Use Content Upgrades To Grow Your List Faster – Part 1

Using content upgrades-part 1Introduction

What if you could up your email list subscription rate just by using a little bit of extra content? Well, you can. The answer is content upgrades. Content upgrades are a simple way to increase your email list growth in a more targeted way.

In this article, you’ll learn what content upgrades are, why you want to use them, and more importantly, how to plan, create and present your content upgrades for maximum effect. If you follow the ideas here, you’re going to be pleasantly surprised with the results.

You’ll bolster your email list building, not just by building a bigger list, but by building a more targeted list of subscribers who will answer your calls to action in greater numbers. And you’ll also have a way to add value as goodwill by offering some of your upgrades without requiring an email address.

You may be wondering whether content upgrades will work in your particular niche. The answer is a resounding YES. It doesn’t matter what type of business you have. If you have an online presence and use content to market your business, this information is for you.

The Concept Of Content Upgrades Explained

Content upgrades are extra, related content provided to the reader directly. They’re in the form of a download, requiring an email address in exchange for the information offered for a specific webpage, post, article, or other content being consumed at the time.

For example, the content upgrade might appear as a link to a free report, checklist, cheat sheet, video, app, or something else entirely. Readers click it, and are asked for their email address to access it. It’s essentially another way to deliver a more targeted lead magnet.

The reason this works is because the person that the content upgrade is directed to, is already reading and enjoying content that you’ve published about a very specific topic. Offering them more at that point makes a huge difference, since it’s so timely.

In the newest days of content marketing it was not uncommon to offer a newsletter in exchange for an email and a name, but today you must dig deeper to get people to give away their information. Today, consumers want more. Thankfully, with content upgrades, you can give them just that.

Offering content upgrades is simple. It’s just a matter of developing more in-depth content to go with your most popular published core content. It can be a short report, a video, a checklist, or other easy-to-create content that will solve a problem for your audience.

Let’s look at a few examples:

Over on Bryan Harris does an excellent job of using content upgrades. He puts them in virtually every blog post he writes. It’s almost as if he plans his blog posting schedule around his lead magnets.


He created pre-launch sequences along with compiling the strategies he’s used in his launch. Basically, he gives you a short PDF with links to each part of the content upgrade and he even includes a survey, which will give him more insight into you as a prospect.

On this blog post about using power words that will boost your conversions, they offered a cheat sheet with a list of over 700 power words organized by the type of emotions they trigger.


Come on, who wouldn’t want to download the comprehensive list after reading about how important using power words are?

Zoom is exceptionally good at including a variety of types of content into their blog posts. The example shows a blog post with a contextual link to a content upgrade, which is a case study and a PDF download.

zoom graphicIf you click it, it’ll take you to a form asking for information before sending you the free case study. This form is long, but they are weeding out their audience to ensure that only targeted people get the information.

zoom graphic 2


Zoom does this a lot within their blog posts. In fact, most blog posts offer more than one opportunity to get you on their list. They also have a tool bar that comes up at the bottom asking you to sign up. They don’t miss any list building opportunity.

This software is to help people teach what they know through online courses. Their blog posts give a lot of relevant information regarding teaching what you know. They offer a lot of business advice in their blogs but they also use content upgrades judiciously.

teachable graphic

This was inserted into a blog post about “Six Easy Ways to Make Passive Income” along with other gems and content upgrades. If you click this, it leads you to a page that describes the guide, and then another link to get the guide, where you first fill out information.

While it seems like a lot of steps, in this case they’re doing this as a weeding mechanism. If their audience doesn’t want to go through the trouble of filling out the form, they won’t get the extra content.

But if they do fill out the information to get the content upgrade, they’re going to be highly motivated and qualified prospects that are very likely to become customers.

Having this extra step of sending them to a separate landing page, allows them to add this content upgrade to any blog post.  They can also market the guide individually using the stand-alone URL for the content upgrade.

As you see by the examples above, a content upgrade can include many different formats of content.

Let’s look at some formats for content upgrades.

  • Expanded List: Did you post a blog post with 6 ideas? Why not offer a continuation of this by giving them an expanded list of 25+ ideas? Any list post is fodder for adding more to it. Create and offer the full list as a PDF download.


