If you’ve been doing lead generation long enough, you know that one the best ways of getting contact information from your audience is to offer them something in exchange.
That something is often called a lead magnet, content upgrade, freebie, or an opt-in incentive. Some marketers simply call it content.
They come in all shapes and forms. But are they equally effective for lead generation? It’s a question we’ve kept asking ourselves, but couldn’t find any data that’d help give us answers.
That’s why we’ve decided to conduct a study that’d help us understand what types of lead magnets work best.
Below you’ll find our analysis of the results along with one additional section devoted to another important question – how do you align your lead magnet with your target audiences’ needs?
There, we’ve gathered advice from 14 inspiring marketers who’ve cut their teeth generating leads through the use of lead magnets.
We’d like to thank everyone who participated in this study and invite you all to get familiar with our findings.
Table Of Contents
- About the 2020 Best Lead Magnets Study
- Key findings
- What type of lead magnets has the highest conversion rates
- Does the length of the lead magnet matter?
- Do businesses of different sizes choose different lead magnets?
- Does the choice of lead magnets vary if you’re targeting a specific audience (B2B, B2C, or both)?
- What lead magnets work best in Internet Marketing
- What lead magnets work best in Ecommerce
- What lead magnets work best in Arts & Entertainment
- What lead magnets work best in Health & Beauty
- What lead magnets work best in Financial Services
- What lead magnets work best in other industries
- Methodology and Data
- How to align your lead magnet with your target audience’s needs
- What lead magnets will you use in your next lead generation campaign?
Did you know? We’ve recently developed a solution called the Lead Magnet Funnel that can help you host, promote, and generate more leads with your lead magnets.
About the 2020 Best Lead Magnets Study
The below analysis is based on the answers of 790 marketers who we’ve surveyed over the course of March and May 2020.
60% of the study participants were solopreneurs and 17.6% worked for companies with between two and nine employees.
44.1% targeted both B2B and B2C audiences, and 26.6% focused solely on B2B. B2C was the key audience for 18.1% of the respondents.
The most represented industries among our participants were Internet Marketing (22.6%), Ecommerce (10.3%), and Arts and Entertainment (7.8%).
47% of of marketers who participated in our study said that video and text-based lead magnets performed best as their opt-in incentives.
Within these two types, it’s the short-form content that works best. Only 27% of the respondents said they saw higher conversion rates with long-form videos. 41.4% said the same about long-form written content.
Video content is the preferred lead magnet type among solopreneurs, who account for 60% of our study participants. Companies with 10-49 employees, who make up 8.2% of our respondents, saw the same results.
For all the other groups, businesses with 2-9 (17.6%), 50-249 (6.7%), and 250+ employees (7.5%), text-based lead magnets had the highest conversion rates.
In Internet Marketing, the most represented industry within our audience, written and video lead magnets saw very similar results. 27.5% of marketers within this vertical saw best results with written lead magnets, and 26.2% saw higher conversion rates with video incentives.
What type of lead magnets has the highest conversion rates
We began our study with a single-answer question about our respondents’ experience with different types of lead magnets.
Specifically, we wanted to know what types of lead magnets they were using had the highest conversion rates.
As it turns out, there were two most popular formats, picked by 47% of the respondents – Video (24.2%) and Written (22.8%).
The next three types were: Visual (11.8%), Tool or Access to something (11.8%), and Monetary value (10.5%). The three least popular types were Interactive (7.9%), Audio (6.1%), and Other (5.2%).
These results are in line with what we’ve been seeing in our own lead generation campaigns. Webinars and guides, two types of lead magnets we’ve had most success with, both fit into the categories that almost half of the respondents voted for.
Does the length of the lead magnet matter?
Next, we wanted to find out whether marketers tended to see better results with short-form or long-form content when it came to generating leads.
Keep in mind, we only used this distinction for video and written lead magnets, where we thought it made most sense.
When it comes to video content, the majority of respondents – 73% – said they saw the highest conversion rates with short-form content, like video clips, quick tutorials, or video samples.
Only 27% said they saw better results with long-form video content, like webinars, recordings, or online conferences.
