What makes a kick ass lead magnet?

Over the past few years, I’ve downloaded and analyzed hundreds, if not thousands of lead magnets across all types of industries.

This post will show you how to create a lead magnet that your readers will absolutely love.

And while the term “kick ass” is purely subjective, I’ve found that most successful lead magnets have a few things in common.

And that’s why I’ve put together this list.

Because I don’t want you to spend hours or days creating a lead magnet only to have it flop.

And if you’re worried about getting traffic to your lead magnet, I’ve put in a special section toward the end of the post this post that you won’t want to miss.

So without further ado, here’s my list of everything that makes a lead magnet successful so you can grow your email list fast.

Solve a Perceived Problem

Here’s a little secret.

All new bloggers *think* they have a problem getting traffic to their site

But they don’t.

The real problem they have is far deeper.  

For instance, new bloggers may have a discipline problem.  Getting a blog up and running requires working nights and weekends when you’d rather have a glass of whiskey after a long day of work.

Or new bloggers may have a confidence problem.  “What happens if people read my blog but no one likes what I have to say?”  So they write a blog post and never promote it for fear of criticism.

While you can’t throw a rock on the internet and hit 100 lead magnets giving you “5 Steps to make your post go viral”, you can look in every dark corner and find maybe a handful of lead magnets about the “psychology of blogging”.


Because the perceived problem a new blogger has is much different than the real problem a new blogger has.

The purpose of your lead magnet is to “sell” people what they think they need, so you can deliver what they really need.

Tools to Discover what Your Readers Perceived Problems are

Introduction Email

One of my all time favorite hacks to discover what your readers problems are is to ask them in the introductory email.

Why does this work so well?

Because the introduction email has by far and away the highest open rate of any email that you send.

In your welcome email, simply ask:

“What’s the greatest challenge that you face right now?”

You can check out the email script I’ve sent dozens of times and steal it for yourself. 🙂

Welcome email to determine what your readers want in a lead magnet.

This will give you a good idea of what your audience will want to learn more about, so you can create highly effective lead magnets.

Messaging Tools

Messaging apps, like Drift, are extremely popular.  Usually, they’re on the lower right hand corner of a blog or website asking if there’s something their sales rep can help you with.

You can simply ask the same question in your messaging app:

“What’s the greatest challenge that you face right now?”


“What do you hope to learn on this blog?”

And when your readers answer, you can have a more thorough conversation with them to discover what they’d value in a lead magnet.


Finally, there are tools like SurveyMonkey that will allow you to create surveys to poll your subscribers what they’re most interested in learning.

Because surveys allow for a bit more leeway with the number of questions you can ask than a messaging app, you can gain greater insight into the mindset of your audience.

Word of caution:  I know you’ll want to ask 20 questions.  You’ll want to learn as much as you possibly can.  And I can’t blame you.

But make sure you keep it to no more than 5-7 questions.  Otherwise, you won’t get a good response rate.

Create a Tool

I don’t mean go out and build an app or a plugin.

But can you make something that people can put to use right now?

Let me give you an example.

Suzi Whitford runs the successful blog Start a Mom Blog and created a lead magnet that collected 600 subscribers… in just three weeks.

FB Group Promotion Schedule Lead Magnet

Why was it so successful?

Because she created a tool that listed the promo schedule for a lot of Facebook groups.

Her subscribers can use the tool to promote their posts and get traffic to their blogs.

The “Facebook Groups Promo Schedule” didn’t cost a ton of money for Suzi to create.  She didn’t have to code a wordpress plugin or create a fancy app.

All she had to do was list the when the Facebook groups allowed their users to promote their blogs (and maybe splurge a few bucks for the design).

This is one of the best, most creative, tools I’ve ever seen.

Other Ideas for Tools


Excel spreadsheets or Google Sheets make wonderful calculators.

Check out this calculator idea from The SaaS CFO.

SaaS CFO Excel Revenue Forecast calculator

A user can input some data like churn rate, number of leads, and price and the calculator spits out a revenue projection for the year.

It’s a nifty tool that saves entrepreneurs running SaaS companies the time and energy it takes to create this model for themselves.


A quiz is another great tool that will accomplish two things:

1.  You’ll learn a lot more about your typical client.  You’ll have a greater understanding of where their business is faltering before you jump on a call with them.

