Want to learn how to get more email subscribers? One of the best ways to do so is through a tried-and-true method: offering a lead magnet—a valuable piece of content—in exchange for someone’s email address.
Now, hopefully you’re not trying to get people to join your list by saying, “Hey, subscribe to my newsletter.” If you’re doing that, you’re basically just saying, “Hey, I'm going to send you more emails!” People don’t want more emails. People want something of value in exchange for joining your email list.
So what can you give them in exchange for their email address? Today I’m going to share seventeen ideas for lead magnets you can offer. (Yes, seventeen!)
How Not To Build Your Lead Magnet
But before we get to that, I want to share an important tip. You see, times have changed. Back in the day, when I started building my email list, it was hip to offer the biggest, most comprehensive lead magnet possible—I’m talking a thirty-to-fifty-page ebook or PDF file. But this is no longer something people want to download. They don't want to spend their time slogging through fifty pages—they want the quick hits, the information that will let them hit the ground running.
With that in mind, here are seventeen quick-hit lead magnets you can offer right now to grow your audience.
#1: Resource List
People love lists of tools and resources they can use to gain an advantage or do something more conveniently. By creating a simple list of such items, you can deliver a lot of value and give people something they will happily exchange their email address to get. Let’s say you have a photography blog, for example. You could create a list of the five tools a photographer should be using to edit their files more quickly, or to get better lighting in their photos. Almost any kind of list will work; just create a simple one with valuable tips and tools, and people are going to want to trade their address for it. Clay Collins, founder of LeadPages, was a guest on SPI Podcast Session #78, where he talked in-depth about how to rapidly grow your email list. The episode comes complete with resources and tools, and his advice still continues to work strongly today.
#2: Quick-Start Guide
Teaching people something they can do quickly is another great way to get email addresses. If you're that photography blogger from above, you could offer a quick-start guide on how to use a particular kind of camera. Or a quick-start guide on using Photoshop or InDesign. Offering a quick start guide is a quick-start way to grow your email list.
#3: Cheat Sheet
A cheat sheet is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a one- or two-page PDF file containing the top tips to help a person go through a specific process that would otherwise take them a lot longer. A cheat sheet is similar to a quick-start guide, but it’s usually more condensed. For example, I offer a cheat sheet for people who want to start a podcast. My buddy David Siteman Garland offers one for people who want to start an online course. [Full Disclosure: As an affiliate, I receive compensation if you purchase through this link.]
For those of you who are old enough, cheat sheets remind me of the Game Genie, back when I played Nintendo. It was a device you plugged into your console and boom, you could walk through a level much faster, jump much higher, or start out a game with ninety-nine lives. So just like the Game Genie, you’re going to offer your audience a quick way to gain an advantage using your cheat sheet—and chances are they're going to be excited to exchange their email address for it. We use this same strategy on this landing page we created dedicated to the Podcast Cheat Sheet you can download for free here.
#4: Video Answer
You can record a video answer to one of the most pressing questions your audience has. So for somebody who’s brand new to your website, what is likely their number one question? Answer that in a video, then give them access to that video after they subscribe to your list.
A checklist is another great lead magnet. Let's say you teach Facebook marketing. There's likely a set of specific steps a person needs to take to go from zero to running a successful Facebook ad campaign. You could, in exchange for their email address, offer a handy checklist of the twenty things they need to do to succeed with that campaign. Whether you’re an expert in Facebook marketing or something else, think about a process you know well, write down all the steps, then format the list with checkboxes so your readers can follow along and track their progress. Then give it away in exchange for an email subscription! Amy Porterfield is a great example of how to do this well. She provides her podcast audience with checklists as “content upgrades,” to help them learn and integrate everything she teaches on her show. She’s providing a ton of value, and collecting emails at the same time!
#6: Email Scripts
If your area of expertise involves teaching people how to communicate via email, simply giving people email scripts they can copy and paste and tweak with their own voice can be very valuable. Writing emails is one of the hardest things to do for some people, and having a script to work from can save them time and anxiety. So make it easier for them by giving them a starting point.
A mini-course is a short training that’s hosted on a platform like Teachable. [Full Disclosure: I'm a compensated advisor and an affiliate for Teachable.] It can be an entire short course, or a portion of a longer course you offer. Either way, the idea is to deliver a ton of value in a small package while showing the person that you’re serious about helping them learn. By giving away your mini-course for free, you’re showing them how much amazing value you have to offer, so that you can upsell them something bigger later on. A good example of this is from Caleb Wojcik, who does all my video production. On his website, CalebWojcik.com, he offers a free mini-course on how to use Adobe Premiere to edit videos, which he uses to collect email address while delivering a lot value and promoting his premium course to subscribers.
