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How to create a lead magnet funnel that keeps converting (with examples)

It’s no secret—customer acquisition is hard. Probably the hardest part of running a business, in fact. When you’re trying to capture an audience, generate leads and put them on the path to becoming customers, sometimes ads, social media and a spiffy website just aren’t enough. Lead magnet funnels can help. 

A lead magnet funnel is an ideal way to offer your audience something of value while also building your authority and figuring out their pain points. Lead magnets help to guide potential customers through the sales funnel by:

  1. Creating a link between awareness and consideration
  2. Building trust as an expert who wants to help (not just sell)
  3. Encouraging a trial or even a conversion with the right incentive 

Think of it as the quid pro quo of email marketing and lead generation. 

These best practices will guide you in creating super effective lead magnet funnels that keep on keepin’ on. You’ll soon know the what, why, and how of creating lead magnets, as well as the pitfalls to avoid. Here we go!

What Are Lead Magnets?

A lead magnet is a free product or service given away in exchange for contact details—usually an email address in the form of an email list subscription. For instance a beginner’s guide to social media, that a prospect can download when they submit their email address. 

Once a person has provided their contact information to receive the lead magnet, they have entered your business ecosystem. They have become a lead. You can now communicate with them and nurture them through the sales funnel, with the goal of eventually converting them into customers.

Here’s Why Lead Magnets Are Great For Business

Lead magnets are the best way to grow your email list with subscribers who are more likely to be interested in what you’re offering, ensuring a higher quality email list. 

If you provide valuable content, you’ll build trust with your target audience—an important step on the path to conversion. What’s more, they’ll probably want more of your content in the future, leading to higher open rates, more click-throughs, and increased engagement. 

And the gains don’t end there. When a person signs up for your lead magnet, you learn more about their interests and can tailor your content marketing strategy accordingly.

This deeper understanding gives you an advantage in targeting your audience, and nurturing them with content that addresses their needs and pain points. 

7 Steps to Create Lead Magnet Funnels That Get Results

Anyone can create a signup form and offer a freebie. What makes the difference between a successful lead magnet and a non-effective one is relevance. It’s about offering an incentive that your audience can’t resist. Get relevance right and you’ll maximize signups. Here’s how to do it.

1. Know What Your Audience Wants

In order to create content that your website visitors want to see, you need to know who they are and define your buyer persona. The better you can understand your audience, the more specific you can make your offer to their needs and attract the ideal customer. 

Once you’ve figured out your buyer persona (or personas—you might have more than one!) you can start to think about what their pain points are and what solutions you can offer to address them. Each persona might have different wants and needs, so come up with a lead magnet idea for each one.

Tips on how to understand your audience better:

  • Look at what’s popular. Which content on your website gets the most visits and engagement
  • Check what topics they are discussing. If you have a community, start there. Ask your support team or venture onto forums and discussion boards such as Reddit for ideas
  • Have a look at what competitors are doing—then do it better
  • Hold a survey—ask your audience which types of content they would like to see and what problems they have or have faced

2. Choose the Right Lead Magnet

There are many types of lead magnets, and it’s important to choose a format that most efficiently delivers the solution you’re offering. Hubspot found that ebooks are the most popular lead magnet—27.7% of marketers use them. This is followed by webinars at 24.9% and free tools at 21.3%. Whatever type of lead magnet you choose, it should be specific, provide a quick win, be easy to digest, be authoritative and highly valuable, and be instantly accessible. 


An ebook really makes people feel like they are getting something valuable in exchange for their details—it’s a whole book, after all. 

If you have a lot to say about a certain topic, or if you think that your audience would benefit from having a series of articles together in one place, or a comprehensive guide in a downloadable format, an ebook is a great lead magnet.

This is a perfect lead magnet example from RecipeTin Eats. The website is for people looking for recipes, the lead magnet offers three books of recipes curated into a more convenient format, with the lead magnet nestled into the sidebar. It’s worth noting that the creator of this website will be shortly publishing a recipe book—surely interesting to the leads collected from this lead magnet! 


A whitepaper is a comprehensive and informative piece of content or report that discusses a problem and provides a solution. Perfect for a lead magnet!

As they are quite in-depth, whitepapers are a great way to show authority on a subject. Even better, if you can use your own studies and data, your lead magnet will offer unique insights that cannot be found elsewhere.

The Remote Company conducted their own study on remote working, and shared some of the findings in a blog post. At the end of the article is a good lead magnet example, offering the full report in exchange for an email address. This example is simple, non-invasive, and gives the audience an opportunity to learn more. 

Docusign provides a library of free resources including webinars and whitepapers.

When you click the resource you want to view, you’re taken to a lead magnet landing page with a description of the content. Although there could be fewer form fields, the content is extremely specific, so it’s more likely people who land here won’t mind filling it in.

Free Courses

If you can provide specific insight into how to do something, e.g. An introduction to Github, or How to get started as an AirBnB entrepreneur, a free online course is an excellent way to introduce yourself as an authority on the subject. If you can provide true value to your audience, there’s no doubt they’ll be back for more. 

Foundr’s lead magnet example takes a more sales-focused and detailed approach which is more suited to business topics. 


