What is a Content Upgrade? (with Examples)

What is a content upgrade (with examples)

Content upgrades: What are they? 

If you haven’t read Part 1 of this series, you can access it here: How to Create Lead Magnet Funnels that Grow Your Email List

In this post, we will talk about a lead magnet’s powerful sister, the Content Upgrade.

At this point, you’ve been writing blog posts like a maniac, furiously working to get more posts on your blog and drive traffic to your site.

Your numbers have been going up and your visitors’ numbers are starting to look pretty darn good.

Unfortunately, that uptick in traffic is not translating into email subscribers.

While you know that building an email list is important and you’ve started to do that, but your conversion rate from traffic to subscribers is really low.

If you are like most businesses that are blogging, you are only realizing about a 1% to 2% conversion rate.

How would you like to get ten times more email subscribers than you do right now?

You can absolutely achieve this kind of result by strategically placing a specialized type of opt-in on your blog posts called a content upgrade.

Content upgrades are a type of lead magnet

Content upgrades are highly-specific opt-in offers that will turn each and every one of your blog posts into an email list-building machine on steroids.

Essentially, they are lead magnets that you create as a bonus offering for a particular blog post.

They are very targeted and designed to appeal to the person who came to your site to read your specific blog post.

To be effective, each one of your content upgrades must elaborate or complement the blog post your website visitor is already consuming.

In order to access the bonus content, your website visitor must provide you with an email address and name. This gets them on your email list as a subscriber.

Content upgrade example for a coach

Let’s say you are a fitness and nutrition coach.

And, to help your readers, you write a blog post all about how to eat right through reducing their intake of fast foods and increasing their consumption of healthy, whole-food dishes with lots of vegetables that they make at home.

As a content upgrade, you offer them a shopping list of healthy foods that they can print out and take to the store with them.


It’s the perfect content upgrade because you know your reader typically purchases fast foods at restaurants and doesn’t know much about how to go to a grocery store to shop for healthy foods.

It’s simple for you, as the fitness expert, but it’s a hurdle for your readers that you just helped them to solve.

And, people happily give you their name and email address because your content upgrade is both valuable and specific to the blog post they just read.

Why you need content upgrades (hint: they grow your email list like crazy) 

The reason that you need content upgrades is because – done right – they convert your website visitors into email list subscribers at a much higher rate than the standard “subscribe to our newsletter” or “sign up to get updates.”

They will help you grow your email list exponentially.

Your goal is to make your content upgrades so compelling and useful, that your blog readers simply must opt into your email list to get them.

The reason is simple: people will come to your website to read something on your blog or watch a video you’ve uploaded, but the majority of your visitors won’t be ready to buy. 

In fact, statistics show more than 70% of the people who visit your website and blog will never come back.

That’s why when people visit your website, you must make it your top priority to capture their name and emails.

Leveraging content upgrades has yielded incredible results for popular bloggers who added them to their site.

Content upgrade examples and statistics

  • Brian Dean of Backlinko added content upgrades to 15 blog posts and – BAM! – boosted his site-wide conversion rate by 185%!

  • Devesh Khanal increased the conversion rate of just one blog post by 492% by implementing a content upgrade.

  • Bryan Harris of Videofruit.com writes that he now gets a 20-30% opt-in rate on his blog posts, with some as high as 62%.

  • James Scherrer from Wishpond found content upgrades convert their visitors 575% better compared to the articles that don’t feature one.

  • Mariah Coz from Femtrepreneur says that content upgrades took her from getting 2-5 email sign-ups a day (about a 2% conversion rate) to 25-45 email subscribers a day (about a 50% conversion rate – wow!)

  • Brian Casel of Casjam says that content upgrades were instrumental in helping him grow his list from hundreds to over 7,000 in 18 months.

Compare the conversion rates above to an optimized pop-up ad that has a 6-8% conversion rate, or the conversion rate on most blog posts with the old “sign up to get updates” of only 1-2%.

Which rate do you choose? I know which one I like!!

Rates of conversion from readers to email subscribers are high for content upgrades because of the immediacy and relevancy of the reward as opposed to a more generic call to action.

