12 lead magnet ideas for eCommerce shops

Freebies to attract leads

If you haven’t heard the term “lead magnet” before, it usually refers to a free download or some sort of free incentive that you use to get someone to sign up for your email list. A potential customer is a “lead” and the freebie is the “magnet” that attracts them.

Gone are the days when you could just ask people to sign up to your newsletter for updates … people want more in exchange for their email address! Unlike a social media post which is subject to the whims of the algorithm attached to the network you’re posting on — meaning people may not even get shown your information — an email goes directly to them. It’s right there in their inbox, getting their full attention, not crowded out by other people’s updates and cat videos.

Customer emails are like gold in online currency, so you’ll no doubt be spending a lot of time and attention gathering them.

If you search online for lead magnets you’ll find lists of hundreds of them, but I’ve tried to boil them down here to a select few that are the most powerful.

Keep the rules in mind

With any of these examples you’ll want to keep in mind that there are some rules and guidelines that go along with having an email list. Rules about spam, disclosures of things like affiliate links, having a real street address on your emails and a way to unsubscribe, as well as all the other requirements set forth in the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). This article has links to many more resources worldwide.

The laws are ever-changing, all over the world, but all work in favor of protecting consumers — a good thing for us all. If you use a reputable email provider such as GoDaddy Email Marketing and ConvertKit you will be off to a good start. Just know your rules, then you can dive in and start attracting those leads!

12 lead magnet ideas for eCommerce shops

Ready to make some eCommerce lead magnets? Let’s take a look at our options:

  1. Coupons.

  2. Giveaways.

  3. Free eCourse.

  4. Challenge.

  5. Library.

  6. Swipe file.

  7. Spreadsheet.

  8. Quiz.

  9. Checklist.

  10. Ebook.

  11. Planner.

  12. Report.

Let’s dive in!

1. Coupon/percentage off (membership)

The tried and true “percentage off” lead magnet will snag sign-ups every time!

World Market has a pop-up that appears on the bottom of the home page with three separate money-saving offers. One of these is the World Market Rewards Membership, which comes with 15-percent off your next purchase.

Magnet World Market Rewards
Photo: World Market Rewards Membership

Related: How to use discounts and coupons to increase eCommerce revenue

2. Giveaways

Amazon has set up this special Amazon Giveaway page where customers can enter to win each item individually, or subscribe and get notified of all new giveaway deals.

This is a fantastic way to get someone onto your list who is eager to hear from you.

Related: How to give away free stuff to boost online store sales

Lead Magnet Amazon Giveaway
Photo: Amazon Giveaway

3. Free eCourse

My all-time favorite lead magnet is the free eCourse. This can be hosted on a course platform such as Teachable, Thinkific, or Member Vault. Or it can simply be delivered lesson-by-lesson over email. There are a couple reasons eCourses are so perfect for attracting leads.

  1. A “course” has a higher perceived value than a simple email.
  2. It just makes sense to hand over your email when you’re enrolling in a course. Otherwise, how else can you get the lessons?

It really is an incredibly lucrative way to get sign-ups, as we can see from this article by Nathan Barry, How to Get 1,000 Email Subscribers in 7 Days

I even use this technique on my own blog and it has been by far the best driver of email subscribers that I’ve ever tried.

Lead Magnet Free Course
Photo: Sarah Design Blog

Related: 5 things to ask before teaching online courses

4. Challenge

Challenges are very similar to online courses, but typically have a live or group element to go along with the teaching. They’re on a timeline — usually five days, sometimes up to 30 days or more — and have actionable steps each day.

The idea is that you very clearly come away from the challenge with a particular result.

 

For example, one challenge could be around how to make green smoothies. Then each day is a new recipe and by the end you’re hooked on delicious green smoothies and immediately want to buy a new blender and the cookbook to go with it.

In this example from www.StephanieUchima.com we can see that we will learn how to “detox” our business in five days. So readers who are interested in this can sign up and form a relationship with Stephanie over the course of five days interacting with her. Then it’s much easier for her to sell a program or product to them later.

Lead Magnet Challenge
Photo: www.StephanieUchima.com

5. Library/vault

A library or vault lead magnet is typically a password-protected page on your website where you house a variety of resources. Users can log in and download what they need anytime, as long as they have the current password.

Related: Help clients create a content hub to attract and retain customers

Lead Magnet Vault

6. Swipe file

The swipe file is pretty similar to a library or vault, except you typically get all the content in one download, rather than having it live on a site that you access via password.