2.  You’ll be able to customize your advice based on the answers they fill out.

A great example of a quiz is the SEO Quiz on MadLemming.com.  If prospect’s site is SEO ready, the guys at Mad Lemming will be able to have a conversation that starts with link building and content marketing (or whatever they deem more advanced).

Mad Lemming SEO quiz

If the site isn’t SEO ready, then the conversation with the prospect can start with the basics.

A cool new tool to create quizzes can be found at Outgrow.

Software (headline analyzer)

And if you’d like, you can go out and build some software on your own.

One of the most successful lead magnets in this category is CoSchedule’s headline analyzer.

When you enter in your headline

Coschedule Headline Analyzer

The software will score your headline for you.

Headline Analyzer Results

Look, this is quite expensive to do in comparison to other options available to you.  But if you have the money or the skill set to build a simple tool like this, the traffic dividends can pay off for years to come.

Great Headline

Huddle up for a second.

I’m going to share with you my biggest copywriting secret of all time.

It’s a tried and true headline formula that you can use over and over and over again and see amazing results.

Ready for it?

Big Benefit + Time Frame + Overcome Objection

Let me show you how this works.

“1000 email subscribers in 30 days without spending a dime”
“Lost 10 pounds in 2 weeks without starving yourself”
“Complete a 5K in 6 months without getting shin splints”

See how powerful this is?

Additional resources:

When I was writing this section, I was debating two options:

First, should I just list a bunch of headline ideas?  Or should i just give you one formula that you can use over and over.  As you can tell, I chose the latter.

But just in case this formula doesn’t work for you, or if you’re not feeling it, here are some great resources for you to create a great headline:

Sumo Headline Generator - The guys and gals at Sumo will give you customized headline ideas based on the parameters of your article.  For instance, you tell the system if you’re creating a “how to” post, or a “list” post (and more) and the system compiles the data and spits out a few headlines for you to use.

Coschedule Headline Analyzer - I mentioned this above, but if you’ve already written a headline but you aren’t sure it’s any good, check out Coschedule’s Headline Analyzer.  It will grade your headline based on their extensive knowledge of what makes a great headline.

Smartblogger’s list of headlines - Don’t feel like using a tool?  Smartblogger created a list of really cool headlines that you can adapt and tweak to fit almost any blog post that you write.

Instant Gratification

Quick question:

How much time do you have to invest in reading and implementing a long lead magnet?

If you’re like me, the answer is no time whatsoever.

Chances are, you’re readers are the exact same way.

When someone grabs your lead magnet, they don’t want to spend hours reading an ebook or white-paper before implementing your knowledge.

Let me give you an example.  Which would you rather use have?

150 Ebook that Shows You Everything You need on SEO


3 Email Scripts that will Help You Double Your Links

The first lead magnet requires a huge investment of your time.  The second one you can implement right away.

Amy Crane from Social Lab Marketing, a facebook ads expert, created a lead magnet where she gives away her best performing facebook ads.  

Facebook ad templates that Social Lab Marketing uses as a lead magnet.

You can use them in your business if you run facebook ads.  All you’d have to do is tweak the design and text to match your brand.

This doesn’t require a whole lot of time for her subscribers, and they see an immediate result.

Other types of easy to consume lead magnets include:

Scripts:  These are pieces of content that people can plug and play into their business.  For instance, I mentioned welcome email script earlier in the post.

This is an example of something a blogger can plug into their business and see immediate results.

DIY audits: These audits are quick step by step guides a person can do to make an improvement in part of their lives or business.  This could be an SEO audit where a person can see if their site is up to par as it pertains to SEO best practices.

Or it could be an income/expense audit to help parents cut costs and spread their budget further.

Checklists:  A checklist can be a simple tool that helps people accomplish a task in the moment.  For instance, a blog promotion checklist can tell people all the things they need to do in order to make sure their post gets as much visibility as possible.

Provide Value

Let’s face it.

You can market the hell out of your lead magnet.

You can create the perfect headline.

You can create the most beautiful landing page.

You can drive tons of traffic to it.

But if the lead magnet doesn’t provide value, then all you’ve done is put lipstick on a pig.

So let’s quickly talk about four ways to provide value:

Educate:  The first way to provide value for your lead magnet is to solve the problem that you promised to solve as completely as you possibly can.

