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Content Upgrades: How to Give Your List-Building a Boost

Growing your email list is an essential habit to get into, and one that involves various techniques. Whether you use landing page conversion rate optimization, effective lead magnets, SEO, or anything else, building your list is crucial.

One that I haven’t written on in detail, but which we use a lot for clients here at LeapGo, is the content upgrade.

Here’s a detailed guide to how you should be using these to supercharge your sign-ups.

What Is a Content Upgrade?

A content upgrade consists of extra bonus content that is provided to readers of a specific blog post in return for their email addresses.

While many bloggers provide the same site-wide incentive to encourage visitors to sign up to their list (like an ebook or free report), a content upgrade involves creating bonus content that is specific to the blog post being read.

So, if you have a blog post on the topic of landing page optimization tips, you could create a content upgrade for the post providing five extra tips or an exclusive video, and readers would then need to sign up to get access to this.

Content Upgrades Ideas: A Few Suggestions

There is no limit to what you provide readers in your content upgrade to encourage them to leave their email address. As long as it is related to the blog topic, and it provides extra value, it can be effective. You might want to use:

  • A checklist—these are always useful, especially if your blog is instructional in nature or particularly long.
  • Templates—you could provide templates in the forms of emails, letters, spreadsheets, landing pages, designs, headlines, or whatever else works with your blog. Templates make life easier, and they are a simple way to give away something for free.
  • PDF download—one of the simplest forms of content upgrade is a version of the blog article that can be downloaded as a PDF. This involves hardly any extra work for you.
  • Transcript—if your blog includes a podcast or video, provide a free transcript in return for email addresses.
  • Simplified version—if the blog is long and complex, create a simplified version of the same article that sums up all the main points. I love these and refer to them as “cheat sheets”.
  • Extra tools and resources—provide a list of useful tools or valuable resources that relate to the blog topic.
  • Guide to getting started—blog topics that are long and complex may leave the reader asking where to begin. Provide a quick guide to getting started so they can put their new knowledge into practice.
  • White paper or ebook—free reports have long been used as lead magnets, but they can be even more effective when used as content upgrades because they can be specific to the topic of the blog.
  • Something to print—like a poster, a sign, a card, a checklist, or anything else.
  • An interview—provide access to an interview with an expert on the topic that you discuss in the blog.
  • Extra information—if you provide 5 tips in your blog, offer another 2 tips in the upgrade and make the reader feel really special.

This list has enough ideas to keep you going for a while, but it’s just the start. You can find some more here at SumoMe.

Making the Most of Your Upgrades

Content upgrades can be wildly successful, or they can make hardly any difference. It all comes down to how successfully you implement them. Here are some ideas for getting more from them:

  • Set your upgrade up as a click popup. That way readers can sign up to receive it without leaving the blog, and you make it easy for them to take action and then continue to read the rest of the article.
  • Place your upgrade throughout the blog. Rather than just including it at the end, add it at the beginning, middle, end, or wherever else it makes sense.
  • In general, try to keep it short. You want readers to get an extra bonus in addition to your blog, so shorter makes sense. It also means you don’t have to spend too long creating the upgrade.
  • While the ideal option is to create an upgrade for specific blog posts, you could also use one upgrade for various related posts. So if you write a lot of blogs on landing page tips, create one content upgrade for landing pages and use it for all of them. That way you don’t have to create a new one for every post.
  • Make it shareable. Encourage people to share your upgrade so that more people can access it, and get people to sign up to your list without reading the blog post at all.
  • Make it look good. Spend a little time packaging the upgrade, such as by getting it professionally designed if you’re providing a PDF document.

Overall, make sure each content upgrade you create provides extra value to the blog readers. Don’t make it look like you are just trying to get an email—provide them with a reason to really want to subscribe.

Examples of Content Upgrades

You are only limited by your creativity when it comes to content upgrades, but here are a few examples to get you started.

Smart Passive Income uses an upgrade in the form of an infographic on a blog post about content upgrades:

AuthorityHacker is a fan of content upgrades. On this blog post, they include an upgrade right at the top of the blog before the first paragraph:

You can even use content upgrades in guest posts. In his guest post on VideoFruit, Jeff Goins includes a link to a PDF download:

This then takes the reader to another page where they can sign up to download the PDF:

You can find lots more examples of content upgrades at the following pages:

Launch Your First Content Upgrade

If you want to create your first content upgrade, start by choosing a piece of content that already has a high volume of traffic, and use this as your test.

Then use the above ideas for inspiration, or come up with something completely different. You could even come up with two ideas and split test them.

Think carefully about the type of content that will add value and the format that will work best. Check in the comments to see if readers have noted that something is missing from the blog, then package the extra info into an upgrade rather than writing a separate blog.

The great thing about these is that they don’t need to take long to create. So try to get into the habit of creating an upgrade while you are creating your next blog posts, and see if you can give a boost to your sign-ups.