  • A Cheat Sheet: If you’ve learned a good order of operations for your business, people will want to know how you did what you did. Offer them your cheat sheet to help guide them through the same thing you did.


  • A Guide: Everyone likes to learn how to do things with specific instructions. Set up a guide with step-by-step instructions. Try to keep it short, but with enough detail that they can implement most of what is on the guide themselves, or in conjunction with your products and services.


  • A Slide Show: Any time you have a blog post with at least five points you can also create a companion slide show with it. Offer it as a content upgrade on the post in exchange for their email address.


  • Audio: Some people like to listen to things more than they like reading them. You can insert a way for your audience to download an audio of your blog posts as an easy content upgrade.


  • Case Study: Let’s say you have a blog post about a new product or service that you’ve created or one you’re promoting. Offer more information in the form of a case study, which is just a short report, transcript, or even video of the person who has successfully implemented the things you’re describing.


  • Checklists: This is a super effortless way to offer a content upgrade. Let’s say you offer services related to webinars, you can create a checklist of what you do before every webinar and share it on relevant blog posts.


  • Homework: This is great for any type of “how to” posts you’re sharing. People like to learn, and if you challenge them, they’ll learn even more. Offer the homework as a challenge and they’ll sign up.


  • Infographic: Do you have a lot of data in a blog post or report? If so, you can turn it into a beautiful infographic that you offer as a content upgrade. Alternatively, you can turn that around, post the infographic, and offer the report as the content upgrade.


  • Interviews: Whenever you conduct an interview, whether recorded or written, they make excellent options for content upgrades. You can write a blog post about the interview, then include the audio as an upgrade, or include the video interview with the transcript as an upgrade.


  • Resource Lists: Most people want to know what you do, how you do it, and what you do it with. This is a terrific opportunity to offer your resource list as a content upgrade giving them an inside view of your technology and resources.


  • Short eBook: Most blog posts do offer themselves up for lengthening. If you write a blog post about anything, you should be able to offer some sort of short eBook as a content upgrade with more in-depth information. Let’s say you have a post with 10 points, you can expand on those 10 points to easily make a short eBook as a content upgrade, so that they can learn more.


  • Short Report: A short report isn’t much different from an eBook. it’s just shorter and may focus on fewer points. Reports work great as content upgrades because the reader doesn’t feel as if they must read something overly long to get more depth.


  • Spreadsheet: Do you use a spreadsheet of some kind to get organized? You can share the spreadsheet to help your audience do the same thing as you. Any blog posts you write relating to the job that you use the spreadsheet for, is an appropriate choice to offer it as a content upgrade.


  • Stock Images: Have you created some stock photos that you took yourself, or you have the right to distribute? Images are always awesome additions to your lead magnet arsenal, especially as free content upgrades.


  • Swipe Files: Do you have a collection of information you often reference that you’ve created for yourself? If so, then you know how valuable a swipe file can be. Why not create swipe files for your audience based on the topic you’re posting about?


  • Templates: Of course everyone loves to work easier instead of harder. But not everyone can organize themselves like you do. Probably you currently have templates that you use. But if you want to create templates for your audience to use with their audience, that works too. It’s a great content upgrade, because it makes implementation easier for your audience.


  • Transcripts: Anytime you create video and audio the first thing you should do is transcribe it. The transcriptions can make perfect content upgrades for almost any type of relevant blog post.


  • Video: Your content upgrades can be in any format, but video is especially appreciated. Offering upgrades in the form of video will help those that prefer video. (Remember to transcribe it and offer the print version as well.)


  • Your Formula: Creating frameworks (of processes you use) for your audience to copy, can make excellent freebies and are perfect content upgrades. They give insight and allow your audience to use your formula to reap their rewards. If the framework consists of the steps in your coaching program, it can be a great lead-in to it.

These are all examples of content upgrades. They target readers of your current content and tempt them with more detailed content in exchange for an email address, just like all other lead magnets. The difference is mainly the amount of content (usually lead magnets have more content).

Planning your content upgradesPlanning Your Content & The Upgrade

Now that you understand what a content upgrade is, you are probably excited to start implementing the idea. You also now realize that people care about content upgrades because they know exactly what the information is about, and they don’t mind being put on a list to get it. That means they value your ideas enough to want to hear more of what you say about this topic.

