3 Amazingly Effective Lead Magnets You Can Create in Minutes

“Please, sir, I want some more.”

That line is more than a famous quote from Oliver Twist – it’s also the feedback we received over and over from those who have read 16 Ridiculously Simple Ways To Get More Email Subscribers in Less than 5 Minutes.

This feedback from readers wasn’t due to the clever title. It wasn’t due to the writing. It wasn’t even due to the devilishly-handsome author who wrote it.

No, it was because the article addressed a dire need:

Blogs and businesses – big and small, new and old – need email subscribers in order to survive.

Today, we’re going to expand upon one of the tips mentioned in the aforementioned article. We’ll discuss why lead magnets are so gosh darn effective at growing your email list, and we’ll offer three examples with step-by-step instructions.

By the time we’re finished, you’ll be able to create an enticing lead magnet in less time than it takes to drink a cup of coffee.

Ready? Let’s get started…

Why Lead Magnets Are So Effective

The BaconMaster 7000 sounds pretty amazing, but you’re just not ready to buy. Then you discover it comes with a free set of steak knives. “Sold!” you shout, startling your spouse, while searching for your wallet.

Sometimes, people need a little nudge.

That’s why car salesmen will throw in a year’s worth of maintenance. It’s why pizzerias will entice customers with free bread sticks. They know you’re interested, but you need a push. So, they sweeten the deal.

Lead magnets (or giveaways, content upgrades, ethical bribes, or whatever you choose to call them) work the same way.

You know your email list has a lot to offer readers. And you know the fact they’re visiting your blog, website, or landing page means they’re at least somewhat interested. You’re just sweetening the deal by offering a lead magnet.

“Not quite ready to join my mailing list? What if I threw in a free bonus…”

Ah, but what free bonus to offer?

Let’s look at three types of lead magnets and walk through the steps in creating them…

1. The Free Backstage Pass

Photo by Kristian Bjornard / CC by 2.0
Photo by Kristian Bjornard / CC BY-SA 2.0

Velvet ropes intrigue us.

We’ll see an establishment with velvet ropes and a guard who is restricting access, and curiosity will get the better of us.

“Why can’t everyone go inside? Do you have to be special to gain access? I WANT TO BE SPECIAL!”

It doesn’t matter if the ropes and guard are in front of a dilapidated building currently on fire, we’ll desperately want to be members of this exclusive club.

I’m exaggerating, of course, but you get the idea. We all want to be included. We all want to sit at the cool table.

Smart bloggers, businesses, and entrepreneurs know how to tap into this common desire to be included. One ingenious way they do it is by offering private group memberships to those who subscribe.

That’s how Mary Fernandez entices people to join her email list.

Mary runs a popular mastermind group on Facebook for bloggers and entrepreneurs. Want to join? Sorry, it’s invitation only. Want an invitation? Easy! Just subscribe to Mary’s email list.

Not only is this an excellent method for enticing readers to become subscribers, it’s particularly effective at ensuring subscribers stay subscribers.

After all, a person is far less likely to unsubscribe from your list if they’re able to consistently interact with you in a group or forum.

Here’s How You Do It

Step 1: Create a Closed Facebook Group

After logging into Facebook, find “Groups” in your navigation menu and click “Create Group.” The following window will appear:


Pay particular attention to the “Privacy” settings – make sure you choose “Closed” or “Secret.”

For your Facebook group to be an effective lead magnet, you need to restrict access to it.

Step 2: Prominently Display Your Lead Magnet

Now that your closed Facebook group is created, it’s time to let people know about it.

Everywhere you have an opt-in form for email signups (after articles, in your sidebar, exit-intent forms, etc.), advertise your new lead magnet.

Mary promotes her mastermind group through a dedicated landing page:

Source: Persuasive Blog
Step 3: Send Instructions to New Subscribers

Once someone has subscribed, it’s time to tell them how to join your Facebook group.

Using your preferred email marketing tool (AWeber, MailChimp, etc.), create a welcome email. This is the email that’s sent as soon as someone joins your email list.

