Content Upgrades: How to Increase Optins with Content-Specific Bonuses
Content is king.
But you already knew that, didn’t you?
Of course, you have.
If you’re like most high-performing business owners, you know just how important content marketing is in today’s Google-driven world.
With it, you can generate 3x as many leads than you can from traditional outbound marketing at a fraction of the cost.
But without it…
…you’ll struggle to get noticed in today’s crowded marketplace andinstead, sink to the deeper recesses of Google’s search engine results pages (SERPs).
The rationale behind original, high-value content, is to capture and convert inbound traffic and convert visitors into highly-qualified leads for your business.
But there’s a problem:
Traditional methods of capturing email addresses aren’t as effective as they once were.
In the past, you could invite visitors to, “Join my newsletter” or, “Subscribe for updates” and enjoy the lion’s share of email subscribers because few had the money—or the know-how—to build opt-ins on their site.
But, today, adding a signup form is easier than ever. And because so many people are using them, we’ve developed “opt-in blindness”: we’re exposed to so many opt-ins, we’ve become desensitized to them (including those that are relevant to our interests).
The truth is, in today’s noisy marketplace, you need to go a step further, and for your content to convert well, you need to use content upgrades.
Before we get into why content upgrades are so powerful when it comes to increasing email signups (and in the long-term, revenue), we need to answer an important question…
What is a Content Upgrade?
According to Pat Flynn from Smart Passive Income,
A content upgrade is simply bonus content that people can get access to in exchange for their email address. Unlike traditional “site-wide” lead magnets, however, content upgrades are unique to the specific content that people are already reading or listening to on your site.
When he repeated Bryan’s process, his results were remarkable: he increased his conversions from 54%. to 4.82%. in one day (that’s a 785% improvement!)
And he’s not alone, either:
After two months, the articles with content upgrades converted 344% more than those without.
Now, I know what you might be thinking…
“But Josh, they’re marketers. I’m in [INSERT NON-MARKETING INDUSTRY HERE]. Content upgrades won’t work for me.”
Here’s the thing:
While content upgrades are popular with marketers, they work just as well, if not better, for business owners in niche markets.
Because far fewer people are doing them.
This puts you at a tremendous advantage.
If you’re still not convinced, check out the following three case-studies from non-marketing related industries that have used content upgrades and boosted their opt-in rates.
Case Study #1: RecruitLoop.com
RecruitLoop is an Australian-based recruitment company that specializes in automating and outsourcing the recruitment process for employers.
Unlike other recruitment agencies that still rely on traditional lead generation strategies, RecruitLoop uses content marketing to generate inbound interest in their business (check out the number of social shares for this article in particular):
For one of their more popular pieces, “75 Behavioural Interview Questions To Select The Best Candidate,” they added a free PDF checklist as a content upgrade:
While we can’t be certain how many opt-ins this piece is receiving, it is one of their most popular articles and is no doubt contributing to their 20,000+ email list:
Case Study #2 YouthPitching.com
Steven Ellis is the founder of Youth Pitching: a website that helps youth baseball players “throw harder, pitch smarter and reach the next level faster while reducing the risk of injury.”
One of Steven’s most popular articles, “13 Steps To Powerful Youth Pitching Mechanics”, is about how to develop high-velocity pitching mechanics and better control while reducing stress to the arm.
Ellis ranks #2 on Google for the long-tail keyword, “proper pitching mechanics”…
…and similar to RecruitLoop, Steven added a PDF checklist as a “great little print out for your coaching binder”:
Notice here, that it’s not just the content upgrade that’s effective; it’s the copy you use to “pitch” it. Any opportunity to add convenience to the reader adds more value.
Case Study #3 DIYHomeBuilder.org
So far, we’ve looked at a “white-collar” industry (recruitment) and a non-collar industry (baseball coaching). But what about “blue-collar” industries like plumbing, engineering, and construction? Do content upgrades work for them, too?
Just check out DIYHomeBuilder:
Priding itself on its ultimate guides, DIYHomeBuilder features a content upgrade on its guide for construction loans (note the persuasive copy it uses in the call-to-action):
As you’ve seen, it doesn’t matter what market you’re in, content upgrades will help you convert more visitors into subscribers (and eventually subscribers into customers).
By now I’m guessing you’re ready to learn how to create your own, right?
I thought you’d never ask…
How to Create a Content Upgrade
More than 423,777 websites (and counting) are powered by SumoMe and for good reason:
They’re one of the best software providers for building an email list.
And best of all…
While the feature we’re going to look at is a paid feature, it’s worth giving their one-month free trial a go so you can see the results for yourself.
If you’re new to SumoMe, read their instruction guide (installation takes less than 37 seconds). If you’re already a SumoMe user, read on…
Step 1. Identify your most popular content
Login to your Google Analytics dashboard and click, “Behavior” > “Site Content” > “All Pages”. Here’s an example provided by Social Media Examiner:
Choose a blog post you can expand on with a content upgrade. For example, if you’re a realtor and you have an article called, “10 Ways to Buy a House at Auction”, you could offer a PDF that offers 10additional ways that weren’t mentioned in the post. Remember, the more value you offer the reader, the more likely there are to opt-in.
Step 2. Create a bonus resource for that post
One of the biggest barriers to creating content upgrades is time.
To do [content upgrades] well, it takes time, and to do it at scale it can be oppressively time-consuming.
The thing to remember, though, is not all content upgrades are created equal.
Some, like an infographic, take time to create (especially if you’re not a creative and have to outsource it), but others, as we’ve seen, can be as simple as a PDF checklist or even a PDF of the article itself.
Neil Patel does this for nearly every post he publishes:
If you’re interested in more content upgrade ideas, read OptinMonster’s “30 Content Upgrade Ideas to Grow Your Email List.”
Step 3. Set up a click trigger in SumoMe
If you’ve ever clicked on a link in a call-out box, you might have seen a popup like this:
With LeadPages, this is known as a “Lead Box”. The idea is simple: if you click on a link, you’re more likely to follow-through and enter your email address (read: foot-in-the-door technique).
SumoMe has an identical feature called a “click trigger.”
Here’s how to create one:
Note: make sure you have created a campaign in SumoMe, first. If you don’t know how to do that it, read this article.
i. Login to SumoMe on your website:
ii. Click “List Builder” > “Click Triggers” > “Add New Code”:
iii. Name your click trigger and choose a campaign you want to have triggered upon the click (e.g. your weekly newsletter):
iv. Copy the “Inline Trigger Code”:
v. Go to your popular page, click “Text” and paste it above your main H2 tag:
vi. Test your click trigger to ensure it works:
Of course, that’s only the beginning. There’s more you can do to increase conversions (changing the color of the call-to-action, rewording the headline, adding a call-out box to the call-to-action, etc.). Just remember to continue iterating after you’ve created your content upgrade. This is when you discover what works best for your audience.
The future of online marketing is creating valuable content. This much is true. But content, alone, won’t bring in more leads for your business. To really capitalize on your existing traffic, you need to create content upgrades.
As you’ve seen, it doesn’t matter what industry you’re in, how big your marketing budget is, or what you’re offering: content upgrades can produce enormous returns on investment—if you invest time in creating them.
The money is in the list, remember. Make sure you’re investing in it.
What have your experiences been with using content upgrades? Have you noticed a difference in your conversions? Leave a comment below.