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How to Easily Deliver Lead Magnets with Mailchimp

May 7, 2020 | Business, Marketing

Updated: December 21, 2021

Lead magnets are great, but they can be complicated to set up on your website or other marketing channels. You can implement this valuable marketing tactic a million different ways, but the way I describe below has worked well for me, requires no coding knowledge, and is completely free!*

*Please note, Mailchimp is actively changing their automation feature and who is able to use it. This article uses the “Classic Automation” which, if you have a new account, you may not have access to (according to this Mailchimp help article). Before you dive in, I recommend skipping down to the automation section and seeing if you have access to this feature. If not, you may need a paid plan at this point – sorry! I have tried to find as many workarounds as possible, but we may be at the end of the road here!

👀 Prefer to watch how it’s done? Follow along in this tutorial (updated for 2021!) 👇

Here’s what you’ll need:

  1. A Mailchimp account (can be a free account – yes, you do NOT need a paid account for this – promise!)
  2. A PDF (or other doc type) of your opt-in

But first, what is a lead magnet and why should you use one?

Lead magnets, also commonly called opt-ins, freebies, or swipe files, are valuable free pieces of content that you give to people in exchange for an email address. Gone are the days where people will sign up for your newsletter without getting some kind of value in return. Yes, your newsletter is probably full of valuable content – but what sounds more enticing – getting something valuable that you want right NOW, or waiting to get something that may or may not be valuable to you in the future? Either way, you get the person’s email address, and with the lead magnet, your customer gets something they want immediately – win-win!

Lead magnets are a form of inbound marketing, and get people into your sales funnel with a low level of commitment and cost (yes, providing an email address is still a “cost” – we all know how many emails we already get!). From there, you can nurture those leads, form relationships with them, and eventually (hopefully) turn them into loyal customers.

What if you don’t have a lead magnet yet?

While this blog is focused on the mechanics of delivering a lead magnet you’ve already developed, if you need inspiration, check out this post from Hubspot. Just make sure your lead magnet is something your audience will find valuable – and include a call to action at the end with the ways the reader can get in touch with you. Use a program like Canva or Adobe Illustrator to make it eye-catching and aligned with your brand identity.

Let’s deliver your lead magnet!

Lead magnets can be delivered a few different ways, with the most common being:

  1. Post the file on a page on your website that’s accessible once someone provides their email address, or

  2. Send the file to the person once they provide their email address.

We’ll be using the second method in our process here. With this method, the main issue you need to overcome is being able to tag or segment your email list, so the right people get the right lead magnet when they sign up. Generally speaking, you should always operate from one email list that you then segment for different purposes (i.e. different interest areas, different sign-up locations, etc.). That means you truly only have one Mailchimp form for adding people to your email list. But you need to be able to send a specific lead magnet to a specific person – you don’t want people who entered their email address for lead magnet A to be sent lead magnet B, or vice versa.

Therefore, you need to designate people on your email list based on what they signed up for – did they sign up for your general newsletter, your grocery shopping list workbook, your free meal plan, or something else? Once they’re tagged appropriately, it’s pretty easy to send lead magnets based on a subscriber’s tag.

The problem: Automatically tagging your subscribers in Mailchimp

The problem with Mailchimp is that it’s pretty hard to a.) automatically tag people based on their sign-up location with email sign up forms built outside Mailchimp (i.e. you use your website theme’s email form, or a plugin) and b.) make a nice-looking email opt-in form within the Mailchimp platform.

What to do?! Use Mailchimp’s landing page feature!

This allows you to tag people based on the landing page they sign up on and easily deliver the lead magnet to them. You can link to the landing page from your website, social media profiles, or anywhere else. While this means you have to let go of having a sign up form right on your website, there are countless companies these days who are opting for the link/landing page combo, rather than collecting an email address right away.

