What are lead magnets and why are they so important?

Lead magnets are how you convert site traffic into leads. Your lead magnet idea can be anything that you offer to your audience in return for their contact details.

Without lead magnets on your site, you run the risk of investing time and money in driving traffic without seeing any ROI.

As B2B content marketing has matured and become more focussed on impacting the bottom line, lead magnets have become more important. Arguably, the main role of content marketing these days is to drive people into your lead generation campaigns.

What makes a great lead magnet idea?

If you want to build a successful campaign you need to invest time, effort and creativity in coming up with an awesome B2B lead magnet idea. It’s tempting to throw together a short PDF from existing content. But those lead magnets are rarely effective and aren’t really worth time and cost of creating a campaign around.

The lead magnet you create will be determined by your sector, target audience and your target audience’s goals. But there are proven tactics you can employ to increase your chances of success.

1 – Solve an actual problem your audience has

This is B2B content marketing 101, but it’s worth repeating. People are more likely to engage with something that helps them to do something they already want to do.

Reports, whitepapers or original research often get used as lead magnets. But they don’t always perform well because they’re not very user-centric. They’re focused on you and what you know, instead of your audience and what they’re trying to do.

If in doubt, start with the target audience and their goal. Then bridge the gap between where they are at the moment and where they want to be.

lead generation form showing abandoning visitors into subscribers

2 – Focus on just one topic or challenge

It’s much better to pick one topic or challenge and nail it than gloss over a number of areas in one go. If you have a lot of expertise to share, create multiple lead magnets and landing pages. 

The reason for this is that when people are looking for advice they’re usually trying to solve a specific problem, not a general one. If you have a flat tire you Google ‘how to fix a flat tire’ not ‘bicycle maintenance’.

Being specific reassures your audience that you’re definitely going to solve a problem they have.

make my persona lead generation tool from hubspot

3 – Pick a goal with a tangible ROI

Getting someone to submit their contact details isn’t easy. So it’s a good idea to pick a challenge or a goal which is suitably important.

For instance, I could have focussed this document on generating traffic, but that doesn’t carry a tangible ROI. Lead generation does. A good way of determining whether a goal will be seen as important is whether or not it will impact the bottom line.

4 – Make it sound short and easy-to-consume

Offering a time constraint can make your lead magnet more appealing to a busy audience. The format of the lead magnet can achieve this. By calling your lead magnet a ‘checklist’ you imply that it is short. According to OptinMonster, checklists are the highest converting lead magnet format. Or you can reference the length in the title, as per the below.

cover of linkedin for leads for busy b2b professionals

5 – Deliver results within a timeframe

Everyone loves a quick win. And while it is usually long term strategies that deliver the serious results, promising to deliver at least something within a week is more of a draw than promising the earth within a year.

example of lead magnet that promises results righ away for b2b lead generation

6 – Use social proof

Humans are pack animals. We find it reassuring to know that others like us have done something before. This is why you often see CTAs such as ‘Join the 40,000 marketing experts who receive daily tips from our team’ or ‘2,000 people have signed up for our webinar – get your place now.’

Placing a testimonial on the cover or the landing page can tap into this quirk of human nature. Or use your own success as social proof, as illustrated below.

social proof lead magnet generation example from buzz sumo

7 – Create a sense of scarcity

This may seem a little crass but it does work. According to the laws of supply and demand, the scarcer something seems, the more appealing it is. 

As a result, if you limit your lead generation campaign to a certain timeframe or number of downloads, the odds of it converting will be higher. And if you include a countdown timer (such as the one offered by OptinMonster) the effectiveness of this approach will go up again.

8 – Make your title clear and compelling

The success of your lead magnet will be determined, in large part, by its name. Even if the content inside is amazing, if the title doesn’t sell it, no one will be interested.

Creating a high-performing title requires a delicate balance. It has to be equal parts clear and compelling – two things which can feel mutually exclusive. Clear because if someone can’t figure out what your lead magnet is about they will dismiss it right away. Compelling because if it doesn’t sound exciting or valuable they won’t want to get their hands on it.

If in doubt, especially if you’re not a copywriter by trade, focus on clarity. If the lead magnet idea is a good one and there’s genuine value there for the reader, a clear description of what it is, who it’s for and how it will help can’t go wrong.

example of clear and compelling b2b lead magnet title

9 – Quantify your lead magnet’s value

Which of these is more compelling:

  • Increase your leads
  • Quadruple your leads

Quantifying the value of something instantly makes the outcome feel more tangible.

example of lead magnet with 300% lead increase

10 – Refer back to your best-performing content

If you’re struggling to think of a topic, take a look at the analytics for your site. Find the best-performing articles and ask yourself which of them can be expanded upon to create a lead magnet. If it’s performing well it means it’s resonating the with your audience.

Always follow your audience’s lead.

11 – Use ‘content upgrades’

A content upgrade is when you take a high-performing piece of content and turn it into a lead magnet, often by expanding upon it, bundling it up with other similar content or simply turning it into a PDF.

This should only be done with longer, high-value pieces of content that are performing particularly well on your site. If you take any old content and bundle it up together there’s no guarantee that it will do any better as a lead magnet than it was as a blog post. In fact, it’s likely to do much worse.

content upgrade example for b2b lead generation

12 – Offer a free consultation

Offering a free consultation as part of the download is good for you and for the user. For the marketer, it gives the business a chance to get in front or on the phone with the customer and learn more about them. For the customer, it gives them an opportunity to get a second opinion on the challenges they’re facing at that time.

13 – Co-create with a respected partner

This is a good idea if you’re just starting out. People are going to be more likely to convert if they recognise at least one of the names on the front cover.

Co-promotion can also help drive more traffic to your landing page.

If you’re looking for help coming up with an awesome B2B lead magnet idea, feel free to get in touch using the button below.

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