Entertain:  The second way to provide value is a bit harder.  But if you can entertain your leads, that would help you stand out from the rest of the businesses in your niche.  However, this is definitely not for everyone.

Save Time:  If your lead magnet is able to save your lead a lot of time while performing a task, well then you have a winner.  Think about the Facebook Ads lead magnet discussed above. Amy is saving someone the time it takes to create a facebook ad from scratch.

Multimedia: Finally, the fourth way to provide value is to make your lead magnet a multimedia experience.  For instance, turn your ebook into a podcast someone can listen to in the car on the way to work.  Or turn your email course into a video series.

Your lead magnet is the second impression that most of your leads and subscribers will have of your blog or business.  (The first impression being the blog and website itself.)

Which brings us to our next point...

Introduce Prospects to Your Business

This is the reason you want to provide value in your lead magnet.

Let’s say for a second that you’re a consultant or your selling an online course.

A person signs up for your lead magnet, but doesn’t see results; either because she didn’t open the ebook, or wasn’t able to follow your instruction…

Or maybe she followed your instructions to a “T” and your process didn’t work for her.

What do you think the odds of this person becoming a customer are?

If you said “slim to none”, then you’re right.

The ideal lead magnet will solve a specific problem and entice your lead to purchase your product or service to get even more results.

Rapid Consumption

Want to know your “real” competition as a blogger?

It’s not just the other blogs in your niche.

It’s not just other marketing blogs, or fitness blogs, or mom blogs.  

Nope!  It’s every single publication in the world.

Which according to this site is a 10 bajillion blog posts worldwide.  (Actually, that link will give you a live look into how many posts are published today.  Needless to say, it’s a lot.)

For instance, I read a lot of marketing blogs.  But I also read the sports blogs (#flyeaglesfly), local newspapers, the NYTimes, and a lot of others.

Don’t even get me started on my inbox!

For me, the best lead magnets not only provide value… but they provide value fast!

It’s a lesson that Klipfolio, a company that builds dashboards for businesses learned from their lead magnet: “A Beginners Guide to Business Dashboards.”

klipfolio guide:  beginner's guide to business dashboards.

At first glance, this seems like a great lead magnet.  A dashboard company creating a guide about dashboards.

And the lead magnet was getting downloaded 4000 times every month.  But the conversions were less than impressive. Only 2-3% of everyone who downloaded the lead magnet converted to a free trial.

To increase conversions, Klipfolio tried an online course.

The created 5 emails, delivered over 5 days, that took 5 minutes to read, covering a lot of the topics from the guide.

The result?  They doubled conversions to 6%!

Why?  Because they repurposed the material to be rapidly consumed.

A person didn’t have to take a huge amount of time out of their day to read it.

Follow Up Sequence

I’m sure you heard this before.

But just in case you havent, let me repeat it:

It takes an average of 7 touch points for a lead to turn into a customer.  

Honestly, i’ve heard this so often for so long, that I have no idea who to attribute it to.  I don’t even know if it’s 100% true.

But what I do know is this:  Most of your buyers will not consume your lead magnet and then become a customer.

So while the number of touch points may not be 7, almost all of your leads will need to be nurtured.

Hence the follow up sequence.

(Note:  This is why the online course works so well.  There is a built in follow up sequence right in the lead magnet.)

The follow up sequence, or autoresponder is the emails that are sent after a person opts in to your lead magnet.

They generally serve three purposes:

1.  Introduce the lead to you and your business.  Who are you and how can you help them?

2.  Provide more value to your lead.

3.  Make a sale

Imagine a person somehow, some way stumbles on to one of your blog posts.  They have no idea who you are, but they found your article and it was useful.

The person downloads your lead magnet.

The follow up sequence is how you get someone to go from stranger to customer.


Now that you've got your lead magnet built, it's time to get some email subscribers.

Hack 1:  Give Your Subscribers an Incentive to Refer Your Landing Page

Quick question:

Do you know when the majority of people are most engaged with your company?

It’s the moment they subscribe to your list… or buy your product or service.

It’s why the welcome email in your auto-responder or your email receipt is the most opened email you’ll send.  

Here’s how it works:

Step 1: Create a landing page to give away some really great content.

You can use an existing landing page here.  If you’re like me, you probably have dozens of them.  

Just pick the one that converts the highest, or is the most popular on your site.