Hubspot Lead Magnet | Whitney Bateson Digital Strategy

Hubspot’s lead magnet within one of their blog posts opts for a link that leads to a landing page with more details and an email form, rather than placing the emails sign up within the blog post itself, which can be distracting. The landing page also allows Hubspot to describe the resource in more detail to ensure site visitors convert.

Follow these steps to deliver your lead magnet via Mailchimp

So let’s dive in. The process has three parts:

  1. Setting up a landing page on Mailchimp to describe your lead magnet and collect email addresses

  2. Creating an automation email to deliver your lead magnet to subscribers

  3. Putting the link to the landing page on your website, social media, etc.

Step 1: Create a landing page

To begin creating a landing page, log in to your Mailchimp account and click the “Create” dropdown at the top of the page, then select “Landing page.”

Give it a name and select your audience (should be your entire email list in most cases), then click “begin“.

Choose your favorite template to begin designing your page. I like to keep mine super simple, but the design is totally up to you!

Now it’s time to play! Add your logo, an image, drag and drop content blocks from the menu on the right side, add a “sign up form” block to capture emails, and really make it your own! (And if you need to see all of this in action, remember to check out my tutorial embedded above).

Mailchimp Landing Page Lead Magnet Design Screen Screenshot | Whitney Bateson Digital Strategy

Once you’re done customizing your landing page, click “Save & Close” on the bottom right bar.

Add a page title that describes the content of the lead magnet and customize the URL (so it ends with something a little more user-friendly).

✨ This next step is THE most important step: Tag people who sign up on this page.

You’ll see the Audience and Tags section – click “Edit Audience.” Your audience will likely be your single mailing list, so you can leave that as-is, but you will want to create a Tag for this landing page. Personally I like to name them like “Marketing Guide Download” or “October 7 Masterclass” so I can easily keep track of them. It’s for internal use, but over time you’ll likely rack up a lot of them, so I suggest having a clear, consistent naming system.

Simply click the “+” and type your unique tag name, hit enter, and it should now appear.

This is what allows you to send the specific lead magnet only to these people AND allow people already on your mailing list to sign up for DIFFERENT opt-ins.

You’ll see your tag listed under Tags – click Save.

Optional Settings for Tracking

If you would like to track the performance of your landing pages and automations, (I highly recommend you do so) then scroll down to the “Settings & Tracking” box and add the tracking options you want to enable. Save.

Publish!

Last but not least, publish your landing page by clicking “Publish!”

Check out Mailchimp’s guide to Creating a Landing Page if you need a bit more instruction on this topic.

Step 2: Create the email (automation) that will deliver the opt-in

Update December 2021: Note that Mailchimp has changed where you can create automations from, and who can do this with a free plan. Follow the steps below to see if you have access to this feature. If you don’t, then you’ll need to pay for a plan. (The feature is called a “Classic Automation”).

First, click the Automations menu on the far left and click “Create” and “Classic Automations.” You may see something a little different here but you should be looking for anything on the page that says “Looking for Classic Automations?” or something to that effect.

A final note – if you don’t see anything on the screen above, the last resort is to head to your Campaigns and the Automations section, and see if there is a button there (near the middle of the page) to create a new automation.

Do you have access to Classic Automations? Great! Continue on…

Next, choose the type, which is under “Tags” and is “Email subscribers when they’re tagged.” Give the campaign a name (like “Marketing Guide Download” confirm the audience, and click “Begin.”

Here’s where that Tag you set up previously comes into play. Click “Edit” next to the Trigger.

Change the dropdown (that says “day(s)”) under Delay to “Immediately” and select your tag from the other dropdown.

Click Save Trigger, and now you’re good to go (you can skip the other settings).

It’s now time to actually design the email for sending the lead magnet to your subscribers! Click “Design Email” to finish up.

You’ll have the option to customize the subject, preview text, etc. You can design from a template or use a blank one. For my emails, I usually go with the plain text which feels more personal and allows the lead magnet to stand out, but that’s up to you!

