​PHOTO CREDIT: “288/365” by David Mulder, licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic license.​

As a marketing service provider, you obviously want to generate effective leads for your small and medium business clients.  Lead magnets are extremely effective marketing tactic that can boost your clients’ email list. A lead magnet is essentially content with a high perceived value offered to potential customers in exchange for their email address. Once entered into the marketing and sales funnel, these leads can be acted upon, nurtured and converted  by you or your SMB. Lead magnets can offer website visitors immediate value while simultaneously positioning your client as an expert in their field. Here are 7 lead magnet ideas that you can start using to help boost your SMB’s customer base. We arranged the list by order of time it takes to implement.

Lead Magnet #1 - Free Consultation

The most widely-utilized marketing method, offering a free consultation is almost expected from any consulting business.  For example, an organizing expert can offer a quick, free assessment of a situation at the customer’s office or house, like these guys from ItsSimplyPlaced.com:

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Why​ it works:

Free consultations offer peace of mind in the late-stage research process. Potential customers can ask for more information without committing to expensive processes that may not achieve their desired results. Additionally,  pairing them with a free download, for example, increases the company’s credibility and the potential customer feels the additional incentive is worth revealing his contact information. You should limit the time for the free consultation whenever possible, for example to 30 minutes on the phone, to avoid your client to be overwhelmed with under-qualified leads.

Important to know:

Free consultations are most effective for leads who have already reached the initial decision to seek out assistance. If the potential customer is still in the research stage, a consultation may be not be so effective as a lead magnet: while your client may receive many requests for free consultations, these may not be quality leads that will convert. Therefore, you may also want to place a consultation offer at the end of another lead magnets, such as an eBook or checklist, to maximize the chances of a qualified lead contacting your client.

Lead Magnet #2 - Checklist, Infographic or Guide

Checklists are simple and actionable lists that your client’s customers can easily implement themselves. They are especially effective when relating to a common process that interests their audience. For example, a personal injury attorney may offer an infographic detailing what a worker should do when injured on the job, including relevant forms and people who need to be contacted. Likewise, a real estate attorney may offer an infographic detailing the procedure for buying a new home.

Why it works:

By offering potential customers information they need, but aren’t likely to pursue through paid means, you build credibility for your client and simultaneously collect a targeted lead with a high likelihood to convert. The readers themselves receive information that is very straightforward and helpful. Additionally, this type of content can be effective over time as well, by increasing brand awareness when shared across social channels at no additional cost. Infographics and cheat sheets are particularly useful in the nurture phase of the marketing and sales funnel.

Important to know:

Checklists and infographics are perfect as content upgrades, that is as additions to existing blog posts and exit popups. Initial content can offer a teaser for the downloadable file, or partial information that will create a need for them to download the rest of the checklist. For example, a blog post can suggest 4 tips of purchasing a new home, and then lead to downloading a full 20-step checklist.

Lead Magnet #3 - Surveys, Quizzes and Assessments

Website visitors are presented with a free, 5-minute analysis of specific situations and offered their results in exchange for their email address. Similar in format to checklists, users answer a series of questions and are presented with a report based on their answers. For example, a clinic can create a quiz about sleeping habits to determine if a customer may want to seek for professional help to sleep better, such as this quiz from Blue Water Sleep Disorder Clinic.

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Why it works:

People love instant gratification. Results are received immediately and they have a better plan of action and are closer to making a decision about seeking assistance. The clinic itself will have better information about the lead’s needs and will be better equipped to follow up with relevant information, which is particularly useful as you nurture the lead.

Important to know:

The best practice would be to request the user’s email address after completing the survey and before viewing the results. Once they have already invested the time in completing the survey, they will be more likely to enter their email address as they are curious about the results. Conversely, revealing the intent to request an email address may cause users to ignore the survey or decide not to complete the form.

Lead Magnet #4 - Reports and Guides

Reports usually present the reader with in-depth, data-driven content about a specific topic. For example, a veterinary clinic may offer a report on the latest local pet disease, or a download on how to prepare for flea season. A pet store may offer a guide with research regarding the benefit of pets for the elderly and detailing what is the best way to select an appropriate pet.

