How to grow your email list with a lead magnet

As a business owner, you probably hear it all the time… you can’t rely on social media for your marketing. You’ve read the horror stories of people’s IG accounts being hacked or FB shutting down a whole page (which was the only way that business connected with their customers).

The fundamental thing you need in place is an email list – this list belongs to you and you can keep in touch with your subscribers and many will become your clients and customers. You most likely know that if you want more sales, you want more people investing in you and your products. It starts with the lead.

But how do you get people onto your list in the first place?

The quickest and most effective way to get people to join your mailing list is with a lead magnet (aka opt-in or freebie).

A Lead Magnet is a piece of valuable content you create and share with your ideal customer in exchange for their contact information

Once you have their email address you’ll be able to send your subscribers regular email newsletters with links to more value original content that you’ve created – things like blogs, how-to videos, tutorials, expert advice, top tips etc. And then WHEN you are ready to sell your product or service you’re in a good place to start talking about this. You have already spent time building the know, like and trust relationship. 

What to share

What to Share?

When you are thinking about what to share as your freebie always have your ideal client in mind. You want to give them something valuable that solves a specific problem. To get ideas, go to where your ideal client is hanging out (e.g. Facebook groups) and pay attention to their questions – where are they struggling? You want to give them a quick win whilst also showing your expertise!

For a lead magnet to be successful, you basically need to give your intended audience what they want – something that solves their problems AND shows them how to do it (or who to call!).

Create it!

Make sure you have asked your audience for feedback on your ideas before you spend lots of time creating your lead magnet! Make sure it’s specific and is solving their pain point. This could be in the form of a checklist, a template, a “how-to” guide, a video, a webinar or a discount code.

Don’t overcomplicate it, but ideally, you want people to say “I can’t believe this is free!” 

Use a design tool such as Canva or hire a designer to help you.


The Tech

Landing page

You will need a landing page so you can collect emails (in return for your fabulous freebie!) A landing page is different to a web page as users can only take one action once you send them there (i.e. sign up to your lead magnet!) However, you do not need to have a website to use one so they can be great if you are in the process of designing yours. Leadpages and Thrive are brilliant examples of user-friendly software that you can use. Some email service providers (e.g. ActiveCampaign, Mailerlite and Mailchimp) also include landing page builders or you could build one on your website.

Email list 

The ultimate goal of your lead magnet is to grow your email list! Some popular providers include ActiveCampaign, MailerLite, Mailchimp and Constant Contact – there are lots to choose from so shop around and go with what you prefer! Here you will need to create an embedded form and then add it to your landing page. You will also need to create an email to deliver your lead magnet once people sign up (if they don’t receive it automatically). You may even want to create an automated “nurture” sequence. Just make sure it is clear how they can unsubscribe at any point.

GDPR – this is especially important if your audience is in the EU / UK

Before you get going with email marketing, you need to check with the Information Commissioners office – THE ICO – if you need to be registered. If you are collecting peoples’ email addresses and names it’s more than likely that you will need to register with the ICO. It takes 5 minutes to work out if you need to register by going through some questions and then 15 mins to process your application. The cost for most of you will be about  £40 a year but it’s really important that you do this. 

You also need to make sure you are GDPR compliant when you create your landing page. This is where you need to tell your subscriber that you will be complying with the GDPR rules, you’ll be sending them regular emails and occasional offers. You need people to confirm they are happy with this by asking them to tick a box. You also need to share a link to your privacy policy – this can be the privacy policy on your website. 

Thank you page

Most email marketing software will show a default “ success” message when someone subscribes, but it’s always good practice to set up a customised thank you page (this is particularly important if you plan on running any ads to your lead magnet – as you will need separate URL’s to track conversions).

Your Thank You page can also be a really good opportunity to show other offers or CTA’s (call to actions) – e.g join your Facebook group.

Sounds complicated? 

HERE’S a roadmap to illustrate how signing up for a lead magnet or Freebie works:

Lead magnet roadmap


Get it out there!

Hurray! Your lead magnet is live and ready (make sure you have tested it out to ensure everything is working). Now you need to promote it! Make full use of your social media pages – add the link to your profile/bio, create posts and make use of Instagram and Facebook stories. Don’t over-promote or purely broadcast, but you want to get your lead magnet in front of as many of your ideal customers as you can. You can also blog or vlog about it and email it to your current subscribers – try a few things out and see what works!

Want to see an example?

If you’re still not 100% sure what we’re talking about, you can check out a real-life example of one of our lead magnets (if you sign up, you will not only see the whole process in action, but you also get to join our fabulous email list 😉). This is from a section on our homepage, but we share this on our email sign-off, on social media etc etc…


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Want more help?

Lead magnets and landing pages can be a very time-consuming process – our course, Systemise Your Content Marketing has a whole module on the system you can follow to create and share your own lead magnets,  including walkthrough videos, checklist and templates.