Lead Magnets: 12 Ideas for Building Your Email List

December 9, 2021

Building your email list is the most important step in any online marketing strategy.

But, how do you get people to sign up? Lead magnets!

In this blog post, we will give you 12 ideas for lead magnets that are sure to entice anyone who sees them.

We’ve included a variety of lead magnet ideas from different industries so there should be something here for everyone. Enjoy!

But first, what is a lead magnet?

Before we get too far into our lead magnet inspiration, let’s define what a lead magnet actually is.

A lead magnet is a piece of content that you give away for free in exchange for an email address.

It’s typically something like a report, ebook, white paper or video series.

Lead magnets are designed to pique the interest of your target market, so they’ll sign up to hear more about what you’re offering.

Some people will even make multiple lead magnet offers, one for each blog post or product they have for sale. This is a great strategy but it can also keep people on the content creation hamster wheel.

Let’s take a look at some solid lead magnet examples and ideas that will get those subscribers banging on your door to sign up.

1. The tried and true ebook lead magnet

Sure, you may have seen a lot of ebooks being given away in exchange for email addresses.

But that doesn’t mean they’re not effective!

Ebook cover for 28 desserts you can eat every day
This is the cover of my first successful ebook lead magnet: 28 desserts you can eat every day!

When you create your lead magnet, make sure it’s a high-quality product with useful information related to your niche area. It’s also important to put yourself in the shoes of your target audience. It should be something people will want to read and refer back to time after time.

You don’t have to spend an arm and a leg on editing, marketing or designing. Just offer your expertise in exchange for their contact info.

Don’t forget though, some ebooks are available freely online. But having one offered exclusively as part of a list-building campaign can increase its value significantly if done right.

You could even use a free chapter of a paid print or ebook as your opt-in offer. Or you could start with a free ebook and with additional content added over time, turn it into a paid self-published ebook.

The tried and true ebook lead magnet is one of the most popular approaches because it works.

2. Downloadable MP3 files

If your content lends itself well to downloadable audio files, these make excellent lead magnets. Music lessons and audiobooks are two examples, though the genre is limited only by your imagination.

You can offer these as a one-time download or make them available for monthly delivery—whatever works best with your content. You could even offer the first one free and make the monthly downloads a paid subscription.

A downloadable mp3 file would be perfect if your business is related to music education. But it could also work well for wellness and meditation type businesses, as well.

3. Free video courses

In my opinion, if you are an expert in a specific field, creating a video course is the best lead magnet option.

For example, Vicky has created courses for web design and social media marketing on her blog.

Her free streaming video course is perfect for people interested in these topics. Especially if they don’t want the commitment of a full-length paid class or online workshop series from someone else.

A free video course could be useful as long as it’s delivered on your own site. That’s because most email providers don’t allow downloads from third-party sites.

This also gives you the ability to take advantage of the Login Optin™ method.

4. Downloadable cheatsheets

While full courses and ebooks are great because they are comprehensive, they are longer and more time-consuming.

Downloadable cheatsheets, on the other hand, offer just a taste of what you might learn in a course or ebook but with less commitment.

Think of them as a shortcut for busy people who don’t have the time to invest in the whole enchilada.

Plus, they’re easy to download and print out if that’s your preferred way to consume content.

Your cheatsheet or printable might give people a bullet point list to follow for a certain outcome. Or it might give them the high level overview of your particular methodology.

For example, an entrepreneur could create a downloadable cheatsheet with the top five marketing tactics that work for their business. It’s a simple way to get people interested in signing up for your full course or ebook.

As long as you offer something of value and it’s easy to download, they’ll be more inclined to opt-in later down the line too!

Some other ideas include: cooking recipes; exercise routines; how-to guides on any topic (social media tips, baking bread); organizational checklists or calendars – anything specific and organized is good!

5. Exclusive interviews

Whether you host a weekly interview podcast or you’re a blogger interviewing people in your niche, you can create an exclusive interview lead magnet. How? By asking someone questions no one else ever has.

The person you interview might be a mini-celebrity in your space. Or an expert with a lot of value to share.

The way you position the interview is what matters the most.

If your interviewee comes to the table with something that’s never been said before it will be more valuable than any ebook. Or white paper. Especially if they offer readers a new perspective on their topic of expertise.

You’ll have even more content for future interviews too!

Lead magnet calculator screenshot

6. Free software and tools

Even if you’re not a developer selling software, chances are you could offer a free calculator or app that might help your target market.

This is a great way to create some buzz and establish yourself as an expert in the space. You don’t have to be the one who codes the free tool either.

If you can write straightforward instructions for what you want someone to create, you can find a developer to do it for you.

An example might be a simple “retirement calculator” that asks people to answer a few questions. Your calculator then recommends certain actions to help them reach their retirement goals.

A good question to get you brainstorming is:

“If you could wave a magic wand and help people solve their problems through technology, what would it do?”

7. Multiple choice quizzes

Everyone loves learning more about themselves, and quizzes are a fun way to do that.

Plus quizzes have a built-in reason to get people to join your email list. You can follow-up with tailored information based on the person’s quiz results, and that is more valuable than just a generic email series.

