5 Secrets to Creating the Perfect PDF Lead Magnet

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Ahhh the classic lead magnet. The Freebie. That sweet piece of content that’s supposed to attract all those perfect unicorn customers, rake in millions of email subscribers and take you from 0 to millionaire in 5 weeks, right?

Welllllll, not if you don’t put your lead magnet together well.

We’ve all been here as biz owners, amirite? We go to a fellow boss babe’s website and get super freakin’ hype for her amazing PDF freebie that promises to help us make our first $1K in 16 seconds while simultaneously losing 5 lbs. AND perfecting the curly girl method. 

We type in our name (or at least our first initial) and our precious email address, hit YEP I WANT IT!!! and wait at the edge of our seats for that golden PDF guide to land in our inbox.

Only when the PDF lead magnet comes in, it’s … disappointing. 

Maybe it’s  just one measly page, with three checkboxes next to things we already knew. Or maybe its 47 pages of blindingly inconsistent graphic design, smeared with so many fonts and nauseating stock photos of girls on laptops that we don’t even know what it actually says.

Or, perhaps, we’re met with a wall of text so dense we retreat in fear, burying that lead magnet deep in our “I’m never going to actually read this” pile.

As we sit down to make our OWN version of a lead magnet for our biz, we want to make sure we don’t leave our subscribers with these same feelings of hollow disappointment. But HOW?

First, make sure a PDF Lead Magnet is right for you and your current offer.

There are plenty of valuable pieces of content you can give in exchange for an email that AREN’T PDFs. Webinars, discount codes, mini courses, free trials, or free Canva templates for Instagram  😉.

Think about what would be most valuable to YOUR audience and would tie into the specific product or service you’re trying to ultimately sell at this time. 

Remember, you CAN have multiple lead magnets for different products and services, so you can try a few mediums to see what works best! 

If you determine a PDF ebook, checklist, whitepaper, or cheatsheet would work for you, these secret tips will help you nail it the first time and avoid vanishing into the lead magnet graveyard we all have on our computer.

Lead Magnet Secret #1 – Not Too Short, Not Too Long

There’s a nice sweet spot in lead magnet nirvana where your PDF isn’t a three sentence checklist that looks like it took ten seconds to think up, and a short novel that noooo body’s got time for. 

When creating, be sure to keep this front of mind! You want your lead to experience one quick win. 

If you don’t provide enough content, they’ll leave feeling like you didn’t really add anything to their lives that they didn’t already know or have. You don’t want to overpromise and underdeliver. That sets you and your paid services and products up for failure. 

If you overwhelm them with multiple steps or paragraphs of text with nothing to break it up, you risk losing them since they haven’t signed up to work through a large workbook or course, and probably don’t have enough skin in the game to care. They might be impressed by how thorough you are, but if they never consume your lead magnet, how will they decide to work with you for your paid services?! That’s right….they won’t.

Action steps to create a winning lead magnet:

  • Focus on ONE quick win
  • Make sure you’re including enough information to help them realize that ONE goal
  • Don’t go overboard, or lose sight of that single topic and purpose
  • Create a checklist, cheat sheet or eBook that is between 1 and 5 pages. Grabbing a template? Hint: you don’t have to use all the pages to create your lead magnet, AND you can create other PDF’s with the same template which brings us to our next secret…

Lead Magnet Secret #2 – Keep it Branded and Cohesive

You knew this was coming ( Thirty One Palms Studio is a design and branding company after all).

Great branding and design can help establish professionalism and credibility….two things that are SUPER important when you’re making a first impression! 

If your text is in 50 different fonts and your colors are a wreck and your lead magnet doesn’t match your website, you’re going to miss the mark when it comes to this. 

This is your shot to really knock the socks off your subscribers, introduce them to your brand, and familiarize them with your marketing so when they come back or get additional materials from you they can go “Hey! That’s definitely Amanda’s branding, I know her, I love her, I’ve seen her before, I think I can trust her, it’s like we’re bffs!

Action steps to create a winning lead magnet:

  • Keep it cohesive – use the same fonts, colors and aesthetic as your website and other marketing
  • Use a template. You can easily customize it to match your own colors and fonts, and you don’t have to go through the agony of trying to lay everything out yourself. If the design you choose for the template is attractive to you, it will certainly attract others! Designer quality and aesthetics without the price tag, nice!
  • For goodness sake, don’t use a different variation of your logo “just for fun” because you can’t decide (yep I’ve seen it) or add fonts in that do NOT fit your branding “just because you liked them” No, no, no. Your wallet will thank you for keeping yourself on brand later with sales!

BONUS TIP: CHECK YOUR SPELLING AND GRAMMAR! No one trusts a person who can’t spell and didn’t proofread!

Lead Magnet Secret #3 – Show Your Face and Take It Easy on the Stock Photos

This might not be what you want to hear but….people want to see you! Unless you’re a troll living in a cave piled high with old pizza boxes, you can definitely grab a photo of yourself that is passable. In this age of iPhones, you’ve got the tools to do it and it doesn’t have to be perfect (My current branding pics? They’re taken with my iPhone self timer, with the phone propped up on a door handle in my condo common room!)

