Characteristics of Effective Lead Magnets

effective lead magnets for attracting prospectsCreating effective lead magnets, offers that attract leads and get them to submit their contact information, are a staple of modern marketing. Lead magnets go by many names – bait pieces, opt-ins, sign up forms, subscriptions, free trials, etc. No matter what you call them, there are certain fundamentals that will help you increase your odds of getting people to trade their contact information for your offer. Here are some of the characteristics that effective lead magnets share:

A quick note, for purposes of this post, “lead magnet” refers to the form (or page) that a visitor interacts with when they view your offer.

The Offer – this is thing of value that you are trying to convince someone to “purchase” by exchanging their contact information. Reread that last sentence – it’s not free, it’s a purchase. Your “thing” can be a special report, an eBook, access to a free trial, etc. In order to be effective, your offer must be perceived as being valuable by prospects who meet your ideal customer profile who are in the early stages of their buying process. That statement implies that you developed an ideal customer profile and have taken the time to understand the process they go through when making a purchase – both prerequisites to publishing a lead magnet.

Call to Action – your lead magnet should contain single, clear, concise, and easy to complete call to action. The call to action is usually stated in the headline and the text of the button on the web form. While “submit” is a commonly seen button label, it is not an effective call to action. Rather than asking visitors to bend to your will, try to answer the question “what do I get?”. Answers like “Get your free report”, “Get instant access”, or “Watch Your Free Video” tend to be more effective calls to action.

“Easy to complete” includes limiting the amount of information you ask for as part of the exchange. Do you really need the fax number from a first time visitor? Is your free report worth the answering the 12 questions (all required) you are requesting as your purchase price?

Sets Expectations for follow up – Letting people know up front how often you plan to contact them and what you will be contacting them about will help 1) reduce fears related what you will be doing with their contact information and 2) reduce the risk that you follow up messages will be flagged as spam by the recipient. Setting expectations about the next step(s) in your marketing and sales processes is always a good idea.

Captures both demographic and psychographic information

Most lead magnets ask for demographic information (location, industry, company size, etc.) as part of the exchange for a lead magnet. Collecting demographic information can help you determine how well visitors match your ideal customer profile and where they are in their buying process.

Lead magnets can also help you capture psychographic information – information that indicates how your visitors think, what they value, and their interests. Psychographic information can be gathered explicitly through questions on your forms. They can also be gathered by recording behaviors that a a visitor exhibits, i.e., they downloaded a certain white paper, or attended a webinar on a specific subject.

Balancing data gathering with “easy to complete”

How do we gather all of this demographic and psychographic information without creating opt-in forms that violate our principle of keeping forms short and easy to complete? By having a system for steadily observing, collecting, and recording this information over time. Marketers like to call this progressive profiling.

Using progressive profiling, you may only ask for a name and email address during the initial exchange. In subsequent offers you ask for additional information such as title, geographic location, industry, etc. Your follow up email messages can provide choices that help you determine the interests of your prospect. While progressive profiling is often associated with marketing automation software, you can apply this strategy with strong listening skills and a good customer database.

Work to build these characteristics into your lead magnets and start converting more visitors into leads.


  1. Good calls to action are the key to getting a lot more leads. I know there are a lot more other keys out there that can land you a deal, but the way you call your customers out can really make your business get a lot more customers. Being visible on the web is one thing; getting those visitors to become your customers is another.

    = Gerald Martin =

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