What Exactly Is a Lead Magnet, Content Upgrade, or Opt-In Freebie?

What Exactly Is a Lead Magnet, Content Upgrade, or Opt-In Freebie? | ProductiveandFree

It’s no secret that growing your business takes time and effort.

Even with a solid business model, unique product, or incredible service package, you’ll still need to constantly get the word out there to keep attracting people and converting them into paying customers or clients.

Fortunately, one of the most impactful activities you can ever do to market your business is to offer a lead magnet.

Definition of a Lead Magnet

But first, what is a lead magnet?

A lead magnet is an incentive offered to people, often website visitors, in exchange for their contact information such as their name and email address.

Its goal is to provide incredible value that will attract a person (hence, the word “magnet”) and convert them from a website visitor into a subscriber or lead.

Even if you’ve never heard of the terms “lead magnet,” “content upgrade,” or “opt-in freebie” before, I’m quite sure you’ve encountered one at some point.

If you have an Netflix account, recall how they offer one month for free to watch all the movies and TV shows you want.

If you’ve ever shopped online, notice the stores that offer a discount and/or free shipping on your next purchase.

If you’ve ever downloaded an app, observe how they entice you with a free trial period to test out their premium features.

+ Related post: 20+ Lead Magnet Ideas and Examples to Grow Your Email List

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Lead Magnet vs. Content Upgrade vs. Opt-In Freebie

Lead magnets, content upgrades, and opt-in freebies are all essentially the same—a valuable incentive offered to people in exchange for their email address.

Lead magnets simply imply that it’s meant to attract leads, and opt-in freebies are called as such because it’s free and a person needs to opt in first to get it.

Content upgrades, on the other hand, refer to an incentive which is directly related to a blog post, podcast episode, video, or other form of content.

The idea is to capture a person already absorbing that piece of content and incentivize him or her with some form of bonus material in exchange for his/her contact information.

For example, if you have a blog post about SEO tips, a content upgrade could be a checklist of all the SEO tips you mentioned. A reader, who is clearly interested in SEO, might then want to download it so that they can make sure they follow all the tips when writing their own blog posts.

What Makes a Great Lead Magnet

A lead magnet can be any form of incentive such as a checklist, challenge, workbook, email course, discount, workshop, access to a resource library, and so on, but a great lead magnet is one that is valuable to both your target audience and to your business (a win-win).

01. Valuable to your target audience

An effective lead magnet is an incentive that’s irresistible to your target audience, being something that can help them solve a problem or reach a goal. And in most cases, it’s even better to provide them with something that they’re already asking for.

But aside from making your lead magnet cater to a specific need or want, you’d also want to make it actionable. You’d want your target audience to achieve a “quick win” to help build trust with you, show them that you have their best interests in mind, and prove to them that you definitely know what you’re talking about.

Remember, no one wants to feel cheated, having signed up for nothing, and so many businesses are already vying for a person’s attention so your lead magnet needs to be extremely helpful, targeted, unique, relevant, and well-designed.

02. Valuable to your business

It’s important to offer a lead magnet that’s also directly related to your business’ paid offer or at least be one of the steps in a sales sequence that ends in your paid offer.

The situation you want to avoid is paying for an expensive email marketing software (on a monthly basis, no less) to accommodate tens of thousands of subscribers who have absolutely no interest in your products or services in the first place. After all, you’re running a business, not a charity or an expensive hobby.

For example, I can guarantee that if you offer free high-quality stock photos, a lot of people will sign up for your email list. But this won’t help you much if your business has nothing to do with photos or imagery, like if you’re a nutritionist or a life coach.

Instead, think of your paid offer as the last step in your ideal customer’s journey and treat your lead magnet as the first. Your goal here is to guide them from being a mere website visitor to a lead, and from a lead to a customer or client.

After getting a taste of what you sell or what it’s like to work with you, the ideal scenario is that they’d be so impressed that they would want more from you—enough that they’re willing to pay for your products or book your services.