By reading your blog post, your reader is primed to give you their email address in exchange for something that can help them solve the challenge they were facing when they come to your blog post.

And when you get your blog readers on your email list using content upgrades, you can build a relationship with these people so they begin to know, like, and trust you.

Then, when these people who LIKE you are ready to buy, they’ll buy from YOU!

Once they are on your list, you can continue to email these individuals even after they’ve become customers. When you continue to nurture the relationship, your list of people will buy from you – not just once – but again and again and again.

Your email list is an asset in your business with a HUGE return on investment. The more people you have on your list, them more money you can make in your business.

And it all starts with those high-converting content upgrades.

How to create content upgrades that are powerful email list builders

To turn your online website visitors into warm leads, your content upgrades should be:

  1. Insanely valuable to your specific audience: The blog post that your audience came to read just provided them with some new ideas that help them to solve a problem. And the content upgrade should help your reader take action, moving them forward to the next step.
  2. Easy to consume: In the case of content upgrades, bigger is not always better. Make content upgrades that your email subscribers can read quickly. Use bullet points or checklists to keep it simple.
  3. Very specific: For example, if you teach photography and write a blog post that is called “10 Tips to Quickly Improve Your iPhone Photos,” your content upgrade could be a one-page checklist called “7 Hidden iPhone Camera Features that Every Photographer Should Use.” (Makes you want to go download it, doesn’t it?)
  4. Actionable: Create downloads that your audience can use right away to solve their problem. They came to your blog post because they were looking for a solution – tell them a lot in your blog post, and then give them even MORE in your content upgrade!
  5. Easy for you to create – This is key because, let’s face it, your blog post already took you a while to write. So, you want your content upgrade to take you under an hour to create (think checklists, short guides, templates, and so on). Yes, it’s extra work to create a content upgrade, but this extra hour that you’ll spend on your blog post has an incredible ROI.

Point number one above is very important. Always follow the value to develop the best content upgrades for your site visitors. This is what will bring you the highest rate of conversions. Give people the information they need to reach a higher level of success in the area that is causing them problems.

Your content upgrades get people on your email list

Once people download your content upgrade, they go on to your email list. Understandably, it’s essential that you have a great email service provider so you can easily nurture your email list.

There are many different options, but I’ll recommend my favorites:

If you are on a tight budget, you can use MailChimp (it’s free for up to 2,000 subscribers).

Or you can use what I use: ConvertKit. I like ConvertKit better than MailChimp because:

  • you can easily create many different types of forms (and you need forms to promote your content upgrades).
  • you get great form stats to see which convert best
  • you can segment your subscribers more easily – this is important for creating funnels that lead to sales.
  • ConvertKit easily allows you to create multiple forms, opt-in incentives, and custom messages (super important as your funnels get more sophisticated).

How to get started with content upgrades

I recommend having a content upgrade on every blog post. This means that if you already have a blog and traffic, then you need to go back to add content upgrades to all of your older blog posts.

Yes, it’s extra work, but it’s such a list-building accelerator that it’s absolutely worth the effort.

Here’s how to tackle it.

Step 1: Start by looking at your Google Analytics for the blog posts that are already getting the most traffic. Next, add content upgrades to your top five most-visited posts.

This will get you the most leads in the fastest time. You already have the traffic, you just need to start capturing it!

Step 2: Once you have those blog posts set up with content upgrades, then begin adding them to each new post you create. Make this part of your system – write a blog post, create a content upgrade. Make them both live on your site at the same time.

Step 3: Carve out a bit of time each week to begin adding content upgrades to other older blog posts (in order of their popularity). You just did your five most-trafficked posts, now move on to the next five, then the next five and so on.

Don’t kill yourself by creating thousands of different upgrades for your older posts. You can use the same content upgrades for more than one blog post if they have related content.

For example, if I am a dog trainer who has written multiple posts about training a puppy (housetraining, stop chewing, puppies and children, etc.), then I can add a Puppy Training Checklist to all of them.

Bonus Tip: Keep a list in a Google Doc/Sheet or in Airtable of the content upgrades you’ve already created to keep up with them all. Refer back to it each time you need a new content upgrade to see if any older resources would be a good fit.