A quiz could be as simple as asking people what their industry is. Or it might ask them for more information about the type of work they’re looking for.

Quizzes are also great because they can help you generate ideas and figure out how your audience thinks in different scenarios. A few examples include:

  • Quiz on which city you should live in based off personal preference
  • Which animal best describes you? (eagle, lion, etc)
  • What’s your ideal pet? (dog vs cat vs hamster)

This tactic will likely appeal more to some audiences than others. So test this one first if it doesn’t seem like something that would be well-received.

The more you can tie the outcome of your quiz into customer avatars and recommended product lines, the more targeted your marketing will be.

8. Discounts and exclusive offers

Discounts and exclusive offers are a great way to encourage new visitors to sign up for your email list. This works great if you sell anything from digital subscriptions to physical products.

It could even be the tipping point that turns them from a browser to a paying customer.

If you’re in the fashion industry, for example, offering a coupon code that unlocks free shipping could be one of your lead magnet ideas.

The only thing you’ll need to do is make sure the discount code can’t be found elsewhere on your site.

Your customers will appreciate getting something a little extra for their order–and it’s great for building customer loyalty.

You can also offer perks like VIP access or early bird specials that are usually available at higher prices.

Remember: these should always have a value that’s believable and that won’t break the bank for your business. You wouldn’t want to use something like: “$500 off your next order.”

30 Day List Building Challenge

9. Multiple day challenge

One idea that has helped me personally grow an email list with over 80,000 subscribers is the free multiple-day challenge.

A multiple-day challenge is a free “event” that takes place over two or more days.

This could be an email course, video series, or social media challenge. It is released in installments so people get one nugget of information or inspiration per day.

This type of lead magnet works well because it helps potential customers see what you have to offer without having to commit right away.

It also prevents them from feeling overwhelmed by giving them time to digest everything at their own pace.

It allows them time to think about whether they want to actually invest in your product. Instead of simply downloading something for free on impulse (which I’m guilty of doing).

The only thing you’ll need is a good email marketing automation platform and if you want to include videos, an integrated membership plugin.

AccessAlly is a great example of a WordPress solution with templates designed to help you run free challenges.

A membership plugin like AccessAlly will help integrate paid courses into your site easily while also providing additional features like progress tracking, and upsells.

Implementing this type of lead magnet can be quite an undertaking, so you will want to plan ahead.

10. Done-for-you templates

Anything that can save people time is extremely valuable.

If you have created templates that can help people with any number of things, then this could top the list of lead magnet ideas.

Chances are that you have already created a system or a template for things you do on a regular basis. Why not turn these into downloads or share them with others in your industry?

For example, someone else might have created useful templates for PowerPoint, Figma, or Adobe Photoshop that could save people time.

Another person might offer multiple ways of using Excel formulas. That’s something most software developers don’t bother doing, which makes a formula sheet extra useful.

You might have written a great cover letter that always lands you interviews. Or maybe you’re a lawyer and you can give people starter contract templates. You know that some people will prefer to hire you to write a custom contract instead.

It doesn’t have to be complicated. Look in the folders on your computer to see what you’ve already created.

11. Personal connection and insights

This one might seem like a weird thing to include on lead magnet ideas list. But sometimes people join an email list because they want a personal connection.

Maybe they enjoy reading their blog posts, watching their videos, or following the person on social media.

In that case, the invitation to join your inner circle can be a really effective marketing tool.

This is one way to use your blog as a lead generator for people who are already interested in what you have to say.

Another thing worth mentioning is the importance of providing value without asking for anything in return up front.

This will help build trust with new subscribers. It also makes them more receptive to hearing about your product or service eventually down the line when they’re ready.

Finally, it’s always good to include a call-to-action at the end of any posts on your site. Don’t just ask people to “join your newsletter”.

Tell them about some things you share in your emails, whether that’s personal stories, first-hand experiences, or insights you don’t publish anywhere else.

12. Mix and match

It’s even possible to combine a few of these ideas or use this list as a template to generate your own lead magnet content.

It all depends on the audience you’re trying to reach and what they want in a lead magnet.

The key is finding out their biggest pain points. Then creating an exclusive offer that will ease it for them and provide value in return.

If you sell pet supplies: you could give away an ebook on with a first order of over $50.

Maybe the topic would be: “5 Tips for Bringing Home Your New Pet”.

You might create a cheatsheet with a downloadable MP3 to accompany it, or a discount that’s tied to a free online course.

The possibilities are endless, so you’ll want to think about the best way to create content for your audience.

What are your lead magnet ideas?

What are some other ideas for Lead Magnet Ideas? Leave your suggestions below in the comments section!

We’d love to hear from you so we can implement some of these into our blog post series going forward.

It’s also worth noting: many times there is overlap between different categories – ebooks could count as both lead magnets and potential revenue sources!

And many times a successful lead magnet can turn into a paid product. Start small and flesh it out based on the feedback you get from subscribers, and you could have a best-selling product on your hands!

Don’t forget that you need a way to display your lead magnet. You could do that with a popup, but these can be intrusive so an exit-intent popup might work better. Check out these exit intent popup examples to get some ideas.