People like free stuff. Even according to some psychological experiments, the allure of something that’s given away for free is hard to resist. Lead magnets are strategies that use that attraction not just to catch a potential lead’s attention but to acquire their contact details to attempt a future sale.

“Nothing in life is free”, says the common phrase. As we browse sites, download apps and post on social media, we know that we are participating in some sort of exchange. We give our data and we get free services and products in return. Hence the power of lead magnets: they’re a voluntary agreement between you and your lead in which both parts win.

In this article, we’ll explore lead magnet strategies to see how they fit perfectly for both SaaS companies and e-commerce alike 🧲.

Photograph of a magnet

Here’s how to implement a Lead Magnet strategy for SaaS and E-commerce

What are lead magnets?

In marketing, a lead magnet is a service or item given away for free, to acquire potential lead contact details. Those details will be used later to try to close a sale, for example, through sales enablement strategies.

Lead magnets can be anything that’s given away for free:

  • Demos and trial subscriptions. “Sign up to try our app for free for 15 days.”
  • Free consultations. “Fill out the details to get a free marketing consultation.”
  • Free samples or freebies. “Create an account to download free motion graphic templates.”
  • Free-to-use tools. “Sign up to convert your audio file in just seconds.”
  • Useful content (like tips, ebooks, and whitepapers). “Subscribe to our newsletter and get our ebook for free.”
  • Sales and discounts. “Sign up and get a code for a 10% discount on your first purchase.”
  • Raffles and giveaways. “Retweet, like and follow this post to have a chance of winning a $50 gift-card.”

Around 96% of visitors that arrive at your site are not ready to buy. Sure, you can show them flashy ads or try to communicate the value of your product the best way possible, but if they leave you can’t follow them.

Lead magnets provide a way to increase interest while gathering contact details to form a potential customer database. Simply put, a lead –knowingly or not– exchanges their contact information for a desired item or service that’s useful and appealing to them.

give away sign

Lead magnet’s advantage.

  • Expand your lead sources. The giveaways offered as lead magnets can attract more leads, giving you a larger pool of potential customers.
  • Leads actually opt-in. Even though leads may not identify magnets as such, they exchange their contact information voluntarily. Their willingness to agree to the exchange is a hint of interest in your SaaS product, e-commerce segment, the value you provide, or –at least– topics surrounding your industry.
  • Increase brand awareness. As lead magnets attract more leads, they also raise brand awareness. Giving away good quality magnets can forge trust and loyalty to your brand, even before leads have converted.

How to implement lead magnets?

So far, I’ve given you the lead magnet basics and mentioned magnet examples. But even though every lead magnet strategy has at its core a giveaway/contact exchange, there are different ways to implement them. Let’s check the main types of lead magnets and see some real-world examples.

Lead magnet strategy infographic

To illustrate different ways to implement lead magnets, I asked my colleagues and found out about their experience with magnet strategies online:

A. Useful and latest content

Producing content is a really good way to boost arrival at your site. Regular content, like a blog, helps you improve SEO and target the keywords you need to catch your kind of lead.

But how to get contact information from a blog post? Well, the most common way is to have a newsletter. Users subscribe to your site’s or product’s news in exchange for their email addresses.

Some sites make the invitation more appealing by offering additional premium content for free:

  • Ebooks and whitepapers.
  • Exclusive tutorials or guides.
  • PDF checklists.

Our dev genius said:

“I regularly browse Smashing Magazine and they always have magnets. I can see them from a mile away and usually never get caught. But recently I was looking for some front-end content and saw that Smashing was offering their regular newsletter subscription with a cool checklist PDF focused on interface design. So I gave them my email, got my checklist and updates about the magazine’s content from then on”.

Smashing Magazine example

B. Free online tools

We have grown accustomed to all sorts of free online services. Some of those services promote premium features or versions to make the sale.

For example, some companies give away initial consultations or automated evaluations as lead magnets. Others, especially SaaS companies, offer some of their features for free.

Leads value this kind of giveaway and will be more inclined to provide their email address or sign up if they feel that the service exchanged is worthy. 

Our marketing guru said:

“Some time ago, I wanted to remove the background of an image. I’m no designer so I wasn’t going to open Adobe Photoshop and do it myself. I don’t even have Photoshop installed! But I found a tool at the Adobe website that removed backgrounds instantly. The catch? To use it for free, you just have to log in. So I created an Adobe account”.

Adobe example

C. Free resources

Similar to free tools, you can offer free products as lead magnets! Ebooks, whitepapers and free reports are among the most popular lead magnets of this sort. SaaS companies, especially those who offer services targeting professionals, produce these kinds of giveaways to attract their potential customers.

This can have a double effect. For example you can use an ebook as a magnet offered for free in exchange of customer data. At the same time, the book can include references to your product value and serve as an advertising on its own. Double jackpot!

Our analytics wizard said:

“An excellent example that I have seen is ProfitWell. They offer a churn benchmark report for free, but in order to get those juicy metrics you need to give them your contact information”.

ProfitWell example

E-commerce companies also may use this method to entice leads to sign up to their shopping platform. For example, if your online store offers free samples or “freebies”, you may require that users sign up and go through the checkout process even if the final sale is $0.

Our designer nerd said:

“Designers like me are used to finding freebies on design resource sites. A while back, I was looking for some cool transitions for a video project and ended up in Motion Array. They have lots of motion graphics and video assets, some of them for free. To download free assets though I needed to create an account. I did, provided my contact info, and then received invitations to upgrade”.

Motion Array example

D. Quizzes and gamified content

People like fun! I don’t think I have to sell you on that. Gamification is a strategy in which you give a process the structure of a game, incentivizing users’ behaviors through rewards, leveling up, or old and simple fun.

