Is Your Lead Magnet Working For You?

Is your lead magnet working for you?

Sure, you’re getting some opt-ins, but:

  • Are the right people opting in (or are you attracting the wrong audience)?
  • Are your conversion rates as good as they could or should be?
  • Does your lead magnet prepare people for a sale?

When putting together a content marketing strategy, one of the most important things to consider is your lead magnet, and whether or not it’s actually working as hard for your business as you are.

Why a lead magnet is an important part of your content marketing strategy

Let’s back up for just a moment here and remind ourselves why a lead magnet that works — and works well — is so important to your content marketing strategy.

The answer is right there in the name: leads.

For many (if not most) online entrepreneurs, the whole POINT of content marketing is to collect leads. And the way most people do that is by offering a freebie, an ethical bribe, an opt-in offer, a lead magnet, a content upgrade in exchange for the lead’s email address.

This being the case, it’s VITAL that your lead magnet actually attract qualified leads for your business.

I know, that sounds pretty DUH, but I see business all the time that have created lead magnets that have little or nothing to do with their businesses.

Case in point: a woman recently brought a problem to a entrepreneur’s group I belong to, and explained that she had a very popular free email drip course as her lead magnet, but was having a heckuva time converting those leads to her paid course.

The problem? The topics of the free course and the paid course are completely different. In fact, it’s a stretch to even find a connection between the two topics.  (They’re two things people want and need — just not very related to one another.)

So she’s generating leads hand over fist — just not for her product.


Other times, it’s not so much the topic but the format that’s the problem. And I’m a perfect example of this!  

For years, I offered various BEAUTIFUL, comprehensive ebooks as my lead magnets.  I mean, seriously, these things are gorgeously designed and chock full of good information.  And I was chugging along, getting around 40 opt-ins a month.

The minute I switched my main opt-ins to be a single-page template (which I created in Google Docs, by the way), I started averaging 100 opt-ins per month.  

But I had no idea what was possible for my site until I tested the new lead magnet. If I’d never bothered to test something different, I would have kept plugging along thinking 40 a month was pretty good — and losing 60 leads a month or more!

But now, I’m pivoting the focus of my business, and I realize that I need a new lead magnet.  And I thought it might be helpful for me to lay out the process I’m considering for creating a new one.

So how do you know if your lead magnet is working or not?  Because clearly even super smart people can get confused and caught in the weeds here.

It’s important to ask yourself a few questions:

1. Who is your lead magnet attracting?

I like to start by figuring out which segment of the audience a lead magnet is speaking to on the customer awareness spectrum.

sales funnel blog

If you are attracting people in the wrong stages of the spectrum, you may have trouble attracting qualified leads.

If your lead magnet is speaking to people:

  • At the Unaware stage — this is the broadest category of people.  They might have a problem that you solve, but be unaware of it, may not think it’s urgent to solve, or may not understand that there even IS a solution available. Mostly, these lead magnets speak to the broadest possible subset of your audience. A good example of this is a simple coupon or discount — it appeals to everyone, but doesn’t segment them into groups at all. A quiz can work well at this stage to help new potential customers understand what they need from you (or that they even have a need).

  • At the Problem Aware stage — this is usually the best place to meet people when you’re looking to collect leads. They know they have a problem, and they’ve just started looking for a way to solve it. Many times, you’re going to have to “sell”  people what they want, and then give them what they need at this stage. For example, a weight loss coach may know that her clients need to fix their metabolism for the long term, but they want short-term results. So she may need to create an opt-in to “lose 2 pounds in a week!” but then convince them to adopt a longer-term strategy. The key to attracting leads at this stage is that you must have a strong way of educating and converting them, bringing them along the awareness spectrum.

  • At the Solution Aware stage — this targets people who understand that there is a solution to their problems, and are doing comparison shopping for the best solution for them. A classic example is a free trial, which allows customers to try before they buy. If you’re selling higher-end, or more advanced products and services, you may want to target people at the solution aware stage. This might be where you offer a checklist or audit that is actually your intake questionnaire — and then follow up with an offer to get on a sales call with you.

  • At the Aware of You stage — you’re rarely going to be using a lead magnet on people at this stage, although, I suppose technically a referral or affiliate program might be considered a lead magnet at this stage. If someone comes to you by referral, they are at this stage, ready to buy; they just need to be convinced.

So the first step is to identify which stage of the customer awareness spectrum you’re targeting, and whether or not that’s the place you want to be targeting.

