How to Create a Killer Lead Magnet: 7 Tips to Grow Your Email List

Email is the most personal way you can connect with your audience and build their trust, and if you’re a small business owner, blogger, or entrepreneur, neglecting to develop an effective email strategy is like leaving money on the table. Don’t know how to grow your email list? Don’t stress. We’re sharing 7 strategies to help you create a killer lead magnet that converts so you can grow your email list (and business!) by turning readers into long-term customers.

Is that a new fall home maintenance chart I see? How about the fancy new tax organizing worksheet that saved you so much time last March … or your new superfood-smoothie opt-in?

You’re on a list now … and looking forward to discovering even more helpful resources for your home or business.

Even when it’s accumulating in the mass majority of inboxes like October leaves in suburban gutters, email is still one of the best marketing investments available. According to Litmus Labs’ 2016 State of Email Report, it brings in an average $38 return on every dollar spent.

As a marketer, a healthy email list chock full of warm, interested leads gives you a direct and affordable line to present and future customers.

So how do you build an effective email list?

First, you must promise something your subscribers value. When others give you their email, they grant permission to begin a new relationship. They actively choose to make you part of their morning coffee and email routines into the indefinite future. They put their trust in you.

Second, you don’t want to build just any list … you need quality names. Most email providers charge higher rates for higher numbers of subscribers. Having a huge list of uninterested, inactive names can raise your costs. It can also raise your unsubscribe rates or allow valuable messages to be labeled SPAM. That can hurt your reputation and make it even harder to reach your biggest fans.

The solution?  You need a highly targeted, customized lead magnet. It must be irresistibly attractive to those who will buy from you in the future – whether that’s one week or 100 weeks away.


This could take the form of a helpful PDF download checklist or cheat sheet, email course, quiz, give-away, strategy session, ebook, organizer, or calendar.

Here Are 7 Tips to Help You Design a Killer Lead Magnet that Converts

1. Be Consistent

Use fonts, colors, branding, a message, and a voice consistent with your website and ads. You’ll create a stronger brand identity and presence while building trust.

2. Know Your Best Prospect

Study the readers you want to have. What language do they use? How about their culture – what music do they listen to and which movies do they watch? What is their median income level? And did they receive MBAs – or learn fast from the School of Hard Knocks?

Mirror their preferences to increase the likelihood of creating a warm connection they’ll welcome.

3. Be Helpful

Give your subscribers something they can use right away. For example:

  • Parents – 10 Alternatives to Time Out
  • Food – Best New Wine and Chocolate Pairings for Your Next Party
  • Home Business – The Official End of the Year Financial Records List – What to Keep and What to Toss!
  • Beauty – 5 Ways to Make Your Manicure Look Brand New ALL Week
  • Marketers/Bloggers – 10 Free Graphic Design Tools You Can Use Today
  • Real Estate – Home Staging Checklist
  • Fashion – The French Fashionista’s Capsule Wardrobe Checklist
  • Health – The New Paleo Shopping List
  • Household – Emergency 30 Minute Crisis-Cleaning for Company
  • Auto Dealers/Garages – Seasonal Auto Maintenance Checklists
  • Professional Organizers – File Organizing Systems and Checklists
  • Copywriters – Headline Cheats for High Conversion Sales Copy
  • Wine – Best Holiday Gifts for Wine Lovers
  • Coffee – Comprehensive Brewing Guide for the Perfect Cup Every Time

4. Make It Gorgeous!

A good graphic designer can make even the most humble checklist into a work of art. Invest here with useful content, and your download will be valued, saved, and shared.

Or if you have a flair for design, but don’t have the budget or time for photoshop or a professional, check out these resources:

Graphic Design

Canva’s free user-friendly platform offers free graphics and customizable, pre-designed formats. They also have tutorials for everything from creating your own brand kit to selecting headline fonts. Premium designs and photos are priced at only $1 each. Take a look at the templates in the 8.5 X 11 format.

PicMonkey is another fantastic place for design – especially when you want a transparent background.

Look up clip art on Etsy and prepare to be amazed. There are some lovely choices here and a wide range of styles. You can even buy eye-watering floral graphics with extended commercial licenses for less than $10 USD per set.

