5 Lead Magnet Types to Grow Your Email List

Business, Creative Entrepreneurs, Interior Designers, Photographers, Showit, Wedding Professionals

Does it feel like everyone who has a website is trying to grow their email list?

As an entrepreneur myself, I get it. They don’t say “the money is in the list” for nothing.

Whenever I gather research or passively scroll through websites, it’s not uncommon for me to see pop-ups, sidebar forms, and big announcement bars telling me to sign up for their list.

Why do so many website creators point to their email list? Well, an email list can be one of the most valuable forms of communication you have in business. Unlike social media, you own your list, meaning algorithms and other third-party changes can’t affect your ability to send emails to subscribers. That’s powerful!

With this in mind, it’s no surprise why many business owners are willing to try just about anything to get you on their list.

Over time, I’ve become pretty selective with what email lists I sign up for. I’m guessing the same is true for you.

As you create an email marketing strategy for your own business, you might be wondering how you can sustainably grow your list through your Showit website. One of the best ways is to use a lead magnet.

A lead magnet refers to a freebie or incentive that can be instantly accessed when someone signs up for your email list. It gives them a small taste of what you offer, so you want to make sure you pick the right lead magnet type.

But before I talk more about that, let’s discuss some of the main benefits of using a lead magnet to grow your email list.

You’ll make a better first impression

Simply asking a new website visitor to sign up for your email list “just because” won’t lead to better conversions. If the website visitor isn’t sure what kind of email content they’ll be receiving, why should they sign up?

When you offer a lead magnet, however, you’ll give them an incentive for signing up. This incentive could be a special discount code, exclusive offers, free content, or something else entirely. I’m going to focus on the free content-based incentive for the rest of this article because that’s exactly what your lead magnet will be.

You’ll leading with valuable content

Before you can sell anything, you need to build trust with your audience. Trust can only be built when you have a connection. With a lead magnet, you’re giving something valuable away for free in exchange for someone’s email address which jump-starts your connection with them. 

When this happens, you give audience members a small taste of the value you can provide through your paid services and products. If someone signs up for your lead magnet and gets great results from it, they’ll be much more likely to purchase the related product or service you pitch afterward.

You’ll solidify your expertise

No matter how many years of experience you have or what your academic background looks like, you DO have an expertise in something. I find many entrepreneurs have a difficult time calling themselves an “expert” for various reasons, but own what you’re talented at!

Everyone has something they can help others with. Think about what your friends and family often come to you for help with. Is there a certain topic you could talk about or teach for hours on end? These prompts will help you better understand where your expertise can be found. It will give you credibility as you provide lead magnets to your audience on topics they care about and you know a lot about.

Are you convinced that creating a lead magnet will help you grow your list? If so, let’s talk about the most common lead magnet types and the reason why each one is powerful for lead generation.

The 5 best performing lead magnet types 

There are dozens of lead magnet types on the market, but I wanted to create a simpler list for you. I included lead magnet ideas that have the highest average conversion rates, hence why they are so popular among creative entrepreneurs.

Let’s dive in with the first lead magnet type: an email course or challenge.

Email course or challenge

As someone signs up for your email list, it’s only natural to think about what kind of email content you want to send them first. Through an email course or challenge, you’ll have the opportunity to automatically send a series of emails (most people call this an “email sequence”) directly to your subscriber.

With an email course, you’ll want to create three to five email lessons that teach your audience about a specific topic. Think about what you would like to be known for and what topics relate to your signature services or other offerings. The more your audience is interested in learning about your topic, the more likely they will be to sign up.

An email challenge, however, will help your audience accomplish a goal in a certain number of days or weeks. Instead of focusing solely on educational lessons, like an email course, your email challenge will be used to inspire your audience to immediately take action through exercises and activities.

Instagram strategist and educator Alex Tooby uses an Instagram Authority email course to teach her audience the basics of using Instagram for business. This allows her to make sure every subscriber understands her Instagram growth methods and gives her credibility as an expert on the subject.

Instagram Authority Email Course

As another example, PR pro Crystal Richard created a 10-day email challenge to help her audience feel more comfortable with pitching. Each day of the challenge, she sends an email that covers a specific step in the process of pitching news outlets with prompts to help them get started with their own pitch. The goal at the end of these 10 days is for her audience to successfully send their pitch.

Crystal Richard 10 Day Email Challenge

Determining what method works the best for you is something only you can decide. However, you can’t go wrong with getting your audience used to opening your emails. Just make sure your email lessons give high-quality information so you don’t see open rates drop.

Recommended Resource: Email Course vs. Email Challenge in Flodesk video

Lead generating quiz

I must warn you, once you create a quiz, you’ll want to create a dozen more! They can be highly addicting, which is probably why so many of us have taken countless Buzzfeed quizzes.

While quizzes are a great way for your audience members to learn more about themselves, it’s more useful for your business than you may think. It’ll give you real data from people in your audience while creating an interactive experience that’s more memorable than other lead magnet types.

Before you create your own quiz, think about what your goals are and how you want to use the quiz to grow your list. What is the main takeaway? What knowledge do you want them to walk away with? Keep this in mind when you get ready to create and launch your first quiz.

In my opinion, no other quiz building tool on the market can compete with Interact. It’s what I use for my own quiz as well as my clients’ quizzes. It integrates so well with Showit and other website platforms so the whole quiz-taking experience is seamless from start to finish.

