Many SaaS companies invest in generating traffic, but then do little to nothing to capture it. Their only hope is that visitors will sign up for a free trial.
Bad news: it's a big wasted opportunity.
Good news: you can fix this with a bit of marketing effort.
In this article, we'll talk about free lead magnets as a "safety net." You'll learn to capture your website visitors who aren't ready to sign up for your product yet.
Which SaaS companies absolutely need a lead magnet?
Every SaaS business would benefit from building their email list. But some companies must absolutely offer something beyond a product signup.
Particularly, if your signup friction is above average:
- You don't offer a free trial
- You offer a free trial, but ask for a credit card upfront
- Your sales cycle is long and leads don't typically sign up right away
All of this means that your website traffic doesn't convert to signups at a healthy rate. You need a better, frictionless way to convert website visitors. Lead magnets will help you do exactly that.
What makes a great SaaS lead magnet?
To maximize the value for your audience and your core business, the free lead magnet should be:
- Helpful. Needless to say, the freebie should be useful to your website visitors.
- Targeting the right audience. Your free resources should match the ideal customer profile (ICP) for your core product.
- Priming the user to appreciate your core product. A great lead magnet educates the potential user and helps them do something on their own — either analyze their situation, or create a DIY solution.
- Tool-agnostic (or not requiring any tools). It should bring value without strings attached to your product.
- Easy to consume. Your lead magnet shouldn't create too much work for the user — a short cheat sheet is better than a lengthy book.
- Easy to deliver on autopilot. A free strategy call is an attractive freebie, but it takes a toll on your calendar. Similarly problematic, a daily newsletter puts you on a content treadmill (unless it's a pre-written sequence).
How to find your unique edge
Any lead magnet is better than none. However, in the sea of generic content, you want to make your lead magnet exclusive.
What makes your content unique and not attainable elsewhere? Everything that requires hard work and real-life data:
- Expert opinion, applied to those examples — that's why teardowns are so interesting to watch
- Research, especially if done at scale — reports like industry benchmarks are hard to reproduce
- Interesting format — great video editing, attractive whitepaper layout
- Charisma — if you can get a famous charismatic influencer on board
What can you use as a lead magnet?
- Whitepaper or report
Courses, events & video:
- Workshop, webinar or masterclass (live or pre-recorded)
- Video course
- Pre-recorded demo (we've had great success with those here at Userlist)
- Step-by-step tutorials
Where can you place your lead magnets?
Opt-in forms for lead magnets — also known as lead capture forms — live on your marketing website. Their goal is to convert visitors into mailing list subscribers using an incentive.
These opt-in forms can live in multiple locations:
- In the body of your marketing pages
- In the website footer, across all pages
- In your blog posts — in the end, or embedded in the body
- In a widget — toaster widget, modal popup, "hello-bar", etc.
- On dedicated landing pages — if you're driving traffic there with ads or social media
Should a lead magnet have a dedicated landing page?
Yes, even if you're not planning to drive traffic there through ads.
Sometimes small opportunities come along when you can promote a specific freebie to a good audience — e.g. on a podcast show or in an article. For those occasions, you want to have a dedicated URL for each of your free resources.
What's a content upgrade?
A content upgrade is a lead magnet created for a specific content piece. For example, you publish an article about interviewing customers. And then you invite readers to enter their email addresses in exchange for a matching freebie — interview prep checklist, specific interview questions, etc.
Content upgrades perform much better than "general footer" lead magnets because of their high relevance. If the reader finds your article useful, downloading the freebie is the natural next step for them.Here's a good example from the Later blog. They embed a free influencer media kit template within their blog post of the same topic:
How do you deliver your lead magnet?
Each lead magnet requires a dedicated email campaign, triggered when the user submits a form. In the first email, you'll include the link to your lead magnet, and greet the new lead.
This campaign must only include emails related to the actual lead magnet. Jason Resnick shares why:
"To keep email marketing flows simple, yet flexible, have a lead magnet campaign deliver the asset and any follow-up with emails specific to the lead magnet. Then flow into a Welcome campaign with more about the industry and your products.
This way, it keeps the campaigns lean and modular. If you need to change up the emails about your products, you only have to go to one place in order to change it instead of 10."
