Lead Magnets to Get ESL Students (The Ultimate Guide for 2023)

A lead magnet is usually a free resource like an e-booklet, template, checklist, worksheet, or audiovisual asset that teachers create and offer in exchange for an email address. It gives ESL professionals a way to collect contact information from potential students and add them into an email marketing sequence.

Lead magnet offers are a popular strategy for businesses. They are often inexpensive to produce and easy to promote. That’s why they’re a great choice for ESL teachers who want to get ESL students online.

If you would like to learn more about email marketing for ESL tutors in general, and how to design an effective email squeeze form, I highly recommend you check out my other blog post on the topic. 

But in this post, we are going to focus on the lead magnet itself, including why and how you should create one.

Why should I give away something for free?

“Free” is a powerful marketing tool.

“Free” allows the customer to sample your product with no risk. In a world of digital distractions, “free” has a way of standing out from the crowd and grabbing our attention.

I don’t know about you, but I love to try the free food samples which they give out in supermarkets and other food stores. Usually, if I get a taste of a bite sized sample, I’m soon reaching for my wallet to buy more!

Giving potential students a “free taste” of what you can deliver works in the same way. You are building their appetite to continue working with you. 

What are the benefits of using an email lead magnet?

Email is a universal way for customers to interact with brands. With a lead magnet offer, you initiate customer engagement by giving them something valuable upfront and then extend that relationship with follow-up email content and promotional offers.

A successful lead magnet can help you validate your service before spending a lot of time and money on promoting it. For example, if you have an idea for a new course, a lead magnet which offers a free or heavily discounted mini program can be a great way to test how much customer interest actually exists.

If you develop content for your lead magnet by yourself, it can be a highly cost-effective marketing tool for your business. Some of the highest converting lead magnets have been nothing more than a one-page PDF filled with great tips and valuable advice.

How to create an email lead magnet that converts

Make sure your lead magnet offers genuine value and resonates with your target audience. It probably wouldn’t make much sense to offer a video tutorial on Business English expressions if your target audience is teenagers.

Make your offer easily digestible and give a “quick win” to subscribers. Not many people will have the time to download and read a 100-page e-book. By keeping your information succinct, you also encourage the recipient to follow up with you to unlock more valuable content, which of course includes paying for your lessons.

Think about the context of where your audience will see your offer. For example, if you have a blog post about “How to answer interview questions in English”, this would be a great place to offer a content upgrade. You could put an email sign up form at the end of your post offering something like “Get the 100 Interview Questions Cheat Sheet”. There is a great chance that anyone who has read your post would be interested in getting access to that kind of resource.

Studies have shown that email lead magnet pages which include video convert far more effectively than pages which do not. So, think about adding a brief (less than 60 second) video on your lead magnet page, where you explain in clear terms what benefits the recipient can expect to get from your offer. This is also a great opportunity to introduce yourself and start building the relationship with your potential client. Video is an extremely effective way to increase the all-important “know, like and trust” factors that can influence students to book lessons or a course with you.

Teacherpreneur Marketing



Twelve examples of lead magnets to get ESL students

Trial coupon

Sometimes, students will perceive more value in the opportunity of taking a trial class if they need to input a coupon code; a code which they only get by subscribing to your email list. This can have a multiplier effect if you include words along the lines of “Give this code to TWO friends who would like a trial class”.


A free e-book can be a great way to help you establish your authority in the marketplace and get your name out there. Make sure to include your branding so that if the receiver shares your resource with other people, they will know where to find you. Remember that it doesn’t need to be long. A few pages of valuable information is usually enough.

Video training

It’s no secret that video is a more engaging form of media than anything that requires concentrated reading. In the YouTube era, people are always looking for video content which answers a query or solves a problem. An easy way to offer “gated” access to your video content is to change the status of the video to “unlisted” in your YouTube channel.

Technically, anyone who knows the URL of the video can still get access, but the video isn’t shown within your channel or on YouTube search queries, which is good enough content protection for most cases. If you want to take it to another level, Vimeo Pro has the option of restricting video content to being watched on your domain only.

Audio download

Video may be king, but audio runs a close second. In many cases people actually prefer audio clips since they offer content that can be consumed while doing other things like household chores, commuting, or exercising. Creating an MP3 audio resource doesn’t require a lot of fancy equipment. You can do it with just a standard smartphone device if that’s all you have. To take it one step further, you could provide a printable, written transcript version of your audio.

Webinar invitation

Live webinar presentations can be highly successful. People often enjoy the experience of being able to ask questions in real time and have their presence acknowledged by the webinar host. Don’t get too discouraged if only a percentage of people who sign up for the webinar actually attend. This is quite normal. You can always record the webinar and offer that to non-attendees at a later time.


A simple checklist can be a valuable resource for your target audience. For example, a “6-point checklist for conducting an effective meeting in English” gives a quick win and is easy to consume. You can use either a simple PDF or a slide-deck format if you want to make it a bit more engaging.


These days, Canva and other online tools make it incredibly easy to generate attractive infographics that are highly shareable on social media and can be used as potential lead magnets if they contain a lot of detail. There are several tools available with drag and drop editing features and starter templates that remove a lot of the hard work or the cost of hiring a designer.

Email drip sequence

Instead of giving all your value in one go, another option is to spread it out over an email sequence. If you’ve ever watched a TV soap opera, you’ll know how addictive the “cliff hanger” end of a weekly drama episode can be. So, when you try this technique, be sure to include a compelling “teaser” at the end of each email that gets the recipient curious and/or excited about opening the next installment in your series of ESL tips.