All you need to do is gather a file full of resources like images, text, screenshots, website links, etc., and zip them together into a file that your subscriber downloads after signing up to your list.

Related: How your small business can use gated content to drive leads

This example from The Persuasion Revolution promises a year’s worth of fill-in-the-blank headlines. If you’re struggling writing headlines then this is going to look like something you NEED to have right away!

Lead Magnet Swipe Files
Photo: The Persuasion Revolution

7. Spreadsheet

Spreadsheets are great for attracting leads who need help with financials or business planning.

Megan from MeganMinns.com has several amazing spreadsheets built for businesses trying to get a better understanding of their business data. She created this pinnable image in a blog post so she can attract her customers from website visitors or from Pinterest.

Her actual spreadsheet is now a paid product but she has a free video showing how each spreadsheet works so you could learn from her for free and create your own. And she’s establishing trust through the video, so in the end people are far more likely to just buy the spreadsheet — especially now that they know, like and trust her.

Lead Magnet Spreadsheet
Photo: MeganMinns.com

8. Quiz

In our game-ified world, quizzes get a lot of attention! Who doesn’t love taking a quiz?

Not only are quizzes great ways to generate initial leads, but also if they are fun and engaging, then your customers will share them with their friends. Instant virality!

Quizzes are especially useful to beauty and skincare shops where customers can find out what kind of skincare regimen they need or what makeup shades suit them, and then by the end they are primed to buy.

But they’re also relevant to a number of other online businesses. Like we see below with the Four Tendencies Quiz from Gretchen Rubin. This is especially popular in entrepreneurial circles. It has a lot of credibility because it’s a great quiz and so many people have taken it and shared it with others. But even without all that social proof, the way she set up the image with hard copies of her book makes it seem more impressive and trustworthy. People want to take the quiz and they want to share it. A win-win!

Lead Magnet Quiz
Photo: Four Tendencies Quiz

9. Checklist/cheat sheet

Checklists and cheat sheets typically come in the form of printable downloads. Usually only a couple pages long, they’re quick and easy to produce. So if you’re new or short on time, then a checklist or a cheat sheet are great lead magnet options for you.

Checklists are usually, as described, a list that you can check off. You could have a free checklist for what to pack on a camping trip that leads to products to buy. Or in the case of my own blog, I created a checklist showing what steps to take when installing a font on your computer.

Lead Magnet Checklist
Photo: Sarah Design

Cheat sheets can also be checklists, as they are small and might have discrete steps. But they can also be more of a reference document where you provide links to resources or a glossary of terms.

Creative Market has a Photoshop Cheat sheet that has guidance plus a great (pinnable) infographic that you can download and refer to when you’re using Photoshop.

10. Ebook/workbook

If you want to compile an organized book with chapters, or with guidance and fillable pages, then eBooks and workbooks are right for you.

This workbook from Blue Chic, for example, says it will show you how to plan, build, and launch your website in three days. A lofty promise! But then it shows a little sample image of the book pages and you can see that it is nicely designed and has fillable pages. It gives every appearance of a smartly designed plan that you can follow to completion. Very attractive to readers.

Lead Magnet eBook
Photo: Blue Chic

Related: How to write an eBook (and publish it) in a weekend for $0

11. Planner

Planners are pretty hot right now with the advent of the “planner sticker” industry. So there are crowds of consumers ready to snag pretty planning pages. Or you also can cater to people who just need help planning for work or business.

This example from Clementine Creative looks especially inviting because you get 60 printable pages. That looks like a lot of irresistible value right there!

Lead Magnet Planner
Photo: Clementine Creative

12. Report/guide

Reports and guides can be PDFs, documents, or even — as you can see in this example from Lifestyle Builders — a course format.

These are great to attract audiences who want a lot of information.

 

They give the feeling of being packed with data and resources, unlike a simple checklist or printable download. In this signup page for the Creating Your Ideal Lifestyle guide, they’ve used visuals of the course screens to make it obvious that the guide comes in video format. That simple design nuance makes this freebie look even more attractive.

Lead Magnet Guide
Photo: Lifestyle Builders

Get going with lead magnets

There are probably a hundred more freebie ideas out there for you to explore, but I hope you have some inspiration on where to start with your next lead magnets.

Just remember to consider:

  • What your audience needs / would find most attractive.
  • How to display it to show it’s packed full of value (catered to them).
  • And make it easy to sign up and get the promised freebie.

Then you’re off to a great start. Enjoy your new leads!