Content Upgrade: A to Z Guide To Double Your Blog Leads

Lead generation is the problem every company is trying to solve. Without a steady stream of potential new customers, companies won’t meet their targets or be able to grow in the way that they want to. This is where content marketing comes in.

A strong content marketing strategy will build a loyal, engaged audience who will quickly turn into leads for your business — but only if you make it work for you. Each piece should have a way to push an audience member through your content marketing funnel. That could mean links to other blogs, embedded videos, or content upgrades.

If all of this is making you feel a little overwhelmed, just keep reading. We’re going to walk you through the entire process and show you exactly how a content upgrade, and content marketing, can turn your audience into qualified leads for your business.

What Is a Lead? And How Do You Get Leads From Your Website or Blog?

A lead is someone who has provided a business with his or her contact information. If someone signs up for your email list, he or she becomes a lead.

You need leads so you can nurture them through the buying cycle. Think about your own buying habits. You probably don’t visit a website and immediately purchase a product. You’re conducting research, reading consumer reviews, and checking out brands’ social media presence. This is why, on average, it’s taking businesses 52% more touches to get a sale.

Because it takes time to develop leads and make those important marketing touches, you want to capture them early. A content upgrade gives your website visitor an incentive to become a lead — in other words, to provide you with his or her email address.

There are plenty of other lead-generation options. You can offer a lead magnet, which is similar to a content upgrade, but isn’t attached to a specific piece of content. For instance, you could create a custom e-book, and offer it to your visitors in exchange for their contact information.

A top bar is a great way to jumpstart your email collection efforts.image41

The more leads you collect, the more opportunities you get to convert those leads into customers. This is the ultimate goal. When you’re consistently reaching out to leads and providing them with legitimate value, they become more likely to make a purchase. In fact, email marketing generates $38 for every $1 spent. Once you’ve got a lead’s contact information, you’ve got their attention, and eventually, their business.

What is a Lead Magnet? And What Is a Content Upgrade?

As mentioned previously, lead magnets and content upgrades serve the same purpose. They’re designed to help you collect leads.

A lead magnet is simply a whole piece of content or something else of value that you offer in exchange for contact information.  A content upgrade is a little different. Think of it as an extension of existing content.

Let’s say that you write a post with 101 tips to train your dog. You post the first 20 tips on your website, then insert the content upgrade.


If people want to read the full piece of content, they give you their email addresses in exchange for the download.

But what does this have to do with lead generation? And how can tools like Hello Bar and Piktochart help you make the most of content upgrades?

Piktochart allows you to create engaging, professional assets to distribute to your leads. Design your own engaging infographic or organized data report like the ones you see here.


When you have your content magnet ready, deploy Hello Bar to collect email addresses from people who want to download it. You can create an enticing offer in minutes and push it live to your site in seconds.

Here’s an example of a lead magnet from Survival Life. It appears in a popup that urges visitors to sign up to get free gear. The free swag serves as the lead magnet, and when you input your email address, you become a potential lead.


By contrast, here’s an example of a content upgrade found on the SuperFastBusiness website. It’s attached to an episode of the site’s podcast and allows you to download a PDF with the transcription of the episode.


It’s different from a lead magnet because it’s specifically related to the primary piece of content on the page. From the consumer’s perspective, if you don’t have time to listen to the podcast, or if you learn better by reading than by listening, you’ll want the download. Before you can get the PDF transcript, you’ve got to enter your email address. Now, the consumer has become a lead.

Here’s a quick guide to help you remember the difference between lead magnets and content upgrades.

Lead Magnets Content Upgrades
Collects Email Addresses
Offers Valuable Information
Partially Available “For Free”
Always Gated Content
Converts Audience to Lead

Why Content Upgrades Matter to Your Business

Did you know that fewer than 30 percent of brands take the initiative to nurture their leads and customers after initial purchases? Additionally, fewer than 40 percent of B2B marketers use some kind of lead generation software.

If you’ve been involved in digital marketing for any period of time, you’ve likely stumbled upon Brian Dean and his SEO website, Backlinko. A while back, he shared that he was adding content upgrades to every post.

As a result, his conversions jumped from .54 percent to 4.82 percent.

This is how powerful content upgrades can be. Your reader has already seen that you’re able to deliver the goods by reading the first part of your content. Now, he or she wants to see the rest.

