what is a lead magnet

What is a lead magnet?

As you begin diving into the world of email marketing, one of the first questions that often comes up is, “What is a lead magnet?”

A lead magnet is a “gift” or incentive you give potential buyers in return for joining your email list. It’s also a tool you need to use to give value and build trust with your ideal customers.

Why do you need a lead magnet?

Most of us constantly battle the never ending flood of email messages we don’t want in our inbox. Because of that, we’re protective of our email address. We don’t want to give it to just anyone.

Particularly strangers.

What is a lead magnet? Discover how to create a lead magnet that will attract thousands of subscribers

Why do you need prospects’ and customers’ email addresses?

Unless you’re selling a product priced below $10, customers are unlikely to buy from you the first time they hear about you or come across your website.

Why? It’s an issue of trust.

They don’t know you.

What’s going to make them confident your product or service will help solve their problem?

Simply you saying so? Unlikely.

Research argues how many touches it takes before a prospect is ready to buy. Some say it’s five, others say seven, and still others argue it’s twelve. The truth is that it depends on a number of factors including the price of your product, the type and quality of each touchpoint, your audience, and more.

Would you accept a marriage proposal from a stranger?

If a stranger walked up to you on the street or in a bar and asked you to marry them, would you accept?

I hope not.

I also hope YOU wouldn’t offer a proposal of marriage to a stranger.

But have you ever tried offering a proposal of a business relationship to a prospect you just met in the real world or online? My guess is you have.

I’m guilty of it.

It’s not surprising that such offers are rarely accepted. And in the rare circumstances that they do accept your offer, don’t think you got lucky.


After all, what type of person accepts a marriage proposal from a stranger?

Probably not the kind of person you want to spend the rest of your life with.

The same is true in your business.

Build a relationship with your prospect before you ask for the sale to help avoid all the headaches of problem customers.

what is a lead magnet

What does their email address have to do with building a relationship?

You build a relationship through multiple interactions over time.

How many times have you gone to someone’s website, found something interesting, but never returned again (even if you bookmarked the website)?

Social media is little better.

Growing a large following on Facebook or Twitter has value, but Facebook only shows your posts to less than 10% of your followers. For those of your Twitter followers who follow thousands of other people, your messages will be pushed down the feed in a matter of seconds never to be seen by the majority of your audience.

Another problem with relying on social media platforms for consistently reaching your audience is that they can change the rules on you or disappear overnight. Facebook suddenly decreased the percentage of followers who saw your posts. Those who had built up large followings were angry, but it was Facebook’s platform and had the right to begin charging money to reach your followers.

But your email list is different.

It’s owned by you and can’t be taken away.

Obtaining a prospect’s email address is the best way to ensure you have repeated interactions so that you can build a relationship with them.

Can subscribers choose not to read your emails? Yes. But if you provide valuable content they’re looking for, they’ll be anxiously waiting for your next email.

As you continue to give them value and encourage them to engage, you build a relationship where they like, know, and trust you (and become ready to buy from you).

Your email list is one of your business’s most valuable assets. Jeff Walker, of Product Launch Formula, states that an email list is “almost the equivalent of a license to ‘print’ money”.

7 Steps to Choose the Best Topic for Your Online Course (and Lead Magnet)

Download your free 7-step guide to choose the best topic for your online course or lead magnet.

How to create a lead magnet?

Not only do you need to know what is a lead magnet, you need to know how to create a lead magnet.

All lead magnets are NOT created equal in their effectiveness of encouraging ideal prospects to join your email list.

Below are 7 attributes of a great lead magnet.

1 – It focuses on your ideal customer’s big problem

Make sure your lead magnet helps solve your ideal customer’s big problem. If you offer an incentive unrelated to the big problem your business helps solve, you’ll attract the wrong type of customers who aren’t interested in your products or services.

2 – It focuses on a single problem and addresses one or more of your prospect’s obstacles in solving that problem

A lead magnet can’t solve the big problem on its own. Create a lead magnet that helps your ideal customers overcome one obstacle they commonly face in solving that big problem.

