9 Lead Magnet IDEAS (We’ve Tried Them All)

By Chris Shaffer •  Updated: 05/12/21 •  16 min read

If you've ever built an email list before, you'll know that one of the most annoying things is choosing a lead magnet for your audience.

After all, there's a wide variety of things to choose from and we can never really be sure (before we create and test a lead magnet) it's going to be effective for our audience.

Don't let that fear hold you back.

Today, we're taking a look at nine different types of lead magnets, when the best time is to use them, and the pros and cons of each type.

Feel free to use this post as a way of understanding the different types of leaving that and as a guide to help you choose the correct one for the situation you're currently in.


The first type of lead management that you should consider is a checklist.

If people in your audience would be interested in learning a specific process, such as how to build an email list, a checklist can be an excellent way of getting them to join your email list.

Essentially, we're going to be creating a checklist that walks people in our audience through a very specific process step-by-step.

For example, if we were building a website about aquariums and keeping fish at home, we could easily build a step-by-step checklist for how to keep saltwater fish in an aquarium.

We would simply outline all of the things that someone will need to do from measuring the salinity and temperature of the water to allowing rest periods for the fish to acclimate in their bags in which they are bought from the store.

The checklist is a great way to simplify the process and can often be an excellent lead magnet if there are processes in your market.


Probably the biggest plus to creating a checklist as a lead magnet is that they are very simple to create, as long as you understand how the process works and have a basic understanding of how to use a program like canvas or even something as simple as Google Sheets or Excel, you can create a checklist in just a few minutes for your audience. In addition to ease of creation,

Since checklists are tied to a specific process, as long as your checklist works, you can easily create a lasting positive impression with your audience by actually helping them accomplish something. 

Even if it's something as simple as making sure their new saltwater fish don't die right away.


There are however a few downsides to using a checklist as a lead magnet so you may want to keep a few of these things in mind.

The first con to using a checklist as your lead magnet is that you have to have an in-depth understanding of the process and be able to create an in-depth solution to the problem.

If you're missing steps or saying things that aren't accurate in your checklist, all of the goodwill you would otherwise generate by helping someone accomplish a task will backfire.

Secondly, because they are very simple to assemble they’re not viewed to be as high a quality of a lead magnet as some of the other forms of lead magnets and are also very easily copied or repeated by your competition.


The second type of lead magnet we're going to talk about today is an e-book.

I like to think of e-books as a longer, more narrative form of something like a checklist, which we discussed above.

We're essentially going to illustrate a process that will give a result and give all of the contexts around how and why we did what we did to achieve that result.

For example, you may have seen our email list building e-book or are brand creation ebooks here at brancreators.com.

Both of these could be used as a lead magnet and given away for free (we currently charge a small fee for each), and when read by people in our audience will give them all of the steps and information that they need to attain a specific result.


Since e-books take substantially more time and effort than putting together something like a checklist, they are viewed as much higher quality by your audience.

Generally speaking, things that are viewed as a higher quality also get better opt-in rates from your audience, meaning you'll likely get more people to take you up on something like an e-book than you will on a checklist.

Additionally, because these have more “meat” than many other forms of lead magnets, you can potentially even charge for something like an e-book to collect customers instead of just leads.

When it comes to having an email list I would always rather have a list of customers than a list of people simply signing up to take advantage of the lead magnet.


Unfortunately, the same things that make an e-book a very attractive lead magnet also make them more complicated to put together.

Since we're not doing something as simple as putting together a checklist, we need to create the e-book (which means writing or having written and edited a larger number of pages)

While there are a variety of ways around writing an ebook yourself (such as using content you've already created) it does involve having substantially more understanding of the market and potentially a lot more work than something like a checklist or contest.

Essentially, if you're going to create an e-book you should already have a good understanding of the market and are most likely already creating content and have a website built.

Videos or Video Series

The next lead magnet type we are going to be talking about is a video series.

This type of lead magnet can be an extremely powerful way to create connection and results with your audience because not only are they able to see and/or hear you, but they're getting all of the other benefits of something like a checklist or e-book as well.


As we talked about before, lead magnets that are perceived to have a higher value by your audience will generally result in a higher conversion rate.

Since video is considered to be something extremely difficult to do (it's not if you have a modern smartphone and a basic understanding of technology), it has a high perceived value with our audience.

