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list building with lead magnets

The 5-step guide to building your list with lead magnets

If you have an email list, or want to start one, it might be a good idea for you to create a lead magnet. A lead magnet is something that your website visitors can download in exchange for giving you their contact information (usually an email address). Once you have this contact information, you can follow up on your “lead” and attempt to convert that person into a customer or client.

Lead magnets can be very valuable to helping you grow your email list and hopefully get new clients or customers as a result.

The following guide will walk you through the process of creating and distributing your lead magnet.

1. Pick your lead magnet format

A lead magnet can be virtually anything that would have value to your potential customers. Some types of lead magnets are:

  • An ebook
  • A template
  • A checklist
  • A tip sheet
  • A guide
  • A video tutorial
  • A coupon
  • A kit (includes a combination of the above)

When deciding what format to choose, put yourself in your potential customers’ shoes and try to figure out what type of content they would be most likely to want. For example, if your audience is teens, they probably don’t want to download a long ebook but would prefer something more visual, such as a video tutorial.

2. Pick the right topic

My ebook that I use as a lead magnet

My ebook that I use as a lead magnet

The key in deciding a topic is that it has to be something very relevant to the services you offer. Picture your ideal customer and make sure the lead magnet is something they would want. For example, a photography business shouldn’t create a lead magnet with tips for taking better photos. That lead magnet would appeal only to the type of people who want to try and do their photography themselves. However, if they created a lead magnet called “How to choose the right photographer for your wedding”, that would attract people that were actually looking for a photographer for their wedding (a perfect lead).

The more narrow the topic the better, because you really want it to appeal to your target customers, and only to your target customers.

Sure, you could have a broader topic and you could get more emails for your list. But are those people really as likely to be your potential customers? It’s better to have a smaller, targeted list that is genuinely considering your product or service than to have a large list that doesn’t care too much about your business.

3. Make it the best quality you can

Don’t hold back on them as far as quality of content. They are giving you their email address to get this content, so it better be the best you’ve got. You want your subscribers to say “wow, I can’t believe they are giving this away for free”. You also want them to think: “if the content they give away is this high of quality, then the stuff they sell must be incredible!”

On the same note, you really want your lead magnet to look great and professional. If it just looks like a Word Doc that anyone could have typed up, they just aren’t going to be impressed no matter how great the content is.

I created my ebook in Keynote (like Power Point but for Mac) by designing my own custom master template. That way I can use the same design in future projects if necessary. To do this:

  1. Start with an existing template.
  2. Open the master slide editor.
  3. Change the fonts and colours and add design elements to match your brand (do this on the master slide).
  4. Then add in your content (on the normal slides, not the masters).

For the more visual learners, here’s a quick video showing how I did it:

If you’re not the creative or tech-savvy type, you can also just hire someone to create your ebook for you (like yours truly :).

4. Distribute the lead magnet to new subscribers

To distribute my ebook, I added it into the welcome email that people get automatically when they sign up for my newsletter. Since you can’t send an attachment out with most email service providers, I uploaded the document to my web server and then just pasted the link into the welcome email for download.

I use MailChimp as my email service provider. What I did was turn off the welcome email, and then created a new autoresponder that gets sent out when a user subscribes. You can also just edit the welcome email text to include the download link.

5. Follow up with email marketing

Lastly, make sure that you have some email autoresponders in place to nurture those leads. This should be a sequence of emails that get sent out automatically to people that have subscribed to your list. I set up my autoresponders to go out once a week after the user has downloaded my lead magnet.

You should also make sure that the content of those emails is very relevant to the content of your lead magnet. This makes sure that it will be of interest to them. Like with your lead magnet, make sure to include the very best content in these autoresponders so that your subscribers find value in what you are sending them and don’t unsubscribe.

Never send a hard sell or sales pitch in the first few emails! In your email marketing, always focus on providing value for your audience so that they want to open and read your emails. Sales messages should be few and far between.


Email marketing should be an important part of your overall marketing efforts. However, building a quality list can be difficult. Implementing tactics like using lead magnets is a good way to build a quality list.

Note: With Canada’s recent anti-spam law you must get explicit permission to send out emails. This means you must make it very clear when people are downloading your lead magnet that they are also signing up to get regular emails from you. And as always, make sure to include an unsubscribe link in every email you send out! 

Stay tuned to this blog as very soon I will be posting a few more advanced lead generation tactics.

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