Speaking of Interact quizzes, you’ll notice I include a linked button on my homepage (as well as other pages on my website) to my own quiz. The main purpose of my quiz is to help potential clients determine whether they should work with me to build a custom Showit website from scratch or customize a template that already exists.

Digital Grace Design Interactive Quiz

After a quiz taker answers nine questions, they’ll have an opportunity to sign up for my email list in order to receive their final results. Then I can follow up with more information about what it looks like for us to work together on customizing a template or building a custom site. 

It’s been a great way to cut down on repetitive questions and give my audience a clear understanding of what they should invest in before we even talk on a free discovery call.

Recommended Resource: How to Quickly Grow Your Email List with an Interact Quiz

Pre-recorded webinar

Gone are the days when you needed to tirelessly host several live webinars in order to grow your email list. Now, you can perfect your presentation and pre-record your webinar training to eliminate the grind of having to show up live.

This pre-recorded webinar can be used as an evergreen training that will be relevant for years to come. These evergreen webinars can be the perfect pairing to an always-open online course or a service that’s available all year round. 

Denise Duffield Thomas, a well-known money mindset coach and educator, did a great job of choosing a topic for her pre-recorded webinar that her audience cares about while relating it to her expertise. Her advice on money blocks works today just as much as it did years ago, and it will continue to have relevance as she grows her audience. That’s what makes it such a perfect pre-recorded webinar!

Denise Offers a Workshop About Money Blocks

If you choose this lead magnet type, make sure you choose a topic that doesn’t evolve too quickly. For example, if you choose a topic regarding social media engagement, you’ll want to be careful about ever-changing algorithms that could make your content feel old or obsolete over time. Instead, choose an aspect of social media that stays relatively the same, like how to create better social media captions.

Keep in mind that most pre-recorded webinars are around 30-45 minutes long. Any longer than that and you run the risk of overwhelming your audience with information. Also, try to make your personal introduction quick so you can jump right into the most valuable content. That’s why people are there, after all!

Recommended Resource: Generate Sales on Autopilot with a Pre-Recorded Webinar

Video or audio series

If you’d rather break your training into bite-sized lessons, you can create a video or audio series instead. Each of these lessons will be pre-recorded, much like the webinar I mentioned above, and you can email the links straight to your subscriber’s inbox after they sign up.

If you love podcasting and want to teach a topic that’s easy to learn without seeing a visual, an audio series might be the perfect fit. It’s highly effective because people can passively listen to your audio content no matter what they’re doing—anything from washing the dishes to walking their dog to picking up their kids from school.

I love how Marie Forleo offers an audio training as her website’s main lead magnet. Although she hosts a popular YouTube show called MarieTV, Marie decided to create audio lessons instead to give her audience more variety in how she delivers content. (Also, how beautiful is that pop-up graphic?!)

Marie Forleo Audio Training Lead Magnet

If you’d rather create a tutorial that visually shows a step-by-step process, a video series might be a better fit. In a video series, you can include a link to your video lesson with a clickable screenshot or thumbnail photo.

No matter if you create an audio or video series, use the rest of your email content to describe exactly what subscribers will learn in each lesson. That way, they know what to expect before they tune in.

Recommended Resource: How to Create a Free Video Series as an Email Opt-In video


Most entrepreneurs have used downloadables at some point to grow their email list. It was one of the original lead magnet types, but now there’s more variety in lead magnet types.

These instant downloadable lead magnets can include:

  • eBooks
  • PDF guides
  • Checklists 
  • Templates
  • Calendars
  • Schedules
  • Cheatsheet
  • Prompts
  • Whitepapers
  • Art printables
  • and more! 


I even have a free Instagram “Link in Bio” template for Showit, which can be added to any Showit website to make your “Link in Bio” page feel on brand with the rest of your site, draw traffic directly to your site without depending on a third party.  Check it out here!

So, the big question on your mind might be if downloadables will work for you? Well, my answer is “it depends.” If you choose this lead magnet type, know that results vary in terms of how well these perform.

In some B2B industries (meaning businesses selling to other businesses), downloadable guides are seen as more valuable while B2C industries (businesses selling directly to consumers) don’t always convert as well as other types.

Also, downloadables are typically more useful as a content upgrade than your main lead magnet. What I mean by this is that a variety of downloadables can be added to your blog post, podcast, or video content to give more information beyond what’s seen in your free-to-the-public content.

If you use this lead magnet type as a main lead magnet on your homepage and sprinkled throughout your website, it may not be seen as interactive or intriguing enough to inspire others to sign up for your list. That’s why it’s better to add it to your blog posts or other content.

These downloadables can be created with free tools like Canva or with professional software like Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign. You could also purchase affordable premade templates for downloadable lead magnets from Creative Market or Etsy

Recommended Resource: 10 Downloadable Lead Magnets to Grow Your Email List

Getting started with creating your own lead magnet

I’m excited to see which of the five lead magnet types you choose to build your email list. Before you create the lead magnet, let’s first think about where you want to host your email list. After all, you need an email service provider to start collecting email addresses!

I highly recommend Flodesk for growing your email list with lead magnets. I recently made the switch from ConvertKit to Flodesk not only because of the unlimited list size pricing (it’s actually more affordable than any plan on ConvertKit with my 50% off forever code!) but also for its stunning design templates.

Flodesk Newsletter Options

In Flodesk, you can simply link a downloadable to your welcome email, or you can start sending emails for your email course, challenge, quiz, video series, or pre-recorded webinar through a simple workflow. It’s so easy!

Now that you have all the tools you need, it’s time to start creating your own lead magnet!

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