Content Upgrade: Build Your Email List and Get More Value

13 Aug 2016

Rehan Ijaz

Rehan is a business graduate, entrepreneur and content strategist. He is passionate about writing for startups. His areas of interest are digital business strategy and strategic decision making.

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List-building used to be a lot easier for small businesses. You could simply ask people to subscribe to your email list and they would happily comply. You could then create a lucrative email marketing funnel. Unfortunately, spammers have ruined it for legitimate marketers, so entrepreneurs must be more creative when building email lists. If you are having trouble building your email list, then you may want to start investing in content upgrades. Brian Dean, Neil Patel and other digital marketing legends have used content upgrades to exponentially increase their leads. A couple years ago, Dean published a case study proving that adding a free guide lifted his opt-in rates from 0.54 percent to 4.82 percent.

What is a content upgrade?

A content upgrade is a more comprehensive piece of content that your readers can download. It can be an ebook, a starter pack or codes for free samples of your digital product. You can require readers to submit and verify their email address to receive the content upgrade.

When used properly, content upgrades can increase opt-in rates dramatically. However, you need to offer stellar content upgrades and a clear call to action.


Also on StartupNation.com: Tools to Make Your Email Marketing Campaigns Successful


Using content upgrades to boost your opt-in rate

Half the people reading this blog post are probably already writing a draft for a new ebook to add to their blog. Unfortunately, their ideas probably aren’t going to work as well as they anticipate. Here are some factors you need to keep in mind to offer a successful content upgrade that will tempt more people to join your email list.

Add something original

Many bloggers think that offering something for free is enough to get people to join their email list. They throw together a new ebook like, “10 Great Things to Know About SEO.” They eagerly put it up on their site and wait, only to grow disappointed that nobody joins their list.

The problem is that the internet is already filled with generic ebooks and similar content. You won’t attract many people if you don’t offer something new. Affiliate marketing legend Zac Johnson once said that a friend of his created a new ebook and couldn’t even get a single opt-in by giving it away for free.

Think long and hard before creating a content upgrade. You will eventually come up with an original idea that will convince people to join your mailing list.

Giving away free samples is one of the best approaches. Bryan Harris created a system around this theory called “The Grocery Store Formula,” which helped him increase his opt-in rate 20-fold.

Quick Sprout turns this concept to an art form. They have created some of the finest ebooks and other content upgrades in the SEO vertical, which has helped them build a massive list.

Provide a clear call to action

Your opt-in rates will suffer if you use a generic call-to-action (CTA). You will also have trouble getting people to opt-in if you don’t spark their interest.

Here are some basic CTAs that are too generic:

  • Join our list
  • Download our ebook
  • Get free samples

Your CTA will be more effective if you base it around the benefits of your content upgrade. Here are some examples:

  • Reduce your inflammation! (for an ebook on treating IBS)
  • Make women fall in love with you! (for a dating ebook)

A good CTA is only a few words long, but make each word count.

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