Your Guide to Building Lead Magnets That Convert

Here on the blog, we’ve already talked about the incredible power of a good lead magnet.

In a nutshell, a lead magnet is a small piece of free content that you give away in exchange for an email address. They can be highly effective, but how do you get started creating your very first lead magnet? And, once you’ve put one together, how can you use it to begin adding subscribers to your list?

This is a two part guide. To start, we’ll talk about the two categories of lead magnets and explain why the best strategy involves a mix of both.

Then, in part two, we’ll share a few ideas to help you quickly churn out content that attracts your target audience like a… well… magnet. Get started below!

Part One: The Two Categories of Lead Magnets… and Why You Need Both

In previous articles, we’ve talked about all the different types of lead magnets you can create. From infographics to webinars, audio content to discounts; lead magnets can come in all shapes and sizes. However, no matter what kind of lead magnet you choose to offer, how you offer it usually falls into one of two categories…

Category #1: Standalone Content

This is the most common type of lead magnet and one that you’ve likely seen all over the internet. In this scenario, content is offered without any pretext, often through its own landing page or CTA (Call to Action) box.

For example, on an authority website for electricians, you might offer a free eBook that promises to teach independent electricians ‘The Nine Steps to Growing Your Electrician Business’. You could then offer this eBook through a separate landing page, a header subscription box, or an opt-in within your blog’s sidebar.

Standalone content works great because it’s extremely versatile. You can create just one piece of content and link to it through multiple channels. For example, anxiety coach Tim JP Collins offers a free “Anxiety Toolkit” through multiple channels such as…

…Through a pop-up on his website:

Building Lead Magnets - Tim Collin's Pop Up

…Through a contextual link on his home page:

Building Lead Magnets - Tim Collins Home Page

…In the footer of his blog:

Building Lead Magnets - Tim Collins Webform

…Through a separate landing page (that he can link to from Facebook ads, Twitter, or basically anywhere he wants):

Building Lead Magnets - Tim Collins Landing Page


…And even through the descriptions in his YouTube channel:

Building Lead Magnets - Tim Collins Channel

Because this piece of content is so versatile, Tim is able to create multiple opportunities for people to download it and subscribe to his list. And if you’re just getting started with lead magnets this is exactly the kind of content you should be looking to create— something attractive and versatile.

However, when it comes to conversion rates, nothing beats the second category of lead magnet… the content upgrade.

Category #2: Content Upgrades

A content upgrade is a special, purpose-built lead magnet attached to a specific blog post. These might be worksheets, checklists, or case studies— content that continues to drive the message of the blog post and make it more valuable to the reader.

For example, on a blog post titled, Turn Distractions Into Opportunities, author Brian Casel offers a free guide that promises to identify, “10 common distractions you can leverage to add value to your business today.” This isn’t a generic, one-size-fits-all guide. This is something that Brian has specifically created to go along with a single particular blog post.

Building Lead Magnets - Brian Casel Lead Magnet

Content upgrades are extremely effective. Because your audience is already interested in whatever article you’ve created for them, they’re much more likely to download your offer and hand over their email address.

Think about it: if you’re reading an article that speaks to your interests, wouldn’t you want more information? How about an action plan that takes the points laid out in the article and turns them into actionable steps? 

Of course, the downside of content upgrades is that they require far more effort than a regular standalone lead magnet. With a standalone offer, you can create multiple opportunities for sign ups by simply linking to your lead magnet’s landing page. With content upgrades, you’ll need to create new and unique pieces for each blog post.

This can sound like a lot of work. However, the results can far outweigh the time/expense. SEO blogger, Brian Dean, saw a 785% increase in email opt-ins after including content upgrades in his own blog posts.

Ideally, you should look to have both a standalone lead magnet that you can offer throughout your site and separate content upgrade pieces on each individual blog post.

This is hands down, the best way to build your list.

However, getting your lead magnets built and deployed is easier said than done. Let’s talk about what that process looks like in…

Part Two: Building Powerful Lead Magnets

Alright. Now that we’ve covered the difference between standalone lead magnets and content upgrades, let’s talk about how you can create your very own list-building, audience-attracting, value-adding content. Your first step? Choose a lead magnet.

What Kind of Content Will You Offer?

No matter what you decide to create, whether it’s an eBook, a webinar, an infographic, or a discount code— make sure it’s relevant to your audience. The last thing you want to do is spend hours creating an amazing 72-page eBook for an audience that would have preferred a quick, 2-page worksheet.

Remember: your goal with these lead magnets is to create something that your audience finds valuable. If you can tap into their desires and give them something they need— they’ll reward you with their email addresses.

When you’ve decided on the kind of content you’re going to create, keep reading and discover how to quickly build lead magnets for your audience.

Outsourcing Your Content Creation

Creating multiple lead magnets can be a time-consuming hassle. Fortunately, with the help of a few outsourcing tools you can quickly create content that looks great and attracts new subscribers.

For example, let’s say you’ve written a two page guide that you want to offer to your website visitors. You could simply save your Word Document as a PDF.  Or, to make your content even more valuable, you could hire a freelancer to turn your work into a beautiful, well-designed PDF report. By using sites like Fiverr, Upwork, or PeoplePerHour, you can make your work look more professional (and valuable) without breaking the bank.

Take Fiverr for instance. For just $5–$10 you could have someone turn your text into a professionally-designed eBook… in 24 hours!

Building Lead Magnets - Fiverr Offers

Or, if you wanted to offer video content to your audience, you could hire someone to create an animated explainer video. Again, for less than $15.

Building Lead Magnets - Fiverr Offers


Test different formats, lengths, and subjects. Try to create different offers that appeal to different segments of your target audience. Because, at the end of the day, one size will never fit all.

Of course, once complete, your next step is to begin creating opt-in boxes, landing pages, and subscription forms to capture email addresses.

Ready to start building lead magnets that convert?

With Sendlane, you can quickly create all of the above with just a few clicks. To learn more, click here and start your free trial.

Kristen Dahlberg

Content Manager at Sendlane
As a member of the Sendlane content marketing team, Kristen focuses on everything from organization to content curation and process improvement. She enjoys variety and the challenge of learning the best way to accomplish each new goal.

Outside of work, Kristen spends as much time as possible at the beach, soaking up the San Diego sunshine!