What are Content Upgrades (with Examples)

Content upgrades are a great way of finding a way to generate valuable leads.

As important as it is to create plenty of repeat sales with loyal customers, you need a steady stream of new potential clients to connect with too. 

A good marketing strategy is often the key to building an engaged and loyal audience. Using the right content, you highlight your thought leadership in a specific industry and convince customers to learn more about you. 

However, content marketing works best when it helps to push your audience member through the sales funnel. One way to accomplish your goals with content is to explore the benefits of content upgrades. 

What is a Content Upgrade?

So, what exactly are content upgrades?

Essentially, a content upgrade is a kind of lead magnet. 

Lead magnets are the tools you use on your website to convince your customers to connect with your brand. Remember, in this digital world; it’s taking companies up to 52% more touches to accomplish a sale. With lead magnets, you can strengthen relationships with your audience, and make the lead nurturing process a little simpler. 

According to content marketing pro, Brian Dean, adding content upgrades to every post took his conversions from 0.54% to 4.82%. 

With a content upgrade, you instantly grab the audience’s attention with the promise of something valuable, like a helpful resource or an insight. You ask your lead to enter their email address to access the rest of the content. Easy peasy. 

Content upgrades gather information about your target audience and develop a stronger email list for your brand. What’s more, they don’t cost you a fortune either. 

Why Use Content Upgrades?

Content upgrades are excellent for businesses that need help nurturing conversions. You don’t need to spend a fortune on delivering huge freebies to your audience. Something as simple as the right blog post can encourage a subscription to your newsletter. 

Marketing influencer Brian Harris reported an increase in his conversion rates of up to 30% when he began adding content upgrades to his posts. Similar market leaders have achieved the same results.

Unlike other conversion strategies, content upgrades also require little effort from your target audience. Handing over an email address for some useful content doesn’t seem as scary as signing up for a demo or doing something that requires credit card details. 

Tools to Help with Content Upgrades

So, what kind of tools can help you design excellent content upgrades?

There are plenty of options to choose from. 

You can either focus specifically on lead nurturing and capturing tools or use design software to create your own content upgrade options and post them on your Facebook ads. Here are just 3 of our favorite tools to get you started. 

  1. Thrive Leads

Thrive Leads is a fantastic WordPress opt-in plugin. With this tool, you can build your email list in a selection of different ways. First off, you can create various opt-in forms that are more likely to attract your audience and convince them to sign up for your content upgrades. 

There’s also the option to add an “after content” upgrade with a custom ribbon or popover. 

For your content upgrade forms, you can also choose from a selection of templates offered by Thrive themes or use the professional Architect builder to create the ultimate design from scratch. Thrive also helps out with automatically delivering content upgrades to users via third-party mailing services too. 

  1. Optin Fire

The Optin Fire plugin for WordPress is another easy and convenient way to add everything from in-post content CTAs to widgets to your content. Designed by 99 Robots, Optin Fire helps with unlocking a variety of ways to drive leads to sales through content upgrades. 

You can showcase a range of different CTAs in a host of pre-made templates. Optin Fire also allows you to trigger offers on your website using exit intent, timers, and more. 

Your opt-in forms are customizable to highlight your unique brand. There’s also a wide selection of different styles of opt-in to choose from. 

  1. OptinMonster

Finally, OptinMonster is a stand-alone SaaS platform, focusing on lead generation. One of the most popular services on the market for companies building email lists, OptinMonster is a cloud-based tool that’s ideal for any size of the company. 

You can showcase a success message when a customer fills out an opt-in form that comes with a dedicated download link. You can also redirect users to unique pages after they subscribe. Alternatively, if you have an email service provider tool, then you can send a content upgrade via an email too. 

The biggest downside of using OptinMonster is that you’ll be in control of making sure that your customers get the content they sign up for. 

Examples of Amazing Content Upgrades

So, what might a content upgrade ad look like for your business?

  1. Case Study

If you want to gain trust and show your audience what you can accomplish at the same time, there’s nothing more effective than a case study. Squarespace, the website building company, are excellent at attracting attention with their customer case studies. 

In this Facebook ad, the brand invites users to “learn more” about the specific achievements of a new business owner and how he benefits from Squarespace. 

Case studies are an excellent way to provide useful information to your audience and highlight your credibility at the same time. 

  1. eBooks

Ebooks are probably the best-known kind of content upgrade. Usually, you’ll grab your audience’s attention by providing them with some basic information about an essential topic. After that, you promise to answer all of the remaining questions your customers might have if they download your eBook. 

Vertical Response promised to give their customers not just one, but a series of eBooks if they subscribed to their newsletter. All customers need to do was give their email addresses, and they would get an amazing eBook and plenty of other resources too. 

  1. Checklists

Checklists are a fantastic content upgrade option. Not only do lists take very little time and creative effort to produce, but they also deliver a lot of value too. With a checklist, your customers can make sure that they’re prepared to achieve something great. 

If your content helps your customer to avoid an issue with their next marketing campaign, or earn more cash in their industry, then they’ll fall in love with your brand. Here’s an example of a checklist from Optin Monster on the power words that people can use to improve conversions. 