People are always looking for “guard rails” to help them accomplish new and challenging tasks. Maybe you can provide your subscriber with a template for how to request a meeting with a client, or how to write an essay that does well on the TOEFL exam. Create a resource that your subscribers can immediately put to good use by adapting to their own circumstances.

Flash card print outs

A great option for getting parents of young learners to subscribe is to offer printable learning resources. They can download your PDF, paste it onto cardboard and cut out the individual flash cards. You could even use images in your print outs, which offers children something to color in and give them a sense of ownership.

Resource lists

Offer your subscribers a hyperlinked directory of content, tools and other resources which they might find useful. It could be as simple as a list of five books or apps that you recommend, with reviews of each. Or it could be a “round up” report with tips from 5 to 10 ESL experts in a particular industry niche such as TOEFL test preparation.


People love to do questionnaires to test their knowledge or even just for fun responses (e.g., “Do you know the difference between British or American English? Take the test!”). There are tools available which can give the user immediate feedback on their results.

Quizzes can be a great way of “qualifying” your subscribers, too. For example, anyone who scores too low or too high on the questions might not be a good “fit” for you as a potential student, and therefore your automated email platform can be configured to exclude them from your standard follow up email sequence.

Limited Time “Challenges”

Online challenges are a popular lead magnet offer because they can be an effective way to engage potential customers and build trust. Challenges can be designed in a variety of formats, such as a series of daily tasks or a multi-week program, and they can cover topics such as exam or interview preparation.

Challenges can be effective lead magnets because they frequently require a level of commitment from participants, which can help build community and encourage people to stick with their goals. Furthermore, because participants are more likely to use your service as part of the challenge, challenges can be a good way to promote your ESL business.

Delivering your lead magnet

There are two common approaches to delivering the content promised in your lead magnet offer.

Use an email auto responder

The following email marketing platforms all have auto-responder features and offer free plans which are great for getting started. You can always export your list and move to a more advanced option at a later date.

  • Active Campaign
  • MailChimp
  • Send in Blue
  • ConvertKit
  • AWeber

Make it directly available on a thank you page

Best practice is to direct new signups to a “Thank You Page” as a way of confirming that they submitted their email successfully, and as a way of encouraging further engagement (e.g., social media links). You can also provide the lead magnet directly on the “Thank You Page” itself, which might be a better experience for your subscribers, instead of waiting and checking their email inbox.

If you take this option, make sure your “Thank You Page” doesn’t get indexed by search engines. You want people to provide their email address before you deliver the goods. WordPress has search engine optimization (SEO) plugins that allow you to tag URLs as “No-Index”.

Designing a virtual product

Creating a cover design is one of the most important factors when it comes to selling a digital e-book, report, or some other multi-page lead magnet. A cover should be eye-catching, but also representative of the content. Make sure that any cover text is readable even at low resolutions, like on a smart phone device.

Think about your color palette. Is it representative of your branding? Also think about your choice of fonts. Do you want to create a tone that is serious or playful? Business-like or targeted for children? FontPair has a great directory of free Google font pair combinations that have been proven to work well, along with color scheme suggestions.

A headline that evokes curiosity and inspires action will encourage visitors to subscribe for your offer. Make the headline obvious about the benefits. Use numbers as well e.g., “10 Tips for Crushing Your English Job Interview”.

Showcase your expertise. Make it clear why your subscribers should pay attention to what you have to say. Make sure your lead magnet references your achievements using facts and statistics.

Include a call-to-action in the lead magnet itself. If your subscribers are impressed enough with your content to share it in their network – great! Just make sure that somewhere in your resource there is a link and some information about how readers and viewers can get in contact with you to take the next step in your sales funnel. 

Use a virtual hard copy mockup if you are offering an e-book or digital report. It gives additional credibility and authority to your content. Smart Mockups have a selection of templates which you can take advantage of for free.

Create a Virtual Hard Copy Mock Up

Tools for making irresistible lead magnets

Best graphics tools

Canva.com – You’ll find thousands of professional templates, images and quality content to get started on bringing your ideas to life.

PiktoChart.com – Quickly generate a professional looking report or infographic.

Google Slides – A slide deck can be a great way of adding some color and humor to an otherwise dry checklist of points.

Loom – Quickly record a video right from your desktop browser. A great free option if you want to include screen capture.

UnSplash – Still one of the best places to source royalty free stock photographs without charge.

Happy Scribe – Use AI technology to convert audio and video files into written transcripts.

Interact – Online quiz maker. Their $17/mth plan is easy to use and you can create attractive lead capture questionnaires.

Designrr.io – Create e-books in PDF or Kindle format. You can also create interactive digital flip books for children.

Best tools for choosing your lead magnet topic

Answer the Public – A free and easy to use service that shows what questions are frequently being asked online.

Google – The search engine autocomplete feature is a handy guide to popular search queries a.k.a. the “alphabet soup technique“.

UberSuggest – A free tool by marketer Neil Patel. Based on your keyword suggestions it will list common questions about any topic with indicative search volumes.

Keyword Surfer Chrome Extension – This is a super useful browser extension that will show keyword search volumes by country and language.


Email marketing is one of the most effective ways to build a business. But building an email list can be challenging. That’s why it’s important to create an email lead magnet that is attractive to your ideal potential customer, positions yourself as an expert and encourages them to sign on to your email subscriber list.

Just remember that the goal of gaining contact information from prospects is to cultivate them into paying clients. The best way to do this is to have an automated series of follow-up emails scheduled to go out after somebody accepts your lead magnet offer.

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