How to set up a lead magnet in ActiveCampaign

by | Apr 2, 2021

When thinking about your email marketing funnel, does this sound familiar at all…?

“Build your list using lead magnets” they said.  So off you went and looked into how to do that. 

And then you ran for the hills with your head in your hands because omg how are you meant to figure out what email marketing tools to use and why, and how to make all the tech work – and argh!!

You’re not alone. I’ve been there too.

The basic lead magnet set-up is Capture lead >  Deliver lead magnet > Convert into customer

But that’s all a bit clinical-sounding, right?

In the real world, there are at least two humans involved, with real feelings and wants and pains and delights, and our secret weapon, ActiveCampaign, is along for the ride to do the heavy lifting.

So come down off the hills and stand down the tech panic – I’ve got you covered and will teach you the *easy* way to build and your lead magnet in ActiveCampaign.

Follow these steps to set up an ActiveCampaign lead magnet:


Define how your email funnel feels for your lead and for you

I bet you already think you know what should happen in your marketing funnel…. person enters their email and name, gets their paws on the juicy lead magnet, and loves you forever and buys all your stuff.

But of course it’s not quite that simple, and it’s not *just* about them – you and your ActiveCampaign account are in this marketing funnel too.

So get detailed with your email funnel goals, dream bigger, and make it all happen.

First, make a list of the *feelings* you want to spark for the contact, the learning points and joyful moments, and any painful scabby bits you need to poke and aggravate along the way. This is what brings humanity and connection, and makes it an experience, not just yet another boring lead magnet signup. And make sure you know what you *really* want them to do at the end of this (hint: it’s usually for them to buy something).

Then there’s you – what do want from your lead magnet funnel? I like a notification when a contact signs up, so I know I’ve got a new potential customer, that nothing’s broken today, and roughly how many leads come in per day. I put a high five emoji in my notifications to help me feel good. Make a list of what *you* need to see and feel.

And don’t neglect ActiveCampaign’s data about your email funnels – it can learn a lot along the way, stashing info on clicks, opens, page visits and more. Channel your inner spy-ninja and list the stuff ActiveCampaign can help you learn about each contact just by noticing what they do.

Keep all this in mind as you go through the steps of planning and building your funnel – after all, this is *why* we build these things.


Prep your email funnel ingredients before you build

Just like a chef creating a masterpiece, you don’t want to be furtling about in the cupboard for a jar of spice that turns out to be five years out of date just when you need it *right now*.  So get your email funnel ingredients prepped and laid out ready to go before assembling your funnel in ActiveCampaign.

Your email funnel ingredients

Lead magnet

The magnet itself could be a pdf, a mini-course, a video. Ideally, make sure some likely suspects actually value it and want it before you go crazy making funnels.

Signup page

This does not need to be on fancy service – a simple page on your site will do the job with your ActiveCampaign form embedded. 

ActiveCampaign form

What data will you collect? Typically it’s an email and first name, with a redirect on submit to the thank-you page. List add and tag add on the form actions.

Thank-you page

Redirect to your thank-you page once the form is submitted. Include a short, informal welcome video and tell them to look for your email (these pages are waaaay underused, which is crazy – don’t turn your back on your contact just when they reached out to you!). The lead magnet doesn’t live here – we’re going to make them work just a little bit more for it. 

Various emails

Even if it’s just bullet points, lay out roughly what you need and want to say in each email. At a *minimum* you need three emails:

  1. delivery of lead magnet,
  2. some get-to-know-you relationship building,
  3. your pitch for what you want them to do next.

Delivery page

This one gets missed a lot – it’s a link where they can collect the lovely lead magnet. We want them to open your email and click this link before we hand over the goods. If it’s a pdf, embed it on the page, and offer a download link too. 

Top tip – don’t send them to Dropbox, Google Drive, or to your media library, or (the horror!) YouTube – it looks ugly, annoys people, and leaves them in a dead-end or down a rabbit-hole.

Instead, get them back to your site, where you’re the boss of what they see and experience. 

Got all that? It doesn’t have to be perfect – you can tweak all these ingredients any time.

Awesome – you’re ready to automate!


Create automations for your ActiveCampaign lead magnet funnel

Short automations, with one clear purpose, win every single time for being easier to plan, build, work with, fix, monitor, optimise and re-use.

The fancy-schmanzy term for this is “modular automation”.  

I like to think of them as building blocks, or a pick-n-mix sweetie counter.

Bite-size building is your friend in automation land. 

Cautionary tale – I used to build automations like spaghetti-bowls when I started out – don’t go there, it’s truly horrible. I’m still haunted by one beast that was several scrolls wide and deep, with about 25 if/else steps. It broke during a launch (surprise!). I had to fix it, fast, and the pain was real.

Build simple automations for your lead magnet funnel:

1 – Welcome your contact and deliver the lead magnet via a link

This is the DELIVERY automation, and its mission is to get them to open your email and click the lead magnet.

2 – Build the connection and get to know one another

This is the RELATIONSHIP BUILDER automation, and its job is to let both parties learn a bit about each other and decide whether they want to continue the relationship.

3 – Pitch your purchasable goodies

This is the PITCH automation, and its purpose is to offer up a tasty product or service that the lead will be interested in.

The scrummy part here is that you can feed the same relationship builder and pitch automations from more than one lead magnet delivery automation – labour-saving happiness 🙂  

Like the tributaries of a river, a whole set of lead magnets can gather their leads into the same mighty estuary.


You’re the boss of the email funnel flow

Here’s the fun part….

Not everyone gets to go all the way through your email funnel. 

You decide what hoops they need to jump through to get to the next automation.

“What hoops?” you say….

Excellent question my young apprentice.  

All email funnel leads are not created equal.  

