This is what it all comes down to–the actual resource. The meat of the matter. The final product your readers have traded their email IDs for. Make it worth their while.

  • Deliver the product in a web-friendly and printer-friendly manner: Consider delivering your printable products as a PDF document or a Google document instead of an MS Word or Mac Pages document. The former are web-optimized and easy to print compared to the latter options. PDF file sizes are less than MS Word/Pages too while Google doc resides on the Web.
  • Turn down the colors: There is no denying that colors add a lot of vibrancy. However, please be mindful of your readers’ resources and avoid a “full-color experience.” 20 pages of colored pages will use up their cartridges sooner than they thought. It’s not something most people think about but it’s good to err on the side of caution. Alternatively, you could give your readers the option to choose between a “colorful” and a “pastel,” “minimalist,” or “black-and-white” format.
  • Fulfill the promise: MOST IMPORTANT. Make sure the resource delivers the promise you made. I would be really mad if I saw a “Your Own Social Media Calendar” in the opt-in form and it turns out to be just a stylized, blank calendar.
  • Keep it short: The days of giving away 80-page eBooks are gone. No one has the time to sit and read those many pages. What your lead magnet should do instead is summarise those 80 pages and hand them a 5-pager. That’s what your readers will thank you for. Make things easy for them.
  • Provide instructions and guidance, where needed: Your lead magnet should be an easy tool to use. However, if at all, it needs to be explained, please make sure you include the instructions. For example, an Excel worksheet containing formulas may need some instructions for users who are not Excel savvy.

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A lead magnet or an optin freebie is a free resource you give away to your readers in exchange for their email IDs. This post explores the frequently asked questions (FAQ) related to lead magnets.

A lead magnet or an optin freebie is a free resource you give away to your readers in exchange for their email IDs. This post explores the frequently asked questions (FAQ) related to lead magnets.

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