How To Use GDPR Compliant Lead Magnets To Grow Your Freelance Business

Learn how to use lead magnets to grow your email list, get 19 lead magnet ideas, and discover how to remain GDPR compliant as you market your offers.

person flipping through a Lead Magnet

Most people who visit your website aren’t ready to hire you or buy from you yet. They need time to get to know you, decide they like you, and gain trust in you before they’re ready to make a purchase — and the amount of time it takes to become ready to buy varies from person to person.

A lead magnet meets website visitors where they are in the buyer journey and provides a specific solution to a challenge they are currently facing in exchange for their email address.

It’s simply a trade. You provide them something of value that also promotes your freelance business and they provide you with their email address so you can stay in touch and market to them through your email newsletter and targeted email blasts.

Here are 19 ideas for lead magnets that work:

  1. Video trainings: Video training helps people get to know you and your teaching style. It gives them a sample of your expertise and a taste of what it may be like working with you or learning from you.
  2. eBooks: Dive deep on one specific topic and provide incredible value.
  3. Surveys: Surveys work great as short-term lead magnets Invite your audience to participate in the survey with the promise to share the results with them in a special report.
  4. Quick Tools: Provide a quick tool of value like a checklist, tips sheet, list of mistakes, inside secrets, scripts, or even an FAQ.
  5. Worksheets And Workbooks: Help your audience move the needle and actually get something done with a worksheet or workbook that guides them through simple exercises and the accomplishment of a goal.
  6. Demos and Tutorials: If you have a signature process or a product, connect with your audience through process demos and product tutorials that help them learn “the secret sauce.”
  7. Quizzes: If you want to segment your leads, consider using a quiz to help your audience learn something about themselves or find out what segment they belong to, then deliver specific solutions for them.
  8. Audio Downloads: Creating high-quality audio is much easier than creating videos and people love to download audios to their phone to listen to in the car, lounging by the pool, during a walk, or at the gym.
  9. Printables: Create forms, worksheets, tracking sheets, reminders, daily planners, business tools, manifestos, and other downloadable resources that inspire action and help your audience get things done.
  10. Calculators: Use your own proprietary calculations and formulas to help users make better buying decisions, see what they can afford, create budgets, or make financial plans.
  11. Webinars: Teach your audience something with highly-focused webinars that focus on the “How-To” and at the end include a call to action for the next logical step.
  12. First Book Chapter: If you’re an author, give away the first chapter of your book to capture leads and grow your email list and follow it up with a special sales offer.
  13. First Course Module: If you have an online course or program, attract new leads by giving away the first module for free to build your list. This gives them a sample of what’s to come in the rest of the course and provides you an opportunity to make an irresistible sales offer to those on your list.
  14. Challenges: Create a 3-7 day challenge to help your audience achieve one focused goal and make that goal something they truly desire and dream of. Be sure to have an upsell ready at the end of the challenge to help participants that the next step.
  15. Swipe Files: Provide a collection of emails, scripts, marketing materials, Facebook ads, and social media posts your audience can copy, paste, and customize for their business.
  16. Contests: Be careful with contests! The allure of a general contest that adds thousands of people to your list is great, but the downside is a bloated list of non-ideal leads. If you offer a contest, keep it as specific as possible, keep the prize on brand, and make sure it of value to your ideal clients.
  17. Product Finders: Help visitors make a purchase or find the best item for their needs. Invite them to answer a series of questions and based on the information they provide, offer product recommendations.
  18. Virtual Conferences Or Summits: Gather together a group of experts on a specific topic who each deliver a presentation or give an interview as part of a virtual conference (all talks on 1-2 days) or virtual summit (talks spread out over multiple days).
  19. Case Studies: Case studies help prospects learn about your services, the client experience, and how your offering fit their business needs. They also help the prospect relate to a past client’s story, identify themselves as a client, and see what’s possible.

Before the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) went into effect in May 2018, you could use a lead magnet to grow your email list with nothing more than an irresistible free offer, an opt-in box where someone could enter their email address and sign up, and a thank you page or follow up email that provided access to the item or a link to download the item.

