Three Ways Lead Magnets Could Be Hurting Your Brand – And How to Fix Them

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Written by Matt Berringer

June 16, 2020

Lead magnets are an essential part of many inbound marketing programs. Just more than half of marketers report using some form of lead magnet to attract new prospects. If you are already familiar with lead magnets, click below to skip right to the three ways they could be hurting your brand. If you’re new to the topic, read on for some background information before you get started.

Jump to three ways lead magnets could be hurting your brand

What is a lead magnet?

A lead magnet is a resource that companies develop to attract potential customers. Most often, lead magnets are gated, meaning that they are only accessible after a lead has entered their contact information (typically an email address). In exchange for the email address, the lead gets access to the resource at no monetary cost.

Types of lead magnets

Lead magnets are more involved than a blog post and the type of magnet you develop will depend on the space in which you’re selling.

Examples of Lead Magnets for B2B

Lead magnets for business-to-business (B2B) sales will typically focus on educating the prospect about industry trends, providing ideas to solve common challenges, or providing tools to help them with a task. In B2B sales, the sales cycle can take months or even years. The goal here is not to go for the sale but to build trust and establish a relationship with the prospect prior to, or just as, they are entering a buying cycle. For this reason, many of these resources focus on broader category problems rather than a company specific sales pitch.

Pro Tip: You don’t have to create separate resources in addition to your existing blog content to create eBooks or related lead magnets. In many cases, eBooks or white papers are simply blog articles that are packaged together into one larger resource.

Examples of lead magnets for B2B include:

Lead magnets for eCommerce

The sales cycle for business-to-consumer (B2C) selling is usually much shorter than a B2B cycle. For that reason, lead magnets for eCommerce and B2C selling tend to be more focused on driving a sale in that visit to the website. You’ve probably seen this tactic at many retail-oriented websites. Most often these lead magnets will take the form of a coupon but other options are out there.

Examples of lead magnets for eCommerce or B2C include:

Do lead magnets work?

Lead magnets are effective. They are most effective though when they bring value to both sides of the sales process, the buyer and the seller. Prospective customers get free access to potentially valuable information, discounts, or tools and businesses get to connect with potential customers who may need the help that the business provides.

3 ways lead magnets could be hurting your brand

Though lead magnets are designed to help your brand build relationships with prospects. There are a few ways these resources can actually be hurting your brand. Let’s take a look at some of them.

1. Old technology = Poor user experience and makes your brand look out of the loop

It’s the dawn of the 2020s, mobile usage has skyrocketed over the past ten years to own 53 percent of web traffic but guess what? Many marketers are still following the same playbook from the early 2000s.

The old content marketing playbook goes something like this:

Research content marketing ideas (many skip this step). Write the content in Word or Google Docs. Have a designer lay it out in a visually appealing way. Save it as a PDF. Create the landing page and related form. Post the PDF online. Promote the content via social media and email.

Most of those steps still make sense today. But can you pick out the one that has outlived its shelf life?

If you picked number four you are correct. It’s 2020 and leading companies are still using a technology that was developed in 1993 to reach a mobile-first audience. See the disconnect here?

With all due respect to noted academic Billy Madison, it’s a little like this:

While PDFs were a great way to develop and distribute content in the early 1990s and 2000s, the internet, and the buying public have evolved to expect more. Marketers who are failing to deliver on those expectations risk losing pace with the competition.

PDFs have served us well, but it’s time to give them some well-deserved time off.

A few issues they present for prospects and marketers alike:

Not Responsive

They are unresponsive to the device that they are being viewed on. That means that regardless of the device (laptop, tablet, or phone) the sizing and placement of the elements doesn’t change. That can lead to a lot of pinching and zooming. And that’s just not the most sophisticated user experience. If you’re looking to make a good first impression, look beyond the PDF.

Not accessible

Accessibility is an important aspect of digital marketing and one that careful marketers won’t overlook. According to the Census Bureau, nearly 53 percent of web traffic have some form of disability.

Here again, static PDFs don’t meet the expectations of B2B buyers in 2020. Look for a solution that has built in accessibility features so that you aren’t shutting out large portions of your audience.

Not interactive

The data is in. According to this article from, “93% of marketers agreed that interactive content is effective in educating its buyers versus just 70% for static content.”

If you’re looking to educate, engage, and impress your audience with your brand’s interactive content, PDFs aren’t the best option. Choose a solution that’s responsive, accessible and provides options for additional engagement.

2. Not nailing lead magnet follow up

When done well, lead magnets can be a powerful tool for generating leads for your business and for interested readers to learn more about a specific topic. However, for every business that creates highly valuable content, there are ten more who use deceptive tactics to attract unsuspecting prospects and then hound them relentlessly via emails and phone calls.

This practice has unfortunately led to a downturn in the efficacy of lead magnets. Many prospects (this author included) who previously traded their contact information for a download are now hesitating. They wonder how much and how often the company offering the download will follow up with them after they submit their information.

This has led some to call for the un-gating of all content. They argue that if the content is good enough, your business can earn the attention of prospects without needing to require their contact information.

Still, if done well, and respectfully, lead magnets can be a powerful tool for driving new leads for your business.

If you’re going to build them, make sure you have a thoughtful and respectful lead magnet follow up plan in place and stick to it. Put yourself in your prospect’s shoes, how much and how often would you like to be contacted (if at all)?

3. Typos and other design errors make your brand look sloppy

Lead magnets that are meticulously researched and thoughtfully written can actually still hurt your brand if they contain typos, spelling errors, or design flaws. Put yourself in the prospect’s shoes. They are in charge of a large project that will cost a lot of money, are they going to trust the company that has typos in their content or the one that doesn’t?

Oftentimes, the people creating the content are the same ones who are charged with proofreading it. Unfortunately, that can lead to typo blindness. In this phenomenon, the author reads what they meant to type, rather than what they typed.

While Google Docs, Microsoft Word, and tools like Grammarly can do a very good job at catching most mistakes, it’s always best to have someone else review the work. Have someone who has never seen the content before take a look. They can provide feedback that automated services can’t (yet) including whether something really makes sense or could be worded more clearly. If you are really strapped for resources, think about hiring a freelance editor on, try changing the font on your draft or having your computer read the text out loud to you. Or you could just post it online, somone will find it for you. 😉

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