It doesn’t cost the prospect any money. They just have to type in an email address to download the content. It is a small step that can make a huge difference for your business.

Email addresses have value and without them you’ll struggle to connect with your target audience. They’re also valuable to the consumer. In an age when people are inundated with marketing messages from all sides, consumers feel less motivated to hand over their contact information. That’s why your incentive needs to overcome the objection.

The exchange of information adds another lead to your database. Over the coming days, weeks, and months, you can send that lead marketing emails about your business, keeping in mind the data protection laws in your country.

How to Define Lead Generation Goals For Your Website Using Content Upgrades was already a popular site when Brian Dean began to use content upgrades as a lead generation tool. This is a heads up as to why your leads might not jump by nearly 800 percent — at least, not at first.

You must have realistic lead generation goals. Start by looking at your website data with a tool like Google Analytics.

How much traffic do you get every day? Every week? Every month? No matter how awesome your content upgrade is, you won’t convert everyone. So you need to figure out a reasonable goal.

When you have a larger sample size, your conversion rate tends to become more accurate. For instance, you might have two visitors to your site. If one converts, you have a conversion rate of 50 percent, but that trend won’t likely hold when you get 100 visitors.

Let’s say you’re just launching your website. You might set a modest conversion rate goal of 2 to 3 percent, which is reasonable considering that the average conversion rate for landing pages is 2.35 percent. Wait three months, then reassess based on traffic and actual conversion rates.

If you have a stronger readership, you might set your goals higher. Consider your existing conversion rates — based on lead magnets or landing pages, for example — to give yourself a baseline.

Many bloggers have experienced huge conversion rate jumps from content upgrades. For instance, Devesh Khanal, writing for Crazy Egg, discusses how he leveraged a blog post on Eric Siu’s Growth Everywhere blog. He created a fairly simple content upgrade and experienced a conversion rate increase of nearly 500 percent.


If you already have a blog post that’s performing well, you might set a more extravagant goal.

Why Offering Content Upgrades Is an Ultra Powerful Tool to Get More Leads For Bloggers

You’re already creating content, right? You produce articles, infographics, videos, and other content for your readers. That’s how you bring in traffic and present your core offers to them.

If you’re already creating content, it makes sense to make that content work harder for you.

It’s sort of like a free demo in a SaaS marketing strategy. You want your potential clients to try out your service to see if it fits their needs. If they’re wowed by the features, they’ll convert into paying customers.

It’s great to use lead magnets and other lead generation tools on your site. Content upgrades are a simple way to implement lead generation on your site right now. You don’t have to wait until you create an extensive lead magnet. You can repurpose the content to create a new version, such as turning a full article into an audio recording, or you can expand the content to include new information. Utilizing text-to-speech software can quickly convert your written content into audio files, making it more accessible and appealing to audiences who prefer listening over reading.

It also works on existing content on your site. You don’t have to create something new to offer a content upgrade. Since your articles, when optimized for search, generate traffic from the search engines, even an older article can generate leads through upgrades. Just create a simple, more shareable version of the content that’s been successful for you in the past, add an upgrade call-out to the existing content and watch the leads pour in.

Money Journal mentions using the content upgrade tactic to generate leads. In the example, the content upgrade is a free e-book related to the blog post content. There was also a lead magnet that appeared site-wide in the sidebar.

The content upgrade e-book converted at 42 percent, while the lead magnet in the sidebar converted at just 25 percent.


How Content Upgrades Can Help Make Your Blog Into a Business That Generates Revenue

Maybe you don’t have a business yet. You’ve created a blog and published content, but you haven’t found a way to monetize it. Content upgrades could serve as the catalyst.

For instance, bloggers are often adept at sharing educational content. They love to teach, and they build audiences by sharing actionable advice and information.

But what if you’d like to monetize your teachings at some point?

What can change? Use content upgrades to gauge demand for your information. Test to see how engaged your audience is and determine how likely they are to pay for the kind of information you’ve been providing for free.

You could then parlay that knowledge into monetizing your blog with paid e-books, e-courses, or anything else. Plus, based on conversion rates and feedback from readers, you’ll already have hard data about what people like to read or consume.

Writing for BuildFire, Ian Blair points out that email converts better than any other medium.