Then all you had to do was market the lead magnet like crazy, watch your email list grow, and get new leads for your freelance business. But now, GDPR has changed the way lead magnets are used to build an email list.

What Is GDPR?

GDPR is a privacy law that applies to the processing of personal data — everything you do with any and all of the data you collect—from the point of collection to the point of deletion.

GDPR affects all personal data including names, email addresses, physical addresses, IP addresses, and all information collected automatically like through your analytics software, as well as any information added to your database or CRM system, and any information gathered from an opt-in, lead magnet, or other offer.

Also under the GDPR, you are required to communicate exactly how you are collecting all data, why you are collecting the data, what you do with the data, and who else gets access to the data, as well as how someone can request their data be removed, who they need to contact, and the complete contact information to do so. The easiest way to do this is to add it to your privacy policy and/or terms and conditions and include links to those pages anywhere you collect data or ask for consent.

While GDPR is a European Union regulation, it applies to any transaction, free or paid, where one party is in the European Union during the transaction.

  • If you are based in the European Union, you have to comply with the GDPR across your entire freelance business.
  • If you’re not in the EU, you only have to comply with GDPR when interacting with, marketing to, or selling to people in the EU.

Now, while I don’t have a typical eCommerce store, I do sell online courses like Profitable Project Plan and Estimating eCommerce, and I create and offer free lead magnets like my Creating Systems Workbook to grow my email list, and collect data through analytics, which means the GDPR applies to me because my audience and prospective clients are worldwide.

Some of the resources I found really helpful when preparing for and learning about GDPR include:

Lead Magnets, Email Lists, And GDPR

Lead magnets have traditionally been used to convert website visitors into email subscribers. This meant that if someone signed up or opted-in for your lead magnet, they would also automatically be added to your email newsletter and marketing list. But if any of your audience resides in the European Union, you’ve got to make some changes.

GDPR requires specific, freely-given, clear consent and consent can’t be a prerequisite to getting the lead magnet, free gift, webinar, ebook, or workbook.

If GDPR applies to you:

  • You can no longer add someone to your general email marketing list or email newsletter list when they opt in or sign up for a lead magnet. It also means you can’t add a newsletter checkbox to the opt-in and make it required.
  • For someone to be added to your general email marketing list, they must specifically agree to join your email list separately from any other offer. This means you can add a newsletter checkbox to the opt-in and make it optional. This way, if someone enters their email AND checks the checkbox, they can be added to your newsletter list. If they only enter their email, they’ll only get the lead magnet and related follow up.

Here are options for offering a lead magnet and remaining GDPR compliant:

  • Add a voluntary (unchecked) checkbox or a drop-down (choose yes or no) to your opt-in asking if they also want to receive your email newsletter.
  • Create a “middle page or sandwich page” between the opt-in and the thank you page that asks them to subscribe.
  • Add a call to action to subscribe to your email newsletter in the email that delivers access to the lead magnet.
  • Include promotions for your newsletter and a subscribe call to action in your lead magnet.
  • Communicate the benefits of your newsletter and ask for specific consent in the email follow-up sequence for a lead magnet.
  • Add an invitation and call to action to join your email list to your blog posts and website.

If you haven’t already, you should segment your email list into two groups: those in the European Union and those who are not. This way you have more flexibility with your lead generation tactics and list-building efforts in the future.

GDPR went into effect on May 25, 2018, and many freelancers I have spoken to didn’t realize it was retroactive, meaning it applies to your existing email list. If you can’t prove that you have specific, explicit, separate consent from people on your list to whom the GDPR applies, they need to be removed from your mailing list.

The Bottom Line With GDPR

Whether you’re a solo freelancer, a small creative agency, or an internet entrepreneur building an email list and leveraging lead magnets, GDPR isn’t something you can afford to continue to ignore. Really, it’s a positive change that will improve marketing and communications for both consumers and business owners.

When you combine the GDPR rules and compelling lead magnets, you’ll only be emailing those who have specifically requested to hear from you and those are the warm leads who will open your emails, pay attention to your content, and take action anyway.