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Create your first lead magnet in 90 minutes or less (+5 ideas)

Want to grow your email list, but short on time? Learn how to create a lead magnet in 90 minutes or less.

September 18, 2020 by Rachel Burns

You want to build your email list fast, and lead magnets are a great way to do that.

The thing about lead magnets, though, is that before they can bring in more subscribers, you have to create them.

And, like most entrepreneurs, you already don't have enough hours in the day to get everything done. It might feel like you don't have time to create a valuable, high-converting lead magnet.

But you do. You can whip up a lead magnet in less time than it takes to watch a full-length movie. (Especially if that movie is a Lord of the Rings director's cut.)

In this post, we'll cover what makes a lead magnet effective -- plus five lead magnet examples that you can create in 90 minutes or less.

What makes a good lead magnet?

A lead magnet is a resource -- usually in the form of a free digital download -- that users receive in exchange for their contact information.

Once a new lead opts in, they enter your sales funnel, and you start to build a relationship with them. Then, down the line, you can convert them into a customer.

Lead magnets are a great way to build your email list, but you need to offer lead magnets that your audience believes are worth handing over their email address for.

People want actionable, informative content -- like whitepapers and ebooks -- in exchange for their contact information.

And when you offer potential customers that content, their email signups are worth their weight in gold. Literally. Email marketing has an ROI of $42 for every $1 spent

So, how do you know what a perfect lead magnet for your audience looks like? 

The best lead magnets do three things:

  1. Address your target audience's specific pain points
  2. Prove your credibility as an expert in your niche
  3. Make people want to learn more about you and your business

To learn more about your target audience's pain points, do some customer research. Make your lead magnet content as targeted as possible; 71.7% of users who cited content as irrelevant found it too general.

Take Signature Edits, for example. Signature Edits sells presets, templates, and online courses for photographers. 

Different photographers struggle with different pain points, so Ryan offers two types of lead magnets: a free guide to candid posing and a free sample pack of photo editing presets

With two audience-specific lead magnets on offer, Ryan is twice as likely to bring in photographers who can benefit from his products -- and more likely to turn email subscribers into customers. 

(For a more in-depth look at how lead magnets work, check out this article.)

Now, it's time to see everything you just learned about what makes a great lead magnet in action. Keep reading for five types of lead magnets you can create ASAP.

5 high-value lead magnet ideas you can create in 90 minutes or less

Lead magnet idea #1: Turn a blog post into a downloadable ebook

Ebooks make great lead magnets, but they can take a long time to create from scratch.

Rather than starting from square one, you can save time by repurposing your blog content into a digital download like an ebook. (And, as an added bonus, you don’t have to worry about overcoming writer’s block.)

Guides and ebooks are some of the top-performing content formats for bloggers

Your existing long-form blog posts are great candidates for ebook-style PDFs. You can also take a series of related blog posts and combine them into a single PDF version. 

To format your ebook, you can use free online tools like Reedsy or Pages

Keep your ebook relatively short and easy to skim. Academic research by usability expert Jakob Nielsen shows that 79% of people scan online content rather than reading it word-by-word.

That study may be over 20 years old, but its results hold up. More recent research shows that, "We don’t read the same way online as we do on paper. Online readers tend to browse, scan, and skim for big ideas and headlines."

To make your ebook even easier to skim, add some visuals to break up the text. People grasp concepts with text and illustrations 3x better than content without visuals.

You can make quick and easy graphics on Canva or Venngage, or find free stock images on Unsplash or Burst

Or make it even easier on yourself and use our Digital Download Generator. We built it for folks who need a high-quality digital download fast . . . say, for example, to use as a lead magnet.

Just answer a few questions about your download, and we’ll create a ready-to-go PDF.

(If you need a place to host your digital downloads and lead magnets  -- whether they're for sale or free -- take a look at Podia. Try it out for free with a 14-day trial.)

(Not-so-)coincidentally, you can also make this next type of lead magnet with our Digital Download Generator: A checklist.