Some leads are bots, typos, tyre kickers or non-openers, and these we do NOT want to waste our precious time and effort on.

Everyone gets to enter the delivery auto, for sure, so we can use a form submit trigger here. But we (or rather ActiveCampaign) are watching to see what each lead does next.

Your spy on the inside – ActiveCampaign – watches for opens, clicks, and site visits without you lifting a finger.

Mwah hah hah haaaaah!

So don’t send them on to the relationship builder unless they have at least opened one email and clicked to the lead magnet – this keeps out the bots, typos and sleepers and stops them from hurting your deliverability.

And don’t send them on to the pitch unless they have opened at least one of the relationship builder emails – this means you can lavish some of your precious human touch inside the pitch process, knowing that they are real humans who are liking what you’ve got to offer so far.

If/else steps (for beginner auto-wizards) and goals (for developing automagical apprentices) are both great options for controlling who gets to pass on to the next step.  

Look for conditions in ActiveCampaign like “has opened” and “has clicked” to see what you can use as a gatekeeper.


Build and test your lead magnet email funnel in ActiveCampaign

We can do this the hard way, or the easy way. 

I’ll choose for you… we’re going with easy.

Build your email funnel with speed 

If you’ve got an email funnel you made earlier (a form, a whole automation, or an email) make a copy and tweak it. 

Check all the details as you tweak, and maybe even improve on that last run with a new trick.

Build your email funnel with clarity 

Name everything in your ActiveCampaign funnel sensibly and never ever ever leave anything as “thing I made a copy of (copy) (copy) (copy)”.  

By sensible, I mean short, clear, does-what-it-says-on-the-tin names that are ruthlessly consistent.  

For example, LM: demo for the form and the automation. LM: demo delivery for the delivery email.

Test your funnel through the eyes of a contact.

Skip this at your peril. 

Go sign up for your lead magnet as a pretendy contact and work it through. At least once. Maybe three or even four times, with different hats on.

Don’t use one of your work email addresses – here be dragons! You need a nice clean email address to send to – I like a free gmail for this – mine are all named Horatio so that I can find them easily.

First rig up your contact – often this means deleting it from ActiveCampaign if your invisible friend is a frequent flyer.

Then send in your crash-test-dummy, armed with an incognito browser window and the signup page url.

Go be Horatio and look at it all from their point of view, reading the emails in their inbox, clicking, visiting sites, on mobile, on desktop, while you’re feeding the baby… be a real human tester.

And because you have a split personality here, you can watch it play out in ActiveCampaign with your real-you hat on, to see how it looks from that end.

Fix the bits you missed.

Expect to find at least one glitch, typo, wonky trigger, tag in the wrong place, broken link or thing you forgot to say, and you’re unlikely to be disappointed. Be patient – cuppa intervals are essential to testing sessions while automagical wheels turn.

Once in a blue moon I get it right first time. It makes me twitchy when that happens.

When a round of repairs is done, send in Horatio (or his twin sibling) for another run.

Rinse and repeat until your email funnel works.

Bear in mind the fancier your lead magnet funnel, the more tests and fixes you will need, so simple is nice when you’re starting out.

And finally, at last, you can unleash it on real humans who aren’t you, and enjoy the fruits of your funnel for ever more.


And now… tweak to fix any funnel leaks

You’re hitting the feelz in all the right places for you and your lead, with ActiveCampaign doing all the daily work for you both.

Now give it a whirl with real humans and see what happens. Patience is required here as you feed your fledgling lead magnet funnel for the first time.

Watch the first chunk of contacts closely for the good (engagement, interaction, outright adoration, purchases) and the bad (broken stuff, tumbleweed, crickets)

Be ready to tweak and improve things – you never quite know what’s going to work in practice, no matter how many gurus have told you it will.  

To fix what isn’t effective, look for the spots in ActiveCampaign where contacts lose interest, drop off, unsubscribe.  

These are your leaks.  

The funny thing with leaks is that you cannot find them until you have live traffic going through your email funnel. That’s why you need to watch, and wait.

Aim to fix leaks as you find them. 

And remember, you’ve now got some high quality building blocks you can mix ‘n’ match or splice into other funnels, copy, re-use or remodel another time. Bonus!

Use lead magnets to grow your email list in ActiveCampaign

Email funnels that offer a lovely lead magnet are a great way to use ActiveCampaign to grow your audience, bringing in leads who love your stuff.

Once it’s set up the whole email funnel runs on auto-pilot, leaving you with time to nurture and grow those leads into customers.

The ActiveCampaign skills and automations you use for this can be used in lots of different ways too, so you’re on your way to becoming an automation ninja – congrats!

Watch the video below too – I throw in all sorts of extra information on how to create your lead magnet email funnel with ActiveCampaign.


ActiveCampaign training video with Kay Peacey

To catch my free ActiveCampaign training sessions live, visit my awesome ActiveCampaign Facebook community, the safe place to freak out and geek out about ActiveCampaign.


Get this whole lead magnet email funnel in all its glory

Want to grab the whole email funnel off the shelf?

And get a taster of the awesome Melissa Love and her marketing wisdom?

The Marketing Fix is a stonkingly good membership for building your all-round marketing skills and strategy, and there is a trial for £1 for a month. Yes, a whole month!

It’s run by my buddy Melissa Love, who got me into this digital marketing thing in the first place – she’s awesome.

Melissa and I built out an entire lead magnet email funnel, with all the pages, automations, emails with copy prompts, lead magnet and all.

And you can get your hands on it by joining The Marketing Fix membership.

The £1 trial is a total no-brainer to go for if you’re wanting to try a funnel build from scratch for the first time, improve your skills fast, or just swipe the whole thing.

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