(If you require double optins, this email will be sent once the subscriber has confirmed their email address.)

This email should be upbeat. It should be welcoming. Most importantly, this email should let subscribers know how they can join your Facebook group!


Naturally, the more popular and active your closed Facebook group, the more enticing it’s going to be for prospective subscribers.

This makes this particular lead magnet less passive than others (you can’t simply set it and forget it), but as Mary can attest the upside is definitely worth it.


2. The Free PDF

You’d be hard pressed to find a lead magnet more common, varied, or effective as the good ol’ PDF file.

In 16 Ridiculously Simple Ways To Get More Email Subscribers in Less than 5 Minutes, I told you about PrintFriendly.com – the online tool that allows you to quickly convert your articles into handy, easy-to-print, PDF files.

But, as one OptinMonster reader pointed out, Print Friendly isn’t perfect:


The good news is you have options!

Web2PDF is one alternative. Like Print Friendly, Web2PDF allows you to enter the URL of your blog article and convert it to a PDF file with one simple click.

It’s easy, free, and requires no software to download. Of course, also like Print Friendly, Web2PDF will have its quirks.

So, if you prefer a more hands-on approach, give your favorite word processing program a try.

Here’s How You Do It

Step 1: Copy the Article You’d Like to Convert

Go to the article you want to convert to a PDF file and highlight the text and images (if applicable).

Source: Be A Better Blogger

Once your content is highlighted, you can copy it by holding down the “Ctrl” button while clicking the letter “C” on your keyboard.

Step 2: Paste Copied Text Into Word Processor

Open Microsoft Word, Apple Pages, OpenOffice, or any word processor that allows you to save documents as PDF files. (For this example, I’ll be using Microsoft Word.)

Paste your copied text into your word processing document.

There are several ways to accomplish this, but holding down the “Ctrl” button while clicking the letter “V” is a long-time favorite:


Step 3: Format the Text

As you can see in the screenshot above, your article won’t look very pretty at first. You’ll need to format it.

If you have any images, you’ll want to wrap them around your text. You may want to change the font family or size, too.

After another tweak here and another tweak there, your article will begin to look polished.


Step 4: Save as PDF

Go to “File” in your menu navigation. Find and click “Save As.”

Where you choose to save your file and what you choose to name it aren’t nearly as important as the “Type” you choose to save the file.

Click the options for “Save as type” and scroll until you see the “PDF” option:


Click the “Save” button.

Congrats! You now have a handy-dandy PDF to offer as a lead magnet to prospective email subscribers.

Further Reading: For ideas on how OptinMonster can help you deliver your shiny new lead magnet, check out How to Deliver a Lead Magnet to Your Email Subscribers with OptinMonster.

3. The Free Email Series

Too many bloggers, businesses, and entrepreneurs believe a lead magnet has to be “epic” in order to be successful.

Ready for a harsh truth? A 1,200-word eBook can be just as effective as a 10,000-word tome at enticing readers to subscribe. In fact, it’s usually more effective. Why? Because big lead magnets can feel overwhelming.

“I’ll never read all that,” potential subscribers will think to themselves. But a compact, easily-digestible opt-in bribe? That they can handle.

This is why email courses and series are such effective lead magnets – subscribers know they won’t be overwhelmed. Once a day or week for x-number days or weeks, they’ll receive a content-packed email that will inspire them, entertain them, or teach them something new.

The good news? Putting together an email series is ridiculously easy.

(Note: To create an email course or series, you’ll need an email marketing service that offers automation capabilities. For this example, I’ll be using AWeber.)

Here’s How You Do It

Step 1: Create New Follow Up Message

After logging into AWeber, go to “Messages” in the navigational menu and select “Legacy Follow Up Series.”

Click the “Create a Message” button.

Note: Your email marketing tool may be slightly different
Note: Your email marketing tool may be slightly different.

You’ll be given a few different options. Do you want to create a simple plain text message? A HTML message? A custom email message using a pre-built template?

For this example, I’ll choose the “HTML Editor” option.