Lead magnet idea #2: Create a checklist based on your own processes

Getting started is the hardest part of any new project.

Many people -- your target audience included -- aren't sure where to start with a new endeavor. 

Help them out by offering a downloadable checklist. You've been in their shoes, and you have the experience and knowledge to share. 

Checklists make great lead magnets because they showcase your expertise and can be super quick to make.

When you base your checklist on your own processes, you offer people an inside look at your creative process and experience. This gives your lead magnet even more credibility and value -- and makes it well worth opting in for. 

Blogging experts Wake up and Blog offer not one, not two, but three free blogging checklists as lead magnets via opt-in popup.

Offering three checklists ramps up the lead magnet's perceived value, making people more likely to share their email address in exchange for the download. And the checklists really are valuable for Wake up and Blog's target audience.

Wake up and Blog's step-by-step, printable checklists take the guesswork out of blog publishing. Their audience -- aspiring bloggers -- can use these checklists as cheat sheets.

To create a downloadable checklist, you have a few options:

  • Start with one of Canva's many checklist templates to make a beautiful checklist, then download it as a PDF
  • Convert a Word or Google doc into a PDF version
  • Use our Digital Download Generator, which creates a PDF for you

Whichever method you choose, don't forget to include visuals in your checklist. Graphics and colors can increase brand awareness and retention.

Your checklist visuals can be as simple as using your brand colors and adding your logo. Just make sure that your checklist looks and feels like your brand, so that when your leads download, use, and love it, they know where to come back for more.

Checklists aren't the only type of list that make for a quick, easy, and effective lead magnet. Which brings us to our next section . . .

Lead magnet idea #3: Whip up a list of your favorite things

Cue Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music.

What are a few of your favorite things?

Turn a list of your favorite books, tools, or podcasts into a downloadable freebie. Like a checklist, these lists give your audience an inside look into your processes and inspiration. 

And your recommendations hold weight: 91% of B2B buying decisions are influenced by word of mouth.

Becky Mollenkamp shares her favorite tools for business owners in the "resources" section of her site.

Becky explains: "I recommend these tools for business owners. They are the only things I use to run my business, and I think each is worth its weight in gold in the productivity gains it affords me."

By sharing her tools, Becky gives her audience a glimpse behind the curtain at how she runs her business.

She's not sharing these tools as an advertiser; she's sharing them as someone with first-hand experience at how well they worked for her.

When you create your own list, only promote things that you actually use -- otherwise, you'll come across as inauthentic and lose the opportunity to build trust with your audience. Make sure to note any affiliate links or sponsored recommendations as well. 

Done right, sponsored product recommendations can work: 37% of consumers say that if influencer content was authentic and high-quality, it negated the fact that it was sponsored. 

If you're short on time, lists are a top-notch lead magnet. You already know your go-to software or favorite business books. You just have to type it out and make it pretty.

Once you have your list jotted down, create a PDF version of your list through a tool like Canva

And just like your ebook and checklist lead magnets, don't forget to brand your list with your brand colors and logo. Research suggests that the use of color in branding is more important in brand recognition than even your business's name.

Plus, consistent visual branding can increase revenue by up to 23%

On the topic of making things visual, let's move on to our next lead magnet idea --  infographics. 

Lead magnet idea #4: Make a helpful infographic

"I thought these were supposed to be fast lead magnets," I hear you say. "I don't have time to learn graphic design."

Here's a secret: You don't have to be a graphic designer to create beautiful infographics. Tools like Canva and Venngage make it easy to whip up a quick, high-quality infographic -- no graphic design skills necessary.

Both tools have tons of templates available for every type of data visualization. 

Infographics are a great way to repurpose existing content. If you have a stat-heavy blog post or ebook, turn it into an infographic and offer it as a download in exchange for email opt-ins. 

