Top 5 (Ethical!) Bribes to Attract New Customers

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Ask pretty much anyone and they will say bribery is never a good idea. Whether it’s parents trying to bribe their toddler with candy or a corporation trying to bribe all of Argentina with $100 million (yeah, that happened). Bribes will almost always blow up right in your face.

So how is it that we’re here talking about ethical bribes? Not only does that word sound like a complete oxymoron, you probably think we’re crazy for even suggesting it!

Here’s the thing though: ethical bribes done right can actually be one of the most effective ways to grow your customer base. Also known as lead magnets, ethical bribes are simply incentives. Incentives that you offer in order to do things like build your email distribution list, grow your social following or spread the word about your brand. So while most bribes are only pretending to be “win-win” situations (until they hit you with a $1.3 billion fine, of course), these bribes actually are! 

Before we share our top five favorite ethical bribes, let’s jump into what makes them so appealing and effective in the first place. Simply put, lead magnets are all about giving something away that will encourage people to complete a specific action. You’re NOT trying to trick them or deceive them. You’re simply giving them a little nudge with something they actually want – you’re giving them a gift!

The Gift That Keeps On Giving

Everyone loves a good present. Ethical bribes are simply that – offering up a little something to get people interested. This ensures they’ll feel better about giving you something in return. Whether you want people to subscribe to your email list or try out a new product, your landing page offer should present an offer that’s intriguing and exciting. Most of all, your offering should be truly beneficial to their everyday lives. It doesn’t have to be something free either! From discounts to exclusive access, ethical bribes can come in all shapes and sizes. Just take a look at a few of our favorite email examples below.

Bribes to Attract New Customers - Landing page offers

The good thing about ethical bribes is that they’ve become so common that we’re all pretty used to them by now. Often, we won’t think twice about giving up our email address in exchange for a quick discount or free shipping. 

But just because your audience may be more willing to share their information, doesn’t mean they’ll do it for just anything. Sometimes the fact that we see these kind of lead magnets all the time actually makes us more picky. That’s why your ethical bribe has to be focused on quality.

Don’t try to trick people into something only to disappoint them with a mediocre result. If someone is excited about you’re offering, give them something good! If your download turns out to be a serious waste of time, you’ve done more harm than good to the trustworthiness of your brand. In the future, when they get your marketing email, they are certainly not going to believe anything you say and won’t think twice about unsubscribing.

Know Your Audience

The best gifts are the ones that show you’ve taken the time to know what the intended recipient would like. You would never give your Mom the same present you would give your girlfriend … at least we hope not!

That’s why we’re such big fans of email marketing strategies that include personalized messaging based on a specific demographic of your distribution list. The beauty of it is, segmenting your email list only takes a couple extra minutes. Especially if you’re using Sendlane! That way, you can send a city-specific email like Lyft or follow JCrew’s style and send an email with all the best items just for guys!

Bribes to Attract New Customers - Segmented email offers

Creating an ethical bribe that is beneficial to both you and your audience isn’t always easy. On one hand you want to offer something that people won’t be able to resist. On the other, you want to make sure you’re not giving too much away. Plus, with so many lead magnets popping up all over the web (literally, in some cases!) how can you create something that rises above the fray and stands out?

Bribes to Attract New Customers - LOFT discount offer

Bribes to Attract New Customers - J.Crew Get on the List

Here are a few tips on how to dream up the best ethical bribe for your audience:

  • Offer a real solution to a persistent problem
  • Offer big value in a small package. This is not the time to give away a huge eBook or long webinar… it should simply pique their interest to engage further.
  • Make sure it looks good. Free offers should get just as much attention to detail as everything else. Make sure your graphics are sharp and the credibility of your brand is strengthened with every piece of content you create.
  • Don’t keep them waiting! Whether you’re attracting new leads through pop-up messages on your site, emails or social media, make sure they see an immediate return on their action.
  • Make sure your offer shows off the unique value you bring to potential customers. You are an expert is something specific that they need. Make sure they experience that expertise firsthand with your ethical bribe!

Drumroll please! With these ideas in mind, let’s take a look at some of the best lead magnets we’ve seen around town.


The Best Bribes Top 5


Infographics are awesome on many different levels. They provide bite-sized information in a visually appealing package! In addition they can easily turn into viral sensations if people love them enough to share them on social media or via email. When creating an infographic for an ethical bribe, Sendlane ascribes to three main tenants. Keep it helpful, eye-catching and FUN! Just like this one or this one we’ve created!

Audio Recordings

Prove to your audience that you’ve got content worth sharing by recording a webinar or interview with an expert that shows off your credibility within your industry. It shouldn’t be long. Remember, we all have painfully short attention spans. It should pack a lot of bang for their buck (or email address or social media referral or whatever else it is).


As we mentioned, our attention spans are rapidly decreasing. That’s why 1-2 minute interactive tutorials are pretty awesome ethical bribes. They’re just as easy to watch on a mobile device as a desktop and will give users a short break in their workday … so make them fun!

Try pulling in new customers with a mini video (like Invision) or a short slideshow (like Prezi – extra props for using their own product to teach you how to use it!). Using a tutorial is a great way to attract new leads with an ethical bribe and get them to engage with your product on an even deeper level.

Bribes to Attract New Customers - Invision Tutorial


Bribes to Attract New Customers - Prezi Tutorial



New users are always looking for something that will make seemingly complex processes easier. That’s what makes a good checklist such a great ethical bribe. Whether you’re walking them through a brand new exercise routine or how to design an email marketing campaign. Checklists offer step-by-step instructions that people will be more than happy to exchange their email address for.


Some of the most helpful content for people who are trying to save time and still better their work are templates. You do all the legwork for them and all they have to do is download it and be on their merry way. We love how web design experts Designmodo pulled in their audience by offering a bunch of design resources to help new users get started quick.

Bribes to Attract New Customers – DesignMoto free offer

Now that you know that a lead magnet can actually do some good and keep you in the sweet spot with your customers, get out there and bribe everyone you know. Just don’t try to get away with a massive corporate scam by bribing a state governor (seriously, people aren’t the brightest).

If you need help with your email marketing, landing pages or automation give Sendlane a test drive and enjoy all of our features during your free trial! 

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Caitlin Haines

Caitlin Haines

Social Media & Content Manager at Sendlane
Born in Honolulu, Hawaii and raised in San Diego, California, Caitlin has a passion for developing creative marketing content and is primarily responsible for managing the Sendlane blog, planning and executing effective social media strategies and being “in the know” on all new technologies, trends, and applications. When not focusing on increasing Sendlane's social presence Caitlin enjoys spending time with her close-knit family and her boxer, Cocoa.
Caitlin Haines

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