Live webinars and events are an excellent way to engage with your audience in real-time. You can even maximize the content further by offering a recording to leads who couldn’t make it. 

And the best thing about this type of lead magnet? If someone sits through your event (or even just signs up), you can bet your bottom dollar that they’re pretty interested in what your business is about. 

This friendly pop-up lead magnet example from Search Engine Journal is fun and instills a sense of urgency with a countdown timer.

Private Groups

Is there anything more exclusive than a private group? Give your audience the benefit of VIP insights and discussion with access to private groups, chats and communities. 

LinkedIn and Facebook groups are a good place to start, you can even create a private Slack channel. 

In this lead magnet example from BPTN, users can join the network and gain access to an exclusive Slack channel, among other things. 

Cheat Sheets/Checklists

Some people just love to have a summarized version of a free guide or checklist that they can download to refer to at any point. If you’ve created any kind of list, guide, or in-depth walkthrough as an article, you can convert that content into a brief summary that’s easy to digest. Bonus points if you make it printable!

Real Python offers a Python cheat sheet lead magnet within the content of a page all about Python basics and how to get started. This lead magnet design makes it clear what the lead magnet is while the description gives extra detail about what the cheat sheet contains. 

Resource Lists

Have you tested out countless tools and resources and narrowed down the very best on offer? Then why not share the knowledge with your audience? A resource list or toolkit could include your favorite free and paid software and tools, essential blogs, guides and books that you think your audience would truly benefit from. 

In this lead magnet example from Oak National Academy, they offer a combination of lesson plans and resources in exchange for the prospect’s information. The headline clearly describes what you get if you sign up, with more information on the benefits of signing up.


Templates are an enticing lead magnet, as they provide a quick and easy solution to something to your audience when they might not have the resources to create their own. Without design skills, examples, knowledge and time, creating templates for certain assets can be challenging—so make it simple! Some ideas for templates include:

  • Newsletter templates
  • Social media posts
  • Resumes
  • Spreadsheets
  • Strategies/plans
  • Presentations
  • Worksheets

Transactional email service MailerSend uses a pop-up for this lead magnet in which they are offering free transactional email templates to website visitors. This lead magnet is super clear, and they’re also asking for the visitor’s job role so they can target them in the future with more relevancy. 


E-commerce discounts are a great way to encourage website visitors to sign up and are highly indicative that those who do are interested in purchasing from you. What’s more, by only offering a special discount this way, you create a sense of FOMO (fear of missing out), and who wants to miss out on an exclusive discount? Discount lead magnets might also be the push someone needs to take the step and make a purchase they otherwise might not. 

LookFantastic greets website visitors with a tempting 15% off coupon. The main message and benefit its highlighted in the heading, with additional benefits listed in easy-to-read bullets below. Even better, all they ask for is an email address!

Free Trials

If you have some kind of product or service that can be offered on a trial basis, for example SaaS (Software-as-a-Service), this is a great way to encourage signups while giving prospects a taste of what they can get if they commit to purchasing. 

Moz includes a free trial lead magnet in the sidebar alongside blog articles.

Interestingly, Hubspot found that ebooks are the most popular lead magnet—27.7% of marketers use them. This is followed by webinars at 24.9% are free tools at 21.3%. Once again, the type of lead magnet you use depends on your audience’s needs and what format can best deliver your content. 

3. Design Lead Magnets Your Audience Can’t Resist

This is where knowing your audience and the psychology behind lead magnets converge. It’s all about knowing what your audience needs and wants, solving real problems and delivering the solution to them in an easily digestible way. 

  • Capture their attention—identify a real problem 
  • Keep their attention by explaining how you have the solution 
  • Be specific—you have just seconds to make your prospect understand what you have to offer so get straight to the point 
  • Backup your claims with reports and statistics wherever possible
  • No frills—make your call-to-action (CTA) easy to digest. It needs to be clear in just a few words how what you’re offering is valuable, and what the prospect needs to do to sign up. 
  • Make your lead magnet easily accessible. Delayed gratification doesn’t work here. If you’re sending them their content via email, make it so that the automation sends it right away. 
  • Show your audience that you know your stuff. This is a surefire way to build trust and give prospects a taste of what to expect. Don’t just plant your lead magnet on a barely filled or irrelevant page. Create an article or landing page that shows your expertise and makes it hard for them to pass up your lead magnet. 

4. Select the Best Lead Magnet Placement

Placing your lead magnet next to content that is relevant to it makes for a better user experience and increases the likelihood that a website visitor will be interested in signing up. 

  • In-content lead magnets: These are lead magnets placed within a piece of content, such as a blog article, and provide content upgrades or bonuses. An example of an in-content lead magnet could be a bonus SEO checklist placed within a beginner’s guide to SEO. Placing lead magnets at the end of blog posts gives people the opportunity to learn more, which they should want to do!
  • Side widgets: These lead magnets are placed within the sidebar of a website or specific pages. While they should still be relevant to the page content, they can be slightly more general. For example, a free download of a recipe book on a recipe blog. 
  • Pop-ups: Yes, pop-ups work! With pop-up lead magnets, you should follow the same rules as in-content lead magnets—only display them alongside relevant content. The added benefit is that your pop-up will be impossible to miss. Just make sure it’s triggered at the right moment, and not as soon as the visitor lands on the page. Exit pop-ups are great as they are triggered when a person is about the leave the page anyway, so it isn’t detrimental to their experience. 

