Jewel Marketing
Taiwan Content Marketing

Lead Magnets and When To Use Them

By Jason Patterson

Founder of Jewel Content Marketing Agency
Lead magnets have what may be the coolest name in the B2B marketing arsenal. Who wouldn't want a lead magnet? Well, the name is a bit misleading. Unlike the magnets on your refrigerator door, lead magnets don't rely on unchanging physical laws.

In other words, they aren't guaranteed to work as lead generation tools. And they don't always produce the effects you want. So let's take a closer look at lead magnets to make sure yours do.

What Are Lead Magnets?

A lead magnet is a marketing offer made in exchange for contact details. Gated content is one broad category of lead magnet, but it's not the only one.

Other lead magnet ideas include opt-in incentives like free trials, demonstrations, samples, consultations, and other freebies (so they're not strictly B2B). But this article will stick to lead magnet examples with at least some overlap with content marketing.

Why Use Lead Magnets?

This question might sound a bit redundant, but lead generation (lead-gen) isn't solely about subscriber growth or marketing-qualified lead (MQL) list building. Sometimes your target audience is opaque.

You may not know who all the juicy clients are. And you may not always know who's hanging around your website or marketing funnel, or who reads your content. Getting opt-in forms filled can help with that.

What Are the Types of Lead Magnets?

Almost any type of content can be gated and used as a lead magnet. The question you have to ask yourself is whether and when it's a good idea.


Businesses label all sorts of things "whitepapers." But a real whitepaper is a piece of original research. Perhaps done by you. Perhaps done with a partner. Or perhaps it's something you paid a consultancy to write. But it has to be original, not just the results of a Google search.

When To Use Them

Whitepapers and reports are usually awareness content. But you might consider gating them when you're new to a vertical and the content is aimed at it (as a way to gauge the ley of the land). You also might consider gating a whitepaper when the target audience is very niche (making the awareness penalty of gating very small).


An e-book is a guide or an offering of advice. There may be original data in it, but data isn't really the purpose of an e-book (at least from the reader's point of view). The purpose is the guidance you receive, which is often very practical. And despite their name, e-books don't have to be long. An e-book may only be one page and called a cheat sheet.

When To Use Them

Advice tends to have a narrower audience than information, making e-books better gating candidates than whitepapers, especially if the audience is hard to reach through other means. It can be hard to get decision-makers to subscribe to your blog or follow you on social media. But an e-book, promising them something valuable or useful, just might do.

Templates, Checklists and Cheat Sheets

Templates, checklists, and cheat sheets are similar to e-books in that they offer some type of practical guidance. But e-books are more in line with orthodox notions of content, while these other things aren't. Why does this matter? Because you might not need a copywriter or content writer to create them (a technical writer might do in a pinch).

When To Use Them

Templates, checklists, and cheat sheets are less uptown than e-books. So they're not necessarily what you would go after enterprise decisionmakers with. But small business owners and solopreneurs might find use for them, as might rank-and-file employees for any business (making them potentially good SaaS tools).

Webinars & Podcasts

This is when an influencer, subject matter expert (SME), or company executive does some type of unscripted or lightly-scripted audio or video discussion or presentation. Webinars are scheduled live events that the audience can often participate in. Podcasts are more of a one-way format.

When To Use Them

If your goal is awareness, these tactics can work well with influencers, who can also be effective brand ambassadors when you're entering a new market, or when you're small and don't have a lot of in-house SMEs or executives to spread the word or author thought leadership or other written content.

If you have a lower-funnel goal in mind, these are good ways for prospects to have their first quasi-personal interaction with your brand. They may be near-ready to talk to a salesperson, and a webinar with a live human can help break the ice.

Learning Courses

Courses might not seem like content, but they can be considered long-form education, with some testing and other elements mixed in. Courses can be awareness or consideration, depending on the topic. If they teach how to operate, fix, or administer something you sell, they're consideration. If they aren't about anything proprietary, they're probably awareness.

When To Use Them

Courses are a leader-brand tactic. Nobody values your opinion enough to justify the effort required to create and promote a course when you're a non-leader. And remember, people who sign up for a course, even when the content is consideration, shouldn't necessarily be sold to, at least not right away (they may already be customers), though they might be good candidates for blog or newsletter subscription, making it easier to sell to them later.

