Why content upgrades are a must for your blog to grow an email list?

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I’m not going to beat around the bush with long and fancy introductions. If you’re reading this article, you are searching for an effective way to grow your email list.

There’s no need to explain to you why email marketing is so important. Just take a look at a recent “Managing Digital Marketing” report from Smart Insights. It shows how effective email marketing is, compared to other online marketing channels.

Online Marketing Channels

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In this article, I will show you why Content Upgrades is one of the best (if not the best) strategies to grow your email list.

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Just in case you haven’t heard of content upgrades before, I will explain to you what they are.

Content upgrade – is a specific bonus material, that comes along with the blog article, but is only accessible for your readers in exchange to their email address.

In simpler words, it’s something that makes your post even better and more valuable, but you don’t give it away for free. If your readers want to get this “bonus,” they must give you their email address in return.

Simple as a hat. So what makes content upgrades such a powerful strategy?

Fabulous conversion rate

Compared to another email list building strategy, content upgrades have enormous conversion rates.

  • Content Upgrades increased conversions for Brian Dean at Backlinko by 785%.
  • Tim Soulo at BloggerJet saw a 300% increase in his conversion rate when he started using content upgrades.
  • With content upgrades, Mariah Coz at Femtrepreneur was able to grow her email list from Zero to 600 just in 30 days.
  • Wishpond improved their conversions by 1,650% with this awesome strategy.

I guess these numbers alone leave no place for the hesitation, whether to use content upgrades on your blog or not. But there’s more!

A Square Deal

Quite often bloggers use pop-ups and sign-up forms on their blogs in a way that their visitors don’t understand what benefit they will get after opting-in. Usually, people don’t think another E-book is worth their email address. And what most blogs offer as an ‘opt-in bribe’ is usually a single E-book.

Square Deal

Content upgrade always offers a square deal. Your reader does not buy a pig in a poke. Every good content upgrade must offer real value to your readers. However, it will take you some time effort to prepare a bonus for your article.

At the end everyone is happy: your reader gets a valuable bonus material and you get a new email subscriber. A square deal.

Further, on this post, I will show you a variety of materials you can use as content upgrades to your blog posts.

  1. Content Upgrades Are More Engaging

What lead magnets do you usually see on one’s blog and how are they served?

I bet what you usually see is an E-book, a free report, or a guide, offered in a sidebar or in a pop-up form. The latter is sometimes totally misused and shown to you at the most inappropriate time.

The best content upgrades practice is to offer your readers content specific bonus material for every blog post. Pop-ups are used here as well, but they are ‘action triggered.’ They are only shown to your readers when they click the link to your bonus material.

Let me show you how Kathryn Aragon uses content upgrades at her blog.

Let’s have a look at one of her latest post about Visme service. In this post, Kathryn explains to us why visual content is so strong and how Visme service can help you with it. In addition, Kathryn offers you a Presentation Checklist to get better results from your visual content.

Content Upgrade

Her article is already great without any bonus material. But the people, who opt-in to get his free checklist, will get a better experience with visual content.

And as a reader clicks the link to access this bonus, a pop-up is shown, asking for an email address.


When readers see this pop-up, they are determined to get a bonus. They take actions to get it, not you to push it. That’s why content upgrades have such high conversion rates are much more engaging than regular pop-ups and sign-up forms.

  1. Easy Segmentation of Your Email Lists

Let’s say you blog about various gadgets, and part of your audience are crazy about Apple products, while other parts can’t see their lives without Android, and you don’t want them to get the same newsletter.

Apple vs Android

Since content upgrades are content-specific, you can send your new subscribers to separate email lists and use different email campaigns on them. There are some tools for content upgrades, that even allow you to keep all your subscribers in the same list, but ‘mark’ them, depending on the content upgrade, that brought them to your list. Such a hidden mark allows you to segment your list easily.

You will find these tools at the end of this post.

  1. Tons of Different Materials Can Be Used as Content Upgrades

With content upgrades, your main task is to prepare a specific bonus to your article and present it in front of your readers. If presenting a bonus can handle by the special tools, creating an engaging bonus is your responsibility.

Yes, it will take you some additional time and effort, but the result is totally worth it. If you think it’s not, go to #1 in this post again.

With a variety of materials, that can be used as content upgrade bonuses, adding content upgrades to your posts won’t be hard at all. Here’s just a small list:

  • PDF version of an article
  • Checklist (my favorite)
  • Explanatory video
  • Email series (course)
  • Tutorial
  • Sample or Template
  • Resource list
  • The audio version of your material
  • Anything, that relates to the content of your article and complements it naturally.

Most of these don’t take much time to prepare. And even if you take some time to create a bonus of greater value, like an infographic, mini e-book, or an email course, you will use it multiple times, so it’s a good time investment.

Promised Extra: Tools for Content Upgrade Strategy

There are quite a few tools to help you implement the strategy of content upgrades.

LeadPages is probably the best-known among them. Content Upgrades are just a part of this outstanding package. However, for small businesses, this solution may come too pricey.

OptinMonster can be a good alternative. It is a huge package as well, with floating bars, scroll boxes and sidebar forms included. But again, you have to consider your budget with recurring payments

Content Upgrades PRO is a WordPress plugin, solely focused on content upgrades, offered with a one-time payment. It has everything you need to implement a content upgrade strategy on your blog. However, it’s very focused: it does not create any other sign-up forms.

Since all these tools have a trial or guaranteed refund periods, you can try and find what fits your needs best.

Over to You

Do you use content upgrades on your blog? Do you plan to use them after reading this post? What’s your experience with content upgrades? What other tools can you recommend?

I would really like to hear from you! If you’ve got something to say, please, don’t hesitate to leave a comment here!

And don’t forget to use the social sharing button.

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