How to Sell Online Courses Using a Lead Magnet

Last Updated on July 21, 2023 by Monica Snyder

If your lead magnet is not selling your online courses straight from the lead magnet, or you don't have a lead magnet yet, it is time to fix that in your business.

In this post, I'm detailing my 6-part S.E.R.V.E.S. framework for building lead magnets that make your new subscriber thrilled to know you and get you sales.

It is this same framework that I use with me and my clients. I developed it over time because I was tired of seeing all these crazy lead magnets like 800-page PDFs.

Ain't nobody got time for that.

Lead magnets are something you generally create quite a bit in your business, so the next one you create, make it work harder for you.

S - Solves One Struggle

The first S stands for solves one struggle. We're gonna talk about that because here's what I see.

Many people build these crazy lead magnets that are trying to solve all the problems for their readers all at once.

And people don't want that anymore. 

These days with our attention spans, we want a quick hit and quick win to know if we're going to like your style of working or how you think about things. 

So no longer are you going to create a 70-page ebook? Okay. Promise me that you won't.

Your lead magnet must give your reader a quick dopamine hit or a big aha moment that shifts the way they think.

When you're able to do that, your prospect immediately trusts you more and is more likely to buy from you because of two reasons. 

  1. It is human nature. When we give something to somebody, and it changes the way we think, we immediately like them more and want to do the same for them.
  2. Because you haven't given them so much, they're not overwhelmed and feel like they have this work to do before moving on to the next thing with you. 


And this is why it's crucial to keep it to one struggle. 

Because if you're trying to solve all the things, they're going to go off and try to do all those things before coming into your course. And your course is where you want them so you can give them the best support possible.

How Do You Find the Right One Struggle for Your Lead Magnet?

Your people struggle with all kinds of things, so sometimes it is hard to pick just one struggle. So, I want to give you some tips and tricks around this.

Grab a notepad. 

Write down five to seven things that your product can help people solve.

For example, if you are creating a course around email marketing, you're going to talk about email marketing and its problems. One of the big things that I hear about email marketing is that people don't know how to write their emails.

So I would write that down. 

Another one is that they don't know how to get their open rates up. So I would write that one down.

Keep writing and make that list of things your product helps people solve. 

When you do that, they're generally big problems, so I want you to break them down to the next level by thinking, what are the problems within this problem? 

You're digging for something that takes 30 minutes to solve.

And that goes into our second part. And I'm going to go into that a little bit more, but you want your lead magnet to be easily consumable for them to get into momentum and go along with you to get into your product. 

So keep breaking down those problems. 

I'll keep with the example with email marketing.

So let's say somebody is thinking, I don't know how to get my open rates up. 

As the expert, I know the best way to get your open rates up is to improve your subject lines. So I would create a lead magnet with a 30-minute lesson on how to improve your subject lines to create better open rates. It will probably include templates. 

See how specific that is? That headline pulls a reader in because they know they’ll solve that problem immediately.

Then, the goal is that the reader will think, I like how she did that… so I'm gonna go get her whole course on email marketing! 

Starting to make sense?

Don’t Make this Mistake

Now, there is one thing I want to point out here, cause I see a lot of people getting this wrong. 

You want to make sure that the person who sees your lead magnet offer knows they have that problem.

So if I were building that one about subject lines, the person wanting that might think to themselves, oh, I don't have good open rates. And I know that the answer is subject lines. 

But I'm not going to necessarily talk about subject lines until they've already opted in, so I create curiosity.

I might say something on my landing page like the top 3 ways to improve your open rates – grab this 30-minute worksheet and get started today.

I didn't talk about subject lines there, but I know that the answer to getting higher open rates is subject lines. 

You want to create curiosity by keeping that answer to yourself for after the opt-in. 

So solve whatever problem they think they have. Don't tell them the solution yet –  meet them where they are with their problem, and then bring them to the solution.

Got it? Good.

E - Easily Consumable

Your lead magnet needs to be easy to consume for the person reading it. This is great because it makes it easier for you to create! 

There are 29 types of lead magnets. I know it can get overwhelming to figure out which one to create, so I created this matrix for you.

Lead Magnet Create and Consume Matrix

On the up and down side, this matrix shows you how easy a lead magnet is for your lead to consume. Meaning, how easy is it for them to take this in? 

