July 25, 2021
Social & Marketing

How to Write Lead Magnets

Joy Youell

Joy Youell is an expert copywriter and content strategist.

Lead = prospective customer

Magnet = something with a compelling pull

A lead magnet is essentially a document that incentivizes a new lead to do something. It’s the “10 ways to enjoy your life” or “Is Grammarly worth it?” or “Writer portfolio template.” These documents are really just a barter system: people trade their email addresses for this information. That right there, then, is the litmus test for any good lead magnet: is it strong enough to get someone to hand over the ole’ digits? Well, email addresses.

Here’s how I create these all-important docs.


Lead Magnet Ideas

Every good copy project starts with an idea. Obvs. For lead magnets, go through this thought process:

  • Define the industry — what do you (or the client) do or sell?
  • Define the customer — who is most likely to buy this?

Then, consider:

  • What problems can you solve?
  • What questions can you answer?
  • What discussions do people want to have?
  • What are people thinking about?
  • What do people care about?
  • What do people need step-by-step instructions for?
  • What do people want to learn how to do?


You get the idea. Ultimately, what value can you provide?

Lead Magnet Titles

Once you know the general problem: solution combo you’re cookin’ up, consider what you’re going to call it. The title of a lead magnet is literally the most important line of copy.

Lead magnets should not just be clickbaity. I mean, they can be. But consider this: if someone trades their email address for a download and it is literally just a commercial for the company, you’ve lost trust. And people don’t buy from companies they distrust. If you promise to teach someone how to change a tire, the lead magnet must, in fact, teach them that. 

A lead magnet title should be grabby, exciting and incentivizing. It should also be true. Be sure that whatever you claim (“Learn to lose 10 pounds in 10 minutes!”) you can actually make good on (not even with keto, so, that’s a no go).

A word of caution: only use date-specific language (20 Copywriting Tips for 2021) in your landing page if it is part of the overall strategy (you commissioned a study, etc.) or if you plan to update it each year. Anything with a date feels outdated very fast, and you’ll be shocked when your time is up and you face rewriting it.

Types of Lead Magnets

Once you know what you want to write about and have some title ideas, you can settle on what type of lead magnet you want to create. Yes, there are plenty of options.

Here are some of my faves:

  • One-sheets (factoids, infographics, etc. - keep in mind these need to be robust).
  • White papers (my most favorite - research-backed, analytical, academic).
  • Checklists (how tos, step-by-step directions, seasonal items).
  • Templates (highly downloadable - create a simple template for a repeatable task. My sales letter template is my most downloaded lead magnet).
  • Swipe files (these are highly graphic, interactive and chunked out by topic or step).
  • Calendar (everyone loves a good organizational tool, especially if it’s highly relevant or uniquely organized or laid out).
  • Worksheet or workbook (at this point I really regret these parenthetical statements because I now feel obligated to do them even if the lead magnet type is pretty self-explanatory).
  • Printable (like a grocery list, to do list, graphic frame, that kind of thing - although assuming someone has a printer in this day and age is a bit of a stretch).
  • eBook (like this one!).

A lot of people start with the type of lead magnet they want to create, which is definitely a cart before horse situation. You hopefully see now that only those earlier exercises can really help you decide. After all, the value you hope to provide totally dictates the vehicle through which you provide it. 

Content Mapping and Copywriting for a Lead Magnet

A lead magnet is one of those categories of marketing copy that most benefits from content mapping, or outlining. You may be drawing from multiple sources. There may be multiple editors or stakeholders who are going to weigh in. Outline it first. Trust me. So many times I’ve started writing, let’s say an infographic, only to discover that it definitely needed to be a six page research article. It can be difficult to forecast how much space and structure you’ll need to convey your ideas. I sandwiched this concept between concept and delivery because I think it’s a good gut check. Once you do this, you’ll clearly see whether the type of question you’re answering and type of lead magnet you want to make are going to do the trick.

Then, you write the thing. Clear, concise, on-brand, etc. If you need to learn more about that, this isn’t the place.

Last, you deliver it.

Create a Landing Page for a Lead Magnet

Lead magnets should feel special. They are more valuable than other, open-faced (yes, sandwich metaphor) content on your site. Remember, they are carefully titled, written, designed and they offer above-average value that is worth the price of an email. Placement on a landing page has a ton of benefits:

  1. It creates a sense of value.
  2. It is very trackable, traffic and conversion-wise.
  3. It can easily be part of your sales funnel or even a short-term ad campaign or clickfunnel.

Okay that wasn’t “a ton,” but I could go on and you already get the idea. Most commonly, this page won’t be part of your regular nav, although if the lead magnet is beefy enough (like a white paper) it can be.

Lead Magnets and CRO

A quick word about conversion rate optimization, or CRO, and lead magnets. This can be a marriage made in heaven. Lead magnets get people who are the outer rim of the top of your sales funnel to buy into something. Even if they aren’t ready to buy from you, the simple (non-financial) transaction of them downloading something from you is a huge step in the right direction. Often, adding even a simple lead magnet to your website can help you build your email list and enhance brand awareness. It’s a major boost for this website KPI.

Lead Magnet Magic

Lead magnets can be *the best*, but they aren’t always. The final stage of any content creation is reporting. And, for better or worse, lead magnets are total tattletales. It will be very apparent if they are performing or not. If not, you need to figure out where you went wrong. If they are, awesome - congratulations on winning at business. You’re a boss, etc.



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