Easy, Free Lead Magnets for WordPress

Do you want to grow your blog by creating a Lead Magnet?

Connect with new potential readers by offering something in exchange for their contact information, a name and email address.

When my wife, Laura, was ready to offer her first lead magnet landing page I thought it would be an easy task.  I thought, “Surely, there’s a decent, free WordPress plugin that allows me upload a file somewhere, provide a nice custom form and sync to Mailchimp.

Sounds easy, right??

Although there are many lead magnet plugins most of them didn’t work exactly like we wanted, nor were they free.  Other successful bloggers embed a form from their for-fee marketing websites.  We weren’t ready to start paying monthly fees just to put a PDF online.

So, I decided to create a way for Laura to offer multiple Lead Magnets for free.

There are posts out there on how to accomplish this. Many of the posts discuss how to modify your welcome emails in programs like Mailchimp and attach your file to the RSS email.  While that works and is a decent option for an initial welcome email, it doesn’t allow you to have multiple landing pages and lead magnets. In fact, none of the free or low-cost plugins that focus only on lead magnets manage multiple downloads/attachments and sync with email list providers.  (I’m sure there is one out there, but after an hour of trying multiple plugins I decided to blaze our own trail.)

But Wait! Before You Get to Work…

One potential risk of using this method is that emails will be coming from whatever server your WordPress site is hosted on.  In some cases, the main email providers (Gmail, Yahoo, AOL, etc.) will be suspicious of email coming from a random server claiming to be from you.  There are ways around this, too, but it is generally “safer” to set up a trusted SMTP email provider and use them.  Any of the main SMTP providers have plugins that make it easy to integrate with them, and then any email that WordPress sends will use that new connection.  Some of the popular options are:

  • GMail SMTP (may require a developer or Apps for Business account with Google)
  • Mailgun (Account required, but you can send up to 10,000 emails free each month!)
  • SendGrid (Account required. Starts at $9.95/month)

Free WordPress Lead Magnet Setup

Our solution was to use Contact Form 7 to create the embedded form.

Typically bloggers use this plugin to put a contact form on their website that allows visitors to submit a contact form to them.  But that’s not the only way it can be used.  With a few simple changes you can have the email sent back to the user and you can attach your lead magnet to it.  Sweet!

Before you start making your lead magnet form, make sure you’ve uploaded the lead magnet file through the “media” module in WordPress.  Once uploaded, copy the file URL. You’ll attach this URL to the email that WordPress will send to all of the people who sign up at your site.


  1. Find the new “Contact” item in your WordPress Admin menu and click “Add New”
  2. On the Form tab, remove the Subject and Message items from the contact form.  All you want is the Email (“your-email”) and Name (“your-name”) field.

  3. On Mail tab, setup the email that will get sent when someone submits the form.  By default, this is set up to send a submitted form to you, the blog owner.  In this case, however, you’ll configure it to send an email back to the user with an email attachment.  Use the following setup as a guide.
    • To: Use the included ‘mail-tags’ and set it to “[your-name] <[your-email]>”
    • From: Put your name and email. This is what will show in the visitor’s email client
    • Subject: Make it compelling, personal, and related to the content they registered for!
    • Additional Headers: An easy way to see who is registering for your download is to include you as a BCC.  Once you’re satisfied it’s coming through and working, you could edit this and remove yourself.  If it’s popular, you’ll get a lot of email.
    • Message Body: As most people learn, the more personal you can make this, the better. Email clients like GMail are really good at filtering out stuff that looks like an advertisement. Whatever you type in this box is exactly what they’ll see in their email.
    • File Attachments: THIS IS THE KEY!  Take the URL of the file that you copied earlier and paste it in this box.  The trick is that you need to make this relative URL to your website.  Depending on your setup you may have to play around a little, but in most cases, deleting everything before the word “uploads” will probably work.  The great thing is that when you save the form, it will tell you if it can’t find the file based on the path you gave it.
  4. Save the form!  Assuming you don’t have any errors, you’ll get a shortcode at the top of the screen to copy into your lead magnet Post/Page.

  5. Head over to your lead magnet post and paste the shortcode into the appropriate place on the page.

  6. Finally, save your post and give it a look!

Additional Tips

Save your leads

In step #3 above, I show how you can put your email into the form as a Blind Carbon Copy (BCC:).  While this gives you some assurance that the forms are indeed being downloaded, it generates a lot of email with the same attachment over and over again… all looking as if they’re coming from you.  It gets old quickly.

Instead, consider taking that BCC: tag out and installing a plugin that will save all of your form submissions in your WordPress DB.  We chose Contact Form Submissions.  It’s not a perfect plugin, but it does the job and allows us to know that things are still working.  The biggest problem is that it looks like all of the submissions are coming from you because, generally, CF7 is used to allow visitors to submit forms to you.  Not a big deal for us.

Integrate with your email list

Obviously the point of getting leads to download your stuff is so that they’ll give you their contact information.  At some regular interval (or with other plugins that I might cover later), you need to make sure these leads are getting added to your email lists.  They don’t do you much good just hanging out in your WordPress Admin screen.  🙂

Now go… lead those magnets!!!

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