What Are Content Marketing Lead Magnets & How Do They Work?

Why is content marketing such a huge part of the overall marketing industry today?

Why is content marketing such a huge part of the overall marketing industry today? It certainly isn’t because big businesses are generous when it comes to entertainment and information.


No, it’s because it captures valuable attention — every moment someone in your target audience spends looking at your content is an opportunity to inspire them to buy.


But not all content can or should be directly about the sale, because timing is really important. Imagine you’re a door-to-door salesperson trying to offload sets of knives — if you go for the hard sell right away, it’ll prove counterproductive.


Instead, you need to tempt them to get them interested in your presentation, and you do that through providing an incentive of some kind.


Doing this online — providing digital incentives to win email addresses and contact details — is called putting out lead magnets. By offering the right kind of lure, you can attract people into your broader marketing funnel. But how do lead magnets work? Let’s take a closer look.

What do lead magnets consist of?

A standard lead magnet is really just about anything you provide in exchange for the contact information you need for a qualified lead (an email address, usually, or a phone number, or even a social media connection). Most commonly, a lead magnet will be one of the following:


l  A guide

l  A podcast

l  A course

l  A checklist

l  An ebook

l  A video

l  A template

l  An infographic


The only qualifying factor for a lead magnet is that it must be something your target audience will want enough to give their contact details in return. It could be extremely informative, or simply entertaining — anything that provides substantial value.


You can offer a discount of some kind as a lead magnet, but it’s somewhat uncommon because the allure of getting something for free is so powerful. If you want to use an existing resource too big to offer for free, it’s better to cut off a distinct chunk that you can afford to give away (such as the first chapter of an ebook).

Why are lead magnets effective?

Very simply, because humans are greedy. We all want to get something for nothing, and we’ll often put so much effort into getting free gifts that it would have worked out cheaper to just buy them instead. This also makes us very wary about giving things away, such as our details.


Whenever we go online, we’re bombarded with efforts to sell us things, and we mostly ignore them. But when we land upon opportunities to get things for free, we feel like we’ve somehow beaten the system, and we need to act quickly before someone realizes their mistake.


Once we’ve tried things, however, we’re more likely to consider them worthy of further investment. This is partially a matter of getting to experience the quality (think about trying a product sample in a store) and partially due to feeling that we’re already ahead on value.

How to create excellent lead magnets

Whether you’re in the ecommerce game or you’d simply like to attract more prospective clients to your website, putting some thought and time into building lead magnets is an excellent tactic for boosting traffic and driving conversions. But how do you actually create them?


Thankfully, it’s quite easy — easier than ever before, in fact — to build lead magnets, and it’s all due to advances in digital technology and the advent of convenient (and often free) online tools. Here are some suggestions for how you can create different types of lead magnet:


Guides. Think about the tasks that your target audience might struggle with. If you can offer a guide that will help them carry out one of those tasks, it will have clear value in their eyes — enough value to earn their details. Are you marketing to aspiring bloggers? Try something like “30 Tips for Writing the Perfect Blog Post”. You can write it as a page and keep the link private, or make a downloadable PDF (more on that shortly).

Podcasts. Podcasts have become incredibly popular because they’re so convenient — you can listen to them during your commute or while you work. And they’re also easy to record. All you need is a microphone and a recording device (a laptop, a smartphone, almost anything will do). Aim to pick a topic that will really suit the free-form discussion format — something like “How to Write a Comprehensive Marketing Strategy” — and give it a good amount of time (40+ minutes).

Ebooks. The great thing about an ebook is that it’s a distinct piece of written content that someone can really take away. A link to an online page is alright, but it limits how you can consume it, whereas a downloadable PDF is yours to keep and read at your leisure. This also provides a great opportunity to compile or even rework content you already have: for instance, this ebook maker by Designrr can draw content from a page and turn it into a downloadable file.

Templates. When you’re trying to create some buyer personas or build an email newsletter, it’s much faster to work off an existing design than it is to start from scratch, and a great way to show expertise in your field is to provide a free template (or set of templates) that people can simply fill in. All you need to do is lay the groundwork and you’ll have a valuable asset that takes almost no time to create.

Using your lead magnets well

Once you have your lead magnets ready, you need to market them to your audience. Create a distinct landing page for each one and start pushing traffic towards it through sharing it on social media and running PPC ads.


Over time, keep an eye on the results. If people aren’t taking the bait, review your presentation as well as the content — you might have made a mistake somewhere. And if the page isn’t getting enough traffic, tweak your PPC settings and your social strategy.


Once you get everything working in sync, you should see a healthy boost in qualified leads for a relatively meagre investment. Good luck!

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