How to find the best lead magnet for a blog

Time to work on mailing list growth and utilize lead magnets. Most online advice on lead magnets is geared towards product marketing. I need something a little different, so it’s time to sieve through the tips and ideas and find out what makes the best lead magnet for a blog.

This post covers the basic definition of a lead magnet and the adjustments needed for blog promotion. It also includes a list of 10 lead magnets formats and how they can be applied by bloggers.

What are lead magnets anyway?

The “lead” is a basic concept in marketing theory (and practice).

Salespersons crave access to potential clients. A “lead” is simply a way to gain access to a client. Traditional leads include phone numbers, physical mailing addresses and even ways to meet people in person to pitch them your offer.

In the digital realm, leads are usually ways to contact a potential client via email. Working en masse, the tool for connecting with these potential clients is often an automated mailing list.

How does that relate to blogging?

We all work hard on getting blog traffic. The problem? Once visitors arrive, read the post and – hopefully – get what they came for, they may disappear forever.

Oh, no! Gone forever?

Ahh, but what if during that brief visit you somehow managed to convince them to give you their email address? You have a way to get them back again! Woohoo!

You can communicate with them again in the future, offer new content and maybe even sell them a product or service. You have your lead!

The question remains: How do you get a visitor to sign up? What can convince a visitor to let you into their inbox?

Which is where the magnet comes in…

If you want to get your visitor’s email address and turn him or her into a lead, you need to offer something in return.

For some people and some blogs, getting updates about new posts can be enough. However, if you aim at getting more visitors to subscribe, you need to offer more than that. You should create something which will attract people to your mailing list like flies to honey! Like iron chips to a magnet! Hence, the term “lead magnet“.

Lead magnets exist all over the place in traditional marketing. They are items or services given for free, or almost for free, in return for getting a person one step closer to becoming a profit-generating client.

So, what makes the best lead magnet for a blog?

Unlike some forms of traditional marketing, in blogging we focus on building a relationship with our audience. For many of us – myself included – the mailing list is first and foremost a way to get return visitors and augment a long-term relationship with our readers.

A blog’s lead magnet doesn’t have to be geared towards selling a particular product.

A lead magnet for a blog should ideally –

  • Build trust between the blogger and the reader.
  • Establish the blogger’s expertise the field.
  • Engage the reader and encourage him or her to reach out again to the blog when they need more advice.

To do that, the lead magnet should provide readers with added value. Something that relates to your blog’s theme and expands on what your posts provide.

How much value should a lead magnet for a blog provide?

My impression is that this is niche-specific. In the blogging niche, the competition is harsh. With so many free offers jumping at readers from every direction, you have to fight for their attention and for their email address. You want your lead magnet to stand out by providing even more value than the competition.

A lead magnet for a blog: Which format to use?

Ok, so now we know what a lead magnet is and that it needs to provide a visitor with enough perceived value so that they are willing to give you their email address in exchange.

The topic should relate to your blog. In fact, some lead magnets can even be post-specific (which means lots of smaller lead magnets, spread across your blog).

But what about the format? Lots of ideas bouncing around, so I created a list, with my own observations about whether or not these would make a good lead magnet for a blog. They may be awesome as lead magnets for a company that wants to sell you life insurance but will they work for augmenting your blog’s mailing list?

1. A PDF version of a post

This is probably the easiest lead magnet of all to create. It simply means wrapping up your post and saving it as a PDF. However, its added value is limited. All of the information is there on the page, why “pay” with an email address just to download it again?

2. A tip list/checklist

Relatively easy to come up with (assuming you’re an expert). Short and concise which saves your readers’ time, enhancing its value. It may be too little in competitive niches but could work well in others.

3. A “recipe”

By that I mean, a list of instructions for creating something which relates to your niche. It can be an actual recipe in a cooking site. It can be a design plan, a gaming walkthrough or a cross-stitch pattern. Depending on the value tag of the recipe, this could be a good magnet in some niches.

4. A template

This is a great lead magnet for a blog that deals with design or publishing. It’s a bit like a recipe, only set up for a simple customization by your readers to fit their own needs.

5. An E-book

A short helpful e-book could make a good lead magnet. It’s important to let the reader know in advance what the ebook covers and how long it would take them to go through it. You don’t want them overwhelmed by an e-book that’s too long or disappointed by one that is too short.

6. A webinar or workshop

Giving readers access to a past webinar can work for some niches. I’m not sure access to an actual live webinar makes a good lead magnet. It’s too much value for this stage. However, access to recordings of past webinars may work.

7. An online course

Joining a course can work only if you have no added costs for bringing on new students, or if you established a clear way of monetizing the course. Otherwise, this seems to be too much of an investment for a lead magnet.

8. Giveaways/raffles

This is a very interesting type of lead magnet. With giveaways/raffles you give one expensive product and your readers give you their email address for a chance to win. Choosing a prize that relates to your niche and has enough perceived value is critical here.

A raffle/giveaway is always limited in duration. Which means you need to be sure you will actually be getting enough traffic to generate enough signups. otherwise, you could end up giving away a prize worth $500 for 50 new emails.

There is also a cost to setting this up. Rafflecopter and similar services offer a very limited free service. If you really want to make the most of a raffle/giveaway, you will probably need to upgrade. And then of course, there is also the cost of the prize which needs to be much more valuable than a usual lead magnet.

9. Quizzes

With quizzes, your lead magnet is usually the end result. A quiz usually takes your reader through the process of answering all the questions and then asks for their email address. With some quizzes, the results are blocked until the email address is provided. That’s not a good approach in a blog as it can frustrate your readers and alienate them.

However, a quick quiz that generates a positive outcome has other benefits for a blog. It’s a tool for viral sharing, for example. So, as an added lead magnet, it can work to enhance your mailing list. I wouldn’t use it as the main lead magnet in the signup form.

10. Coupons and discounts and real-world freebies

Offering a coupon or a discount is not a classic lead magnet for a blog. A coupon usually relates to a product or service. Your readers need to actually be interested in that product in order to sign up.

It may work for bloggers who blog solely to promote a certain service or product but otherwise, it is too far removed from the idea of providing a lead that focuses on creating trust in your brand as a blogger.

Choosing the best lead magnet for my blogs

I started this process because I wanted to experiment with a lead magnet for one of my blogs.

I am going to use a simple tip list as a lead magnet for that blog. I think it should make a good lead magnet for a blog, being relatively quick to put together and hopefully providing my readers with just the needed amount of added value.

Next, I will be looking at signup forms to see how to make sure visitors to the blog do not miss out on my awesome free offer. Stay tuned for more, I will very likely blog about that as well 😉

Thanks for following through with the post. As always, your comments are welcome!

2 thoughts on “How to find the best lead magnet for a blog

  • Anne, this is an awesome post jam packed with info. I just started my blog a couple weeks ago and will definitely be coming back to learn from a pro. Thanks for the great list at the end!

  • I found this post thought provoking, Anne. This is right where I’m at with my initial blog. I have some ideas that I need to firm up. I think this post has helped me make some decisions about my lead magnet.

    You certainly are a great content writer! (I know, you already know that). I just want to say, “Thank you!”


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