No matter what you decide, design the email to include some kind of greeting and a link or button to your download. Simply create your text or button, select link, and select “File” and upload your document directly to Mailchimp. Then, when the person receives your email, all they have to do is click the link or button to get the opt-in.

You may consider including other useful information in your email too, such as information about your services, a link to your scheduler, or your social media handles.

That’s it! Once done, you may want to consider testing out your landing page and automation with another email address. For more detailed instructions on setting up automations, check out Mailchimp’s help article.

Step 3: Promote your opt-in

It’s finally time to promote your opt-in that you’ve worked so hard to create! First, grab the link to the Mailchimp landing page from your dashboard. This is the link you’ll use for promotion. On your website, create a button and link the button to your landing page.

Here is what my resource page looks like with all of my current landing pages and opt-ins:

Resources Page with Lead Magnets Screenshot on whitneybateson.com | Whitney Bateson Digital Strategy

Then, place the lead magnet in blog posts, newsletters, social media posts, pretty much wherever it fits and you want people to have access to it!

For example, I always like to have some sort of download (sometimes called a “content upgrade”) included in my blog posts. I use “Call to Action” blocks when creating my blogs in WordPress that look like this:

Call to Action Example on whitneybateson.com/blog | Whitney Bateson Digital Strategy

Now, you may notice your landing page URL isn’t the prettiest. If you don’t like the ugly Mailchimp URL, you have a few options:

  • Use a link shortener like bit.ly
  • Pay for Mailchimp to customize the URL
  • Use Rebrandly to create custom URLs
  • Create the link on your website and redirect it to the Mailchimp page using a plugin like PrettyLinks

Time to launch your lead magnet with Mailchimp!

I hope this post helped you see how you can use Mailchimp landing pages to automatically tag your subscribers in order to deliver a variety of different lead magnets, all while only having to maintain a single email list in Mailchimp. And as promised – no coding (or cost!) required. While it may seem like a lot of set up to start, once you have the basics in place, it’s very easy to replicate your pages and automations for endless lead magnets!


If you’re still looking for help when it comes to launching lead magnets on your website, contact us! We offer a variety of digital marketing services (including lead magnet set up) to help you better market your business and build relationships with your customers!

44 Comments

  1. Cricket Aldridge

    EXCELLENT! Thank you so much. You answered all my questions with the video and the post. I so appreciate you taking the time to do that.

    Reply
    • Whitney Bateson

      So glad it helped!

      Reply
  2. Juli Keene

    Thank you for this! I’ve been messing around for days (time I don’t have). I can’t find how to get this to attach to my emails and pop ups. Do I need to pay for Mailchimp for this to work? It says upgrade for automation I’m on free Mailchimp.

    Reply
    • Whitney Bateson

      Hi Juli, I’ve seen Mailchimp has changed some of their automation rules/plans, but this still works for me on my free account. Make sure you’re setting up a “Classic Automation” and just insert a button into the email and instead of having the button link to a webpage, use the dropdown for a file (this is covered in my tutorial). Here’s a little more from Mailchimp – hope this helps! https://mailchimp.com/help/create-an-automation/

      Reply
  3. Sam Topping

    Yes! Very helpful, I’ve been searching for days on this. So people can put there email into all these things and it wont give them a ‘you’ve already subsribed’ message?

    Also i have a checklist as a freebie and also a 4 day guide- are you able to do automated emails with this method, only for one of the freebies (my 4 day guide). Thanks for the tips 🙂

    Reply
    • Whitney Bateson

      Hi Sam, yes that’s correct – it’s just going to give them a new tag on your list so they can receive the opt-in, and they can sign up for as many as they like, and it will still just be one subscriber on your list.

      Regarding your other question – yes, just add more emails in the automation. Mailchimp has changed some of their automation rules with what’s covered in a free account, but I think this should still be fine as what they call a “Classic Automation.”

