List Building On Steroids- Opt-In’s, Lead Magnets And Sexy Titles

list building pic

Online entrepreneurs such as Pat Flynn and Yaro Starak regret not capturing their visitor emails from day one, and heavily emphasise the art of list building from the start. So this is something I wanted to have in place from the get go so that I could better engage with my readers.

The secret to list building is to offer what is known as a ‘lead magnet’, this is an ethical bribe to get a reader to opt-in to your mailing list in return for free (but valuable) content.

I will be discussing why a lead magnet is important, how you can create one and all the different aspects of a lead magnet that you could ever need to know, right here in this post. I'll even throw in some examples for you to drool at. ;)

Note: If you have been following my blog then you are probably aware that most of my posts are like full guides. I aim to give you as much value as I can, so that you can follow along and get the information you need in one place. I would love to know if this format is something you like, or whether you would prefer shorter posts. *There is also a FREE PDF version at the end which you can download and follow along in your own time :).

So grab a coffee and let’s get started.

What The Heck Is A Lead-Magnet?

Lead Magnet noun – An irresistible bribe offering a specific chunk of value to a prospect in exchange for their contact information. Ryan Deiss

Ryan Deiss clearly describes what a lead magnet is in the above statement.​ It is basically content that is valuable enough for the prospect to hand over their details for. It can also be in a variety of formats such as video, text or audio (more about that later on).

Why Having A Lead Magnet Is Important?

So why should you have a lead magnet or opt-in in the first place?

Gone are the days of offering just updates as your sign up incentive, people are becoming accustomed to getting something extremely valuable in return for their email address, so it’s important that you deliver.

People are sick and tired of all the scammy gurus out there, you must prove that you know what you are talking about and are a credible source of information. This can only be done by giving valuable, free information and building a strong relationship with your reader through email. This way your prospects can see the quality of the information your provide.

In such a noisy world people are looking for individuals who can offer filtered information related to their topic of interest. This is your chance to become that source of filtered but valuable information, especially if you are an expert in that topic.

There are a couple of benefits to having a lead magnet in place, for you as the blogger/marketer as well as your audience:

Build A Relationship

Having your reader as subscribers is a great way to build a long term relationship with them. You can contact them regularly and stay in touch via email. Your list is your biggest asset.


It's important for your reader to trust you before they will buy anything from you, you can only do this by offering immense value. Help your readers in their problems, what are their pains, what do they need help with? Give value, and help others achieve their goals.

​You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help enough other people get what they want. Zig Ziglar

Click to Tweet

Offer Valuable Services And Products

Building a relationship and getting to know your readers will help you understand what their pains are and what they need from you. When you identify these, you can offer them valuable products and services that can help them achieve their goals much quicker.

Raving Fans

Your email subscribers are your ‘word of mouth ninjas’, if you are providing your readers with immense value and information that they can utilise to eliminate their most pressing problem, they are more likely to recommend you and spread the word. 

What To Offer As Your Lead-Magnet?

For a lead magnet to attract your potential audience it must be meet certain criteria. Many marketers think that they can create some skimpy product and people with start drooling over it. Not so.

My rule of thumb is to offer something that is so valuable that you could easily put a price on it and sell.

Bear the following in mind when creating a lead magnet:

This is the criteria I used to create my own opt-in lead magnet, as suggested by this awesome post by Steve Scott 

#1. Does The Lead Magnet Identify And Solve a Problem?

For this you need to research what the problem is in the first place. Look at your audience. What is their biggest pain? What do they find difficult? What can you solve that hasn’t been solved before.

Maybe you have a different angle to a solution that’s already out there? What knowledge do you have that can help them overcome the problem?

Identify this problem and offer them a solution. That’s your lead magnet.

Take my lead magnet as an example, I am a parent myself and the most important desire I had was to create an online business, which would allow me to stay at home and spend time with my daughter.

When I first started I had no clue where to start or what to do, and since have spent copious amounts of my time and hundreds of pounds on learning the skill.

Having spoken to many parents in the past I know for sure this is something parents struggle with and would love to do.

When you look at the internet there are many people talking about how cool it is to work from home, or lifestyle design, or even Tim Ferris clones on location independent living. But n

There aren't many explaining exactly HOW you can do that. What are the steps to take and what are the business models that can be used to create that lifestyle specifically for parents.