Create your content upgrades with these steps

When you are thinking about the best content upgrade and how to make them irresistible to your site visitors, here are some questions that can help you:

  • How can I help my reader take the next step?
  • What is my reader’s biggest challenge and how can I help them overcome it?
  • What are my readers’ needs RIGHT now as they are reading this blog post?
  • How can I make the information easier to implement?
  • How can I explain this blog topic in more detail?
  • How can I break this down into easy-to-understand bits?
  • What can I do to motivate my readers to take action?
  • Are there resources that my reader needs related to this post?

Examples of easy-to-create content upgrades to build your list

  1. Checklist: If your blog post can be condensed into a printable checklist (or if a checklist will enhance it), this is the perfect download. It’s easy for you to create, it’s easy for your reader to consume, and it provides high value. Think about something that people can actually print, laminate, hang up and use over and over. For example, a photographer could provide a checklist of how to set up a studio for a portrait session or an accountant could offer a checklist to help readers maximize their tax savings.

  2. Cheat sheet: This is also something that should be fairly quick for you to create and it creates high value for your reader, especially if it shortens their process and saves them time. For instance, if you teach people graphic design, a keyboard shortcut cheat sheet could be a great time saver for your readers.

  3. Quick-start guide: When you have a blog post about something complex, a great content upgrade is a guide that helps them to get started. Take the first few steps and distill them down so that your reader can get over that initial barrier.

  4. Worksheets: If you are teaching your readers something in your post, then create a content upgrade that is a worksheet they can complete. This adds value because they can take the lessons that you’ve provided and can directly apply them to solve their own problem.

  5. Resources list: If you have written a blog post that has a lot of components to it, then provide your readers with a list of resources to help them accomplish their goal. Make the list available as a downloadable PDF. For example, a blog post on “Getting started with podcasting” could have a content upgrade that is a resource list that is all of the tools you need to create a podcast.

  6. Webinars/videos: If you’ve hosted a webinar or made a video in the past that relates to a blog post you’ve written, send people this as a download. This is something that provides a lot of additional content for your reader, but it’s easy for you to re-purpose it because you’ve already created the material.

  7. Templates: Can you provide a template to help make your reader’s life easier? For example, I’ve seen email templates, budget templates, press release templates, worksheet templates, and client onboarding templates. Pretty much if you do something routinely in your business, you can create a template that makes your life easier. Then, use these same templates to give to your blog readers to help them.

    Bonus tip: Create a template for your content upgrades with your brand colors and company fonts. You can use this over and over to create a consistent look and feel. Who knows, maybe you can even turn this into a content upgrade. (-:

  8. Scripts: If you write any kind of blog that helps people use their words in some way, then a script is a perfect download. For instance, a sales trainer could offer a cold-calling script, a media coach could offer a pitch a reporter script. You get the idea!

20 more content upgrade ideas

And if those 8 ideas aren’t enough for you, then here are 20 more content upgrade ideas for you to try!

  1. Video
  2. Audio file
  3. Planner
  4. Spreadsheet
  5. Formula
  6. Swipe files
  7. Masterclass
  8. Transcripts
  9. Flatlay or other stock photos
  10. Ebook
  11. Calculator
  12. FAQs (with answers)
  13. Mind map
  14. Inspiration file
  15. Predictions
  16. Quiz
  17. Assessment
  18. Manifesto
  19. Copy-and-paste content
  20. Resource vault

So, now it’s time to get out there and take massive action!

Start creating your content upgrades and start turning your blog into an email lead-generating machine!!

Be sure to join my free Facebook Group, The Business Profit Engine. I’m happy to give you feedback on your content upgrade ideas and so are the many kind members!

And, just think about all of the leads you’ll be able to generate from your existing traffic by adding them to all of the blog posts you’ve written in the past!

Ready to take the next step to grow your business?

Let’s talk!

You can also sign up for my FREE Masterclass, The 5 Simple Steps My Clients Use to Attract High-End Clients at $3K – $10K Prices, using the button below!

Thrive Leads Shortcode could not be rendered, please check it in Thrive Leads Section!

Other Posts to Help You Grow

Get The Latest Updates

Subscribe To My Newsletter For Marketing Tips