And in the top (the purple and the green), there’s the assessments, the case studies, audits, planners, templates, etc. All these things are pretty easy for them to consume.

Now across the bottom, we have how hard it is for you to create versus how easy it is to create. 

Creating challenges, video series, Facebook groups… all those are hard for you to create and hard for your lead to consume/do.

This is why you will make the lead magnets in the top right corner, the green corner.

Don't get me wrong, there's always a place and time for something like a challenge, a webinar, a quiz or things like that.

But, the speedy ones you want to go to market and test with are going to be in the top right corner of this matrix. Your audits, cheat sheets, swipe files, and things like that are easy to create and easy for your person to get a quick win. 

Those lead magnets are gold. 

Now that's going to bring us into part three, which is the relationship ramp.

R - Relationship Ramp

I see people getting this wrong because what they miss about building a relationship is that it's all about managing and setting expectations. 

I’ve learned that if I have a conversation with somebody and I learned to set expectations and make those clear upfront, things just work out better.

I may be the only person on the planet, maybe not the only one, but one out of a few who had conversations with my husband throughout our relationship. Questions like what do you expect of a girlfriend? What do you expect of a wife? What do you expect of a mother? And we have a rock-solid relationship because we continually set expectations, so I encourage you to do the same in your lead magnet.

Set Expectations:

You're going to set those expectations by telling the person what they can expect, right? 

  • How long will this take? 
  • What can they expect as an outcome? 
  • What roadblocks might they hit?


Things like that will help build that relationship ramp beyond the standard. Like, hi, I'm so and so, and this is what I do for you, right? Show them rather than tell them.

This is how you create a subscriber that loves you.

V - Visually Compelling

Now, let's talk about part four, the visually compelling part of the lead magnet that SERVES. 

Most people think that a pretty lead magnet is good enough and yeah, it needs to be pretty, but it needs to be a specific kind of pretty. 

The cover should instantly let people know what they're getting.

And I like to call this Visual Velocity™.

Visual Velocity™ has three parts:

  1. clear imagery
  2. a few words 
  3. a tangible outcome


So what does this look like? Let me show you what this lead magnet here.

free lead magnet templates for Canva

I have three parts to this. So the one part is the clear imagery, right? You can see that these are can templates and you can even see that I have the little banner of Canva in the corner so people know that it's a Canva template. 

The second part is a tangible result. The template itself is the result. They know what they're getting. 

And the third part is the few words. It says templates, right? 

So if you look at this image, you immediately know what you're getting out of this lead magnet.

This lead magnet converted so well for me because of Visual Velocity™. When people hit my landing page 72 out of every 100 opted in! That's just bananas, right?

And this is why Visual Velocity™ is so important. So create visuals that increase the speed of understanding so that people take action. 

And don’t forget to make it something that they want. Be obvious, go over the top obvious.

Pro Tip: Visual Velocity™ does not just apply to your landing pages or your lead magnets. You should add it to your sales pages and all over the place because the faster that people understand what it is that you can provide them the faster they can take action.

E - Explains a New Problem

And that brings us to part five, which is to explain the new problem. That sounds like a lot, but all you're doing is presenting them with the next problem. 

Saying something like, “Now you may be wondering how to _______________?” where the blank is the next problem that they're going to have.

So, for example, with my lead magnet templates, I would write, “now you may be wondering how to take these lead magnet templates and turn them into a funnel that brings you leads every day?” 

That's it. It's that simple. 

You're just going to use that as the transition into step six, which is to present them with your solution, which is suggesting the next steps.

S - Suggests Next Steps

Here is where you make an offer for them to take the next step with you. It doesn’t matter if that’s to purchase, book a call, watch a webinar, etc.

You’re going to put it right after explaining the new problem. It goes together like this. 

“Now you may be wondering how to take these lead magnet templates and turn them into a funnel that brings you leads every day? Well, that's awesome because I have created a course just to teach you that it's called Automated Audience, and I've got all the details below. You can just click to find out and see if it's a right fit for you.”

Do you see how simple that was? And not pushy?

Get the Nitty-Gritty Details on Creating a Lead Magnet that S.E.R.V.E.S. with Automated Audience

Now Create Your Lead Magnet!

Now, you know how to create a lead magnet that SERVES! Give it a whirl, or let me know what questions you have in the comments!

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How to Sell Online Courses Using a Lead Magnet

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