We saw similar results for text-based lead magnets, although the difference wasn’t as significant.
58.6% of marketers said their short-form written content – like newsletters, checklists, or ebook samples – had the highest conversion rates.
Long-form written content, for example guides or reports, generated the best results for 41.4% of respondents who picked this type of lead magnets.
This time, we were a bit surprised. Most of the content upgrades we notice tend to be complete guides, reports, whitepapers, webinars, online events – things we’d categorize as long-form.
At the same time, there are two aspects of long-form content that may be working against it – you need more resources to develop it and more time to consume it. And most marketers we know are often short on both.
We’ll dig into this a bit more in a moment, but here’s what we think would be worth testing in the future:
- Is it better to create one long-form lead magnet and then spend time promoting it across all our marketing channels?
- Or perhaps it’s better to create several short-form lead magnets that’d be easier to tie into the different topics we cover on our blog and in our campaigns?
Here’s the full breakdown of both long-form and short-form content marketers found most success with. Please note that these were multiple-choice questions, so the respondents could select more than one answer.
Do businesses of different sizes choose different lead magnets?
Encouraged by the results we saw in the previous section, we wanted to find out whether businesses with more employees chose different types of incentives for their lead generation campaigns.
The hypothesis here is that bigger companies tend to have more resources, which lets them build lead magnets that smaller organizations can’t.
Here’s what we found.
Let’s start with solopreneurs and use them as them as reference throughout this analysis. They account for 60% of our survey respondents, which means their choices have the potential to affect what we see in this study.
This seems to be partly the case, since the number one lead magnet type they picked is video content – selected by 28.4% of solopreneurs who answered this question.
Video lead magnets ranked first only for one other group – businesses with 10 to 49 employees. For larger organizations, businesses with 50-249 and 250+ employees, it only ranked fourth.
Written lead magnets took second place – picked by 20.7% of solopreneurs as their highest-converting type of incentive. This type ranked first for all the other groups – businesses with 2-9, 50-249, and 250+ employees – except for the one we already mentioned (10 to 49 employees).
Interestingly, across all groups there seems to be a rather strong favoring toward one lead magnet type or the other – the difference between positions one and two are between 7.3 to 13.3 percentage points.
The only group where the differences are less pronounced are businesses with 250+ employees. The difference between the first and third best-performing lead magnet type is only 4 percentage points.
Also, their second best-performing lead magnet type is neither video nor text, but monetary incentives (e.g., deals, discount codes, free shipping). And it’s the same with another category – companies with 50-249 employees.
Here are the charts divided by business size.
For small and medium companies with limited resources, this is good news. It appears that you don’t need to offer monetary incentives – that affect your profit margin – to be able to generate leads effectively.
Solopreneurs seem to favor video and written lead magnets. Both are incentive types that don’t require a lot of resources to develop. Often, you can even create them by yourself. They’re also not connected to your profit margin and they don’t need scale to generate revenue.
Larger organizations, with 50+ employees, seem to favor written and monetary value incentives. Also, for both of these groups, the preferred written lead magnet type is the long-form one.
One reason for this may be that they’re taking advantage of their size. They prefer to use lead magnets that aren’t as easy to replicate by smaller companies who don’t have the necessary scale or resources.
Another reason for this could be the perception of quality different lead magnet types have and the approval process that’s often longer in bigger companies. Getting the necessary buy-in on a short video clip might be more difficult in an organization that usually deals with bigger clients and has multiple stakeholders to account for.
Finally, larger organizations often prefer to deal with fewer but more-qualified leads. So the opt-in incentives they create might be designed to attract only the kind of leads that can be quickly passed on to their sales team.
Does the choice of lead magnets vary if you’re targeting a specific audience (B2B, B2C, or both)?
Another thing we were curious about was whether marketers targeting different audiences favored other type of opt-in incentives.
We hypothesized here that, perhaps, marketers targeting B2C customers would see the most success with specific types of incentives, like monetary ones.
44.1% of our respondents stated that they targeted both B2B and B2C audiences. 26.6% selected B2B as their primary audience, and 18.1% said the same about B2C.