Now, it’s important to set up a plan of action for all the content you create, so you can automatically include effective content upgrades.

1-Know Why You Are Creating the Content

Let’s say you’ve created a Diet Meal Plan that you want to sell to your audience. Therefore, you create blog posts surrounding the topic, “The importance of meal planning.” You may also include some educational blog posts regarding the type of diet that you are promoting.

You might then come up with a content upgrade that relates to the blog post(s) but provides extra information. For example, a good content upgrade might be a report or video interview showing the success of someone else on the type of diet you’re promoting.

If you have already had others use your meal plan, you can interview them to create a wonderful content upgrade in video or text format.  You can even make it an audio story, to help retain people who are on their way out the door but like to listen to information.

But it all starts with understanding why. In this case, the “why” is to sell meal plans. Once you get them on your list, you can use an autoresponder series to promote your meal plan.

2-Determine What Segment of Your Audience You’re Targeting

You’ve likely created an audience avatar.  But, within that one audience, you have many segments. For example, your main avatar might be a 30-something overweight mom. But, there are likely different segments within that idea.

Sometimes they’re separated by demographics, such as occupation or location. But sometimes they’re separated by those who have already acted in some way, i.e., by their behavior, such as purchasing another weight-loss product, such as someone who bought already, someone who engages with you, someone who downloads your lead magnets, and so forth.

When you segment in that way, creating very specific content upgrades becomes a lot simpler. If someone is reading the blog post, “I lost weight, now what?” Then you know they probably already lost weight and want to know how to keep it off and maintain.

A great content upgrade for that blog post might be a video of you talking about weight maintenance, and how it changed your lifestyle. Alternatively, it might be a journal that they can use to track maintenance. Once you determine the segment you want to target with the content upgrade you’ll be able to create more targeted content.

3-Understand Where You’ll Place the Content

Today you have so many places to put content, from blogging on, to Guest Posting, to social media updates and more.

But, your best content should mostly live on your blog and in your email marketing messages. The entire point of marketing outside your email and your blog is to get them to come to your blog and join your email list. You want to give them a great taste for the type of information and the quality of products you deliver, but you want them to sign up to get more.

Therefore, content upgrades should go inside your email messages, blog posts, articles, and even within your social media interactions. But all content upgrades should require an email address and possibly their name that you need before they get access to it.

The one exception is if you send a content upgrade to people on your email list, tagging via your autoresponder software should suffice to move them to the right segment without having to provide their email addresses again. When deciding where to place your content upgrades, start with your blog posts and move on from there.

4-Determine How the Content Can be Repurposed

Don’t skip this part, even though technically you can do the other steps without it. But every piece of content should have a repurposing plan behind it. Even your content upgrades can be repurposed. It helps to make a spreadsheet or keep track of what you’re doing in a project management system like or Such systems list the content type, and then the type that you’ll turn it into. That way you have a plan.

5-Decide What Type of Upgrade Will Make This Content Most Effective

Keeping in mind why you’re creating the content: first, think about your audience; second, decide the type of information you’ll be giving them; and third, decide how you’ll distribute it.

All this will help ensure that you choose the right type of content upgrade—the one that is most effective for the narrow audience reading the blog post.

For example, a “how to” blog post will benefit from a more in-depth look into the topic, using a video or a slide show as the content upgrade.

6-Document Your Process

It’s been mentioned, but let’s make an extra note to ensure that you document your process. Use a spreadsheet or a project management system like to keep track of the content you’re creating and using across the web.

You want to be able to trace the content so that you can schedule it correctly, add the right links for content upgrades, and repurpose the content too. Plus, the better you are at the documenting process, the easier it is to communicate with someone such as a virtual assistant or content writer.

Documenting what you’re doing will ensure that you have a good plan going forward. Additionally, it will ensure that you know for certain that what you’re doing is producing the results you want, because you’ll know what to track.

Content upgrades should now become part of your content creation plans at the start. That way you know what content upgrades to have readily available. It’s a lot simpler creating them ahead of time, so that you can enjoy the results from them the moment you publish a blog.

Stay tuned for part 2 of this article series on content upgrades.

And to illustrate the concept of content upgrades, click below to get the “no-opt-in” content upgrade for this article.

download your content upgrade