So that’s what I did, In my PDF guide, I show parents clear blue prints they can follow (some of which I have used myself) to create a business which not only allows them to stay at home with their kids but also allows them to run it from anywhere in the world, should they choose to.

Get in your readers shoes, find out what they are struggling with then create something that will eliminate that pain.

Click to Tweet

Other examples:

If you have a dog walking business blog where people can get information on how to become a dog walker, you may offer a cheat sheet on the 10 step to starting your dog walking business today.

Or if you have a Photoshop tutorials blog then you may give away a video series that helps them become proficient in Photoshop in a week.

I created my lead magnet from my own experience, but you can also take the following steps to identify your readers pain points and problems. (Click tabs to expand)



FaceBook Groups

Personal Journey

#2. Is The Lead Magnet Valuable Enough To Sell?

The offer you create should be extremely valuable, something that you could sell easily. To stand out from the noise it’s important to give away as much value as you can for free, your readers will love you (or think you are crazy!) for giving away so much valuable information for free.

Your readers will recognise you as someone who offers incredible value, and expert knowledge. So when you DO offer something paid, they will happily invest in the product. They will know that the standard will be as high, if not higher than your free offers.

#3. Is The Offer In Line With Your Niche/Site

There’s no point creating a lead magnet offer that doesn’t relate to what your expertise or authority is about. If you are looking to become the go to expert on making money with public speaking for example, offering a lead magnet for creating great viral video’s will be useless to your audience.

Your readers won’t relate as they don't need what you are offering, even if they are avid readers of your site. Relate your lead magnet to the overall aim of your site.

#4. Does The Lead Magnet Push All The Right Buttons?

Good copywriting skills and design go a long way when attracting people to your offer. Make it sexy. This is where your surveys can come in handy. You can use words that your readers can identify with. I create all my opt-ins, light boxes and in post opt-ins using Thrive Leads*, it's an awesome WordPress plugin that lets you create any kind of opt-in you can think of!

Check out this fun post by Jeff Goins on how to create a catchy headline, the concepts in the article can be used to create a compelling headline/title for your particular lead magnet.

#5. Is Your Offer Unique?

A ’Guide to getting more subscribers’ is no match to a ‘Guide to how I got 400 subscribers in a week!’.

Make your offer is unique to your site and audience. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel, the info you offer may be similar to other guides out there, but your offer may take a unique approach and perspective on the same topic.

Stand out from the noise, by tailor making your offer to your particular audience.

#6. Is It All Empty Promises?

Does your lead magnet actually deliver on the outcome? Does it give the reader what you promised them. Or is it all hype. Over-delivering is always better than under-delivering. Never promise something that you can’t deliver on, it hurts your credibility and breaks the trust between you and your subscriber.

How To Present Your Offer?

There are many ways you can present your offer as your lead magnet. People have different preferences when it comes to consuming information, so try and cater to what your audience responds best to.


Video has a higher perceived value over written reports and audio, so if this is possible in your niche use it. If you are camera shy it can be a series of powerpoint presentations which help your audience reach their end goal.


​This can be an e-book, report or even a checklist. It may be tips and tricks or hacks that you have learned over the years in your industry.

You may give away a list of the tools you use for what you do. Or a guide to buying something, for example laptops or phone buying guides.


This can be in the form of an audio e-book, or recorded audio format. With the rise in podcasts many people prefer to listen to audio versions, during their lunch or while commuting.

A few more options to use for your opt-in bonus:

Email Course- An email course that teaches them something through a series of emails.

Physical Product- If you sell higher ticket products then a physical product such as a DVD or a physical book can help in building trust, especially if your final product is more that $2500+.

Free Membership - This can be to a course that you normally charge for or a private forum membership. Or maybe even a sample chapter/video to a course that you offer.

Some Examples...

Example #1- Free Software/Trial/Download

If you have a software related business, then it's a great idea to offer a free trial. This allows your prospect to immerse into the experience and see the value of the product you are offering. Plus they are also added to your email list by default.

Some Visuals...

Moz Inbound Marketing Software


Treehouse- Coding and Web-design Learning Software


Example #2- Free Guides/Reports/E-books/Checklists

This is a great way to offer some information in the form of text. It can be a full blown e-book, guide, report or a checklist. An example would be my own bumper blueprint guide for parents who want to stay at home and create an online business around their kids.

Some Visuals...


