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What's a lead magnet and why do I need one?

Updated: Sep 29, 2021

As a marketer or small business owner, you might hear the phrase ‘lead magnet’ thrown around like everyone knows what it means. But if you’re not sure what a lead magnet is – and you’ve turned to Google to secretly swot up – you’re in the right place. Here’s the Write on Tyne beginners’ guide to lead magnets, their uses, and things to consider before you start.

A truth universally accepted…

It’s a truth universally accepted that a business in search of customers needs a mailing list.

If you use social media for your marketing, you’ll know how tough it can be to get your content seen – it’s a vastly overcrowded space, and takes a heck of a lot of work to get decent leads from it.

And advertising can sometimes seem like you’re throwing good money after bad.

This is where targeted messaging via email can bring you much more bang for your buck.

If you can build a list of people who are interested in your product, then you could have warm leads on tap. But how do you get those people on your list in the first place?

This is where lead magnets come in.

What is a lead magnet?

The clue is in the name. Lead. Magnet. It’s something to help you attract leads to your business.

Have you ever seen a social media post offering to give you a freebie? It could have been a guide, a mini-course, entry to an exclusive Facebook Group... Then, when you click download, you get presented with a space to enter your email?

That’s a lead magnet.

A lead magnet offers something for free in exchange for people’s email addresses. The beauty of this method is that the data you collect comes from people who have an interest in your product.

That oh-so-valuable warm lead that everyone aspires to find.

By signing up for your lead magnet, they’re essentially raising their hand and saying they’re interested.

Once they’re on your email list, you can develop your relationship, building the know/like/trust factor through regular communication.

You could schedule an email sequence designed to move them through a particular sales funnel, or just use a newsletter to educate and entertain them, so you’re front-of-mind when they’re looking to buy.

Examples of lead magnets for marketers

Some examples of lead magnets that you can offer for your business include:


An ebook can work well as a lead magnet because it offers great value.

Usually somewhere around 10 to 12 pages, an ebook should give the reader something they really want to get their hands on – like a guide to surviving toddler tantrums, the top 20 motorhomes for active seniors, or how to build the ultimate man cave.

Essentially a long blog post packaged up in an attractive PDF, they work equally well in B2C and B2B markets.


Remember: Creating a downloadable PDF of your content is just one way to use it. You could also use the content from your ebook to:

  • create several shorter ungated blog posts

  • form the basis of an email sequence

  • inform a video script or webinar

  • make shorter snippets for social media

Don't think of creating content in terms of a single output. Once you've invested in creating content, think how you can repurpose it for different platforms and audiences.


Checklists and cheatsheets

These are relatively quick to produce and can be very attractive to readers. They’re smartly designed one-pagers that give the reader a fail-safe set of instructions to overcome a common problem - usually promising an easy solution or even some trade secrets.

Checklists can be a great lead-in to other - paid - products as they reveal a lot about what the reader needs help with. For example, if someone downloads a checklist on setting up a Facebook business page, you could target them later with a paid course on how to achieve their first 2,000 likes. These can work really well for smaller businesses with not much time or budget.

White papers

White papers are popular in the B2B market as they tend to contain the detail and stats that businesses crave.

For example, a report into the state of your industry sector could give businesses vital information to benchmark against, or a thought-leadership piece packed with new ideas could help spark ideas for a new product or project.

These take a lot of work though and are best for businesses with a budget.


Short courses and social media groups can be lead magnets too, especially if they’re free. Few people object to handing over their details if there’s the promise of getting something they need.

As freelancing and small business ownership increases post-pandemic – and platforms like MemberVault make it easy for anyone to run a course – these are an accessible way to build your mailing list and bolster your reputation. Short taster courses are also a great way to ease into a more in-depth, paid offer.

Seven things to consider before creating a lead magnet

  1. Who is the audience and what will appeal to them so much that they’re willing to give you their juicy contact details? Time to polish off those customer personas

  2. How will you produce the lead magnet? If you're producing a PDF, Canva is great for a cheeky cheat sheet but something longer might deserve InDesign.

  3. Who’ll write your lead magnet? Do you have someone in-house or will you use a freelance copywriter? Do you need to hire a designer?

  4. How will you promote it – eg Facebook ads, organically via your social media?

  5. If your lead magnet needs to be downloaded or accessed online, what platform will you use? What will you include on your landing page to get your prospect really excited to access it?

  6. What will you do with people’s information after you have it? Add them to a newsletter mailing list? Or maybe set up an email sequence to nurture them towards a purchase? How will you manage that process?

  7. Are you ready to be compliant with relevant data protection / GDPR rules – like providing a way for people to unsubscribe? Have you paid your data protection fee to the ICO?

If you’re ready to develop your lead magnet – and the emails or newsletters that follow – get in touch. I’ve written ebooks, playbooks, cheat sheets, checklists and implementation guides for clients across the globe.


About the author

Libby Marks is an award-winning copywriter and content marketer. After 15+ years in marketing and communications, she escaped the 9 to 5 and started Write on Tyne.

Write on Tyne is a small content and copywriting agency dedicated to making marketing managers' lives easier. We provide top-notch copy for campaigns, content marketing, and websites - underpinned by expertise in marketing strategy and SEO.


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