Your lead magnet is getting less-than-stellar results, and you need a new one.
In this guide, we look at what makes a lead magnet attract quality leads and 17 excellent lead magnet ideas featuring your favorite SaaS companies.
What is a Lead Magnet?
A lead magnet is a free digital content given in exchange for a prospect’s contact information (usually an email address).
Lead magnets are used by SaaS marketers to build an email list and generate leads for a sales pipeline, with the end goal of converting them to customers.
What Makes a Good Lead Magnet?
An irresistible lead magnet attracts prospective customers hook, line and sinker. What elements should you focus on to attract quality leads? We boil it down to the five elements below:
(i) It solves a problem: Popular lead magnets aren’t born from whims of inspiration. Conduct customer research to identify what’s keeping customers up at night. The crux of their pain point shapes not only the lead magnet but also the entire content strategy.
(ii) It moves the lead further down the funnel: Get your leads to take the next action. Gated or ungated content, ensure that it nurtures and guides your leads along the path to purchase. Bonus if it segments them in the right bucket accordingly.
(iii) It positions your product as an ideal solution naturally: Show your product in action. Your lead magnet should strategically demonstrate why your SaaS tool is the best solution in the market today.
(iv) You can repurpose it: Content is never one and done. Repurpose your lead magnet into other formats to target a wider audience. Better yet, create different lead magnets to target people in different stages of the buying journey.
(v) It builds credibility and trust: Lead magnets, especially with bold claims, should be backed up with proof. Always support with specifics and details.
Now that we got the theory out of the way, let’s explore these elements in the 17 real-world lead magnet examples below.
17 Lead Magnet Ideas For SaaS (With Real-Life Examples)
Lead magnets determine the outcome of your sales funnel. Here are 17 effective lead magnet ideas to generate buzz about your product, educate your customers, and grow your pipeline tenfold.
ebooks are blog posts on steroids.
An example is the Lead Scoring for Acquisition ebook by Breadcrumbs. It’s essentially an expanded version of our lead-scoring articles. Note how the ebook outlines a lead nurturing sequence and the telltale signs of a lead showing buying intent.
ebooks are possibly the most common lead magnets today. If you do a quick search on your competing companies, you’ll see that they, too, are generating leads through these online books.
If you want to stand out in a saturated market, keep reading our guide to discover more lead magnet ideas.
2. Industry research
Industry research is a white paper that explores a trending topic with data-backed evidence. It also highlights why your product or service is the ideal solution today.
It can take months of hard work to create an industry report. You need to gather data from hundreds of people, remove incorrect or duplicated data, and draw actionable insights for the next step.
HubSpot is a pioneer at this approach. Note how the company turns its data from 1,200+ global marketers into an eye-catching marketing strategy and trends report.
This gated content makes a high-value resource. Not only does it attract backlinks from many sites organically, but it also positions your SaaS brand as an authority in the field.
3. Email drip courses
Email drip courses are a series of automated emails that educate your audience on solving a problem. This email series is typically delivered in bite-sized chunks and sent over a span of five to seven days.
Note how Client Portal teaches users how to level up their onboarding process in a digestible five-day email course.
One interesting bit about this email course is that the founder, Laura Elizabeth, repurposed it from an ebook. The course summarizes the key points and helps leads to implement the strategies right away.
4. Online courses
Online courses are self-paced tutorials conducted on a learning management system or video-sharing platform.
Like industry reports, these lead magnets can be extremely time-consuming to create. You need to invest in recording equipment, video editing tools, not to mention the writing of scripts to educate and engage your target audience.
Online grants platform Instrumentl keeps it simple. Note how it teaches grant professionals how to find good-fit funders and how they can use the platform to manage the grants process from start to finish with ease.
Online courses tend to boast higher perceived value, so work on your video aesthetics and content to draw users in.
Checklists are a list of items to help your readers complete a task or activity.
These cheat sheets are a form of content upgrade (i.e., resources unique to each blog post). And they work incredibly well. When Backlinko offered a free checklist to its most popular blog post, conversions rose by 785%.