      Reply
  4. Todd

    Hi, I had a question the wording in the form for the lead magnet. In your example above, you have “Send Me the Free Checklist” at the bottom. Do I need to do anything to let them know they are also signing up for my newsletter at the same time? I am assuming you are not just sending them one document and that’s it. Thanks.

    Reply
    • Whitney Bateson

      Hi Todd, thanks for the question! When you click my button above, you get to my landing page where I have a link to my privacy policy which outlines how I will be handling their email address. That said, what legal language you include and how you collect/handle email addresses differs based on where your users are coming from and some other nuances. As I’m not a legal expert I can’t advise you on exactly what language and process you should be following – but you may want to try searching online for legal requirements for lead magnets for where you’re doing business. Amy Porterfield (the queen of opt-ins) could be a good place to start!

      Reply
      • Todd

        Thank you.

        Reply
  5. Blair

    This was the single most helpful tutorial I have ever seen. I’ve spent hours trying to sort out mailchimp, how to set up an automation and woah! Thank you SO much.

    Reply
    • Whitney Bateson

      I’m so glad to hear that Blair, thank you!

      Reply
  6. D Warmuth

    I can’t do a lead magnet without pulling up your tutorial! Thank you so much!! I do have a question though. I’m confused as to whether the lead magnet gets sent to just new subscribers or if it gets sent to new subscribers, plus the list of followers who have already subscribed. I only have one email list.

    Reply
    • Whitney Bateson

      So glad to hear it! The way this works is anyone who signs up for this specific lead magnet, will get the email. The intent of this is so you only need one email list, but can “segment” them to only receive your lead magnet email if they sign up for it. So, the lead magnet will get sent to the new subscribers (as they subscribe). Anyone already on your list would need to sign up for this specific lead magnet to get the email (of course you could manually tag them too and get fancy) but generally speaking, you only want this email going to people who “opted in.” If you want to be sure all of your email subscribers get this opt-in, you could always just share it with all of them as a “bonus” you’re giving them 🙂

      Reply
  7. Mat

    Hello, thank you for this it really helped a complete novice/beginner in the social media and marketing space.

    I’ve setup following exactly your guidelines (I think) and it works for new subscribers, but for people already on my subscriber list it doesn’t send them the automated email. I know the main point of this was for getting new email list subscribers, but is there a way to set this up so if an existing subscriber enters their email again they still get the automated email?

    Reply
    • Whitney Bateson

      Hi Mat! What I would suggest is having the landing page tag that person when they sign up on your landing page, and have the trigger for your email be that the person signed up on your landing page OR has that tag. That way, even if someone was on your list, they will get that tag when they go through the landing page, and your email should trigger due to that tag. Technically you could probably just have the trigger be that tag and not the landing page as it’s a little duplicative – but I think it’s OK to have both. See if that works!

      Reply
  8. Regine

    Struggled to find an article as thorough as this one. Thank you!!! Great info 😉

    Reply
    • Whitney Bateson

      So glad it helped Regine!

      Reply
  9. Madison Grace

    Thank you for this wonderful guide, Whitney! Any tips on how to get the downloads to people who enter their email for them but are already subscribed to my list? I’m already a subscriber on some websites but am able to sign up for multiple of their lead magnets, but when I tested out my own, it didn’t work. Since I was already subscribed it just said I was already subscribed and therefore wouldn’t send me the lead magnet. I’m sure there’s some segment thing I’m missing…?
    Thank you again for this wonderful post!

    Reply
    • Whitney Bateson

      Hi Madison! First I’d make sure you are doing a landing page and not using the general email list subscribe form from Mailchimp (because then yes you’re probably getting that message). But otherwise, here’s a tip I gave a previously that you may want to try:

      Have the landing page tag that person when they sign up on your landing page, and have the trigger for your email be that the person signed up on your landing page OR has that tag. That way, even if someone was on your list, they will get that tag when they go through the landing page, and your email should trigger due to that tag.

      Reply
      • Madison Grace

        Thank you so much, Whitney! I really appreciate the help!