  1. Quizzes

Quizzes are a great way to get customers engaged when you’re designing your content upgrades. For instance, Bright Cellars, a company focused on delivering delicious wines to people around the world, used a content upgrade in their Facebook ads to tell customers their “top wine” picks with just a few simple questions. 

In the Facebook Ad, Bright Cellars tells us that you can discover what kind of wine you match with. You enter your email address to get your results, and hey-presto, the company has a new lead. Quizzes are a fun option for content upgrades because they appeal to your customer’s desire to interact with a brand. 

  1. Thought Leader Resources

Today’s customers are on the hunt for authenticity. That’s why companies that share plenty of user-generated content and case studies often earn the most trust. Shopify, one of the market leaders in eCommerce site building, makes the most of this fact with thought-leader resources. 

The Shopify team launched a virtual event series that companies could sign up for in recent months. The virtual series offers insights from industry experts and business owners, making the most of the digital space. 

Customers could book their space at the events by handing over their email addresses. That meant that Shopify had a quick and easy way to find new leads. 

  1. Courses

True thought leaders in any industry always have something valuable to teach their audience. Fortunately, if you have something to teach, you also have an excellent content upgrade opportunity. Courses and free webinars are a fantastic way to capture audience attention. All you need to do is create a basic video or a podcast series, and you can teach anything you like. 

Joe Natoli of Give Good UX regularly offers customers a chance to sign up for courses as part of his “UX 365 Academy” experience. If you can convince clients to sign up for lessons, then you could also increase your chances of getting them to buy educational content from you later too. 

  1. Templates

People love templates. With the right template, you can create an email, a website, or an opt-in form in seconds. You don’t have to spend a fortune on things like designers and developers. Plus, most templates come with customization options too. 

When Pandadoc wanted to capture leads for its sales team, they offered an eBook in partnership with Hubspot. The eBook promises to tell you everything you need to know about sales stages. Plus, the book also comes with a selection of more than 20 templates to choose from and use too. 

  1. Cheat Sheets

Cheat sheets are similar to checklists, as they offer customers a quick and convenient source of information. Usually, cheat sheets will include some very straightforward information about a topic that’s valuable to your customer. 

For instance, MikeMonday offers customers a cheat sheet that covers how people can use music software to finish their music tracks more professionally. Remember to keep your cheat sheets as quick as simple as possible. Don’t make the mistake of letting your sheet become an eBook. 

2018 04 06 16 16 25 Free Cheat Sheet
  1. Videos

Video is becoming a valuable part of the content marketing landscape. With video, you can earn customer attention, and deliver complicated information with ease. Biteable, a video creation company, used video downloads to capture attention when they wanted to demonstrate their appeal to customers. 

Customers that clicked on the “Learn More” button on Biteable’s Facebook ads could sign up for an account and browse through visual case studies of companies that already benefit from the Biteable system. 

  1. An Audio Book

Video is great, but it requires a lot of visual attention. When your customers are driving to work, or concentrating on something else, they can’t give a video their full focus. That’s why podcasts and audiobooks are earning a lot of popularity. 

InVision decided to transform its Design Ops library into a complete audio podcast series, available to listen to for free. All customers needed to do to access the audio version of the content was sign up for an account with their email address. 

Facebook Ads - Software Ad Example - InVision
  1. Audio or Video Transcripts

A lot of people will prefer to watch videos or listen to podcasts than read a long piece of content. However, there are a lot of customers out there who might like the opportunity to see your content in text format. 

If your customers might prefer to print out their content so that they have it near-by when they want to use it away from the computer, then an audio or video transcript could come in handy. For instance, if you sign up for a membership at Tasty Kitchen, an online recipe app and website, you can download a free printable for every meal you want to create. 

2018 04 06 16 30 49 Pesto Veggie Mini Pizzas Tasty Kitchen A Happy Recipe Community
  1. Statistics and Reports

In many industries, numbers carry a lot of weight. Anyone can make claims about what their business can do. However, it takes a unique brand to be able to back those claims up with numbers. Downloadable reports that are packed full of graphics and statistics are an easy way to capture audience attention. 

In 2018, Botify offered customers the chance to sign up for a free report into the state of structured data and SEO marketing. This content upgrade strategy simultaneously gave Botify a way to demonstrate their knowledge, and earn subscribers for their newsletter. 

Facebook Ads - Software Ad Example - Botify
  1. Swipe Files

If you’re operating in the B2B industry, which is often the case for SaaS companies, then providing tools and resources to your audience is a great way to generate leads. A swipe file is one of the most useful resources that a business can access, particularly in the marketing world. 

Swipe files include handy collections of information that companies can use to achieve their goals. This free download from the Digital Marketer company, for instance, offers customers the chance to copy and paste proven headline formulas to get more clicks on their Facebook ads. 

Making the Most of Content Upgrades

When your goal is to attract as many leads to your company as possible, the best thing you can do is demonstrate your value to potential customers. Content upgrades are an excellent chance to earn the attention of your audience with valuable information and resources. 

This kind of “lead magnet” requires very little initial investment. However, if you choose the right content upgrades, you could create a massive email list in no time. 

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