Elle & Company

5 Creative Lead Magnet Ideas to Attract Email Subscribers

Mike WallagherLauren HookerComment

Ask a handful of experts what’s the best thing you can do to market your business, and most will come back with a similar answer: build your email list.

The idea is simple. When people subscribe to your email list, they’re showing interest in your business or product. That gives you a direct means of contact with the people who are most likely to buy from you. You can then utilize this platform to offer deals, market new products, and make more sales.

As marketing guru Neil Patel points out, “Out of all of the channels I tested as a marketer, email continually outperforms most of them.”

Any old email list won’t cut it, though. A “healthy” email list includes users who have a prior relationship with your business, such as people who read your blog or who have purchased from you before. It’s also one that uses opt-in emails rather than a list purchased from a third-party. With the right people on your email list, you’ll spend less money for better results and avoid having your emails sent to the spam folder.

But how do you get the right people to subscribe to your list? Through a lead magnet.

5 Creative Lead Magnet Ideas to Attract Email Subscribers - The Elle & Company Collaborative

What is a Lead Magnet?


A lead magnet is essentially an ethical bribe that gets people to subscribe to your list. You’re saying, “Let’s be friends. If you send me your email, I’ll share this gift with you.”

If the gift is valuable enough to your target audience and they’re dying to get it, you’ll convert more subscribers and make more sales through future communications.

Common examples of lead magnets include short articles in PDF format, worksheets, eBooks, and whitepapers. However, if you’re looking for a more creative approach, consider one of these five lead magnet ideas.


1  |  A Resource List or How To Guide


People gobble up curated content and how-to guides. That’s because they love the convenience of having all the information they need in one place. A resource list will feed this hunger for information while delivering a crazy useful and relevant gift to your audience.

The type of list you curate will depend on your target audience. Examples include:

  • An SEO blog puts together their top 50 favorite SEO tools. 
  • A self-publishing service lists 75 sites to promote your book for free.
  • A web designer recommends their favorite freelance writers, SEO gurus, and marketing professionals.

Ask yourself what your target audience’s ultimate goals are and what resources they’d be looking for to accomplish those goals, and you’ll have a good idea of where to take your opt-in resource list.


2  |  Free Tickets


Not too many people are offering free tickets as a lead magnet, but if they get a chance, they should. As Business Insider reports, 78 percent of Millennials would rather buy an experience than a physical thing. In addition, 72 percent say they’d like to increase their spendings on experiences.

With experience held at such high esteem, wouldn’t you think people would be dying to get these experiences for free? Of course they would!

If your business is local, consider offering free tickets to community events. You can choose to offer the free tickets to every subscriber or to pick a single winner from your subscriber list.

If you’re based online, you can still use free tickets as incentives, such as offering free admission to a webinar if attendees subscribe to your mailing list.


3  |  Exclusive Access to a Members-Only Area


Another great way to gather emails and to continue fostering those connections is through exclusive members-only areas of your site. 

This can include things like forums, job boards, and online courses. 

An alternative is to provide exclusive membership to a private Facebook group or monthly group mentoring sessions.

Whatever route you choose to take will depend on your product and your audience’s needs. Just be aware that something like this will require more upkeep and monitoring than digital products like eBooks. However, by interacting with your subscribers in multiple ways, such as in your email and in forums, you have a better chance of developing stronger relationships that will keep people coming back for more.


4  |  Coupons or Membership to a Loyalty Program


As The New York Times tells us, people love deals so much that they would rather buy something on sale than opt for everyday low prices, even if the amount of money they’re actually paying is the same. To illustrate, J.C. Penney attempted to change their pricing model back in 2012. Instead of running hundreds of sales during the year, they just priced their items at everyday low prices.

Customers weren’t happy about that.

They lost 25 percent in sales that year, which led them back to the old model. The thing is that J.C. Penney purposely raises prices only to cut them down again, and people are perfectly fine with this as long as they appear to be getting a good deal.

It’s because of this psychological phenomenon that offering coupons in exchange for emails is so effective. You can offer a one-off coupon code for joining the list, or you can design a loyalty program available only to your email subscribers. That way, they can continue to grab deals if they stay on your list.


5  |  Free Samples or Branded Merchandise


People love free goodies. Period. Physical goodies are especially fun to receive, so prospects and customers will be eager to sign up for your list. Plus, you’ll end up with their email and their mailing address.

Examples include free t-shirts, water bottles, totes, or other marketing materials. Otherwise, opt for sending free samples of your product. 

New Relic is just one company that mails free t-shirts to its subscribers, and Pillsbury is one that sends out free samples in addition to coupon savings. With the right product that speaks to your target audience, the investment you make in these types of gifts can pay for itself in the sales you earn from your subscribers.


Now that you have a better idea of how to attract subscribers to your email list, you have to develop newsletter content that keeps them sticking around. Check out Elle & Co.’s previous post on 7 Creative Content Ideas For Your Mailing List

What type of lead magnet are you considering using?


About the Author


Mike Wallagher is the author of the website Start Blogging Online which purpose is  to help anybody who wants to learn more about blogs and blogging. Began blogging in 2009 – and since then I’ve managed over 20 blogs, some with well over 500,000 monthly visitors.

Besides blogging, he also provide consulting for small-business and startups who are struggling with their businesses to grow bigger.