Additionally, the format of this type of lead magnet allows us to communicate very complex topics in a way that we are not able to do with written content such as an ebook.

For example, if I need to show a complex process, such as how to connect an email autoresponder to WordPress, it's much simpler to follow along step by step with a video than it is to follow along reading an e-book or hoping that nothing has changed in your checklist.


Unlike many of the other forms of lead magnets, like checklists or contests, to create a video series there is a substantial investment in technology.

If you're a technophobe or have never shot a video before, this lead magnet type probably is not for you.

Additionally, since we can never be sure how effective a lead magnet will be (until we've built it and run traffic to it), a video series that misses the mark with our audience can be a big waste of our time and resources and extremely frustrating.

Audio Books

The next I believe magnet we're going to be talking about is an audiobook.

Think of this as creating a podcast episode or recording a speech.

Just like with other types of lead magnets our audiobooks are focused on a single specific topic that we can guide the listener through.


Since they're considered to be difficult to create, as a video, audiobooks are considered to be a very high-quality lead magnet by most audiences and will generally result in a high conversion rate.

Additionally, because they can be consumed on the go, this type of lead magnet is more likely to be consumed by your audience, meaning you're more likely to create a long-term and lasting connection with the information that you're presenting.


Just like with a video series you do need a little bit of equipment and technical know-how to create an audiobook.

This can be a challenge if you've never done it before or if you hate talking into a microphone.

Additionally, with anything that relies on technology, there's a little bit more “customer service” involved when you're dealing with something like an Audiobook.

Most people don't have any problems downloading a checklist but you're likely to get at least a handful of emails from people who don't understand how to download or listen to the audiobook, which can be time-consuming if you are a one-person operation.

Case Study

If you had success in your market whether it's building extremely responsive email lists or getting an unusually long life out of your saltwater fish, turning that experience into a case study can be a great lead magnet.

Most audiences love seeing actual results from somebody that is going through a process and if you're able to communicate those results to your audience, case studies can be one of the most powerful and highest converting lead magnets available.


Since case studies are generally viewed as a very high-quality lead magnet, you often get an extremely high conversion rate.

Additionally, because case studies are a type of lead magnet and not a format of lead magnet, you can use the same case study in a variety of different formats to capture your audience at different stages.

For example, you could use your Case study to create a checklist an e-book or even a video series or all of the above), depending on your level of comfort with technology and how your audience likes to consume your content.


The biggest downside to using a case that is a lead magnet is that you have to have gone through the process and achieved the results yourself.

If you're attempting to put together a case study on how to build an email list and you only succeeded in collecting 200 email addresses with the process you are using, chances are that your audience is not going to be interested in that.

On the contrary, if your numbers seem unbelievable, such as “how we created an email list of 90,000 people in one afternoon” you're likely to be met with a lot of skepticism by the audience because your results are unbelievable.

Essentially, the biggest downside to using a case study as a lead magnet (regardless of the format that you're using it in) is the time commitment.

Not only do you need the time to go through the process and document your results, but you need to be able to put all of that information into an understandable format.


The next type of lead magnet we're going to be discussing today is giveaways.

There are a variety of different types of giveaways, but we like to focus on are generally high-value product giveaways.

Essentially we take a look at a few different products that our market is interested in (like a fancy new aquarium, aquarium rocks, and aquarium heater, etc.) and create a bundle of products that have a value of $150 or more.

If you'd like a full step-by-step guide on how we create and set up our giveaways, you'll want to check this article out here.


Giveaways are one of the easiest lead magnets to put together.

You don't need anything, like content or a fully built-out website, to take advantage of a giveaway.

Additionally, they tend to convert fairly well (falling somewhere in the middle of the pack in terms of conversion rates), due to the LITERAL value of the items you are giving away.

If you have an Amazon prime account and a few minutes to build a very basic landing page chances are you can put together a successful giveaway.

Lastly, given their extremely high conversion rates, giveaways are a great way to learn how to run paid traffic to your site and can teach you a lot of valuable lessons about the types of messages and creativity that your audience will respond to in the future.


Unfortunately, in the case of giveaways, the desirability of winning the prize is both a blessing and a curse.

While you will traditionally have a very high opt-in rate for something like a giveaway, the quality of the people who are opting in is generally not as good as many of the other lead magnet types.

