The #1 Problem With Your eBook Lead Magnet Ideas

How To Reduce Your Lead Cost By At Least 50% (See Our Example Where We Lowered Lead Cost By 5064%, From $39 to $0.72)

Coming up with 100 lead magnet ideas is hard, but it's certainly doable:

  • copy successful eBook lead magnets from other marketers in your niche
  • use Reddit "Top All-Time" posts for headlines from a related subreddit
  • search on Google using the "Keywords Anywhere" chrome extension to see which topics have demand
  • ...and whatever other strategies you find on Google.

Unfortunately, you don't have an "ebook lead magnet idea" problem, so none of these strategies really matter.

What you really have is a lead cost problem, which is solved by market testing.

My early marketing days were a constant stream of clients imposing poorly conceived offers to me, and then I executed them. Because no one wanted their offer, the lead cost was high, with little room for me to improve it without completely changing the offer.

SIDEBAR (skip this if you just want the meat)

Why these offers sucked

The problem is that my clients had no idea what the difference was between a top-of-funnel (TOF) offer and a bottom-of-funnel (BOF) offer.

For your reference, people in the TOF have never heard of you, so you need to focus on what interests them ("5 renovation trends that homeowners will regret in 20 years"), rather than selling your service ("Get a consultation with X renovation company today!"), which is a better fit for BOF when paired with some kickass credibility-boosting copy & social proof.

Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Google Display = almost always TOF unless you're remarketing or using a very specific audience. When we think about prospecting (reaching new customers), we're usually talking TOF.

BOF traffic is almost exclusively located in Google Ads Search, which is why that's a great place to start when doing paid ads. There are always exceptions, don't be a dick.

This is of course an oversimplification, but a good starting point if you're just starting to think about the relationship between platforms and TOF/BOF.

When you're marketing to top-of-funnel (TOF) traffic, the topic of your lead magnet is EVERYTHING. So you can come up with 150 lead magnet ideas, but it's pretty useless if you don't have a way to evaluate those ideas in the marketplace.

How do you know if your idea is good? People WANT it. So your goal as a marketer is to find out what people want.

Here's an example:

We ran a lead magnet for an accounting client of ours. Our shittiest lead magnet ideas got leads for around $25. Our best lead magnet ideas got leads for around $4 – and we changed NOTHING but the topic to achieve this result. This is the difference between a lead magnet people want, and one that people don't want.

A bit of additional optimization got our lead cost under $1.

If you took a look at the topics we ran, you might not have been able to predict the winner. Getting 50 ebook lead magnet ideas is no problem, but for most marketers, they don't have a reliable way to market test these ideas (ie. find out if people want it).

You can run labor-intensive customer surveys, or use SurveyMonkey to ask website visitors their opinion. These take a while and you don't really trust the results anyway.

The Solution No One Wants To Hear About (Until Now): Market Testing

Before social media, market testing involved paying a research company a quarter of a million dollars to perform all sorts of research tasks: focus groups, traditional split-testing on billboards or newspaper ads, and a variety of other stuff neither you or I have ever heard of.

With the advent of Facebook, people started to cut their costs significantly when running tests. It's not crazy to get a test done with 1 or 2 thousand dollars.

But that's still thinking the old way. There's no machine learning based turbo-powered market testing involved (should I coin that phrase?).

Now here comes the right hook: the average test I run on a lead magnet costs me $2.66. LESS THAN 3 DOLLARS! That means I know whether an idea is a winner or loser for the cost of a McDonald's dollar menu burger (at least in Canada), with about 80% certainty.

That means I can bypass the cost of:

  • a design for my PDF ($500)
  • designing a cover for the book ($300)
  • a writer to build the content (2000 words X $0.30/word = $600)

...until I actually know the lead magnet is going to work. If you've read the Four-Hour Work Week, you know it's better to test out multiple very different ideas before committing to one of them and getting into production costs.

You might have 69 lead magnet ideas, but there's no way you're going to go to market with that many ideas. You'll probably pick one without researching, and pay $0.80/click for your traffic.

Here's what it looks like when you market test your ebook lead magnet idea:

Before we optimized this client's ads + lead magnet, they were paying about $39/lead. Now it's $0.77. A 50x reduction in lead cost was pretty decent!

By the way, we ran about 231 unique ideas before we found that ad

Of course, depending on your niche you might not be able to get $0.07 clicks, but don't fret as more competitive (expensive) niches usually have a bigger reward anyways (that's why they're competitive).


I tend to skip the design costs for eBooks anyways and just do them in a Google Doc. When I deliver the lead magnet, I just deliver the link. That way if we ever make updates to the lead magnet, they're live and automatically available to anyone who has that link.

It might not be pretty (a little bit of font styling goes a long way!), but when you have a market-testing mindset you'll realize that profits don't come from fancy eBook designs but from being able to run tests quickly.

Besides, what would you rather have?

1) an ugly Google Doc with AMAZING content that rocks your world


2) a beautifully-designed Adobe InDesign doc with that same old "so so" non-insightful garbage that everyone spews out.

If your content converts readers into customers at a 10% conversion rate, an upgraded design will MAYBE bring that up to 12% (unless you're literally a design agency where that matters). It's not the thing that you should focus on at the beginning

Once your content is bringing in customers as a steady marketing machine, THEN spend your resources making it beautiful.

Set the Google doc to "view-only" in the sharing permissions or you might find trolls visitors making you look stupid.

Big Data VS Small Data

If you're a seasoned marketer, the hairs on the back of your back probably were raised when you heard me say "to 80% certainty" 9 paragraphs above this one.

Every blog today is constantly going on about having 99% certainty in your tests. But why? Why do you care so fucking much about having completely certain tests?

It slows down your testing velocity by about 100x, for just a little bit more certainty.

Here's a little chart I drew up for a client to explain why 80% certainty will kick 99% certainty's ass almost every time (doesn't apply to medicine or religion):

We're being pretty generous to the big data method here. If I was being honest I would probably say the average marketer runs 1 test (not 3). Ps. each winning test represents about a 2% improvement in lead cost in this example.

While the small data approach has 24 false positives, it also has 96 true winners (as opposed to 2). If you have the internal fortitude to deal with the risk and uncertainty, you should use a small data approach to testing because the benefits are enormous.

This small data approach is how I've taken landing pages from a 15% conversion rate to a 35% conversion rate in under a month. It's a lot easier to improve your results when you can run 2 new tests every day. Most marketers pay for 1,000 page views to determine the winner of a split-test; I pay for 30.


Lesson? Find a method to TEST your lead magnet ideas before worrying about what the ideas should be.

I think everyone has a deep-down nagging that this is the right way to do it. Every marketing book you read always starts with stuff like "know your customer" or "know your market", but the gap to get there always seems big and most of us are pretty comfortable shooing it under the carpet like bad linoleum.

You don't have to do that any longer. Run two Facebook ads and measure the CTR. I have a lot of metrics that I use to test this stuff, but if I told you every parameter to look for you would never do it. Keep it simple and compare CTR of two different ads. Turn them off after 1,000 impressions. BAM, you just market-tested.

Rinse-and-repeat, and do it quickly (these tests can usually be run and completed in 2 hours). I don't recommend running more than 15 ideas at 1 time though as ad fatigue can start to interfere with the data you're receiving.

I have a Google Doc where I've written up a bunch of notes about how we do market testing if you're interested. And if you don't want to do this yourself, book a call to talk with me now.

Andrew Muller

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