Product Selectors

A product selector is a piece of interactive content, namely a series of online questions that you answer, and you get some kind of recommendation on what to buy at the end.

When To Use Them

Product selectors can be a good consideration tactic for non-technical or moderately technical prospects who would otherwise find it difficult to choose a certain model of yours based on purely technical criteria. Small business owners are often good candidates here since they may lack in-house IT expertise.

RoI Calculators

A return on investment (RoI) calculator is exactly what it sounds like. You plug in some numbers related to your business and your intended purchase and you get a rough estimate back of what the latter will do for you.

This might not fit everyone's definition of content, especially since they're often considered sales enablement. But with prospects increasingly handling their own research and delaying or foregoing talking to sales, I'll allow them.

When To Use Them

Any time starting with consideration. B2B businesses are increasingly carrying out more detailed RoI analysis during the buyer's journey, and as AI ramps up, I think RoI calculators may eventually become as common and perhaps even more generally important to B2B purchasing decisions than case studies.


A newsletter these days is an email, DM, or online article (like Jewel's LinkedIn newsletter) sent out at a regular or near-regular interval. Some might not consider a newsletter true lead magnet content. But it depends on when you offer it. If you ask a current customer to subscribe to your newsletter largely for product update or upgrade notifications, it's a lead magnet.

When To Use Them

This depends on what's in it. If the newsletter is largely TOFU focused, you can use it anytime (and you should) since social media channels are unreliable and can die suddenly (or slowly).

If you have a mix of top and lower funnel content in your newsletter, that's okay. The toppies won't mind. They know you've got a business to run. Just don't let it lead to your newsletters arriving too frequently or becoming too salesy, as this will teach prospects to ignore you.

Case Studies/Success Stories

A case study or success story is a branded narrative, where one of your customers is the hero and your brand is the fixer. Or at least that's how it should be.

When To Use Them

As a lead magnet? Never. Case studies are the most important type of B2B content making them a vital link in your content strategy that should never be gated.

The social proof they provide is far, far more useful to your brand than whatever data you gather from Seymour Butts at And they travel well on social media, which B2B often underestimates.

What Are the Best Lead Magnets?

At the awareness stage of the funnel, the best lead magnets are either pitched as useful or advantageous info from a trusted source. The former will raise your odds with rank-and-file employees, while the latter is what I would pitch to management.

However, content isn't useful or advantageous just because you say it is. The best awareness lead magnets have validation or social proof. This might be a consultancy's name. Or you can send it out to some third-party subject matter experts (SMEs) or influencers for validation and testimonials.

Once you get to the consideration stage of the funnel, the game changes, and there's another factor that makes lead magnet content seem advantageous or useful. Does the content make the buying or decision-making process itself easier? Webinars, because of their two-way nature, can do this. So can RoI calculators.

And if you're wondering why you can gate RoI calculators but not case studies, there are two reasons. One, an ungated RoI calculator risks becoming a toy for the world to play with (which you don't want because it'll mess with your online numbers).

And two, anyone in your customer's target industry (within reason) can read and understand a case study, while relatively few can intelligently use an RoI calculator. This makes case studies better to use on awareness channels.

A Couple of Things About Landing Pages

There are a ton of articles out there covering lead magnet landing page best practices, so I won't repeat them all here. But I will repeat a couple because I think they're particularly important.

Think about the last time you had to give away information about yourself online. Were you happy to do it? I wasn't. I was worried. I didn't know where that data would end up.

Companies sell data and get breached. And even if the data stays with the intended recipient, you may have just unleashed a torrent of spam that will clutter your inbox until you finally stop it or tune it out. Both results are bad.

As a brand, you want the act of giving away contact details to be as painless and effortless as possible. You also want to make sure you've got your prospect's real email address at the moment of conversion (through email confirmation).

And stick to asking for information that the prospect already knows they've more or less given away by giving you their work email address: their name, country, industry, and job title/department. And that's it. Don't push your luck here.

More fields mean more likelihood of seeing those irritating little red stars or asterisks, which means more likelihood of prospects getting frustrated and stomping off.

And don't put an infodump between the page heading and the contact fields either. Keep the latter above the fold. Why? Because most prospects who arrive on a landing page have already seen the offer.

Pardon the crude metaphor, but if someone is ready to fuck, they don't need added persuasion. They just need you naked.

So keep additional persuasion below the contact fields, not above.

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