3 – It helps prospects take action to move measurably closer to their goal

You can include some theory and principles, but make sure you explain what your subscribers can DO to take one or more steps closer to their goal.

Note that to create a lead magnet that helps your ideal customers solve a portion of their big problem and move closer to their goal, you must FIRST know who your ideal customers are and what their big problem, obstacles, and goal are. I call this their POG Path (Problem, Obstacle, and Goal). Click here to learn more about their POG Path and how understanding your customer’s POG Path will help you create an irresistible sales page.

4 – It can be consumed in less than 20 minutes

Some entrepreneurs offer ebooks or 365-day email courses as their lead magnet. As a general rule, I encourage my clients to create a lead magnet that can be consumed quickly.


More isn’t always better.


You’re busy and so are your prospects. If you offer them a 300-page book, are they going to read it immediately? Probably not. They’ll download it and tell themselves they’ll get to it on the weekend or next week. But life gets in the way and they quickly forget about your lead magnet – and you.

In contrast, if you provide a checklist, template, or short guide or report, they’ll download it, open it up, and if it is interesting enough, they’ll read or watch the entire thing right away. If it proves helpful enough to them, they’ll either buy your product or service right then if it isn’t too expensive or they’ll begin looking forward to your next email and enthusiastically open it expecting to receive more valuable help from you.

5 – It creates a hunger for more of your products or services

As I noted in the previous paragraph, share content that’s interesting and helpful to your subscribers so they’ll look forward to your next emails. Do that enough times in a row and those subscribers will quickly convert to buyers.

6 – It guides prospects to your product or service

This builds upon tip #1. Not only do you want to create a lead magnet related to your ideal customers’ big problem so that you attract your ideal customers who need your solution. Your lead magnet needs to help prepare them to buy and succeed with your solution. This can be done in a number of ways. It helps:

  • Educate them on the value of your solution (while also helping them progress toward their goal)
  • Them overcome objections and obstacles that are preventing them from being ready to purchase your solution
  • Them take steps to become more likely to succeed with your solution (which will make your life easier once they become a customer and improve customer testimonials)
7 – It looks professional

Okay, maybe this is obvious, but I’ve seen too many lead magnets that don’t look professional.

Even if the content is good, an unprofessional looking document or video sends a message that while you may know your stuff you may not be professional in your daily business dealings. Your audience may wonder if you’re disorganized and will miss deadlines or have other issues.

If attractive, easy to read formatting isn’t your thing, reach out to a graphic designer and have them create a Word template for you that reflects your brand. Then you can re-use that template for most of your prospect- and client-facing documents.

What’s next?

If you’re not sure what lead magnet to create, click here for some good lead magnet ideas.

If you’d like to understand how to set up email marketing automation, view a video below that I made to help you understand email marketing automation. It’s a little long, but it’ll give you a thorough overview of the whole process.


Also, if you’re ready to begin setting up your email marketing automation and are a little unclear about the specific steps you need to take, click here to view an email marketing 101 infographic that outlines the 6 steps to getting started with email marketing.

7 Steps to Choose the Best Topic for Your Online Course (and Lead Magnet)

Download your free 7-step guide to choose the best topic for your online course or lead magnet.

What is a Lead Magnet – Action Step

I hope I’ve effectively answered your question: ‘What is a lead magnet?’

Now it’s time for you to create your lead magnet.

I’d love to see your lead magnet. Once you’ve created it, in the comments below please add a link to the landing page for your lead magnet so I can check it out.

If you have questions about what’s a landing page, watch my video on email marketing automation (shown above). It will answer your questions.

If you’d like suggestions for tools to create opt-in forms and landing pages, click here.


About the Author

I help small business entrepreneurs transform their marketing to successfully convert and retain ideal customers so they can make more money and make a difference in the lives of those they serve. I look forward to helping you too.