5 Lead Magnet Ideas for Attracting Leads for your Online Course

For online course creators. 7 minutes read

When was the last time you joined a mailing list after being invited to “Subscribe to our newsletter”?

In 2022, the average person receives over 100 emails a day. If you want the privilege of access to a person’s inbox, you need to earn it first. In other words, you need a lead magnet.

For online course creators, lead magnets are an essential first step of your sales funnel that will help you build your mailing list and your pool of prospective students.  But first, let’s take a look at what a lead magnet actually is.

What is a lead magnet?

As the name lead magnet suggests, a lead magnet is.. Well, it’s a magnet… for leads.

Clever, huh?

A lead magnet is a free resource that’s designed to offer some value to prospective customers in exchange for joining your mailing list. But this is only part of the role that lead magnets play in your marketing strategy. For online course creators, a well-crafted lead magnet also provides a taste test of the value that your course offers.

Why you need a lead magnet

Think of the usefulness of a lead magnet as being two-pronged.

They build your mailing list with prospective students

Email marketing is one of the oldest, but most effective forms of marketing. If it’s done correctly, email marketing can yield an impressive ROI of $36 for every dollar spent. But as we mentioned above, many people feel like they’re at peak email. People don’t sign up for mailing lists without receiving some value, first. Think of it as an exchange. You offer something of value to your prospects, they let you send you emails.


Lead magnets are a preview of the value your course offers


Ok, great.

Spend 5 minutes making a lead magnet, collect some emails, sell some courses.

Easy, right?

Not so fast.

Sure, you’ve got the email, but if your lead magnet doesn’t motivate them to learn more, or offer any value, they’re not likely to open any other emails you send them. They might even unsubscribe! For this reason, a lead magnet needs to be truly valuable. It should solve some of your student’s problems, or satisfy some of their curiosity, but leave them wanting to know more about what you have to offer.

Now that we’ve covered what a lead magnet is, and why you need one, here are 5 different lead magnet ideas you can use to market your online course!


1. A short online course

While many course creators may shudder at the thought of this, offering a smaller, a free online course can act as a highly effective lead magnet.

”But what if they just take the free course, and not the paid one?”

I hear you ask.

This is a valid concern, and that’s why you need to be careful with this strategy. Offering a free online course is a balancing act. The course should satisfy some of the student’s curiosity, but not all of it. You need to provide just enough value to pique the student’s curiosity, but not so much that they’re satisfied.

Think of it as a movie trailer. A good movie trailer shows you enough of the movie to get you excited, but if it shows you too much, you feel like you’ve already seen the movie, and you don’t want to watch it.

If you can strike this balance, a free course is the perfect lead magnet for your course.

It builds a relationship with your prospects and gives them a feel for what you’re like as a teacher. They’ll be excited to read your emails, and to learn more from you, in the future.


2. Assessments or Quizzes

People love taking quizzes. They love to learn about themselves, where their skills are, or what direction they should head in.

This is especially true of students. They want to gain mastery and competence, and so it’s important for them to know where they stand, and what they have to learn. For this reason, assessments and quizzes make excellent lead magnets for online courses.

But let’s think about the quiz itself, and how it can help you build a relationship with your prospective students.

It’s important to make sure that your quiz is aligned with your online course, and either piques their interest in learning more, or helps them close their gaps in knowledge.

For online courses, we recommend using a skill or knowledge assessment. Your goal when asking when formulating the questions should be to make students aware of what they don’t know, and encourage them to learn more.

If the assessment is too easy they might think:

Great, I’m already a pro at this, I don’t need to learn anymore

If it’s too hard, they may be totally discouraged, and lose interest. Ideally, you want students to be encouraged, but also motivated to fill their gaps in knowledge.

3. Free Webinars

Webinars are another fantastic lead magnet idea for your online course. Like a short free course, but live, a webinar gives your audience a preview of how you teach, your personality, and the value they can expect. It also attracts high-quality leads, who are explicitly interested in learning about your course material. With a well-executed webinar, you can expect a conversion rate ranging from 5-20%.

Note that this is only true of well-executed webinars. A lot goes into putting on a good webinar, from the marketing of the event, to structuring the webinar so that it leads to conversions.  To find out how to run a successful free webinar as a lead magnet, check out our guide, here.


4. Templates

Depending on the content of your online course, a useful template can make an excellent lead magnet.

We all have pesky things that we spend far too long doing. This is where templates come in. They simplify complicated tasks, and give us a framework to do things we don’t like doing quickly, and more efficiently. From your perspective, as an online course creator, a great template can be a gold mine. If your leads use this template regularly, guess who they’re reminded of every time they use it?

You! That’s who.

Consider this hypothetical customer journey.

Let’s say you’re selling a web design course, and you create a blueprint on how to design a homepage.

Somebody who is struggling to build their own website will find your template and sign up to your mailing list. As they’re designing their site, they regularly refer to your blueprint as they go. Meanwhile, they’re receiving emails from you with helpful tips about web design principles. They begin to realise that they could do this much more easily if they had your help because you clearly know what you’re talking about, and so they decide to invest in your course.

And bingo, that’s a sale!

In short, templates are great because they’re used repeatedly, and each time they’re used, they’re reminding of you, and your course.


5. Instructional Guides/ Cheat Sheets

Lastly, instructional guides are another great lead magnet for your online course. They come with the same benefits of a free online course, though this will take much less time for you to prepare. Note that it is harder to build a relationship through an instructional guide than it is through a free course, but the trade-off is that it is much faster to make. Like templates, cheat sheets are particularly useful if it’s on something that the user will refer to repeatedly.

Every time they need a reminder of how to do something, they’ll be reminded of you, and your brand.


Final Thoughts


Now that you know what a lead magnet is, why they’re important and you have some ideas for different types of lead magnets you can build to promote your online course, you’re now well on your way to effectively marketing your online course.

Getting your lead magnet right is important, but it’s only one piece of your online course’s marketing puzzle. You’ll also need to build a well-optimized funnel to make sure that these leads convert, otherwise you’ll only be giving away value for no good reason.

If you need help with every other stage of your funnel, from email marketing, to the landing page for your lead magnet, why not speak to a team of experts in online course marketing who can build your whole funnel, and drastically boost your course sales figures.




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