Definition of a Landing Page

Given how effective and valuable lead magnets can be, you might want to consider offering it through a landing page to increase its conversion.

A landing page is a stand-alone website page that aims to get a visitor to take a specific action.

Now, since we’re talking about lead magnets, offering it through a landing page helps focus the attention of your visitor and compel him or her to do just one thing: sign up to join your email list.

Landing pages typically have no distracting navigation elements, no mixed messages, and only one clear call-to-action or CTA. And while these pages also tend to have powerful visuals and powerful copy, it’s still a matter of trial and error to create and design landing pages that’ll best work for your business and your audience.

How Offering a Lead Magnet Helps Your Business

So far, we’ve established that lead magnets can help you attract and convert subscribers but here are more specific ways it can benefit your business.

01 - Lead magnets supply your business with a constant stream of leads.

Since you have limited time, energy, and manpower to market your business, you need to be productive and strategic with your marketing efforts.

With the help of an email marketing software (I use and recommend Convertkit), you can automate the process of acquiring leads through your website and sending them the lead magnets they sign up for.

You can also enroll them in an email sequence to stay in touch with them and educate them about your business, products, and services (also known as a sales funnel, sales sequence, or nurture sequence).

Then based on which emails they open, links they click on, and sequences they complete, you can also tag and segment them to provide them with more targeted messages in the future.

If your email marketing process proves to be successful, all you have to do then is simply drive quality traffic to your lead magnet and you can be certain that it’ll convert.

02 - Offering lead magnets is a form of permission marketing.

Permission marketing, as coined by Seth Godin, refers to marketing strategies wherein a lead or prospect gives you the go-ahead to market to them beforehand.

In some ways this is more powerful than advertising (which is a form of interruption marketing) because ads literally interrupt a viewer’s attention and are often unsolicited.

Once a person subscribes to your email list to receive your lead magnet, he or she essentially gives you permission to email them. If they decide they want to learn more from you, then they can continue to receive email updates about your business, blog, products, or services.

03 - Lead magnets provide you with subscriber data.

Lead magnets can help you verify the interests of your target audience and improve your marketing strategies. Here are just some examples:

Based on which lead magnet a subscriber signed up for, you can determine the topics he or she is interested in.

Based on which landing page most subscribers were on when they signed up, you can calculate its conversion rate and identify the factors that made it so appealing to visitors.

Based on your top performing lead magnet, you can gauge what your audience is most interested in and can therefore create or offer products and services that can better serve them.

04 - Lead magnets can help you book more clients and get more customers.

It’s natural for people want to make sure they’re getting their money’s worth whenever they’re thinking of making a purchase. Note that this is especially true for products and services that cost a couple hundred dollars to several thousand dollars.

So when your FREE lead magnet helps a potential customer or client, the greater the likelihood that they would think that you can help them with your PAID offers.

Through your amazing lead magnet, you can show potential clients and customers that you really know what you’re talking about and you’re the best person they can learn from.

On the other hand, if you are NOT able to deliver on a simple promise through your lead magnet, then this discourages the potential client or customer from booking your services or buying your products.

05 - Lead magnets help establish you as an expert.

If a lead magnet is well-made, it can help position you as a leader in your industry.

For example, if you offer a free mini course all about branding your business—what it is, why it’s important, how to get started, and how to create a memorable brand—then everyone who comes across your mini course will see you as a branding expert because of all the comprehensive and engaging content you’ve provided.

Then anytime someone asks about branding (in forums, Facebook groups, memberships, etc.), you’d be top of mind or the go-to resource because of how helpful and generous you’ve been with your lead magnet.


Out of all the marketing strategies you can implement, one of the most impactful things you can ever do is offer a high-quality lead magnet.

It can help you constantly attract visitors, build relationships with them, and ultimately, convert them into paying customers or clients. Consider offering it on a landing page and make sure that its valuable to both your target audience and to your business.