In this post, we will discuss how using a lead magnet helped me boost my conversion rate by 414%.

Confused about what a lead magnet is, check out my post “What is a lead magnet.”

Intro – I was a lead magnet newb

When I first started my website, back in 2011, I really had no idea what I was doing. I didn’t realize I should be collecting emails and growing a list.

I also didn’t really bother with content marketing or growing social media. My goal was to do web design, and I wanted a website just to house a portfolio, some basic info like a little about myself and some pricing, and of course contact information.

Honestly, that was a huge mistake.

Later, having realized that it was the content that brought me readers, I started blogging a bit more and I promoted those posts across the web.

At that time, I also added email subscription forms, although I still didn’t value the email subscribers that much and I wasn’t using a lead magnet. It’s difficult to value your email list when there are only a few dozen people on it and it brings you only 2 or 3 page views per email blast.

It really took a year or two before I realized just how important an email list was. I think I realized this due to a few reasons:

Working on client sites and seeing how successful they were with email marketing.

Working with a few clients that have email lists in the thousands was probably the biggest factor in my coming to realize the importance of an email list.

I’ve worked with people who have 25,000 email subscribers or more. When they write a post, they send out an email blast and within a day or two have thousands of people come read their post. Obviously, we would all like to have such a list.

Reading more about how others valued their email lists.

I remember reading that John Chow thought an email list was the most valuable thing a blogger can have. As he was, and is, huge in the internet marketing world, that really stuck with me.

It seems like today there are tons of bloggers praising email lists (I’m doing it right now). A few notable ones off the top of my head are Pat Flynn and Neil Patel.

Finding more and more email related software.

Working in web design and internet marketing led to my discovering the plethora of software related to email marketing. Their are the mailing lists services like MailChimp, Aweber Email Marketing, Constant Contact, MadMimi, ConvertKit, and more! Then we have the CRMs and various popups and subscribe form software.

The fact that there are so many email marketing tools and tools related to email lists really is a dead giveaway regarding just how important an email list is.

Seeing social media changes that made an email list more attractive to me

Remember when we were all obsessed with getting Facebook likes?

It used to be that having someone like your page meant you could market to that person over and over on Facebook, as pages had a high reach (I think it was like 40 or 50%).

Facebook continuously brought that number down. It now seems to be at somewhere around 5-15%.

Just seeing social media change over the years has made me think that, while having a large social following is great, you really are in the hands of the social media site and they can change the rules or ban you at any time. You don’t really own your social following, but you do own your list.

As your list should have better reach and you completely own it, that makes an email list very valuable. Reaching someone in their inbox also is a bit more of a privilege and more personal than being spam in a social media feed.

Before using a lead magnet

I don’t have my complete statistics for my email subscriptions before I was using a lead magnet, but I do have the stats for when I started using SumoMe but did not yet use a lead magnet.

Before using a lead magnet, I had shown 11,796 popups and received just 34 email subscribers. That is a conversion rate of 0.29%. Terrible. 

I should mention that this number is probably a bit deceiving as, at one point, I was running multiple signup forms simultaneously, meaning a user may have been shown multiple forms (up to three) on the same page.

I believe I was using a sidebar widget, a widget at the end of posts, and the SumoMe Welcome Mat, which is a full page subscribe form that appears above your webpage on pages that you set it to appear on and according to rules you can set.

So I had up to three forms showing on a page, and thus, even if I had a 100% signup rate, it would show as 33.33%.

Starting to use a lead magnet

After finally realizing the value of an email list, I decided to focus on building my own list.

This of course means I had to decide on what type of lead magnet to use as bait to get people to subscribe.

There are many different things you can use as a lead magnet. Here is a list of 13 lead magnet ideas.

I ended using a lead magnet called “37 killer SEO tips,” which I gave away as a downloadable PDF. I used that up until January of this year, when I switched to the “Guide to bringing in web traffic in 2016” which I am currently using as a lead magnet on posts.

After using a lead magnet, I showed users 3239 popups and had 40 signups. That gave me a conversion rate of 1.2%.

1.2% isn’t too bad, but the goal really should be to get close to 3% for your general form with a lead magnet. You can do even better than that for specific campaigns or by using various other tactics.

I’m honestly a bit surprised that the number of popups shown with the lead magnet in was so low. I had almost 2,000 visitors the last month I have stats for, yet only 745 were shown popups that month.

That is no doubt down to the various rules I set for the popup, such as only allowing one popup per visitor per day and only showing the popups on posts.

Ready to build a lead magnet and grow your email list?
First read my article: Why Lead Magnets Fail.

Working more on building my email list

After beginning to use a lead magnet and focus on building my email list, I of course went on to employ other tactics to get more email subscribers.

My stats for the time when I just used a lead magnet only spans 3239 popups, which were shown to roughly 6,000 people over 15,000 page views.

Some of the other tactics I have used to grow my list include:

  • Automatically adding contact form submissions to my mailing list.
  • Asking people that email me if I can add their email to my list.
  • Using my homepage typeform to get users to give me their emails.
  • Making free content upgrades with WordPress to tempt users reading an article to give me their email in return for closely related content.
  • Using landing pages
  • Exporting emails from other services like outlook, gmail, and LinkedIn
  • Running a contest for free hosting

Once I started really focusing on building my email list, I found lots of tactics to use to do so. Those tactics allowed me to add a few hundred people to my list.

I also was fairly easily able to add 30 people or more each month just by talking with them one-on-one, which really helped me jump start my list and get it into the hundreds of people.

I have found that once you get your list into the hundreds, and once you actually know the people on your list, you really start caring more about the content you are sending out. I really don’t want to send anything that isn’t awesome and I don’t want to send out emails all that often, for fear that people will feel like I am spamming them.


I hope that this post has helped some of you out there that are not currently working to build your email list or that aren’t using a lead magnet to see the value in both.