Interestingly, there’s no significant difference between these groups, at least in terms of the top two types of lead magnets.
All of the groups stated that video or written types of incentives had the highest conversion rates. However, those who targeted solely B2C didn’t see “tool or access to” as effective lead magnets.
No matter if you’re targeting B2B, B2C, or both – you still can find value in the tried-and-tested types of lead magnets.
Naturally, the best approach with any lead generation campaigns is to use data as your starting point and test what will resonate with your audience best.
Now let’s briefly go through the industry breakdown and see what types of lead magnets work best in each of them.
Please bear in mind that some of the below industries were only represented by a handful of our respondents. That said, the below data should serve as inspiration or a starting point for your own analysis and research.
What lead magnets work best in Internet Marketing
Internet Marketing was the most represented industry within our study. A total of 149 marketers identified themselves with this vertical, which stands for 22.6% of the total 658 respondents who picked one of the options we offered.
75.7% of them identified themselves as solopreneurs, and almost half (48.3%) said that they were targeting both B2B and B2C.
As we can see from the above charts they are very similar to what we saw in our overall results.
Solopreneurs see the highest conversion rates from written and video lead magnet types. They also prefer to produce short-form incentives, like checklists or video clips.
What lead magnets work best in Ecommerce
Ecommerce was the second most represented industry in our study. 68 marketers have identified their business as ecommerce, which accounts for 10.3% of the whole group.
Among the ecommerce respondents, 61.8% were solopreneurs and 22.1% worked for smaller organizations that have 2 to 9 employees. 41.3% stated that they targeted both the B2B and B2C audiences, 28.6% were purely B2B, and 17.5% solely catered to B2C.
Similar to our overall results, the lead magnet types these respondents selected as the highest-converting ones were video (33.8%), written (17.6%), and tool or access to (13.2%).
Interestingly, the difference between the top two positions was quite large (16.2 percentage points), but this may be related to the fact that our sample was rather small.
What lead magnets work best in Arts & Entertainment
50 of our study participants represented the Arts and Entertainment vertical.
Similar to other industries, the top lead magnet type was video. The second and third place were slightly different to what we’ve seen before. These were taken by Interactive and Tool or access to types of incentive.
This is interesting to see, as these offers are often more difficult to create, but they also tend to be much more engaging. And that’s what brands in Arts & Entertainment tend to focus on.
37.5% of them catered to both B2B and B2C audiences. 29.2% targeted only B2B and 14.6% only targeted B2C.
The vast majority saw the best results with short-form lead magnets both for video and written content.
What lead magnets work best in Health & Beauty
Health & Beauty was represented by 44 respondents. 35% of them catered to both B2B and B2C, 25% only to B2B, and 20% to B2C.
The distribution among most-preferred lead magnet types was slightly different from what we’ve seen so far. The difference between position #1, written lead magnets, and #2, video, is 18.2 percentage points, showing a strong preference toward written content.
While we had a chance to analyze only a small sample, it’d be useful to expand this study further and focus more on individual industries to see whether the trends we’re seeing here would still be accurate.
What lead magnets work best in Financial Services
Among the 39 respondents who worked in Financial Services, the top two lead magnet types were video (20.5%) and visual (20.5%).
Interestingly, written lead magnets were only selected by 12.8%, showing a different preference from all the verticals we analyzed.
What lead magnets work best in other industries
And here are the charts for all the other industries we’ve identified. Because we didn’t manage to collect a large-enough sample for each of these segments, we decided to only share the charts without additional commentary.
Schools and Education
Marketing agencies and Advertising
SaaS, Software, and Web App
Technology and High Tech
Restaurants and Food
Sports and Fitness
Methodology and Data
We conducted the study between March and May 2020.
We collected the answers through an online survey that we distributed across different marketing channels, including email, social media, and partnerships.
The majority of the answers came from users who visited the GetResponse Resources and Blog, where we also included the invitation to participate in the study.