Seeing your face helps people connect with you, and trust you more quickly. Two things you want when you’ve got only a couple pages for people to know your brand. If you’ve got a team, include at least the founder’s photo, or a team pic! 

Go light on super stock-ish photos, everyone knows that recycled girl on a laptop pic isn’t you, and it can feel cold and distant. It’s totally cool to use a few stock photos, but be sure to snap a few shots that are unique to you! 

Action steps to create a winning lead magnet:

  • Snap and include a photo of you and your team to build trust in both you and your brand. People buy from those they like, know and trust!
  • Don’t write your life story, but a quick Hey, I’m ____ goes a long way!
  • Don’t overuse too many stock images, just add a couple for effect that contribute to your brand, and the goal of your lead magnet

Lead Magnet Secret #4 – Adding A Call to Action

So like…..what’s next? You’ve shared this amazing piece of free content, but unless you’re a charity, you’re probably reallllly hoping this results in some sales. But if you don’t tell your leads what to do next…..well….they won’t know.

Between life and work and kids and trying to fix a freaking bad hair day, they’re going to have forgotten about you minutes after they finish consuming your content.

So, you’re going to want to encourage them to take action BEFORE they finish. Make sure you include what they can expect next from you and tell them exactly what you want them to do. Want them to book a call? Link a button to your calendar.

Want them to buy something? Link that. Want them to visit a sales page on your website to learn more? Link it baby. Whatever you do, do NOT end that lead magnet without telling them how they can continue the relationship!  You can easily add hyperlinks to PDF’s in Canva.

But be careful here…. Don’t include more than ONE call to action. The hesitation over which to choose will probably result in choosing nothing at all. 

Action steps to create a winning lead magnet:

  • ALWAYS include a CTA ( Call to Action) that tells people ONE action you want them to take.
  • Make it stand out, a big button at the end of the PDF in the brightest color of your brand palette will be perfect.
  • Use an easy to understand phrase like “Book a Call” or “Sign Up” or “Learn More”.

Lead Magnet Secret #5 -Follow Up With an Email Sequence!

I am fully guilty of this one. I had a couple THOUSAND people on my email list before I put together a welcome sequence. Ooooof. Then when I finally did it and went back through all the people who hadn’t heard from me in like, a year, I lost a few hundred. Double oooof. Don’t do this ok?

Make sure you’re following up with your subscribers! They WANT to hear from you. They signed up to hear from you! If they don’t want to be there anymore they’ll unsubscribe and you can celebrate because your list will be a curated masterpiece of raving admirers.

Oh, and they’ll probably eventually buy something, too. We won’t get into WHAT to send here since that’s a whole other ballpark, but they need to be reminded of your existence weekly or at least biweekly in their inbox, and be reminded of the great content you share and great products you have for sale. Now that they know you, go hang out with them! 

You’ll lose all the trust and knowing and liking you built with your lead magnet if you ghost them like a bad Tinder date. Just don’t. My fave thing to do? Set up an automation with at least 5 emails, spaced 2-3 days apart so they get to KNOW you even more without you having to lift a finger. Sample mine by grabbing 5 FREE White Linen Instagram Posts (5 Stories are included now, too!)

Then, even if you’re not ready to sell anything specific yet, when you are, they’ll be all warm and fuzzy for ya.

Action steps to create a winning lead magnet: 

  • FOLLOW UP! Be sure to continue to email your fledgling list to keep yourself top of mind and so you don’t “waste” the efforts you put into your lead magnet.
  • Create an email sequence to welcome subscribers and share content weekly or bi-weekly. It should relate to your products and offers.
  • Even if you don’t have a specific offer in mind right NOW, build your list anyways and keep them warm….when you’re ready to sell, it will be so much easier.

There you have it, 5 Secrets to Creating the Perfect PDF Lead Magnet. You do NOT have to join the thousands of other lead magnets in the download folder graveyard if you keep your lead magnet focused on one quick win, a good length, cohesive and well branded and free of errors.

Don’t forget to include an ask in a call to action (you’ve totally earned it after providing that quick win, reciprocity ya know!) and follow up via consistent emails to make it all tie together and lead to sales….that thing we’re all here for so we can afford the organic strawberries at Whole Foods this week.  Now, get busy creating! 

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Kate Frances

    great tips – off to polish my lead magnet! it’s currently 12 pages and could probably be a mini course in iteself

    1. Tamara Morrison

      Glad it was helpful! For sure, a mini-course can certainly be a good freebie too presented as one, but for a PDF its best not to be too text heavy 🙂

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Tamara Morrison

Tamara is a Graphic Design & Brand Building expert that helps entrepreneurs craft the perfect brand. She gets inside your head to bring your dream brand out and to life! She’s been creative since, well, birth, and she spends her time traveling with her race car driver fiancée and she’s obsessed with her cat. 

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