How to create a lead magnet that actually attracts leads

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A freebie that attracts prospects like moths to a flame is about more than just showcasing your subject matter expertise.

Your lead magnet will get you the best results if you show you’re an expert in what moves your ideal customers. That’s how you can win their hearts — or at least keep them on your email list and nurture them.

But as anyone who’s ever tried to write an effective lead magnet can tell you, it isn’t as easy as just writing a longish blog post. Sometimes you need an experienced copy coach to help you on your way.

So here are 6 ideas that can smooth your path to hitting ‘publish’ with confidence — knowing that your lead magnet will resonate with the right people, in the right way.


1. Start with your ideal customers, not with what you know.


Do your research: Who are they? What do they want to achieve? Why is that important to them? To quote Seth Godin, “Not everyone wants the same thing” (link to his video “Differentiating Your Customers” on YouTube).

For example, if you’re selling coaching sessions for women, drill down a little deeper.


  • Are your ideal customers mothers?
  • What do they need to hear most right now?
  • What words would they use to describe what they’re looking for?
  • Do they like things pink and fluffy — or do they appreciate the occasional, humorous swear word?


Or, let’s say you’re selling a software solution for NGOs.


  • Who are the people within those organisations that you want to reach?
  • Are they more likely to want detailed technical specs or a practical guide to reaching more people with the help of your platform?


Don’t waste all your precious writing time on writing the wrong lead magnet for the wrong people.


2. Try a new kind of lead magnet. For example, a comic strip.


Myths abound in this area, from “checklists work best” to “always offer an audio download”. Don’t believe the hype. What would intrigue your ideal customer and help them achieve their goals?

For example, how about a calculator that helps people figure out how much money they’ll save using your reusable beeswax wraps instead of single-use plastic? Or how about inviting people to join a challenge to live more ethically over the summer holidays?

For more ideas off the beaten track, check out this post by Opt In Monster: 69 Super Effective Lead Magnets to Grow Your Email List (updated for 2020).


There’s no one-size-fits-all approach in creating lead magnets. They have to work for YOUR audience and nobody else.


3. Go to a library.


If you haven’t got a good library nearby, try an academic platform such as Researchgate or just use a search engine like Ecosia. You’ll end up more inspired, motivated and full of new ideas.

“Rather than directly promoting your business, brand, products, or services in your lead magnets, demonstrate your thought leadership”, Susan Gunelius recommends in Entrepreneur. Being able to draw on scientific insights, new trends or current developments is what sets thought leaders apart.

If you’re an affiliate to a place that sells books or magazines, you can even monetise the links to your sources for extra oomph.


Even if you’ve worked in your specialist area for decades, don’t rely only on what’s in your head. Always spend at least a few hours researching.


4. Write your first draft fast.

Fast-drafting is a “thing” in the world of fiction writing because it helps authors to avoid getting “caught up in the self-perpetuating loop of editing-as-you-go”.

In our experience, it’s exactly the same for business writing. Self-criticism is directly tied to procrastination. If you spend hours agonising over the perfect title, it means the rest of your lead magnet won’t get done.


Don’t dither or dilly-dally. Get into “the zone” and stay there — edit later.


5. Get a writing buddy.


Find other writers to swap works-in-progress with and keep yourself accountable. For example, you could join a local Meetup, a Facebook Group, or go on an Arvon writing retreat.

British novelist C J Browne worked with a buddy for her first novel. In a blog post for the Alliance of Independent Authors, she describes her experience: “During the low times when I was ready to give up, I’m sure that without Linda’s encouragement [my work] would never have been published.” She also valued her buddy’s honest feedback on how to improve her writing.


No need to be a solitary writer. Join forces with others and your lead magnet will be the stronger for it.


6. Get it perfect with a little help from your customers.


Who’s the best guide to what your ideal prospect would want?

That’s right: your favourite clients. The ones who are:


  • the perfect match for what you offer;
  • really happy with your products/services;
  • easy and pleasant to deal with; and
  • ready to recommend you to others.


They’re the ones who can help you bring out the best in your lead magnet. So give them an exclusive sneak peek and ask them for their candid feedback. This could be as simple as talking through your draft over a cup of coffee (your treat!) — or as involved as putting together a survey for them.

Make it an empowering experience for your customers by showing that you really listen, and don’t forget to say thanks in word and deed. For example, you could send them flowers or a personalised cake, or even just a hand-written note with a discount for your company.


Your favourite customers are your best guide to reaching more people like them — so listen to their feedback.


Of course, we’re also here to help. From planning your lead magnet with you to conducting research, from proofreading or copy editing to writing the entire piece for you — if you want to focus on running your business rather than a word count, let’s have a chat about the support you’d like.


PS. Even with the GDPR, lead magnets are NOT “dead”.


Just make sure you’re transparent in your copy so people know what they sign up to when they download your content.