What’s a good lead magnet for ecommerce?
Simply put, a good ecommerce lead magnet converts the right people -- those who are likely to become long-term customers and brand evangelists.
The right people aren’t just joining your list for a short-term incentive; they are joining because they are genuinely interested and invested in your brand for the long haul. It’s these quality subscribers who will buy from you again and again, effectively turning your email list into a money-making machine.
So when you’re thinking about a lead magnet for your product-based business, it’s important to think about it in terms of attracting quality subscribers over mere quantity.
In this article, I’m sharing why a discount should not be your go-to lead magnet and providing nine unique examples of ecommerce lead magnets to use instead.
Why a discount should not be your ecommerce lead magnet
First, let’s acknowledge that discounts are effective at getting people to join your email list. Promotional email capture strategies like discounts have been shown to have relatively high conversion rates, up to around 30% for some industries.
However, offering a first-time customer discount has become so common in ecommerce that it’s almost expected by consumers. In fact, 75% of people report searching their inboxes for discount codes before making a purchase online.
But this presents a problem for online stores seeking sustainable revenue.
When everyone who’s joining your email list is doing so to get money off their purchase, they expect discounts all year long. You end up creating a list of people who won’t buy from you at full price. After all, they didn’t join your list because they wanted your emails, they joined to get a discount. So, anything you send other than a discount may be a disappointment, leading to unsubscribes or poor engagement.
Not to mention, a discounting strategy runs the risk of cannibalizing your sales, as your profit margin decreases.
Fortunately, there are better ways to build a money-making email list.
9 unique ecommerce lead magnets (+ examples)
The unique lead magnets I’m sharing here capture the attention of consumers who are used to being flooded with the same-old, same-old discount pop-ups.
Additionally, these examples offer brands the opportunity to intentionally build an email list of people who are invested in their company and products.
Let’s take a look at these real-life lead magnet examples from small and large ecommerce brands.
Offering a free consultation is a common lead-magnet strategy in the B2B world, but it’s not often considered by ecommerce brands. Yet, for the right type of product, a consultation can be a delightfully unexpected and high-value way to introduce new consumers to your brand.
If you have a large enough team to handle consultations, you’ll reap the benefits of getting direct face time with potential customers: Insights into their behavior, the opportunity to have a sales call, and a deeper connection.
Annmarie Gianni Skincare is one brand using a free consultation to build a highly engaged email list. The brand offers virtual skin consultations with their experts to diagnose the customer’s skin concerns and recommend a personalized skincare routine using their products.
They use a simple banner on their website that leads to a Calendly scheduler to book a call:
A quiz lead magnet has the highest average conversion rate (even higher than a discount). According to some experts, the average conversion rate for a quiz is 50%!
Quizzes make for excellent ecommerce lead magnets not only because they convert so well, but also because they tend to attract higher quality, more engaged subscribers. Quizzes require some time investment on the part of the customer, so they’re unlikely to appeal to people who are just looking for a quick, one-time purchase. Instead, people who take your quiz are interested in interacting with your brand.
Quizzes also offer you the opportunity to segment your email list and send targeted (highly relevant) emails to each subscriber, leading to a happier, more engaged list.
Quizzes can help customers choose which products to buy, which cuts down on decision paralysis or confusion about what to buy. Plus, when customers choose the right product for them, returns and exchanges will decrease, lowering your costs.
Kettle and Fire is one brand using a quiz to build their email list and provide instant value for their customers. Their quiz features prominently on their home page, suggesting to website visitors that taking this quiz is the first step to shopping.
Customers are asked a series of questions and then delivered personalized product recommendations, streamlining the shopping process.
And in a genius move, Kettle and Fire always recommends a personalized bundle of products at the end of the quiz, increasing the likelihood that consumers will purchase more than one product (thereby improving their average order value):
Positioning your email list as a community is a way to entice website visitors to join your list without offering an explicit incentive.
This strategy helps people feel like they’re becoming a part of something bigger than themselves and finding a sense of kinship among other fans of your brand. The community strategy works so well because it fulfills one of humankind’s greatest needs, according to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs: Belonging.
Lodestone Candles of Kent & Co. uses the community strategy well. They refer to their email list as a “free membership” and explain that “members” of their email list receive promotions and even exclusive products that non-subscribers do not:
An email course is delivered one module at a time via the subscriber’s inbox.
