Three Secrets to Creating Lead Magnets That Convert For Online Courses

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Karthik Vijayakumar
Published on: August 8, 2023

Creating lead magnets for online courses is not hard. But it’s not about creating any lead magnet. You want to create lead magnets that convert. Your lead magnet should instantly connect with your reader and convert them to subscribers. But that’s where most people stop. In this post, I will share the three secrets to creating lead magnets beyond email conversion.

“If you coated fish with honey for bear bait, you’ll catch more flies than bears.”

That’s what happens when fly-catchers transition to bear hunters. In many ways, lead magnets are baits, too–the good kind. And if you have the wrong ones, your email list will swell while your wallet shrinks.

So before we go off to discuss the three secrets, I want to discuss something more important–problems with most lead magnets…

Creating Lead Magnets

Four Problems With Lead Magnets

Creating Lead Magnets infographic mistakesBusinesses have used lead magnets for a very long time to attract potential customers. But there’s a problem with lead magnets–they have limitations. And I want to discuss four of these limitations before we go on to discuss the three secrets. These limitations are:

  1. The Freeloader Effect
  2. Low Conversion Rates
  3. Lack of Targeted Specificity
  4. Limited Value Demonstration

Sounds cryptic? These problems can lead to you losing hundreds of valuable leads. So let’s look at each of them a little closer.

Lead Magnet Problem #1: Triggering the Freeloader Effect

One of the main drawbacks of traditional Lead Magnets is the risk of attracting “freeloaders.” I learned this from Jay Abraham in his book Getting Everything You Can Out Of All You’ve Got. Basically, “freeloaders” are people who are primarily interested in accessing free resources without any intention of making a purchase.

These “freeloaders” may sign up for your email list solely to receive the promised value. But that’s about it–they aren’t genuinely interested in opening their wallets. As a result, your email list may be filled with contacts who are unlikely to convert into paying customers.

Lead Magnet Problem #2: Zero Conversion Qualifiers

Lead Magnets often suffer from low conversion rates when it comes to turning leads into customers. When I launched my very first lead magnet (an ebook) seven years ago, I grew my email list to a thousand subscribers in under four months. But hardly anyone bought the paid version of my ebook. While my lead magnet successfully captured email addresses, the actual percentage of leads who progressed through the sales funnel and made a purchase was relatively low.

This can be attributed to the fact that your Lead Magnet does not necessarily qualify leads based on their readiness to spend money. And this leads to a higher number of unresponsive or disengaged subscribers.

Lead Magnet Problem #3: Lack of Targeted Specificity

Another issue with Lead Magnets is that they may attract a broad audience. And this can sometimes include people completely different from your ideal target buyers. Without proper targeting and qualification, you may end up with a list of email addresses but not subscribers.

It’s a huge problem when people in your email list have not “subscribed” to your approach or are genuinely interested in your offerings. This lack of specificity can cost you, including wasted resources and ineffective marketing efforts.

Lead Magnet Problem #4: Limited Value Demonstration

Many Lead Magnets provide a taste of the creator’s expertise or the “value” they can offer. But they often fail to fully demonstrate the comprehensive benefits and outcomes that the creator’s paid products or services can deliver.

This limited exposure to your offerings may result in potential customers underestimating the value you can provide. When prospective buyers fail to grasp the full extent of the transformation they can experience through your paid offerings, they get distracted and move on.

Now that we discussed the four biggest problems I’ve seen with lead magnets let’s discuss the three secrets to creating lead magnets that convert.

Three Secrets to Creating Lead Magnets That Convert

So far, we discussed the problems. But let them not make you think of lead magnets any lesser. Lead magnets are powerful tools. Unfortunately, most people are given the wrong advice–put out something for free. Now you know that doesn’t work. Smothering fish with honey ain’t bear bait!

You need to use the secrets we are about to discuss. And when you use them in your lead magnets, you turn them into powerful “weapons of mass attraction.”

Let’s now discuss the three secrets to creating lead magnets that convert. Let me first list down the three:

  1. Alignment with Desired Results
  2. Lacing with Psychological Clues
  3. Trail the Inbox with Bread Crumbs

Creating Lead Magnets infographic secretsSecret #1: Alignment with Desired Results

A successful lead magnet should align with your target audience’s desired outcomes and aspirations. It should address a specific problem or fulfills a specific need that resonates with them.

When you offer a solution that directly appeals to their goals, you capture the attention of potential buyers who are actively seeking ways to achieve those results. So that’s the first secret–align the results your lead magnet produces with that of your target buyers.

Secret #2: Lacing with Psychological Clues

Most lead magnets just put out the “free” stuff. Nothing more. Prospective buyers are happy to have got your “free” stuff. So they unsubscribe. To enhance the effectiveness of your lead magnet, you need to do something more–strategically seed psychological clues that it is part of a larger paid product or service.

Seeding psychological clues creates anticipation and positions the lead magnet as a valuable sample or glimpse into the comprehensive offering. By showcasing the value of the lead magnet, you cultivate a desire for the full product, increasing the likelihood of conversion.

Secret #3: Trail the Inbox with Bread Crumbs

Lead magnets ain’t a one-time affair. It’s a lot like dating. You don’t just ask for the phone number only to send a text message. That’s not how you convert your date into a long-term relationship.

Your prospects aren’t too different. And a simple way to do that is by simply incorporating a series of carefully crafted emails into your lead magnet strategy. These emails will help you build trust, deliver valuable content, and subtly pitch your paid product or service.

Through strategic sequencing, you can establish a relationship with your subscribers, demonstrate your expertise, and showcase the value they can expect by investing in your offerings.

What’s Your Lead Magnet Upgrade Plan?

I hope you found this post useful. If you did, I’m curious about what you will do with your lead magnet. Leave a comment below to let me know. And if you’re interested in upping your course sales with better copy, consider reading this post that I recently published.

And before I sign off, here’s a parting tip–when you create a lead magnet, think “feel” than “logic.” Lead Magnets should ideally demonstrate value to the extent that makes prospective buyers “feel” the results. It’s this feeling that creates the urge to want more.

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To your prosperity,


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About the author 

Karthik Vijayakumar

Hey, it's me, Karthik. I'm a ghostwriter and copywriter helping B2B founders and businesses. As a copywriter, I help founders validate and nail your messaging. As a ghostwriter, I write strategic blog posts to help you build authority or grow your inbound marketing. Click the tiny button below and connect with me on LinkedIn.

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