To ensure that everyone had the same understanding of the lead magnet types, we added the following examples to our survey:
|Written||guides, whitepapers, reports, newsletters, ebook samples, etc.|
|Written long-form||guides, whitepapers, reports, email courses, spreadsheets, curated or personalized reports|
|Written short-form||newsletters, checklists, copy examples, smaller files, ebook samples|
|Video||webinars, recordings, video clips, quick tutorials, demos, on-demand demos|
|Video long-form||webinars, recordings, online conferences, long tutorials, demos, on-demand demos|
|Video short-form||video clips, quick tutorials, quick walkthroughs, video samples|
|Audio||podcasts, recordings, audio clips, audio samples|
|Visual||infographics, calendars, planners, cheat sheets, printables, templates|
|Interactive||quiz, self-assessment, 1:1 meeting, calculator|
|Monetary value||deals, coupons, discounts, free shipping, product samples|
|Tool or Access to sth.||software, web app, offline tool, group membership|
How to align your lead magnet with your target audience’s needs
We’ve already mentioned that this data should serve as a starting point for your own research, so you can choose the best lead magnet for your audience.
Having said this, we wanted to give you some extra help with choosing the best types of opt-in incentives. So we decided to reach out to some of the top marketers who work with lead magnets on a daily basis.
Here are some of their tips that you can apply in your business today.
Pay attention to what your audience “says” and what they mean by it
The easiest way is to align your lead magnet with the search intent behind the keyword set your content is targeting. What would a reader find useful based on the problem they’re trying to solve? If you can match a problem with an effective downloadable solution, then you can set up your reader and yourself for success.Ben Sailer, Inbound Marketing Director, CoSchedule
First, find out what your audience really wants. Do they really want “Sixteen Facebook marketing secrets” or “the best digital marketing books to read for [your industry]”? Probably not unless they have tons of spare time. Do they want “8 Templates for Promotional Marketing Emails You Can Copy + Paste and Use Today” — More likely they do. Ask your target audience what they want.Darren Foong, Marketing, Candybar
I recommend creating in-depth personas featuring a content mapping analysis to show specific interests of your audience based on their Google search behaviour (using Ads Keyword Planner) and profiling of leads captured against your target audience.Dave Chaffey, Author: Digital Marketing Excellence, co-founder: Smart Insights
The answer is simply talking to your best customers. For our new product, Respona, people kept asking us what outreach strategies worked best for Visme, and whether we had documented the strategies we used to grow the company to over 4M users predominantly via organic search. So we did just that! Created an ebook called “Marketing Strategies We Used to Bootstrap Visme to 4 Million Users.” What were the results you ask? 10k downloads and over a thousand sign-ups to Respona within 60 days of launching the ebook, along with a ton of emails complimenting the material.Farzad Rashidi, Director of Marketing, Visme
I have found that one of the best ways to align a lead magnet with what my audience wants is to first write down all the phrases my audience uses to talk about their fears, hopes and dreams. And then look at the document with all these phrases and notice patterns. The fears, hopes and dreams that come up regularly are the ones a good lead magnet should focus on. As an added bonus, having a document with the phrases your audience uses makes writing optin copy a lot easier.Benjamin Houy, Founder, Grow With Less
Whenever one of our posts ranks in the top 3 of Google for one of our target keywords, we know we have produced the right content that is serving the user’s needs. Since what we have produced is already serving our user’s needs well, we convert the same content into a checklist because that is very much aligned to what the readers are reading now.Shaurya Jain, Founder, Attentionalways
It is easy (conceptually) but hard (to execute). Be an artisan rather than an assembly line worker! I got the best results by tailoring the message – both form and content – & timing not only delivery time, but also contact frequency. And by all means use 80/20! Basic probabilistic models or rule-of-thumb-inspired decisions will take you very far. The difficulty is finding the time to this consistently.Angel Lorente Paramo, Former Global Head of Ecommerce Marketing @ Qatar Airways
Focus on what will help your audience advance
First, you need to answer a question – what is the main goal of your audience? What do they want to achieve? Start with interviewing your support team. Ask them what people are looking for in your product or service. This answer will help you choose the best lead magnet for them. For example, if they’re looking for advice on how to write an email, give them downloadable templates.Rafal Kloc, Product Marketing Manager, HelpDesk
The key to 20%+ traffic <> email conversion rates on blog posts is using lead magnets that have UTILITY (i.e. something someone can download and use in their day-to-day)Chris Von Wilpert, Founder, ContentMavericks
Keep it simple. Identify a segment of your audience, and help them solve one, specific problem they’re facing. Make it actionable — preferably with at least one thing they can do immediately that can provide a big win.Jonas Sickler, SEO Manager, Terakeet
A great way to align your lead generation efforts with your target audience is by creating assessments that add value for your audience.Iris De Geest, Content Marketer, SurveyAnyplace
An example: Imagine you run an IT consultancy business. You want to collect qualified data about your audience and generate high-qualified leads.