Step 2:  Create a Bonus Incentive

You’re about to turn your thank you page on it’s head.

Instead of saying “thanks for signing up” or whatever, you’re going to use it to give away even more content.

This works most effective when your bonus compliments your initial giveaway.  For instance, I created an email swipe file to go along with my 67 email tools guide.  

Combined, these two pdf’s create a complete email marketing system.  You get the tools to grow your list and you get the emails to send to your list.

Step 3:  Your Subscribers will Tweet Your Landing Page

You can use Entice to set up this simple referral marketing system.

Once a person shares your landing page using Entice’s social share buttons, they will receive your bonus.

In turn, you will get free traffic to your landing page.

Hack 2:  Turn Your Email Signature into a Lead Gen Opportunity

For years, my boring email signature was a wasted opportunity.

In fact, it looked just like this:

Here’s the simple step-by-step process to turn your email signature into a lead generation opportunity.

Step 1:  Create a Bitly Link for Your Landing Page

This step is optional.  

However, I like to create a bitly link just to keep track of the clicks that I get.  It helps me tweak my offers over time and get a general feel for what’s working.

Simply paste the URL of your landing page into Bitly.

Then you’ll be able to copy your new Bitly link.

Step 2:  Paste Link In Your Signature Setup

These days all email services allow you to create a customized signature.

Since I use Gmail, I’d find the “Signature” section under the general settings tab.  Here, I’d paste my Bitly link.

Step 3:  Write a Compelling Call to Action

Next, you have to give people a reason to click on your bitly link by creating a compelling call to action.

To do this, you can simply write “click here” before the headline of your landing page.

For me, my call to action is “Click here for a hand curated list of 67 Top Email Tools to Help You Grow Your List”.

I decided to get a little fancy here and add “hand curated”, but I don’t think it was really necessary.  Most of the time, simple is better.

Step 4:  Hyperlink Your Call to Action

Finally, make it stupid simple for people to click your link.

To do this, I hyperlink my entire call to action.  That way, no matter where the person clicks, they’ll wind up on my landing page.  

Think about this:

The entire process of turning your email signature into a powerful call to action will take 7 minutes, tops.

And most people will read this and say “that’s too easy to work.”

But let’s say every employee in your business turns their email signature into a call to action.  How many people will see it?

Let’s do some math:

Let’s say you have 3 employees.  And each employee sends out 10 emails per day, 5 days per week.  That means 150 people per week will see your compelling call to action.

Multiply that by 4 weeks per month and you’ll automatically expose your lead gen offer to 600 people per month.

Hack 3:  Get More Subscribers From Your Newsletter

I’ll be honest.

This is something that I am “borrowing” straight from Aweber.  And when I tried it, I was able to see an increase in new leads by about 10 a month.  

Now this doesn’t sound like a lot.  

But when you see how easy it is, you’ll realize it’s a no brainer.

Almost all of us have received email newsletters that look a lot like this one:

It’s just your typical company email blast.

However, at least once a day, I receive an email newsletter that I want to forward on to a friend of mine because I think they will find it interesting.

And if you look closely at the sidebar, Aweber’s email template is optimized to capitalize on this opportunity.

In the highlighted box (which I’ve enlarged below), Aweber does two things:

First, they ask their subscribers to share the email.

And second, they make it really easy for people who received the email via a forward to subscribe to their newsletter if they find it interesting.

All they have to do is click the link.  

And that’s it.

This might take all of 2 minutes to incorporate into your next newsletter.  But you’ll see an immediate influx of qualified leads come into your business.

Invest In Design (optional)

If you’ve been blogging for any length of time, you’ve probably seen the same landing page templates over and over.

Design optional because it’s not that the templates don’t work.

Obviously they do, or else people wouldn’t be using them.

However, if you truly want to stand out, then investing in design will help you do so.

Think about the standard templates that you’re used to seeing and compare it to this landing page by Digital Marketer.

Lead magnet for digital marketing with beautiful design.

Now, whether or not you want to download the Facebook ad templates or not, you can’t deny that this landing page leaves a great impression.

Think about it, if the landing page looks this good, imagine how good the ad templates look!

What did I miss?

Like I said in the beginning of this post, creating a kick ass lead magnet is subjective.

So, I’m sure I missed a thing or two.

Leave a comment and let me know what I missed (so I can add it to the post!)