What the Heck is a Content Upgrade and Why is it Free?

Thanks to your new content marketing strategy, your social media followers are throwing crazy love your way every time you share new content. So why is your email list still at a standstill?

The truth is, you may have the slickest website and the coolest content, but if you’re not using content upgrades, you’re doing a major disservice to your team.

After all, content upgrades have been shown to grow email lists by as much as 300%.

Consider this free bonus content for one and only purpose: to give you a polite way of asking for your visitors’ email addresses.

Your email list is one of the main key performance indicators of your content marketing’s success. Having 500 new Instagram followers means nothing in comparison to having 500 email addresses — ahem, leads — right at your fingertips.

Today we’re going to talk about why content upgrades convert so well, and why you’d be crazy to skip them during your content marketing strategy.


What is a Content Upgrade Anyway?

See that bonus content you just scrolled by?

That’s our content upgrade for today’s article (it’s pretty awesome and helpful if you don’t mind us saying).

Hopefully, you snagged it but in case you skipped it (don’t worry, you can grab it later on!), here’s how it works: your visitor will click the link to your content upgrade and that will trigger a pop-up.


Your visitor will only have to enter their name and email address and your content (or a link to download your content) will be sent to them directly.

This seems great for your visitors, but how does it really work for you?

Besides adding to your email list, this box captures your visitors’ first name so you can personalize all your communication with them using your preferred email management client.

You’ll receive a visitor to your website thanks in part to your content, social media promotion, organic search engine traffic, etc.

Your visitor will be immersed in your high-quality content and excited when they see additional bonus material in the form of your content upgrade. Since they won’t need to fork over cash for this content or pay with a tweet, visitors won’t think twice about trading you their email address for more solid content.

Visitors won’t think twice about trading you their email address for more solid content. Click To Tweet

You’ll take that email address and incorporate it into your sales funnel so that visitor starts to learn more about your brand and services.

Easy-peasy, right?

Now, your team may groan at the thought of creating even more content (for free), but reassure them that this additional work will pay off when your email list explodes and you wind up with more qualified leads in your sales funnel than you can dream of.

If you need more help convincing them, here are 5 reasons why content upgrades are awesome:


Content Upgrades Work: Here’s Why

Sure, everyone loves free stuff, but there’s more than affordability when it comes to the success of content upgrades. They work because they:


Speak Directly to What Visitors are Already Consuming

A lead magnet will entice visitors specifically inside your target audience, but what happens if someone outside of your typical buyer persona organically stumbles on your site thanks to a search engine and some well-placed keywords?

These visitors may not be so eager to give you their email address in exchange for the lead magnet since they don’t really know who your brand is or what value you provide to them yet.

However, you already know that your visitor may be interested in your content upgrade because they’re already reading/watching/listening to your corresponding content. This extra bonus material for your reader, listener, or viewer (depending on your chosen form of content) already aligns with what they’re into.

Action tip: Add two call outs for your content upgrade somewhere in your post.

The first will let your visitor know what you have to offer and the second will show them why they need or want your bonus material after finishing your piece of content (and they’re craving more!).


Give Your Site Credibility

Creating high-quality content and bonus material that looks super professional and is even more helpful all works in favor to polish your image.

The more credibility and authority your brand generates, the more trust your visitors will establish in your ability to help them.


Help Determine Which Content Performs Better

Since content upgrades are the peanut butter to your content’s jelly, you’ll always be able to match up an acquired email address with a specific piece of content.

When you analyze your metrics, you’ll be able to see which upgrades sounded the most enticing to your visitors.

Maybe you’ll discover that your readers really enjoy filling out templates to give them an organized road map to follow. Or maybe they’re too busy to fill out worksheets, but they’d adore a clean checklist to take to their meetings and share with their teammates.

Besides using social media analytics such as share rates, comments, and likes, you’ll be gaining insight into what your visitors are willing to pay for.

No, you’re not gaining a monetary profit, but you’re gaining something way more valuable: market insight and an email address that you can now monitor as it makes its way through your buying process.


Are Highly Actionable and Usable

Yes, your content should always aim to solve a problem that your target audience is facing, but sometimes it can be a lot of information for your visitors to digest all at one time if they’re unfamiliar with the topic.

Your content upgrade should give them the ability or tools to help them or show them how to get the job done fast.

Visitors are always bookmarking ideas without taking actionable steps. Your (free!) content upgrade should give them the push they need to follow through with your advice.

Your (free!) content upgrade should give them the push they need to follow through with your advice. Click To Tweet

So don’t make them long; keep them small enough that your visitor can accomplish this task and feel ready to tackle more of your great ideas in one afternoon.

The best forms of content upgrades are usable and actionable, such as:

  • Checklist
  • Extra (related) lesson
  • Template, form, website code
  • Infographic they can use or share
  • Step-by-step instructions, worksheet, or startup guide
  • List of tools (with links for download/purchase)
  • Transcripts (if you’re doing podcasts or videos)
  • Printable infographic of the facts you listed in your content
  • Access to a short or introductory email course or ebook
  • Exclusive interview with a thought leader in your niche
  • Additional tips, tricks, and info you didn’t have room to mention in your original content

Though it will come off as valuable, this extra bonus feature shouldn’t be a total drain on your manpower hours. Schedule no more than 30 minutes for generating content upgrades to keep everyone productive.


There’s Value for Everyone

Salespeople know that the best deals are those in which all parties involved think they’ve won in some way. Content upgrades completely fit this model.

You’ll create additional content that not only elevates your blog and puts more helpful information out in the world, but will also attract leads for you 24/7.

When your team gets those leads and sends them through your sales funnel, you’ll be able to pitch your product or service later down the line and you’ll have a better shot at converting. Your prospect will turn into a happy, informed customer and won’t ever feel as if they’re being sold to (even though it’s been a subtle sales process from the start).

Hey, we all know that free stuff works and the same can be said about content marketing.

Consumers are going to rely on the information you present about your authority and willingness to help them. The better the rapport you build (hey, free content can’t hurt!), the more loyal your visitors will end up becoming until they are full-fledged customers.

Once you have their email address, you can notify visitors about new posts that they’re sure to be interested in. Then it will only be a short matter of time until your email list expands and your conversions follow.

Ready to proceed? Check out the step-by-step process of syncing your content upgrades with your email client in this handy slideshare:

Featured Image by www.Vecteezy.com

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