This Venngage infographic about infographics (so meta) shares some helpful tips for repurposing existing content into an infographic:

  1. Determine your content's key takeaways
  2. Organize with sections and headers
  3. Keep your text brief and to the point
  4. Include notes for the designers (unless you're DIYing it, which you can still do quickly and easily)

To promote your infographic, show a cropped preview on social media and your landing page to entice people to join your email list for the full thing.

How do we know that infographics work?

Infographics are liked and shared on social media three times more than any other type of content. They're also almost 30x more likely to be read than an article.

Take entrepreneurship and leadership experts EOS, for example. EOS uses their "How to Be a Great Boss" infographic as a lead magnet:

The opt-in form collects relevant information about their leads beyond just an email address. 

Because they know that their target audience will find this infographic valuable -- after all, what leadership-minded person doesn't want to know whether or not they're a good boss? -- they can ask for a little bit of extra info in exchange for the download.

That extra info helps them learn more about their audience, so they can build better relationships and turn those leads into customers.  

Last but not least, let's move on to our final type of (speedy) lead magnet.

Lead magnet idea #5: Share one of your most useful templates

Just like your checklist and list of favorite things, sharing one of your own templates is a win-win.

You already have templates that work for you. Offering them to your audience is easy and helps solve their pain points.

Template ideas can include:

  • Email templates
  • Design templates for Canva, Venngage, or Photoshop
  • Slide deck templates
  • Spreadsheet templates (budgeting spreadsheets, content calendars, etc.)

Entrepreneur and marketing guru Vanessa Ryan offers free Canva templates as a lead magnet:

On the landing page, she explains, "These Canva templates will make designing your next opt in, content upgrade or worksheet in Canva so crazy easy."

That's the beauty of templates for lead generation -- they save time for you (easy to make) and your leads.

It’s a universal benefit of templates. Creating a slide deck, for instance, takes over eight hours for almost half of the people who make their own.

24Slides sells custom presentations and slide decks. Their customers’ biggest pain point is spending hours trying to create the perfect deck. 

On LinkedIn, 24Slides offered a lead magnet that addressed that pain point: A 20-slide long free template for corporate presentations. Users just had to share the article, leave a comment, and give 24Slides their name and email.

The results? 80,000 new email subscribers who all already showed an interest in the types of profitable digital products 24Slides sells.

If you have a whole bunch of templates and tools to share, consider bundling them into a resource library. 

Author and certified coach Sally Ann Miller offers a free Author Resource Library:

The bundle includes "tools, training, templates, and strategies that have been tested and proven to work". 

Sally is an expert in her niche, and she's offering her audience the opportunity to learn from her experience for free. All they need to do is sign up. Once they do, Sally can build relationships with the leads, eventually converting them to customers who buy her books.

When you hook your leads with free, valuable content, they'll be more likely to buy your product down the line. Just make sure you follow up and nurture those leads along the way.

Overall, the best lead magnets are the ones that offer your audience value that only you can provide -- not the ones that take the most time to create.

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How to create 5 quick lead magnets that your target audience will love

A great lead magnet doesn't have to be built from scratch.

If you're short on time -- and most of us are -- quick lead magnet ideas help you grow your email list without dedicating a full day to your digital download.

To recap, here are five fast lead magnet options you can create in 90 minutes or less:

  • Turn a blog post into a downloadable PDF ebook. Repurposing your blog content saves you time and helps you avoid the dreaded writer's block.
  • Help your audience get started on a new project with a checklist based on your own processes. A step-by-step guide makes any endeavor more approachable.
  • Write up a list of your favorite tools, blogs, books, podcasts . . . anything you've found valuable as a creator. Give your audience an inside look at your inspiration and toolkit.
  • Take data from a blog post or ebook and turn it into a helpful infographic. Tools like Venngage and Canva offer templates for every type of infographic, no graphic design skills necessary.
  • Share a template that you already use as part of your work. It'll save you and your leads time.

‍With these lead magnet ideas in hand, you're ready to create some terrific lead magnets that bring in qualified leads who are excited about your content. 

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