After that, the user is typically transitioned into your general lead nurture campaign.
Learn more about lead nurturing and "evergreen newsletters" in our guide on SaaS email strategy.
What tools do you need?
These tools help you create and set up SaaS lead magnets:
- Userlist — run your marketing email list, set up forms, and deliver lead magnets.
- RightMessage — leverage multiple lead magnets, and offer the one tailored to the visitor needs.
- Getsitecontrol — implement opt-in forms as pop-ups, widgets, etc.
Learn more about marketing automation tools in this post.
Best SaaS lead magnet examples
Now, let's explore what other SaaS companies are offering to collect leads on their websites.
Guides, playbooks & cheat sheets
#1. Livestorm: Customer Onboarding Guide
Livestorm is a tool for video conferencing and webinars. They're offering a free In-Depth Guide to Customer Onboarding.
This guide helps readers to:
- Design a successful onboarding strategy
- Build long-term relationships with your customers, early-on
- Gain best practices from customer success experts
#2. Attribution: the CMO’s playbook for more revenue
Attribution is a powerful analytics tool built for data-driven marketing that provides accurate data at every customer touchpoint.
They offer a free playbook specifically created for CMOs of B2B SaaS companies. The title of the eBook addresses the major pain point of many senior-level marketers — getting higher revenue by keeping the cost of acquisition low. This playbook educates them on how to optimize spending with the right kind of attribution analytics.
#3. Mindtickle: sales training cheat sheet
Mindtickle is a sales readiness platform that provides onboarding, training, and coaching solutions for sales teams.
Their sales training cheat sheet is a compilation of training ideas for frontline managers to keep their accounting executives and sales reps engaged. It has insightful and actionable points, which present the brand as a thought leader.
The lead magnet has a dedicated landing page that has a preview. The viewers are then encouraged to provide their email address to access the full cheat sheet.
#4. InVision: a library of free design books
InVision is a visual collaborative whiteboard where teams can brainstorm and get things done.
They have a library of free design ebooks which is hosted on a separate domain. It has a wide selection of books covering topics in core design theories, written by design experts. Their leads get access to insights that power the best design teams across the world.
Reports, benchmarks & whitepapers as lead magnets
#5. Profitwell: subscription churn benchmarks report
Profitwell is a revenue analytics platform for subscription businesses.
They launched a subscription churn benchmarks report which captured data from 30,000 subscription companies to analyze churn and cancellation trends. The report reflects different reasons why customers end up canceling subscriptions.
Industry data from other companies is hard to come by (especially those related to revenue), which makes this report valuable. This will let subscription companies compare their performance with industry standards.
#6. Nosto: a book on best practices
Nosto is an eCommerce platform that helps brands deliver personalized shopping experiences.
Among other resources, they have a free book on how to improve ecommerce search experience. The growth hacks explained in it are gathered from global online retail leaders and their own experience. This book is a combination of the different blog posts on the same topic Nosto has on their blog. Wrapped up in a single publication, it makes the lives of website visitors easier, and looks like an attractive freebie.
#7. Gong: reality of sales forecasting report
Gong is a software designed to capture and analyze customer interactions to predict future sales.
They created a report on reality-based sales forecasting and how customer-facing teams can leverage real-time data for complete visibility into sales pipelines. They emphasize why sales forecasting is important and aims to bridge the disconnect between reality and priority that most sales teams face.
#8. Intercom: customer support trends report
Intercom is a tool that drives multi-channel customer engagement across sales, marketing, and support.
Among the host of free resources on their site, they have a customer support trends report based on a survey in which 1,200+ customer service teams across the world participated. They distilled this data into the top customer support trends in 2022.
A trends report is a great lead magnet if your target audience works in any industry that relies on data, statistics, or research. The end of the year is the best time to release and promote this.
Courses, events & videos as lead magnets
#9. Unbounce: webinar on conversion intelligence
Unbounce is an AI-powered landing page builder that comes with smart marketing tools to grow your business.
Since conversion intelligence is a relatively new field in marketing, Unbounce hosts a webinar on a regular basis that educates their potential customers on how AI insights can be used to create and optimize campaigns.
#10. Ahrefs: SEO academy
Ahrefs is a powerful all-in-one SEO tool that helps brands grow their search traffic.