Note the checklist from GatherContent below. It outlines the steps prospects can take to get their clients to take a content-first approach to projects.
Since the one-pager distills a lot of information into a compact format, leads can refer to the it whenever necessary.
Worksheets are a set of refillable content that can be used repeatedly. Like checklists, worksheets make powerful content upgrades as they provide tons of value and move users to the next stage of the funnel.
Note the ideal customer profile (ICP) worksheet by Breadcrumbs below. It shows the different data you need to include and lays out the next step in creating it.
At the end of the worksheet, leads are directed to create a free account.
Tools help users complete specific tasks (e.g., calculators, converters).
DivByZero generates leads via its free tool called TweetShots. It converts tweets to images, and lets users share them on social media within seconds.
It’s relatively easy to create these tools, thanks to the abundance of no-code apps in the market today. For example, you can use Bubble to build an interactive course platform without ever writing a single line of code.
Tools also generate backlinks. A quick search on Ahrefs shows that the HeadlineAnalyzer by CoSchedule has over 22K external pages directing traffic to it.
Communities are online groups of your ideal customers and brand advocates. These groups are usually hosted on Slack, Facebook Groups, Telegram, and Discord.
Running authentic communities requires immense effort. You need to allocate resources towards building customer relationships, gathering feedback and acting on them, and moderating conversations, to name a few.
One company that has built an enduring community is Superpath. The founder, Jimmy Daly, manually approves every member a few times each week and enforces community guidelines to foster an inclusive space.
Members looking for more resources or support can upgrade to a pro membership that sets at $50/month.
Videos are on-demand recordings that teach your prospects actionable tactics or frameworks. Usually one-sided (i.e., no audience interaction), these recordings strategically show how your product solves a problem.
Wordable is a software tool that publishes Google Docs to WordPress in one click. Note how Brad Smith, the CEO, acquires leads through his free training videos.
By using curiosity (increasing monday.com blog traffic by 1,570% in only three months), searchers are compelled to enter their email addresses and join the list.
Smith made good on his promise (no sales pitches, spam, or ineffective tactics). The video content is packed with unicorn-caliber strategies and offers a behind-the-scenes look at how the team uses Wordable to streamline their content workflow.
10. Consultancy calls
Consultancy calls are short phone or video calls that spotlight a prospect’s problem, practical solutions to address it, and how your expertise comes in.
Note how Powered by Search provides prospective clients with insights on increasing their MRR within the next three months with no strings attached. Prospects can keep the marketing plan even if they don’t end up working together.
Consultancy calls require more effort. There’s also the risk of wasting time and money as the leads may not end up converting.
If you want to go down this route, make sure you set your expectations right off the bat. This lets prospects pre-qualify themselves, which saves you time from weeding out unsuitable ones.
With Powered by Search, it emphasizes its budget (minimum $7,500/month for a year) and requirement (strong product market fit).
11. Referral program
A referral program rewards existing customers or leads for promoting your product to their families, friends, and social networks.
Considering how word of mouth is the primary factor behind 20 to 50% of all buying decisions, a referral program is one of the most effective marketing vehicles to accelerate your product’s reach.
Morning Brew, a popular email newsletter, does this well. It offers an attractive referral program where existing members can refer new subscribers and receive free swag in return.
Each time a member hits a new referral milestone, Morning Brew will send them gifts, like a tote bag, stickers, and mugs. Its most premium swag is a WFH office setup.
This attractive referral program drove 35% of its 2.4+ million subscribers.
Webinars are short online events that feature a single presenter or a group of co-hosts. They usually involve product training and audience interaction through polls and Q&A in real time.
Marketers often run webinars to attract target customers. Like ebooks, webinars are overdone— especially during and after the pandemic—but it is possible to do them right.
Note how Asana adds a unique twist to its webinars.
Asana shows viewers how it runs strategic operations using its own product. This is a perfect example of thought leadership and product-led content combo that turns visitors into leads.
13. Virtual conferences
Virtual conferences are massive online events featuring notable speakers or industry experts.
