What Makes a Good, Un-Sleazy Lead Magnet? 9 Utterly Clear Examples

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Episode 229: What Makes a Good, Un-Sleazy Lead Magnet? 9 Utterly Clear Examples

Email is the centerpiece of modern indie businesses. It’s a critical way we engage with our audience for direct sales and relationship.

So, all us modern entrepreneurs know we need to be growing our email lists. And by now most of us have been to websites offering something for free via an email capture form.

You know the ones? “Get my 10 best dance moves cheat-sheet, just enter your email and I’ll send it right over to you!”

These are called “lead magnets” or “freebies” or “opt-in incentives,” and they are insanely effective for growing your email list. And not only that, they can be excellent for growing trust with your audience as well.

BUT, they have a nasty reputation for being sleazy, cheesy and all around barf-inducing.

So, there’s some challenges here — you can’t just make any freebie and slap it anywhere on your site for it to work.

So that’s what we’re getting into in this article. In this post you’ll learn:

  1. What makes a GOOD freebie
  2. What’s working for others (9 examples)
  3. How to design the right freebie for your business

We’ve been there before

I have a confession to make. For a while, in the beginning of Fizzle, we didn’t use a lead magnet.

We were just creating the brand and, to be honest, I didn’t want to come off as sleazy or too sales-y. I ended up letting us go for months without putting up a lead magnet.

But when we did, the results immediately started rolling in. You can guess exactly what that arrow is pointing to.

Guess when we started using freebie on the site...
Guess when we started using freebie on the site…

That’s right, our email growth was flat for months and then we added a free opt-in incentive to our site and things have been growing like this ever since.


But I hate those things!

I know, so do I. It seems like every site I land on now offers some kind of a freebie to get me on their list.

And a vast majority of the time I HATE THEM.

The truth is, many people do this poorly and we don’t have to!

We want you to create a lead magnet that works FOR YOU, one that you feel good about and that builds trust, authenticity and interest with your audience.

So, let’s talk about what makes a great email freebie.



A good freebie has these three elements:

If you want to make a great freebie for your lead magnet, you’re going to need to cook with these three ingredients.

1. Irresistible Offer

2. Indisputable Substance

3. Crystal Clear Messaging.


There are several types of freebies

Online today you’ll find several types of freebies. Here’s a quick list with some notes.

Note: in our 7-day email growth course we go into more detail about exactly which of these we recommend you use and why.

  • Guide — educate someone through a challenging problem.
  • Challenge — accomplish something in a set amount of time.
  • Newsletter — a regular email with updates, news, information, etc. (We’ve written before about more newsletter examples.)
  • Quiz — take a quiz, enter your email to get the results.
  • Mini course — like a course, but mini… and free.
  • PDF of some kind — could be used for guides or challenges.
  • Video series — several emails to teach through an important topic.
  • Email series — 1 email a day, or something like that.
  • Audio training — like a podcast, but for subscribers only.

9 Examples with insights

Ok, here are some examples we like on the web. We’ve added insights below each so you can get a sense of what’s good/bad about each.

NOTE: each of these examples is talked through in-depth in the podcast episode at the end of this article.

1. Jess Lively’s Guide

Jess Lively's simple call to action
Jess Lively’s simple call to action

2. Fizzle’s 20 Killer USP Examples Guide

Fizzle's own guide to Unique Selling Propositions
Fizzle’s own guide to Unique Selling Propositions

3. Minaal’s Weak-ass Invitation

Minaal is a great example of how we can improve
Minaal is a great example of how we can improve

4. Simple Green Smoothies’s Simple 7

A great example of a "challenge"
A great example of a “challenge”

5. West Elm’s 15% off pop-up offer

West Elm's "irresistible" invitation
West Elm’s “irresistible” invitation

6. Ramit Sethi’s Earning Potential Quiz

Ramit... those eyes... I... I'm powerless
Ramit… those eyes… I… I’m powerless

7. Cailen Ascher’s 3-Day Guide

Gold, black, confidence and clarity
Gold, black, confidence and clarity

8. Clarity on Fire’s Quiz

A gold and bold quiz from Clarity on Fire
A gold and bold quiz from Clarity on Fire

9. Marie Forleo’s Audio Training

Simple and clear from Marie Forleo
Simple and clear from Marie Forleo

Which is the best freebie type for you?

So, if you’re growing your email list you’ve got to use a freebie. But what freebie type is best for you? And what’s the best way to use it on your website?

We’ve made a free 7-day email course to help you decide:

Start the free 7-day email growth challenge →



Check out the audio training for this article

We’ve recorded a special episode of our podcast to accompany this article. Go deeper with these concepts as we share more:


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