A real-world example: My current opt-in (as I write this) is The “Perfect” Blog Post Template.  It works pretty well for me.  But it’s targeting an unaware audience.  They are bloggers (or they wouldn’t want a template…) but they may be unaware of their problems to the point that they can’t define them when asked. Or they define a surface level problem like, “I don’t know what to write about,” which is really a symptom of a bigger problem (no strategy).

Starting at that extreme end of the spectrum, it takes a lot of time and hard work to educate those customers to the point that they will buy something. And the likelihood that they will purchase high-end solutions from me is low.

Instead, I want to target people at the problem aware stage. They’re a little further along on their journey.  They understand better that their blogging is linked to their sales, and want a strategy for improving that.

2.  What topic will be the most effective?

The next question is, what topic or information should you offer for a lead magnet — that will be most effective for attracting qualified leads?

The trick is to start with what you want to sell and work backwards.  

  • What problem does your product or service solve?
  • What does your client need or need to know right before they become a customer? (And you can keep stepping backward based on the stage customer awareness you want to target.)

Let’s use me as an example again (because I live in my head, so it’s easy!).

I want to sell Strategy Sessions, and I think someone purchasing my book would be a good first step toward working with me.  I want to offer my book as a tripwire (an offer on the thank-you page). So I was trying to think what would be a juicy lead magnet that would lead naturally to the offer of the book.

First I thought I might just offer the first chapter of the book, but that didn’t seem right exactly…

Then I asked myself, “What are people thinking before they understand that they need help creating a content marketing strategy?”

I actually was brainstorming this “out loud” in a forum I belong to, and I wrote:

I guess I need to show them how a strategy, a plan, can make their lives easier.  Many, when they get to that point, already FEEL it — that they want a plan or some framework to work within — but don’t know how to get it. 

So maybe the opt-in is something that explains the power of having a plan or framework…  Or outlines the framework but doesn’t actually show them how to put it together…

What they need BEFORE they book that call is to understand that feeling.  They’re feeling a little out of control or overwhelmed or uncertain about their content marketing. So the opt-in needs to address that feeling, rather than the solution (a framework/strategy/plan) to capture those pain-aware and problem-aware people before they are solution aware.”

So this gets me much closer to an effective topic.

3. How will you deliver the information?

Finally, you need to ask yourself, what is the most effective way to deliver this information?

Don’t get caught up in the “bigger is better” fallacy that I got caught in when I was offering gorgeous 40-page ebooks!  

A good rule of thumb is to offer something that people can consume and/or take action on in 10 minutes or less.


The idea here is to get people a quick, big win. Although my “Perfect” Blog Template is no longer a good choice for my strategy, it is a good example of something people can download, consume, and take action on almost immediately.

So for me, as I contemplate what my ideal customer needs from me, the question becomes, “What is the VERY SIMPLEST, LEAST COMPLICATED way for me to help them regain a feeling of control?”

Nine times out of 10, lead magnets are too long.  They contain too much STUFF. People want to wow their subscribers, so they over deliver. And while I completely understand that urge, it’s not actually helpful to your readers.

Very few people are the personality type that are self-directed enough to go through a huge free resource and put it into action. In fact, I bet you know this, because it’s probably happened to you: You opted in and downloaded something that seemed really juicy, and then… never did anything with it. 

Whatever you want to offer, break it down into it’s smallest possible chunks and then offer just the first step. Literally. 

For example, one health coach I know of wanted to offer her entire detox plan as an opt in, but she got much better downloads — and her readers got better results — when she simplified it to a four-page document that showed them how to start a habit of drinking hot lemon water first thing every morning.  

Seriously.  Just lemon water.  And it worked!

If your opt-in is a series, like a challenge or an email drip, do the same thing and break down each day or each challenge into the smallest possible action.

You and your readers will get better results.


5 thoughts on “Is Your Lead Magnet Working For You?

  1. Hey Lacy,

    Great post with amazing topic, this kind of topic rarely on internet and you have illustrated this topic in simple and well manner.

    As entrepreneur we have to really wrap our mind around all of whole scenario of business. It is very infromative post against above topic and provides good opportunity to grab it and apply instant in live life so that to get success. Eventually, thanks for sharing your best experience with us.

    With best regards,

    Amar kumar

  2. Hello Lacy,
    I’m not a blogger as yet, but hope to become one someday. You are indirectly helping me to work towards that end. Thank you so much for your regular posts. Most appreciated. Vinincia

  3. I was planning a 5 day email course for my new ‘branding for authors’ lead magnet (they’re solution aware) and I was really over-complicatimg things! I wanted them to have the beginnings of a brand after 5 days. Which is stupid as that info would be better in a paid product. So my email course is going to get them to create a mood board, so the first stage in creating their brand.

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