Unlike webinars that focus on a single topic, virtual conferences explore multiple topics from different presenters. These sessions can take place over one or multiple days.
Here’s an example of a one-day virtual conference: Breadcrumbs’ Hot Takes Live.
It features 48 top SaaS leaders from elite companies like HootSuite, Outreach, and Pendo. During these sessions, leaders share their unconventional insights about marketing, sales, ops, and product.
Consider creating a mini toolkit of social media graphics and sample captions for the presenters. Encourage them to adapt these assets according to their brand or style and share it with their social network to spread the word.
Alternatively, run a giveaway to drive up registrations. For Hot Takes Live, we offer registrants a chance to win a free ticket to SaaStock 2023 and $500 for travel expenses.
Quizzes are a series of questions that help your audience learn more about themselves (and your product). They segment your potential customers and add a fun touch to your marketing, to boot.
With quizzes, you can create a bunch of different outcomes based on your audience’s responses and segment them into relevant groups.
This allows you to funnel each group into a unique sales funnel with personalized messaging (e.g., a post-quiz welcome email sequence targeted to marketers).
Here’s an example featuring Todoist. The task management software company asks only six questions in its quiz and recommends the best productivity method based on your answers.
What’s unorthodox is that Todoist doesn’t gate the answers.
The audience immediately sees the results page once they click submit, along with a URL link to a relevant blog post if they want to learn more about their recommended productivity method.
The email address field only shows up when the prospect clicks the what’s next button.
15. Swipe files
A swipe file is a free resource library of marketing collateral. This can be anything from headlines and ads to sales emails and web copies.
The best swipe files cut down browsing time, inspire ideas, and help you spot the latest trends. Focus on curating the best resources for best results.
Tip: encourage your target audience to submit the assets or companies they want to be featured. This fills up your content backlog and helps you engage with the community.
Out of all lead magnets, this is by far the most time-consuming. Curating a swipe file requires hours of browsing, taking screenshots, signing up for free trials, following social media accounts, etc.
And that’s just the start. You also need to keep them up to date. Note our very own swipe file, SaaS Examples. It features 100+ SaaS companies and their overall marketing strategy. Each marketing asset is categorized according to industry, company, and page type, helping searchers quickly find what they’re looking for.
There are frequent updates for the most popular SaaS companies, with previous versions remaining intact.
Templates are professionally made documents with preset elements (e.g., layout, graphs, icons).
The goal of these plug-and-play templates is to avoid creating documents from scratch and save time (very important if you sell to time-strapped customers lacking coding or design skills).
Take this stunning template from DashThis, an automated marketing reporting tool. It automatically turns your raw data into digestible graphs and charts with just a few clicks of a button.
What’s brilliant about these templates is that you can hover around the different elements and visualize what it’s like to use them in your own client reporting—without signing up for an account.
If you want to unlock the preset templates, all you have to do is sign up for a free trial.
Proposals (also known as request for proposals [RFPs]), are customized documents that highlight a client’s unique problem and how your product or service solves it.
These lead magnets involve time and effort, so it’s best used for high-ticket items with lengthy sales cycles.
Not only do proposals involve extensive research, but these documents also require you to outline the strategies you’ll implement and metrics for success, preferably in a few pages.
Often, agencies and companies with enterprise clients create proposals to bid for a project and set expectations right off the bat. Note how Foundation, a content marketing agency for B2B and SaaS brands, offers a tailored proposal at entirely zero cost.
The second last question (“What are your digital marketing priorities for 2023?”) shapes the content of the proposal and evaluates if the prospect’s requirements fall within the agency’s expertise.
The last question (“What is your annual content budget?”), presented in a dropdown form, helps prospects pre-qualify themselves. If they’re unable to meet the minimum budget ($25,000), they’re probably not a good fit.
Powerful lead magnets are customer-centric.
The next time you create these digital freebies, ensure that you back up claims with social proof, give users a behind-the-scenes look at your product, and target them at different stages of the buying journey.
Which of these lead magnet examples is your favorite? Sound it in the comments below.