Step 2: Write Your First Email

Your options here are only limited by your imagination! How big and custom do you want to go?

You could write an entirely new, never-before-seen piece of content, or you could copy and paste something you’ve previously published (but would be brand new to subscribers). The choice is yours.

For this example, let’s create an email series that repurposes already-existing content.

As we did with our previous PDF example, we’ll select a popular article from our archives. Highlight the text, copy it, and paste it into your AWeber message:

Note: No need to strain your eyes. Go here to read this article.
Note: No need to strain your eyes. Go here to read the article.

Depending on your content, you may want to add an introduction to the beginning of your AWeber message. Welcome the reader and tell them what to expect in the days or weeks to come.

At the end of your message, let your readers know when they should expect your next email. Once you’re ready, click the “Save & Exit” button.

Now that your message is saved, it’s time to automate it.

Next to your newly-created message, click the “Send Options” button and select “Add to Follow Up Series.”


Next, you’ll see the following window:


Here you’ll be able to set the interval. How many days after your “welcome” email (the email your subscribers receive immediately after joining your mailing list) do you want to pass before readers receive this first email in your new email series?

For this example, I’ve set the interval for 7 days.

You can also choose the delivery window. Only want your emails to be delivered on weekdays? Only want emails delivered between 8 AM and 5 PM? Only want emails delivered on Saturdays at 3 AM? You can make it happen!

Once you’re finished, click the “Add to Follow Up Series” button.

Congrats! The first message in your email series lead magnet is configured and ready to go.

Step 3: Write Additional Emails

Now it’s time to repeat the steps above and create additional emails for your series.

How many should you create? That’s completely up to you.

Henneke Duistermaat offers a 16-part course for her opt-in bribe. John Lee Dumas offers a course on webinars that readers can complete in only 10 days. At Be A Better Blogger, a 12-week email series of blogging tips is offered:


Your email series could be shorter or longer – it’s up to you! As a general rule of thumb, try the following:

  • If your desired interval is daily, create 7 emails. This will allow readers to receive one email each day for an entire week.
  • If your desired interval is weekly, create a minimum of 4 emails. This will allow readers to receive one email each week for an entire month.

Once you’ve created and configured your last email, your lead magnet is complete.

All that’s left to do is promote it so you can sit back, relax, and watch your subscriber count climb higher and higher.

It’s Time to Sweeten the Deal And Create Amazing Lead Magnets

Did you hear that?

It’s the sound of one of your competitors jumping for joy after gaining another email subscriber.

Wish that could happen to you? It can.

You just need to give your readers a little nudge.

In this article, you’ve learned how to create three different lead magnets that can help turn prospective subscribers into actual subscribers.

OptinMonster can speed up this process, so if you’re not already a customer be sure to check out our amazing list of features.

We’ll have you jumping for joy in no time.

Which of these 3 lead magnets is your favorite? Is there another easy-to-create lead magnet we missed? Let us know in a comment below!

When he isn't preaching the virtues of OptinMonster, Kevin J. Duncan uses his very particular set of skills to help bloggers improve their craft.


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  2. Sue Anne Dunlevie November 16, 2015 at 2:17 pm

    Good timing on this post, Kevin. I’m thinking of doing an email course for a launch of a course in January. Loved your ideas.

    Thanks for the great info!

    1. Hi Sue Anne,

      I’m glad this was published in a timely manner for you! I bet your email course is going to be great. 🙂

      Thanks for the kind words and the continued, unwavering support, Sue Anne. I really really appreciate it!

      Hope you are having a wonderful week!

      – @kevinjduncan

  3. Thank you so much for the feature, Kevin! 🙂

    I love how easy you made it for us to follow the steps and create each of these lead magnets. I’m also noticing how powerful it would be to COMBINE all three…

    For instance, with another private Facebook group that I created (for pregnant women wanting to keep fit), I used an email autoresponder sequence to deliver a 7-day fitness challenge, and there was a downloadable PDF workout calendar that went along with it. So the combined offer was: 1) a free fitness challenge, 2) a downloadable calendar, and 3) they got access to the private Facebook group for additional help and accountability.

