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The one thing that’ll turbocharge your email list growth

How to create an irresistible lead magnet, plus examples from around the web

RIght now, someone is visiting your site for the first time.


They come, they poke around for a few seconds, and then, chances are, they leave without visiting another page.


It's your email signup form to the rescue.

Your email list is your chance to turn that momentary visit into a long-term relationship … and lead … and purchase.

Back to yay!

But you have to be smart about it.

You need a lead magnet.

I don't love the term, but I love the idea of rewarding new subscribers with something fantastic -- something so fantastic, that it ends up persuading people who otherwise wouldn't have joined.

After all, a good lead magnet is a a thank-you gift. An email signup is the start of a relationship. The quality of that relationship is up to you, but your lead magnet starts things off well. It's a way of saying thanks, welcome, and let's bring it in for a virtual side-hug. 

So, what makes an effective lead magnet? A few things:

  • It's incredibly valuable. Give away something that your typical customer cannot resist. As in, "Oooh, that's FREE? I gotta have it." And then craft something that truly delivers on that awesomeness.
  • It's not for everybody. Lead magnets can help you qualify who's really interested in your product. Sure, everybody could use a $5 Amazon gift card, but how many of those people will also buy from you? 
  • But it's for everybody who'd buy from you. Offer something that appeals to all subsets of your customer base, and make sure it offers the same kind of value as what you're selling offers.
  • It's immediately useful. Your lead magnet becomes particularly irresistible when your customer can put it to use right away. Nobody likes waiting for stuff, and what you offer becomes even more valuable when there's an immediate benefit.
  • It's got a killer title. A great title is audacious and unexpected, often offering a specific value in a mysterious way. Check out Jeff Goins' headline-writing formula.

So what will work for you? Try these 6 ideas:


If your focus is creating content or being a thought leader, try an eBook. 

At, blogger and author Crystal Paine offers a cookbook for freezer-friendly meals. It works because it's practical and offers immediate benefits, which is what her readers are looking for.



With a workbook, you can offer a deeper value by inviting customers to do stuff with your content.

The Storyline blog offers their own productivity schedule. It's a practical planner, but it also plants a seed about intentional living that boosts customers' interests in their events and other products.



This is the overwhelming choice for retail, hospitality and personal services, but there are plenty of ways to set it up.

At REI, you can save 15% on selected items.


Emma client Chinet offers a flat $1-off when you join their loyalty program.


And Levi's throws in free shipping.


White Paper

For the B2B crowd, white papers are a popular lead magnet. Serve up relevant advice, statistics and how-to for your industry, but try to focus that advice on the same things that differentiate your company. For example, at Emma, our sophisticated take on email design helps set us apart from our competition, so we might work up a white paper on email design trends. 

Our pals at KISSmetrics offer a white paper on the changing world of data. It makes the argument that the world of data and website analytics has changed -- which creates a perfect introduction to the in-depth analytics tools they offer.


Video Training

More than just a powerful lead magnet, a video series can bring your whole company to life and lay a memorable foundation for future sales.

To create interest in her B-School project, Marie Forleo offers one video up front. Joining her email list gives you access to the rest.

Quiz or assessment

Thanks to BuzzFeed, quizzes are more popular than ever, and we all know what kind of Scandanavian yarn craft we are. (I got Flürmblørfaan!) What insight can you deliver to your customers on the fly? It will take some engineering, but the questions you ask will also give you rich, invaluable data about your prospects that you can use for smart segmenting down the road.

HubSpot's graders are great examples of how to leverage that irresistible urge to measure yourself. They ask for the email address on the front end, but you could also make that the final step to deliver results.



Of course, if you're an Emma customer, you can use our autoresponder feature to deliver your lead magnet (or an entire series) by email, automatically.

Once someone joins your list, don't forget to say hello with a smart welcome note. For more on that, check out our latest Braniac Guide. (At the end, you'll see we offer the entire guide as a downloadable PDF if -- yup, you guessed it -- you give us your email address.


Question: how do you create incentives for your would-be customers to join your list? Share your ideas in the comments.