#8: Email Mini-Course
Instead of a mini-course that lives on a platform like Teachable, you can offer an email-based course. An email mini-course is a great option because it’s high value and easy to set up, as it lives right in your email system. After someone subscribes to your list, they’ll receive an email each day with one lesson from the course. You can find an example of this over at 100emails.com, where I teach people how to go from zero to one hundred email subscribers in just seventy-two hours using three daily email lessons. And I built it easily using ConvertKit, my email service provider. [Full Disclosure: I'm a compensated advisor and an affiliate for ConvertKit.]
#9: Book Chapter
If you’ve written a book, or are thinking about writing one, you can offer your first chapter for free in exchange for someone’s address. Now, this is a really cool lead magnet idea, because people love books, and sending them a free chapter can give them a feel of what your book’s about—plus, if they like it, they might even want to buy the whole thing! And, you know, it’s also a great way to ask for their email address.
#10 Course Module
In a similar way, if you have an online course, you can take a module from that course—maybe your favorite module, or just the first one—and make it available in exchange for an email address. It's a great way to show people exactly how you teach and what the course is like, which makes them potentially more likely to upgrade to the full course. And if they're not ready to do that yet, you still have the opportunity to nurture them because you've collected their email address.
You can also offer a quiz with results that will help people. A good example of this comes from Michael Hyatt, who at the end of each year offers his Best Year Ever course in exchange for joining his email list. I take this course every single year, and it’s a quiz—a “life score” assessment that helps you look at how you’re doing in all the different areas of your life, along with what you can do to get to the next level in areas where you want to improve. I love this lead magnet, because it’s interactive and provides a lot of value. It’s way different from something your subscribers just download; it’s something they can actually participate in, which makes it potentially great for driving email subscriptions. One of the entrepreneurs in my accelerator group, Monica Louie, uses a Facebook Ad Quiz to collect email addresses. The quiz helps people figure out what their next steps should be when it comes to creating Facebook ads, but she’s also building her list at the same time.
This next one is awesome for business owners who do a lot of teaching via platforms like YouTube: offering a template people can build on to create something. For example, if you teach podcasting, you could offer a free GarageBand file that contains a few audio elements in it that people can use to start building their own podcast episodes. You're giving them a headstart, which is always appreciated, and definitely worth trading an email address for.
If you do any video or podcasting, you can take your transcripts—the text files with the words you’ve recorded—and put them into a PDF file, then offer it in exchange for an email address. Some people aren’t going to be interested in listening to or watching something; they’ll want to read it instead. And also, because it’s in a handy file, they can print it out, and take notes on it if they like. James Schramko of SuperFastBusiness does this, by creating transcripts of his podcast episodes that are only accessible by joining his email list, and he’s told me that it’s helped a lot in growing his list.
#14: Bonus Audio
Let's say you have a lot of written content on your blog. You can take some of it, and turn it into audio content—MP3 files that people can download and get access to after they give you their email address. This is another smart way of reusing your valuable content, because often people aren’t able to sit down and read, and just want to listen on the go.
#15: Contact List
Instead of a resource list of tools, you can tap into your Rolodex (remember those?) to create a list of people who are on your list who others should know about. By offering your contact list, it's almost like a way to get involved with the network you've built—and this works in both directions. You're providing a lot of value to your subscribers by connecting them with experts who can help them, and you’re also sending the people in your network new potential subscribers and clients of their own. So it's a win for everybody!
#16 Live Training
I know a lot of people who teach a live training every week or month, and they’ll offer a free “seat” in that webinar in exchange for someone’s email address. So, pick a date in the future when you're going to teach something. Then invite people to register, whether it’s in your web page sidebar, at the bottom of a blog post, or on your Facebook page. Voilà! They’re on your list.
#17: Webinar Recording
Instead of offering access to a live webinar, you can offer access to a prerecorded one. For this one, it can help to create a live training first (i.e., #16), then make the recording available for people afterward, so it's all automated.
There you have it—seventeen different lead magnets and incentives you can create to get more people on your email list! You now have no excuse not to do this. I think you’ll find that by offering something of real value—and not just a promise of more emails—people will be much happier to say yes to joining your list, and much more likely to open your future emails, too.