Ramit Sethi- I Will Teach You To Be Rich

Ramit Sethi-Lead magnet

Yaro Starak - Entrepreneurs Journey

Yaro Starak-Lead magnet

Example #3- Video Series/Course

A video or a video course is a great way to engage an audience in an interactive way. Not all people like reading, some prefer to look at techniques and concepts via video. It's no wonder YouTube is the second biggest search engine! 

Some Visuals...

IMScalable- Video On Driving Traffic

Imscalable Lead magnet

Example #4- Competition Or Contest

This can be either a physical prize, free access to a premium course or even a consultation session with you. This is a great strategy, but should be used cautiously as it can attract people who aren't interested in your message but only the gift. To counteract this try and make the gift/prize as relevant to your audience and your message as possible. You don't have to limit this strategy to lead-magnets, it can be used for getting reviews or even to get people interacting on your site. A brilliant example of this is the $100 MBA Podcast, where Omar Zenhom runs a competition for you to have a chance to win a subscription to their premium product if you leave a review on iTunes.

Some Visuals...

$100 MBA- Omar Zenhom Business Course and Podcast

$100 MBA Review comp lead magnet

The above examples are just a fraction of lead-magnets that can be used, for more examples check out the following resources:

Where To Place Your Opt-In?

There are a number of places you can place your opt-in offers, Derek Halpern of Social Triggers explains the 7 high converting places to place a sign-up form in this post. you don't have to use ALL of them, I currently only use one of them, but I will be testing to see what works. Some of the ones I'm hoping to test are below:

#1- Feature Box

This is a full width opt-in box that is placed on your homepage, it extend's across the full width of your website, often taking up prime real estate on your site (above the fold).

There are a lot of people who argue against a feature box, primarily for this reason that it takes up the most valuable space on the website. However if you look at the graph below of how Francisco Rosales of SocialMouths increased his email-subscribers by 500% in one week, you can see the feature box converted the best.

eature box conversions-social mouths

This is something I am hoping to explore and experiment with soon, I'll keep you posted on how it goes.

#2- Top Of The Sidebar

This is an opt-in box in the top part of the sidebar, it can be either on the left or right, but most commonly found on the right sidebar.

#3- After A Post

This is a brilliant time to capture emails, because if a reader has read to the end of your article, this clearly shows they love your work. So why not offer them more. This is your call to action stage, ask for their email and they shall give. 

#4- Footer Of Your Site

Similar to above, if the reader made it to the footer of your page, they clearly love your work so let them have more of it.

#5- About Page

This is the most visited site for most people, it's only natural for someone- if they like your work to head on over to your 'About' page to see who you are. So make sure you are capturing their email while they are feeling good about your work.

Creating Your Opt-In...

Lastly the only thing left to do is actually create your opt-ins. Now some people freak out at this stage, thinking that they need design and coding skills to create one. 

Don't worry, you don't need any of that as there are quite a few plugins that can help you with it, the one I use and love is Thrive Leads*. If you are struggling to build your list or want to build it quicker then this is the perfect plugin to do so. 

Here's the thing, there are many tools and plugins you can use to add some opt-in forms to your website. Heck, you can just create a crappy looking form in your autoresponder and add that to your site. Use something like MailChimp and it's 100% free, too.

Have you tried that? The results you get from this are pretty much zilch. Nada!

It leaves you looking at your pitiful opt-in form that collects no leads and wondering why the pros are always raving about list building. Well, the pros don't do it like that, as I'm sure you guessed.

What the pros do looks more like this:

1) They create an eye-catching, awesomely designed opt-in form.

2) They set the form up to show in the right places at the right time (for example as a popup whenever someone's about to leave your website).

3) They create multiple versions of this form and run some A/B tests to boost conversions.

4) They repeat the above steps until they have a massively growing mailing list, of highly engaged readers. Which also makes them some moolah!

With Thrive Leads* you can do what the pros do, you don't need any design skills, any technical skills or piles of cash to pay people to do things for you as it's super easy to use.

The plugin allows you to use their amazing pre-designed templates or customise it fully to your needs. It also allows you to do A/B testing with just a few clicks, and choose a winning variation automatically!

This is just the tip of the iceberg, Thrive Leads* allows you to do so much more that I'll have to do a full review soon. Watch out for it!​

​Well that's all folks, I hope you found this post useful, I'm sure it will help you get many more email subscribers.

What sign-up forms/offers do you currently use on your site?​

*Affiliate Link- I only recommend products I love and use myself.​