Gimp is fully-functional, free, open-source software, but you might have to be more of a tech geek to enjoy it (this is for you if you’re running a Linux distro – and yes, I come from a math/engineering family).


Fontsquirrel features a huge selection of gorgeous FREE fonts for logos, design, and everything else.

Google Fonts has even more free fonts to choose from


Color Hunter will extract the perfect colors from pictures you upload. It’s totally amazing and slightly addictive.

Go to Design Seeds for done-for-you nature-inspired color palettes.

Pinterest is a fantastic and often overlooked place for color inspiration. Try searching for “color inspiration fall” for example, and check out the results!

Adobe Color CC is a Color wheel that helps you choose groups of colors according to rules: Analogous, Monochromatic, Triad, Complementary, Compound, Shades, and Custom.

It also assembles custom color palettes for you from photos and allows you to choose variations: Colorful, Bright, Muted, Deep, Dark, and Custom.

In addition, you can explore Adobe’s mega collection of pre-made color themes, create your own, and save your favorites.


Pixabay is a top fave for freebies, but it may be too popular. If you pay attention, you’ll start to see the same pics everywhere.

For a better chance of being original, go to Shutterstock or Dollar Photo Club and buy images for $1 – 10 per photo.

Want to search your images by color? Use Shutterstock Spectrum.

Remember: the quality of your lead magnet’s appearance will be associated with the quality of all your products and services. Don’t make a fantastically helpful product that ultimately works against you because of amateur formatting and design. It’s often less expensive in the long run to shell out the dough for trained professionals.

5. Remember to Include Your Contact Information

This may seem obvious, but I’m going to say it anyway … kind of like when your mom says “Remember to brush your teeth” or “Don’t carry giant wads of cash in public view” or “Don’t walk down dark alleys alone at night” or “Don’t forget to bring an umbrella” (when it’s already raining).

(OK – maybe not YOUR mom, but you get the idea. Or maybe you’re a mom like me and do it all the time.)

Be sure to include links to your business and products on every page.  Put them in the footer, integrate in the text, and end with a clear Call To Action. But please do it in a way that doesn’t get spammy. And remember to iron that shirt before you go out.

6. Don’t Fill Your Lead Magnet with Common Information or Ads

Another obvious one – so why do people still do this?! Avoid doing anything that would lead the kind readers to see your lead magnet primarily as an advertisement for your business. You will almost guarantee unsubscribers.

I signed up for one of these last month. Almost the entire “resource list” I was promised consisted of links to buddies for hire and affiliate offers. The rest included only a few extremely well-known resources.  I was disappointed.

Why not put the old in with the new – so newbies get the basics and veterans score a few astoundingly good new links? Even better, make sure you know which you are writing to.

7. Create Good Fun!

Design a quiz that tells your readers what kinds of freelancers/lovers/friends/fashionistas they are! People want to read about themselves!

Offer a valuable prize in a contest (and offer an extra unannounced surprise as consolation to delight those who don’t win the jackpot!). People love to win!

And they’ll have to give you their deets to get the big results!

While there are several free survey and quiz generators available, I don’t recommend them. The extra effort you’d have to sweat out to make them at all functional just isn’t worth it.

Interact is one of the more affordable platforms allowing both large companies and growing entrepreneurs to easily create all kinds of personality quizzes, assessments, and giveaways.

It has numerous ready-made integrations to do all the lead collection for you. Set up automatic segmentation based on quiz results so you can fine-tune follow-up/upsell sequences for stronger conversion.

Use the premade templates to create your own fool-proof, professionally formatted quiz in minutes – or exert full control and start from scratch.

In conclusion, give people what they want and need. Help them out, leave them hungry for more, and you’ll be able to create a community of loyal customers that will keep returning to you again and again.

This post contains affiliate links.

If you found these tips to create a killer lead magnet – and the tips to grow your email list – helpful, please share them on Pinterest!

Email is the most personal way you can connect with your audience and build their trust, and if you’re a small business owner, blogger, or entrepreneur, neglecting to develop an effective email strategy is like leaving money on the table. Don’t know how to grow your email list? Don’t stress. We’re sharing 7 strategies to help you create a killer lead magnet that converts so you can grow your email list (and business!) by turning readers into long-term customers.

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