best lead magnet for SaaS

Do you sometimes feel like you’re missing out?

Like, you hear all the success stories…

A lead generation campaign tripled some startup’s monthly leads.

Another one claims to have practically built their entire user base with lead magnets and smart automation.

And another one had doubled their sales with irresistible lead magnets.

But you’re still far from launching a lead generation campaign.

You know how to do it. You have all the tools you need. You’re just confused about what type of campaign to use.

Should you write a full-blown eBook? And then invest time and money promote the heck out of it to generate leads? Or take a shortcut and create a content upgrade instead?

Luckily, that’s what I’m going to help you with today.

In this post, I’ll show you when to use eBooks and when content upgrades would fare better.

Ready? Let’s get right to it then.

eBooks – A Long-Term Lead Generation Strategy


eBooks are one of the most popular lead magnet types.

Just take a (virtual) stroll around the web and you’ll notice it, the majority of sites offer an eBook of some sort to their visitors.

Or simply scour your hard drive. I’m sure you’ll discover tens of eBooks you’ve downloaded (and probably forgotten about).

But in case if you’re not sure what is an eBook lead magnet, let me explain that quickly.

An eBook is a longer piece of content, aiming to educate readers on topics typically relating to pain points a company behind the publication targets with their product.

eBooks can be anything from a couple to a couple of hundred pages long, and businesses typically offer them in return for an email or other personal information.

eBooks convert at a relatively high rate, help build trust, and highlight your expert status.

eBook lead magnet landing page

(An example landing page promoting an eBook I wrote on Social Proof Marketing for one of my clients. Link to the page)

According to the latest B2B Content Marketing Benchmark Report, published by the Content Marketing Institute, 39% of marketers use eBooks in their strategy.

But what makes eBooks such a powerful lead magnet?

For one, because most readers don’t associate them with marketing materials.

You see:

eBooks exist outside of the marketing space too.

Many authors publish their novels in that format. Cities and travel institutions produce PDF guides and other reference materials. Not to mention Kindle or other electronic books that also fall under the eBook category.

eBooks are convenient.

From a computer, tablet, smartphone to a digital book reader, you can consume them pretty much on any device you have at hand.

And, eBooks are engaging.

With the ability to include interactive content, such as videos or gifs, eBooks engage audiences on an entirely different level than other lead magnets.

But here’s the catch:

eBooks generate leads over time. An eBook lead generation strategy requires a lot of time and effort to bring results.

For example, you need to keep constantly promoting your eBook to generate leads. You have to drive traffic to the eBook page, and use many other strategies for it to bear fruit.

Which is not a problem, by the way. However, it’s something you should take into consideration when selecting eBooks as your lead magnet.

So to recap:

eBooks will generate quality leads. But they will require a full-blown marketing and promotion strategy to support them.

Content Upgrades Bring Leads Fast but They Work Short-Term

I admit:

Content upgrades are a relatively new concept.

Many marketers still aren’t sure what the term “content upgrade” really entails…

…even though they’ve been successfully using them on their sites already.

So, before we go any further, let’s define what content upgrades are.

A content upgrade is a bonus content for a specific post or another content type, offering additional information that upgrades or expands the original article.

Unlike eBooks, typically promoted across the entire site, a content upgrade is attached to a specific piece of content, linked from within the body copy.

content upgrade lead magnet

(Example content upgrade link on one of our posts)

The role of a content upgrade is to provide additional information someone interested in the topic might want to discover as well.

As a result, content upgrades are much smaller resources, often just a one page long, aimed at giving additional information you’ve kept restricted only to people truly interested in it.


Content upgrades convert like crazy. Our clients see average content upgrade conversion rates at approximately 20% – 25%.

But here’s the thing:

Content upgrades work short-term.

Once the initial rush of traffic to the post wanes, a number of leads a content upgrade generates diminishes too.

Unlike eBooks, that can generate leads for a long time; content upgrades typically generate a spike in leads. But after that, their effectiveness reduces.

As a result, to sustain a steady flow of new leads, you have to keep producing new content upgrades. In fact, many companies produce them for every new piece of content they publish.

Also, the quality of leads content upgrades generate isn’t as good as ones a full-blown eBook campaign would deliver.

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Which Lead Magnet Would Be Right for You

So, eBook or content upgrade, which one should it be?

Here’s how you should decide:

Use content upgrades if you’re looking to generate a spike in leads fast and have the capacity to produce this type of lead magnets on a regular basis.

But if you can dedicate your resources to just one strategy and want it to keep generating leads far into the future, then I’d recommend you focus your efforts on eBooks.

It’s that simple.