They created an array of free courses under the umbrella of Ahrefs Academy. It includes video tutorials on how to use Ahrefs and also covers fundamental topics of SEO. The instructors of these courses are in-house marketers who have expert-level knowledge on the subject.
As a result, Ahrefs Academy is the industry standard for SEO training. Kudos!
#11. OptinMonster: courses on digital marketing
OptinMonster is a lead generation tool that helps businesses convert and optimize website traffic.
For their subscribers, OptinMonster created an exclusive platform — OptinMonster University — where they get access to a library of courses, guides, cheatsheets, and more. This offer is highlighted on their pricing page. Although paid lead magnets are unconventional, this can bring in conversions if the brand is recognized as a thought leader in the digital marketing industry.
#12. BetterUp: customer case study video
BetterUp is a people experience platform that uses coaching, AI-driven technology and behavioral science to build resilience in the workforce.
Among their wide range of resources, this particular one stands out — a collection of two-minute customer case studies.
Creating video case studies and gating them behind email opt-in is a brilliant approach. Case studies and reviews are a major influence when customers are in the decision-making stage of their purchase journey.
#13. Heap: weekly live demos
Heap is an analytics platform that gives teams a complete understanding of customers' digital journeys.
They offer free live demos every week to get interested buyers acquainted with Heap. Product demo events instead of videos are a great way to get highly qualified leads. You can then send out personalized emails to convert them.
Hands-on lead magnets
#14. Userlist: email planning worksheets
Userlist is an email marketing platform built for B2B SaaS companies.
We offer free worksheets to plan emails at different stages of the customer lifecycle. They help you brainstorm and figure out touchpoints, plan out offers and resources, plan segmentation, and much more.
#15. Hootsuite: 10-day reels challenge creative workbook
Hootsuite is a social media managing tool that helps brands grow their presence across different social platforms.
They offer a creative workbook for social media managers who are not familiar with Instagram reels. The workbook is a step-by-step guide on creating a reel in 10 days, breaking down each process with examples. It allows them to keep track of what they have learned.
#16. Reed: employee satisfaction survey template
Reed is a UK-based recruitment platform that helps companies hire and retain talent.
They offer a free downloadable template of survey questions to gauge employee satisfaction. This resource is for HR professionals who want to address the needs of their workforce. The landing page also has actionable tips on how to improve response rates of employee surveys.
#17. LeanIX: checklist for successful SaaS implementation
LeanIX is a cloud platform that offers solutions to help IT professionals, business leaders, and DevOps teams achieve transparency and control over different aspects of their business.
They offer a free SaaS implementation checklist. It gives an overview of the steps to ensure that the value of SaaS applications is maximized. The checklist gives a structure to project planning, goal setting, and measuring success.
#18. HubSpot: social media content calendar
HubSpot is a popular CRM platform that comes with tools for marketing, sales, content management, and customer service.
They offer a social media content calendar template that helps manage and plan social media content. This template is an excel format that can be edited. It also comes with a guide that helps put together a strategy for social media content.
#19. ActiveCampaign: SaaS homepage audit worksheet
ActiveCampaign is an automation platform that comes with CRM and email marketing tools.
They offer a free homepage audit worksheet to assess different aspects of homepages. This resource was created by analyzing 100+ SaaS websites. The workbook can be edited using Google sheets or excel.
#20. Signwell: a library of contract templates
SignWell is a popular electronic signature tool.
They have a library which contains 20+ free contract templates. Website visitors have the option to access it by providing their work email. They also get an option to include a free SignWell account along with the template:
This is a strategy you can follow if your SaaS product comes with a free plan.
#21. FIBRES: free Powerpoint template for a trend radar
FIBRES is a foresight tool for creating digital trend radars.
They offer a free downloadable template for creating your own simple trend radar in Powerpoint. The audience and the JTBD for this lead magnet perfectly align with their main product.
Summing up: best principles for you lead magnet
Thank you for reading!
We encourage you to add a lead magnet to your website as soon as you can. It's a great way to qualify and capture leads that aren't ready to use your product yet.
Your SaaS lead magnet should be:
- Easy to deliver and consume
- Be unique and helpful
- Provoke thoughts about your problem and your product as the solution
The rest is up to you. And remember, better done than perfect.