Solution: You can design a short maturity assessment where your website visitors can check their level of maturity in IT expertise. At the end of the assessment, you ask for an email address you can send the results to.
This way, you’ve received the contact details of someone who’s genuinely interested in knowing their maturity level, and you’ve given them value in return by providing professional tips and recommendations (showing your expertise).
When it comes to lead magnets, marketers tend to forget that there’s a difference between a magnet that you consider valuable and one that your specific target market considers valuable. They are not the same thing. The question is, how can you design a lead magnet that genuinely appeals to your target users based on their needs?Vincent Bucciachio, Founder, SociallyInfused
Here’s my approach to making lead magnets that really work — i.e., they resonate with your audience by supplying what they need:
– Divide your content into categories based on the sales funnel stages that your target users pass through on your site. Typically, users have different motivations and needs at each of these stages. For instance, those at the interest stage will find value in thorough how-to articles that expand their knowledge and interest. Similarly, those at the decision stage will benefit from content that details exactly how your agency works with clients.
– Once you have classifications for your content, you can start brainstorming lead magnet ideas that will perfectly satisfy your users’ needs at each stage. To illustrate what I’m talking about, let’s imagine that you have a page that shares how you’ve grown a client’s organic traffic by 10x. One of the best lead magnets at that point is a webinar invitation for the user. At the webinar, you’ll share more details about how you help make a client’s web traffic grow, and you provide an opportunity for the targeted user to buy your services.
While there are tons of tips on how to create an engaging and valuable lead magnet, I want to focus on a strategy that involves developing a free tool. Long story short, after much trial and error, we’ve found that this form of lead magnet brings us the best leads because they are genuinely interested in consuming our content and becoming our loyal audience.Artem Minaev, Web Hosting Expert, FirstSiteGuide
The biggest advantage of this lead magnet strategy is that it helps you generate new leads – and improve your behavioral metrics because users spend more time on your site. (As you’ve heard, this is a significant SEO ranking factor.)
Free tools are quite easy to set up since there is a lot of digital marketing software that allows you to use their data via API. Just remember that tools, compared to other forms of lead magnets, require additional resources, as you must design at least a basic user interface to add visual appeal to the data you’ve acquired from a third party.
If you run a service-based business, never underestimate the power of being approachable to potential new customers. A sure-fire way to generate a consistent lead magnet is to accept that giving just a small amount of your time or experience away will lead to greater rewards. This time could be in the form of a free quick consultation chat or a detailed quote, right the way through to creating a giveaway, a tool or content (such as videos or evergreen posts) that aim to help potential customers before they even know who you are. Before you decide which tactic could work best, think about your target audience; as the foundations to creating a winning magnet lies in its strategy.Matt Janaway, Founder, MarketingLabs
What lead magnets will you use in your next lead generation campaign?
We’ve already started applying the findings from this study and experimenting with different lead magnet types.
We’ve published a couple of shorter pieces (e.g., Email Deliverability Checklist, Webinar Setup Checklist), and the results seem very promising. Not only were we able to generate new leads with them, but we’ve also educated our existing audience. Best of all, putting them together didn’t take too much time at all (especially when compared to long-form reports like the Email Marketing Benchmarks).
And that’s what I’d like you to invite you to do – to experiment with your lead generation campaigns, try new lead magnets types, and… share the results with us! 😊
And if you’re looking for a solution that’ll help you generate more leads with your opt-in incentives, see how GetResponse’s sales funnel software can help you achieve just that.