    This offer was so compelling that I got leads for as little as 19 cents using Facebook ads! Plus, the engagement inside the Facebook group was really incredible, I think due to the fact that everyone was following along with the fitness challenge together, which created instant solidarity and gave them something to talk about.

    Great post, Kevin!!

    1. Hi Mary,

      You are very welcome! 🙂

      Combining these three lead magnets is a great idea. I’m not surprised to hear you’ve done this very thing and have had success!

      To date, I’ve only combined two of the three. I will offer a content bonus (PDF checklist, PDF version of the post, etc.), and subscribers will also be enrolled in my 12-Week Series of Super Duper Blog Tips. The “Facebook Group” is the one I’ve never personally tried… yet. But that may change one day. 😉

      Thank you for letting me pick your brain for the FB Group section of this post. I think it turned out really great. And, hopefully, you’ll get a few new subscribers and FB members as a result!

      Have a great week, Mary!

      – @kevinjduncan

  4. Great article Kevin. My choice is, at present the second one-free pdf guide. I am working on this and shall offer one on my blog.
    Of course, I feel proud to be a member of Mary’s mastermind group you mentioned about in the first type. Learning a lot here.
    Thanks for sharing.

    1. Hi Rajkaran,

      Thanks! A pdf-guide is a great choice. I’ve created quite a few of them for Be A Better Blogger, and pound for pound PDFs have been my most successful lead magnets to date. 🙂

      Mary’s group IS really good. I haven’t been a member very long, but I’ve had a lot of fun interacting with so many new faces (yours included)!

      Thanks for taking the time to stop by and comment, Rajkaran. Hope you have a great week!

      – @kevinjduncan

  5. Hey Kevin,

    Another great article as usual!

    This is good timing for me because I’m in the process of unveiling a new site targeting husbands and dads that want to build strong families. The closed Facebook group is intriguing to me, but I wondered how effective it is starting from scratch?

    Do you think that there needs to be a certain number of people in the group to make it worthwhile or just go to it and make sure to stay active until the numbers grow? I’m curious to know what you think.

    Thanks again for the great article with actionable steps. I’ll be sure to share this on social media.

    Keep ’em coming!

    1. Hi Jesse,

      Thank you, my friend! Kind of you to say. 🙂

      Your upcoming site sounds awesome! (Definitely let me know once it’s launched, okay?)

      Regarding your question…

      I’ll see if Mary Fernandez would be willing to stop by and fill us in on how she approached it, but if it were me this is what I would do:

      Create the closed Facebook group, but don’t promote it right away. First, reach out to 5, 10, 15 people you know would be interested in your FB group. In your case, this would be husbands and dads you are acquainted with online (or real life). Ideally, these are individuals you know will be active participants.

      These 5-15 individuals get free membership into the group. They don’t have to subscribe. You ask them, they say yes, you add them to the group.

      What you’re trying to establish is your group’s core. Every group, community, or forum has a small handful of individuals who are the backbone. They’re the ones who are most active, most helpful, and most visible. Once you get this group in place, you’re set.

      That’s how I would do it anyway. 🙂

      Thanks for the share, Jesse. And for the great comment/question! I hope my answer makes a little sense.

      Have a blessed and awesome Tuesday, my friend.

      – @kevinjduncan

    2. Hi Jesse!

      Great question! I really like Kevin’s recommendation to start with 5-15 people you know and ask them to join. I have actually never done that though… I have successfully created two Facebook groups from complete scratch, and with both it took reaching 100 members before the group really started to engage with one another. You just have to keep interacting with everyone individually, welcome them each personally into the group, ask questions, etc. to get them talking. It’s a lot of work in the beginning, but once the group really starts to “click”, then they will do all that work for you. My first FB group is now completely hands-off, and I only pop in there occasionally.

      So bottom line: the Facebook group is a lot of up-front work, but in the end you have this asset which you can continue to use as a powerful lead magnet, and it’s a big brand and credibility booster as well.