Examples of gamified content as lead magnets are:

  • A quiz that requires user information to see the results.
  • A free minigame that’s accessible only to signed-up users.
  • A free reward that’s given only after a visitor has recommended a site, product, or service to their contacts.

Our customer support queen said:

“So I was looking to buy some make-up online and I found IPSY, a service that sends you make-up directly to your door. I’m busy so anything that can make me avoid the shopping hassle is fine by me. The landing page is very simple, with a big button inviting you to get started. I was taken to a beauty quiz, with lots of questions about my make-up preferences and buying habits. It was fun! I completed it and the last step asked me for contact and login info”.

IPSY example

E. Demos and trials

Maybe your SaaS can’t offer a feature for free, or you can’t write a whole ebook to give away as a lead magnet. In that case, you can offer your entire product as a magnet!

With a demo or trial of your SaaS product, you can entice leads to sign up and take it for a spin. This way you’ll get their contact information and push them to create an account, giving them a first-hand experience of your product’s value.

Our big boss said:

We do that at Beamer! On our site, you can provide your email address and start using Beamer for free. We made sure to not ask for payment info or build any barriers. Anyone can just signup and use our product freely. And if they want to get premium features, well, then they can upgrade”.

Beamer example

F. Discounts and raffles

For e-commerce companies may find it harder to provide free products than a SaaS company. In exchange for their contact information, you can offer leads discounts on their first purchase, coupon codes, or the opportunity to participate in raffles, lotteries, and giveaways.

This strategy is particularly effective in social media, where following, liking and commenting increases a post visibility, while generating a viral effect when tagging other users.

Our social media geek said:

“I have an obsession. There’s no giveaway in social media that I have seen and not entered. I know they are magnets! Even though I don’t need to give them my email address, this kind of magnet requires you to follow, comment or share. That way, they increase their follower count and also can follow you back to contact you with other promotions or offers. In this sort of giveaway they usually give you more chances to win if you mention or invite other users, hence helping to make it more viral. I know all of this, but hey! It’s a free coffee machine! I’m willing to play for it”.

lead magnet: raffle

Lead magnets best practices

Pick the right kind of magnet.

You need to know your audience. Different lead magnets work best for specific groups. You can also produce your lead magnets thinking on particular customer personas. For example:

  • While an ebook or whitepaper can attract professionals like marketers, developers, and designers, the general public will not be enticed by industry-specific content.
  • Designers and developers are accustomed to searching for resources, so they’ll probably be interested in freebies like templates, plugins, or code snippets.
  • Free online tools or features are a good way to catch a general audience that might need a specific solution for a specific problem.
  • Online shoppers may be more interested in rewards that would make their shopping easier like discounts or free delivery in their first purchase.

Easy sign-up form.

The core of a lead magnet strategy rests on visitors considering the exchange of giveaways for contact information a fair and worthy one. Any friction will tilt the balance and make your leads think twice.

You need to make the exchange smooth. Make the sign-up form easy to complete. Try to keep the information you ask from your users to the minimum and never spread this sign-up in more than a single step. If you can make a single field form, do it!

Don’t make them wait.

Whatever the giveaway is, users need to get it right away. Any delay in delivering the content will make the exchange look like a scam. For example, if your freebie is a digital product (like an ebook or free report), allow them to download it as soon as they provide their contact information.

Photograph of a sign that reads FREE

Make it appealing!

People are aware that their data is a valuable currency on the current internet landscape, and they won’t give it away if they don’t get something in return. Social media networks, for example, have learned to bridge the gap between a product that users desire to use more than they want to protect their private data.

You need to make your magnets appealing. Lead magnets will work if they provide some value that’s at least equal to the price you’re asking for. And even though lead magnets giveaways are “free” the price you’re asking is disclosing personal information.

The appeal also goes for the freebie itself. For example, if you’re producing an ebook make sure the cover is eye-catching, and if you’re offering a free online tool, make it pop with a friendly UI.

Distribution and promotion.

Even though lead magnets can increase the volume of leads that arrive at your door, this won’t happen on its own. Regardless of what you offer as a magnet, make sure to promote it.

This can sound counterintuitive, spending efforts in marketing for something that’s not even the main product or products you’re selling. But think of lead magnets as an engine:

  1. If you advertise your lead magnets, leads will arrive at your doorstep
  2. If they opt-in and pay by giving you their contact info you can grow your lead database.
  3. You can use that database to target those leads in more focused marketing efforts and increase conversion.

To make your leads aware of your magnets, you’ll need promotional channels. You can promote them with ads, sidebar banners, a blog, or a newsfeed; any method you can use to grab their attention and promote the magnet that will promote your SaaS product.

For e-commerce, social media presence and influencer reach are vital promotional strategies. Social media allows you to target your ideal customers by promoting your post into the right demographical, age or interest set. On the other hand, influencers are a valuable way of spreading your voice by leveraging on their own network. 

Photograph of an influencer

By producing, offering, and promoting the right lead magnets you’ll be able to get more leads, grow a lead database, and fine-tune your marketing targeting strategies. The core of this method is finding out what kind of magnet will work the best for your audience, producing quality giveaways, promoting them, collecting your leads’ contact information, and using that data effectively.

If you are still looking for a way to advertise your lead magnets to your visitors, think of Beamer. With Beamer, you can create a newsfeed in a matter of minutes, embed it directly in your app, site, or e-commerce store, and start promoting your lead magnets and latest updates to your audience. You can use beamer notifications to target specific user-profiles and personas, keep track of analytics and even send push notifications to follow your potential leads wherever they are. Keep your users updated and engaged with every offer you have in store with Beamer.  Try Beamer for free today!