For every dollar you spend on email marketing, you can expect to generate an average of $40. The second-highest contender is SEO, with just over $22 ROI.

Blair also points out the specific case study of Bryan Harris from Video Fruit. Using content upgrades, he boosted his conversion rate by up to 62 percent on specific posts.

By generating these leads, you get your audience used to hearing from you. When you launch a product or service, they’ll be primed to entertain your offer because you’ve delivered consistent value in the past.

How to Map Out Your Blog and Start Generating Leads Using Content Upgrades: 3 Starting Steps

Let’s look at the three steps you can take to use content upgrades on your blog to start generating leads immediately.

Step 1: Identify A High-Traffic Content Page on Your Website

It is very important to note that there is no reason to create a content upgrade for a blog post or article that doesn’t get any traffic. If there are no readers engaging with the content, you won’t get any leads.

Visit Google Analytics and identify your top-performing posts based on traffic. Go to your dashboard, select Behavior, click site content, and select all pages. You can filter the resulting pages to a specific type of content on your site, such as all pages that end in blog/. These are the articles on which you want to focus.


Import that data into a spreadsheet so you can track your progress.


You can always create new content for a content upgrade, but that’s a gamble. This is especially true if you don’t know your audience very well because you can’t predict traffic and engagement. Focus first on the evergreen content you know performs well, then move onto new content with content upgrades. The most important thing is that your content upgrades are seen by the most traffic, so do your research upfront.

Step 2: Create a Content Upgrade For Your High-Traffic Pages

Let’s say you have an awesome, detailed article on 20 tips for training dogs on your website. It gets decent traffic, lots of people have shared it on social, and it’s attracted several comments. That’s a great start. From here, you can create additional content in order to provide a content upgrade.


Additional content needs to exist before you offer a social upgrade. For example, as mentioned above, you might simply expand the content into a longer article with 101 (or however many you want) tips for training your dog and in order to engage with the additional content, the reader must engage with the content upgrade.

There are lots of options, though, that you might consider, and we’ll delve into those below.

You might start with your most popular blog post. Think about how it could be expanded or repurposed to add additional value to the page while allowing you to capture leads.

Maybe it’s a how-to post. You could use a content upgrade that provides a handy checklist for completing every step in the process.

Here’s an example of an attractive checklist from the Content Marketing Institute. One like this could easily be made using a tool like Piktochart.


If it’s a listicle (an article with a list of topics), you could create a content upgrade that adds more topics to the list or that expands on each topic with more detail. Alternatively, you could turn it into a custom infographic, with each item on the list as its own separate point in the graphic. These are just a few examples of additional content you can offer through a content upgrade.

Step 3: Ask Your Blog Visitors for Their Information in Exchange for the Content Upgrade You Just Created

Now you have to publish your content upgrade — not the upgrade itself, but the lead generation form.

Let people know that they can download the full version of the piece by providing whatever information you require.

An email address usually suffices, though some marketers like to ask for first names in order to personalize their marketing messages.

Think about your form fields from a psychological perspective. You’re collecting leads from content on your site, which means people are searching for information. They’re not necessarily ready to buy. In fact, 81% of people do research before they even consider buying.

Consequently, they’re unlikely to divulge tons of personal information about themselves, nor will they take too much time out of their day to get your content upgrade.

Limiting your form to one or two fields is typically the best choice when you’re targeting top-of-funnel leads. You’re creating fewer obstacles for people who want your content. Writer Jeff Goins only asks his audience to fill out one field, likely because it results in the best conversion rate for him.


You can create a content upgrade form using any service you prefer, from Hello Bar to ConvertKit. Add a headline and a call to action so your users know exactly what you’re offering and how they can get it.

Make sure to use a service that offers GDPR compliant opt-in forms. You want your leads to confirm that they want to receive your emails in the future and that they’ve seen your privacy policy and terms of service.


How Do You Create a Content Upgrade? Use Piktochart’s Amazing Content Upgrade Templates

Many companies — maybe most companies — don’t have the resources or space for an in-house design and editorial team. There’s nothing wrong with that.

You can always outsource the work, but costs can climb quickly. For example, some freelancers can charge up to $150 per hour. You can expect them to take at least 5 hours to create a beautiful content upgrade, including edits. Compare that to Piktochart, where you can quickly make your own upgrade exactly how you want it to look.