An email course appeals to consumers who want to become masters of a craft or deepen their knowledge in an area. For this reason, an email course can work really well for a product brand centered around a craft (e.g. yarn for knitting), an activity (e.g. yoga gear), or a ritual (e.g. high-end tea sets).
An email course is not only an appealing offer for a certain type of consumer, but it also ensures that consumers get better results with your products, making them more likely to leave positive reviews, recommend your brand, and shop again.
For example, coffee appliance company Barista Lab has zeroed in on a target market of people who want to brew coffee-shop-quality coffee at home. For their lead magnet, they offer a free email video course to learn how to make coffee like a barista (using Barista Lab equipment, of course):
A product giveaway functions like a discount in that it’s easy to say yes to, it offers instant gratification, and it’s valuable to consumers. (Who doesn’t love free stuff?)
However, a product giveaway doesn’t prime consumers to expect discounts the way a discount would. Additionally, since you can control which product you give away, you know exactly how much financial value you are giving away to every subscriber (versus a percentage based on total cart value).
Finally, a product giveaway offers you the opportunity to introduce customers to a fan favorite that they may love so much that they buy it again, building future revenue into your lead magnet.
Kalon Clothing has a good example of a product giveaway as a lead magnet. They offer a free panty with subscribers’ first purchase. A product of this price point is not going to cannibalize the brand’s sales, but it still feels like an awesome welcome gift for new customers:
Valuable email content
One of the simplest ways to build a money-making email list of engaged subscribers is to ensure that people are signing up purely for the value of your emails.
This way, everyone who subscribes is genuinely interested in reading your emails, which means they’re more likely to open them. And on the occasion that you promote a product to your list, more of your subscribers will be accustomed to opening and reading your emails -- thus more people will view your promotion.
Many ecommerce brands give a half-hearted attempt at this strategy, with opt-ins that say something like, “Join our email list to receive future promotions and product updates!”
However, company news and a vague promise of future promotions aren’t enticing enough, not when customers are constantly being asked to join email lists.
Instead, focus on creating specific, valuable content that stands out from other brands.
For example, you can get creative with your valuable content, like candle and stationery company Liberate and Lather. The company invites website visitors to join their email list to receive monthly journal prompts from the founder. This offer is truly unique and something that subscribers can look forward to every month!
Checklist or list
A checklist provides free, educational content to subscribers, usually in the form of a PDF download. A checklist feels like a quick win for website visitors, making it easier to say yes to than something more in-depth like an ebook.
A checklist is ideal for brands in industries where some education is desired or required to get the full benefits of your products. For instance, a CBD brand might create a checklist of daily wellness activities to do every day, including taking CBD. Consumers can use the checklist to keep their self-care on track and learn how to incorporate CBD into their routines.
For another example, check out Black Girl MATHgic’s free checklist lead magnet. The company sells products designed to help parents foster a love of math in their kids, and they offer a free list of ways to build math confidence in their girls:
For brands that are struggling to develop a content-rich lead magnet (such as a quiz or checklist) but also don’t want to rely on a discount, offering free shipping for new subscribers is a good option.
Free shipping is easy to provide, and as a one-time offer, it often doesn’t cost your company much money. But for consumers, free shipping feels like major value. 90% of consumers have reported that they’d shop online more if they had a free shipping option.
Like a discount or free product giveaway, free shipping feels like a no-brainer to say yes to.
Jewelry company Project Moment Designs uses this strategy effectively with a pop-up offer:
A workbook is a highly engaging lead magnet for ecommerce. Not passive content to just be consumed, a workbook invites subscribers to interact with your content right away.
A workbook is an ideal lead magnet for many industries, but it’s a particularly good fit for brands in the self-help, wellness, or fitness industries. These industries tend to attract consumers who are motivated to improve their lives and so would be interested in investing time in a workbook that promises to help them reach their goals.
Supplement brand Gauge Life promotes a workbook for tracking macros (a nutrition habit) across a banner at the top of their website. Though the content of their workbook is not directly related to their supplement products, it is aligned with their audience’s ultimate desire to improve their health via nutrition.
Smart ecommerce brands know that in the chaotic world of online shopping, it’s important to stand out and be intentional with your marketing. This certainly applies to your email marketing and list-building.
So, it’s time to think beyond the discount as a lead-magnet. Instead, focus on offering something that will attract and convert high-quality, long-term subscribers. Hopefully, this article has given you more than a few ideas.
And once you’ve got a unique lead magnet up and running, you can’t just leave all your new subscribers hanging. This is where an email welcome sequence comes in.