While you may end up with a huge number of people opting in for your offer you do have to do a large amount of work on the backend to weed out freebie seekers and other people who are just signing up because they want to win the prize and not because they care about what you have to say.

This is also something you want to keep in mind when you're calculating your true cost per lead if you chose to run ads to your giveaway


If you have your products to sell (whether they are physical products or digital products), you can use a discount or coupon code towards the purchase of one of those products as a lead magnet.

They aren't very difficult to set up and can be effective when put in front of the right prospective customer.


Discounts or promo codes can be an extremely effective lead magnet when presented to the right person at the right time.

They're even more attractive when you consider the fact that if we are giving someone a discount is resulting in money coming into the business.

This can’t be said for most other types of lead magnets.

Additionally, because the people signing up for your promo code or discount are actually on their way to buy something they tend to be much higher quality than other ways of collecting emails.


Just like with giveaways discounts or promo codes can be a bit of a double-edged sword.

They need to be used at a very specific place in the sales funnel and if used too frequently or advertised too obviously, they can result in a cheapening of your brand.

Not only are you making less money on each sale of your product, but if you're using discounts frequently as a lead magnet or as a way of bringing new sales into your business, you can end up being branded as the discount brand.

The easiest comparison to think about here is the difference between Walmart and Target.

While both stores sell the same products with very similar pricing, for the most part, Walmart is generally considered to be the discount store.

Additionally, most people look forward to going to Target and dread going to Walmart (if they have the option), because Walmart is perceived as a “Lower Quality”.


I like to think of workbooks as a multiple-page checklist.

They’re essentially a way of giving people access to an easy-to-follow roadmap, but instead of a single process or result, we're going to give them a few different processes or results along the way.

For example, we could put together a workbook on how to build an email list, while a checklist would generally be limited to something like connecting your lead magnet.


Just like with checklists, since workbooks give the user an identifiable objective and the process with which to achieve it, they tend to be viewed as a high-quality lead magnet and have the potential to create a great long-term connection with our audience if done correctly.

Additionally, since workbooks are generally printed out, they allow us to occupy physical real estate on the desks or in the offices of the people in our audience, which can create a great brand association.


Unfortunately, just like with a checklist, we have to have a deep understanding of the process that would be putting people through with the workbook and their substantially more work to put together than a basic checklist.

Because we're dealing with multiple pages, we're now also dealing with things like copyediting design and layout that we don't have to deal with in a few of the other types of lead magnets.


The final lead magnet that will be talking about today is templates.

If there is a process in your market, such as sending emails, building a doghouse, or posting on social media you should consider creating a template for your audience to download.

Just like with checklists or workbooks, templates can be used to help your potential customers shortcut the process of learning how to do something. 


Templates are usually considered to be a higher value than workbooks or checklists because they offer a “done for you” approach for your customers.

All they have to do is utilize the template, without learning the process and thinking about all of the work that went into creating the template.

This makes it extremely easy for them to do things like send emails or create social media posts even if they've never done it before.

Additionally, because of the high-value perception, templates are another type of lead magnet that you could potentially use as a sellable digital product down the road.


Like with many other lead magnets, you have to have tested your templates for them to work well.

Pretty much anybody can write an email, but if you're offering high-quality email templates that have been proven to convert, you need to make sure that they will convert or you lose all of the benefits and goodwill of your customers.

In addition to the testing, you need to present the templates in an easily usable format.

For example, if we were going to but provide Photoshop templates to our customers, not only would we need to provide Photoshop usable files, but we'd likely need to provide a bunch of documentation explaining how to use the files in Photoshop and hope that everyone in our target audience is a Photoshop user.

That’s a Wrap

This was just a quick look at nine different types of lead magnets that we've tried ourselves and actively used in the different brands that we run.

Keep in mind that each of these has pros and cons but all have their place.

Don't let either the pros or cons that you read in his article stop you from creating a specific type of lead magnet. They are simply there so that you can keep in mind the things you will have to think about during the creation process.

Once you’ve picked your lead magnet type from one of the 9 above, you may want to check out this article about how you can create your lead magnet in no time.

Chris Shaffer

Chris lives at the intersection of business strategy and growth tactics. Having consulted with dozens of different businesses (as well as building several of his own), he brings a unique perspective on what's working across the eCommerce world in businesses of all shapes and sizes.