Why it works:

Numbers are the foundation for proving theories and trends, and are commonly used to strengthen hypotheses. The offer is very targeted and specific and, as such, generates quality leads.

Important to know:

Mostly effective as an “attract” tactic of the marketing and sales funnel, reports are informational and less actionable than other lead magnets, such as a check lists. It is, therefore, advisable, to place additional calls to action or lead magnets in the report to increase the chance of conversion.


Lead Magnet #5 - Case Studies and White Papers

The ultimate authority-builders, case studies and white papers convey an in-depth understanding of the subject matter, presenting readers with actual cases and how your client helped their customers achieve positive outcomes. For example, an immigration law firm could demonstrate how they were able to help an immigrant with a difficult case receive his American citizenship, thus instilling hope and trust in the reader.

Why it works:

Proof of knowledge notwithstanding, winning cases and showing positive results is the most effective way to demonstrate abilities and strengths. People like to hear success stories and read how results were achieved.

Important to know:

Similarly to reports, case studies are mostly effective for the “attract” stage of the marketing and sales funnel and should, also, end with clear calls to action and additional lead magnets when possible. For example, a case study about receiving citizenship should have a clear to action for a free consultation for whomever is in a similar situation. While white papers and case studies are typically long-form content, you should limit their length to several pages to ensure readers reach the end of the case study and your call to action. Alternately, you can place calls to action throughout the case study as well. Case studies are important in establishing authority, so short-form is less beneficial than long-form.

Lead Magnet #6 - Mini Courses

A mini-course, which can be a few video or a series of emails, provides the potential customer with a solution on a specific topic. Often, the course will provide the lead with just enough information to teach the topic at a level, but not enough that would prevent him from needing  expert assistance. For example, a fashion retailer may offer a 5-part course, “5 ways to find perfect clothes to fit your body type,” including steps to take, how to match clothing and accessories and more. In another example, here is a music production professional from ProSoundFormula.com who offers a course on how to make vocal tracks sound better.

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Why it works:

Mini courses educate the reader on topics they are seeking to learn about, and give them the basics without having to immediately seek paid help. In the above case, however, potential customers will still need to go to a store and shop for clothing to utilize their newly-found knowledge, thus giving the retailer the opportunity to grow their own sales.. These short-term courses are an excellent way to create more interest and brand awareness, thus a relationship, among the leads, and are perfect for the nurture phase of the marketing and sales funnel.

Important to know:

As with some other lead magnets, it is imperative that you offer calls to actions at the end of the course. End each course with actionable items and valuable advice with immediate value. These emails can also contain additional downloadable materials, such as checklists.

Lead Magnet #7 - eBook

One of the leading download formats, eBooks establish authority for the publisher while adding high perceived value for the reader. For example, a law firm may offer an eBook for families who are about to go through a divorce, guiding the parents through the process, anywhere from telling the children to establishing child support and custody.

Why it works:

Instant gratification in the form of insights that help solve a problem. People seeking initial information about a topic will find a wealth of helpful material that will build trust with your client while simultaneously establishing its credibility.

Important to know:

eBooks don’t necessarily have to offer the complete solution to the problem: an eBook about children and divorce may involve some legal advice but also explain how to tell their children that they will be divorcing, even the correct language to use, and what steps they should take to make the process as easy as possible for everyone involved. By showing the readers that the law firm cares about their family, you will establish a positive view of your client. eBooks are best presented as PDFs, which are visually pleasing and easily read.

Small Tip

Relevant content is crucial for any lead magnet: the most effective way to produce it is to speak to your client and ask them about their business, how they sell, what are the frequently asked questions from their customers. They will be best equipped to give you the topics that are most likely to make it for good lead magnets. Additionally, be sure to analyze the most popular blog posts or pages on their websites to determine which topics drive the most traffic and use those when creating lead magnets.