  6. Hi Kevin,
    For me, it would be a series of aut-responder. As you’ve said, subscribers know they won’t be overwhelmed.

    It’s manageable and you know when it’s coming.

    1. Hi Terrence,

      An auto-responder series was my very first lead magnet. I called it “12 Weeks of Super Duper Blog Tips”. (I’d probably name it something different if I had to do it all over.) 🙂

      Appreciate you stopping by and leaving us your comment, Terrence. Hope you’re having a great week!

      – @kevinjduncan

  7. Great ideas..I never would have thought of the Facebook group – love it! I have one pdf and have gotten subscribers from it but need to do more. Thanks for the ideas and steps to implement.

    1. Hi Amy,

      I’m glad I was able to shine the spotlight on a new idea for you! I know Mary has had a lot of success with her Facebook group. It could be just what the doctor ordered for you. 🙂

      Appreciate you stopping by! Thanks for the kind words. Hope you have a great week, Amy!

      – @kevinjduncan

  8. Hi Kevin,
    Great information here!
    Nice to know about Mary’s venture and success! That was really a wonderful idea!And then the PDF formation and OptinMonster is really new to. Good to know about the email formation too!!
    ThanksThanks for sharing
    May you have a good day.
    Thanks Mary for the notification thru twitter.

  9. This is a fantastic post and I have shared it on my social media pages. 😀

  10. Love these ideas! I currently have a short email mini-course for my lead magnet, but I love the idea of the private FB group as a lead magnet. I’m actually in Mary’s Persuasive Bloggers group and from a subscriber’s perspective, it’s hands down the most valuable free lead magnet I’ve ever received since I get value from the group every day. Plus, since I’m interacting with Mary on a regular basis, it feels more personal and I ALWAYS open her emails. Pretty smart marketing 😉 Great article Kevin, thanks for the insight!

  11. Roxanna A Kazibwe November 17, 2015 at 5:45 am

    Kevin, this is not only an insightful post but practical too. I’m currently using a PDF doc as my lead magnet but I must say the mini course and Facebook group are great for maintaining engagement especially for the first few weeks.
    Thanks for sharing.

  12. Luis A Gonzalez L February 15, 2016 at 8:10 am

    Hi Kevin
    Thanks so much for your help. I was creating my new blog las weekend so this tool is perfect for me to grove my tribe.

  13. Hey Kevin,

    Thanks for the excellent, informative and **actionable** article! I thought the psychology of the “back stage pass” was very interesting. It “feels” really compelling and I’ll definitely give it a try. If I recall correctly, that’s how I initially connected with our friend Mary Fernandez.

    I must have been living under a rock to have not noticed it previously! (speaking of Mary, btw, I spotted the reference to your article today in her new Definitive Guide to Email Marketing).



  14. This is great, thankyou Kevin and Mary for sharing this super valuable information with us! Discovering what’s possible through great email follow up and a great optin is fantastic. Much appreciated!! 🙂 This realm can be quite daunting for those who have not had experience with this before. I love that this info is available on here – thankyou so much!! 🙂 Very excited to provide greater value to my community through these handy accessible tips. 🙂 Thankyou!

    1. So happy this was helpful for you, Lorien!

  15. I like what I just read, however, the challenge for most people especially beginners is how can our blog post be recognized by the people we are targeting? SEO is a bit confusing (and a lot of work to do).

    Another thing, I agree that it doesn’t matter how good of a quality is our blog posts and email campaigns if no one pays attention, knows about our blog posts, or we simply not getting any traffic at all (given that I will establish a new website)

    Any help with this?

    Thanks a lot!

    1. Sharon Hurley Hall September 26, 2017 at 5:27 am

      Thanks, Anfernee. We have a couple of articles to suggest:
      First, our in-depth guide to keyword research, which will help with content targeting and SEO so the right people find your content.
      Second, an article on how to attract your first 1000 blog subscribers, which is useful if you’re launching a new site.
      Hope this helps. 🙂

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