        Reply
  10. Joclyn Cacaccio

    THANK YOU SO MUCH! I have been struggling for DAYS trying to figure out what I was getting wrong. I tried other videos and articles! I’m so grateful!

    Thank you!

    Reply
  11. Marta

    Hi Whitney! This has been very, very useful – thank you for taking the time to create this tutorial. I am struggling with one thing, though – how to change the appearance of the link text from the actual link to something nice and short like “Click here”?

    At the moment, the link to a file in my welcome email looks like this: https://mcusercontent.com/f2e789d4bf4198a2c15097bbb/images/31a4a51c-9e01-4eaa-93c3-970917095371.png

    How to I get it to display “Click here”? The title attribute feature does not do it…

    Reply
    • Whitney Bateson

      Hi Marta! You can either add a button to your email, or make hyperlink within the body of the email by highlighting some text (like “click here”) and clicking the “link” button (one of the options in the text editor), and you can paste that long link there, or search for the file from within your Mailchimp content library. Hope that helps!

      Reply
  12. Lucas

    Right on point. Worked perfectly, thank you very much!

    Reply
  13. Trisha Gudka

    Whitney thank you so much. I have spent so long trying to figure this out. I have set it all up and Mailchimp is registering the subscribers to the landing pages but the emails to deliver the content are not sending to subscribers.

    Reply
    • Whitney Bateson

      Hi Trisha, so glad it’s helpful. I would make sure you have your emails set up to be triggered correctly. First make sure you have the landing page tag that person when they sign up on your landing page, and have the trigger for your email be that the person signed up on your landing page OR has that tag. (This was advice I gave to a previous commenter and I think it will apply to you too).

      Reply
  14. Trish

    Hi Whitney, thanks so much. I really could not have set any this up without your help. I have set up just as you said and it’s all great. Except the email I am receiving when I test it is the new subscriber email I set up in automations for new subscribers. I should be getting the email that I set up an automation for when signing up on a landing page. What am I doing wrong here please? Thank you

    Reply
    • Whitney Bateson

      Hi again 🙂 yes this can be a frustrating one. You need some way to differentiate people from just getting added to your list vs. the landing page. Without seeing your whole set up, what you can do is have the segment conditions for your newsletter welcome email be based on the source – like the sign up source was an embed form or the generic API.

      Anyone who signs up on a landing page will have their source be the landing page – and therefore if your welcome email for newsletters is set correctly – won’t send to those people.

      But the second thing you need is to tag your landing page people, and have that be the segment condition for sending your landing page emails, because people will be only added to your list once (and have one source), but can sign up on multiple pages and get those tags each time, and then receive the email because your email is set to send based on the tag, not the source. I really hope that makes sense!

      Reply
      • Eileen

        Sorry for hopping onto this thread Trish and Whitney but it is about exactly my question and thought it would save Whitney repeating herself! 🙂 Firstly, this was a great tutorial, the best I’ve come across. So, I have six lead magnets set up in the way you explained and I have included tags for each one. Am I right in thinking that the same person can therefore sign up for all the lead magnets (if they so wished) and receive the email for each one – it’s not just a first time/new subscriber thing?

        Reply
        • Whitney Bateson

          Thanks Eileen! As I was setting up some new landing pages recently I noticed something that I think I need to update in my tutorial. It’s on my to-do list but in the meantime, here’s a quick video!

          https://share.vidyard.com/watch/w46TmNj7iKCvPMDMvdJUDS?

          And the short answer to your question is YES, this enables current subscribers to receive multiple lead magnets from you. But you need to follow the steps in this video. Let me know how it goes!

          Reply
  15. Madeline

    Hi! This was SO helpful. However, I’m stuck on step 3. I’ve created my landing page and email. I’m ready to publish it on my WordPress blog. I can’t figure out how to create the lead in magnet button like you’ve shared in your example. Is this a plug-in I need to download? Do you have another video for these final steps? Thanks!