The best strategy is to use a combination of lead magnet placements, and monitor which pages and types of content or placement convert better. 

5. Use a Lead Magnet Landing Page

If you want to promote your lead magnet more, you can create a lead magnet landing page and direct people to it by sharing it on social media and in ads.

Your lead magnet landing page is going to describe your core value proposition, highlight a real problem and provide a real solution. Even better—you can add in social proof to demonstrate how your lead magnet has benefited other members of your audience. 

Then comes the form asking for the prospect’s email address (try to keep it simple—you can collect more information later), and a short, simple but catchy CTA button that allows your new lead to download or receive the content by email. 

Check out these landing page statistics and best practices. 

6. A/B test your lead magnets

Lead generation is one of the most important reasons that we A/B test—we want to know exactly what encourages people to convert in order to bring in more leads and then optimize for this. A/B testing is a way to learn this. With your lead magnets, you can test:

  • Your freebie: You’re trying to address a need or solve a problem, so it’s important to test out the type of content and the format it’s delivered in so that it suits your audience. For example, they might prefer the content to be presented in a video, rather than a PDF, or vice versa. You can A/B test different types of content and choose the one that works best for that particular lead magnet. 
  • Lead magnet design: This image, that image, or no image at all? A bold-colored background or all-white? You want your design to fit seamlessly into your website design, but you can play around with different elements to see what works best. 
  • Lead magnet copy: You can test out short and snappy descriptions against more explanatory, longer copy. You can also try out different tones: fun and friendly or strictly business, for example. 
  • Headline: Pick two or three different headlines. You can use variations that include different tones, numbers, questions, and emotive language.
  • CTAs: Experiment with CTA text, buttons and color.

Remember: Only test one element at a time, or it will be difficult to understand which difference resulted in more conversions!

7. Promote your lead magnets

Hurray! You’ve created your lead magnets and they’re looking great on your website, but don’t just launch them and forget about them! To really maximize your conversion rate, you need to promote them. 

How to promote your lead magnets:

  • Share on social media pages such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
  • Run Facebook ads and other paid social ads
  • Set up a Google AdWords campaign
  • Include it in your newsletter
  • If you have an engaged community, share it with them
  • Use a chatbot to engage website visitors and share your lead magnet
  • Create related guest posts for other websites and link to it from there

Lead magnet mistakes and pitfalls to avoid

1. Too many lead magnet placements

It might be tempting to create a lead magnet for every article and webpage, but ultimately this will take up a lot of time and honestly, not every blog post needs a cheat sheet or checklist! If supplementary content offers real value for your audience, then go for it! Otherwise, just stick to solving real problems. 

2. Disposable email addresses

Disposable email addresses are difficult to avoid, as there is no way of knowing if an email is a throwaway. There are three approaches to this. 

  • You can only accept business emails, i.e. no freemail email addresses like GMail. But, there might be a genuine prospect who doesn’t want to use their business email or who only has a freemail address available. 
  • You can build trust with your audience and demonstrate your authority with the content on your website, so they’ll be more likely to enter an email address that they use regularly. 
  • Verify your email list—this will show you which email addresses are potentially harmful and give recommendations on how to manage them. 

3. Disruptive lead magnets

No one likes to be bombarded with pop-ups while they’re trying to read an article. Not only does it make for a bad user experience, but it also seems unprofessional and can result in lost trust between you and your audience. Avoid pop-ups as soon as a person enters your website, and place in-content lead magnets sporadically and where relevant. 

4. Complicated forms

Keep forms simple and clear and identify your audience’s specific problem and offer the solution. Your CTA should explain clearly what is going to happen when they sign up. Stick to asking for an email address only (you don’t need phone numbers or addresses right now) so it’s super quick and easy.

5. Opt-in intent and purchase intent are different

Gaining lots of email subscribers and sharing your content is great! But the whole point is to collect leads who will eventually convert to paying customers. If your lead magnet content doesn’t align with your purpose, you’re more likely to end up with subscribers who are less interested in becoming customers. Think about whether your lead magnet captures the same intent that will go into the purchasing decision and if it doesn’t, rethink your approach.  

Take the lead

Lead acquisition is a never ending aspect of business, so it’s important to utilize every trick you have in the bag. Lead magnet funnels will bring you high-quality leads that you know are engaged in your content, and are more likely to convert down the line. 

With these best practices, you can create great lead magnets that get results and fit seamlessly into the overall experience of your website and content.

Mary Keaton

By Mary Keaton

Mary Keaton is an eLearning and education specialist with years of experience in online course development, curriculum design, and corporate learning management. Having been part of the FinancesOnline team for 5 years, she has reviewed and analyzed over 100 learning management systems to provide users worldwide with insights into how each one works. She is a strong supporter of the blended learning model and aims to help companies get the information they need to bring their L&D initiatives into the 21st century.

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