    Reply
    • Whitney Bateson

      So glad to hear it Madeline! I created the page and design for my lead magnets using my theme and pagebuilder, Divi. So every theme is going to be different in terms of how you can create those buttons. But your theme should have some way for you to insert an image and a button, then you would just link that button. If you’re having trouble with your specific theme, you can try searching YouTube/Google for how to create a button, or reach out to the developers of your theme. Hope that helps!

      Reply
  16. Belén

    Hello! Thanks to share this.
    is this post still valid? In my mailchimp free account only allows me using the customer journey which is paid option…

    Reply
    • Whitney Bateson

      Hi Belen, you should still be able to send a basic email automation on a free plan. This isn’t a complex automation – just sending an email based on a trigger. See if you can access email automations?

      Reply
      • Agnes Gällhagen

        Hi! I have the same problem. I also have the free plan, and it seems that the “Use advanced settings” option has now been replaced with “explore customer journeys”, which is a paid feature. I haven’t found anyway to change the trigger or add a tag or even connect the automation to a landing page in the free plan. There’s only the “welcome new subscribers” which applies to anyone who signs up.

        Reply
        • Whitney Bateson

          Hi Agnes, you may have be doing this the same day I updated this tutorial – I now have a screenshot and instruction about how to navigate the “customer journeys” section – can you check that out and see if it helps you get where you need to go?

          Reply
  17. Jenna

    Hi! I just created my second landing page and connected email with a free download.
    I have the free version of MailChimp. I tested out the landing page with a couple of my personal emails and the email isn’t getting triggered and sending. Probably because I am already subscribed? Is there a way to have it still send the email with the free download to already subscribed people if they’ve filled out this particular landing page form? Thanks for the help.

    Reply
    • Whitney Bateson

      Hi Jenna, as I was setting up some new landing pages recently I noticed something that I think I need to update in my tutorial – it’s possible you have the trigger being the sign up source (the landing page) but actually we want the trigger to be the tag that’s added to the person after they sign up. It’s on my to-do list to update the tutorial, but in the meantime, here’s a quick video!
      https://share.vidyard.com/watch/w46TmNj7iKCvPMDMvdJUDS?
      And the short answer to your question is, this enables current subscribers to receive multiple lead magnets from you, so you need to follow the steps in this video to allow it and that’s probably the reason for the issue. Let me know how it goes!

      Reply
  18. KATERINA

    Thank you Whitney for this excellent guide! Just set up my first landing page and everything worked perfectly fine!

    Reply
    • Whitney Bateson

      So glad it worked!!

      Reply
  19. Samantha

    Hi Whitney,
    I have found this information extremely helpful, thanks!
    I am new to Mailchimp and I can’t seem to make an automation email campaign on the free plan. Do you know if Mailchimp has stopped allowing this on the free plan? The platform doesn’t look the same as your video. I cannot see the same options to click on.

    Reply
    • Whitney Bateson

      Hi Samantha, Mailchimp did change recently and I updated the video earlier in October – there is a trick to finding where the automation is on the free plan (and the screenshots in the blog post have been updated to reflect this as well). Can you check out the video again and see if you find your answer? There is definitely a way in the free plan, and hopefully the updates to the video and blog post help you!

      Reply
  20. Ricky

    Hi Whitney,

    It looks like they have changed MailChimp again as of December 2021. It looks like the “classic automation” option is now gone. I went through their website and this is what I found: “Classic Automations are only available to accounts that have previously created a classic automation.”

    Do you know of a workaround? I have not used this feature previously and it looks like it is not an option for me.

    Thank you,

    Ricky

    Reply
    • Whitney Bateson

      Hi Ricky – thanks for letting me know. I did see something fishy in there when helping another client – I wish they would stop making these changes! Clearly they really don’t want anyone using automations anymore for free :/ What happens when you go to Campaigns > Automations… do you see a button to “create new” somewhere in the middle of the page? That’s how I was able to create one for my client recently who had a fairly new free plan.

      Reply

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