Make sure you know exactly what budget you can spend on creating the content upgrades you need. Don’t invest more than you’ll earn on the return.

Top 13 Content Upgrade Ideas and Examples To Skyrocket Your Blog Lead Generation

If you’re looking for a fantastic content upgrade idea, here are 13 for you to consider. You can choose the best format based on the source material, such as the original blog post. You might even create multiple content upgrades for one article and A/B test them to see which converts better (we’ll cover more of that later).

Alternatively, offer them both to appeal to a wider range of your audience. In many cases, you can cut down on the time needed to create these upgrades by repurposing the content you’ve already created for one, such as translating a cheatsheet into an e-book, or vice versa.

Techniques and Strategies To Get More Leads Using Content Upgrades — Without Losing The Zest and Passion Behind What You Are Doing

You want to share as much information as possible with your audience, but lead generation matters, too. Without an email list, how do you reach your prospects with new information about sales, deals, product launches, and more?

We use a content upgrade at Hello Bar on our post about lead magnets.


We offer the full article, but visitors can also download our 50 best lead magnets via a content upgrade:


Our decision to include a content upgrade on this post wasn’t random. We knew that our target market would find this post highly beneficial, so we wanted to provide something extra to increase our leads.

Follow these strategies to follow in our footsteps and to make sure your content upgrades always steal your leads’ hearts.

Content Is King: Continuously Create Amazing Blog Content to Attract More Website Visitors

You still have to publish free content to attract readers from the search engines and to keep older readers coming back. Don’t skimp on the value — add as much as you can to every post.

If you follow Brian Dean’s strategy, you can add a content upgrade to every post you publish. Some articles lend themselves more closely to upgrades than others, but that’s a completely personal decision.

Since we’re on the subject of content upgrades, let’s look at an example from AudienceOps on this very subject. The company published a long, detailed article on the benefits and uses of content upgrades. There are plenty of images to keep the reader engaged.


Easily Create Catchy Headlines to Attract Leads Using Our “Headlines That Convert Templates”

Solid headlines are the first step toward a successful content upgrade strategy. You need a fantastic headline for the article itself as well as for the upgrade.

Certain “power words” often trigger conversions. They grab the reader’s attention and convey value.

Focus on verbs and adjectives. They’re often the most compelling part of a headline or CTA, and if you exchange bland, boring options for more creative words, you’ll find your audience more likely to convert.

If you’re looking for a strong verb, for example, you might consider the following:

  • “Snag” instead of “get”
  • “Grab” instead of “download”
  • “Discover how” instead of “see how”
  • “Determine how to” instead of “find out how to”
  • “Vanquish your fears” instead of “get rid of your fears”
  • “Expand your knowledge” instead of “learn”

You can do the same things with adjectives:

  • “Sensational” instead of “great”
  • “Speedy” instead of “fast”
  • “No-brainer” instead of “easy”
  • “Enormous” instead of “big”
  • “Abundant” instead of “lots”
  • “Major-league” instead of “big-time”

Check out our 17 headline writing tips to get you started. They’ll help you make your headlines more endearing, catchy, clickable, and relatable.

Optimize Your Blog For Conversions: Constantly A/B Test Your Headlines and CTAs

Headlines and CTAs deserve careful attention. You want people to click almost without thinking because you’ve given them no other option.

It’s not always intuitive, though. You don’t necessarily get it right on the first try, which is where A/B testing comes in. You get to pit one version of a headline, for instance, or a call to action against another version to see which one garners more conversions.

For instance, Wordstream points out that the smallest changes can make a big difference. The article points out an A/B test between two CTA buttons. The text was the same, but the aesthetics differed.


The second option outperformed the first by 11 percent.

A/B testing makes your headlines and CTAs more powerful because you’re able to see in black and white which converts better. Running several tests over weeks, months, and years, can help you refine every aspect of your content marketing strategy.

The headline for the content upgrade article from AudienceOps is pretty straightforward, but it’s great for SEO. Plus, it tells the reader exactly what information he or she should get from the piece.


Create Irresistible Content Upgrade Offers to Generate More Leads

A content upgrade needs to be valuable. Readers should think, “I really need to see this.” If you’re not dedicated enough to create something that helps your reader solve a problem or reach a goal, your strategy will likely fail.

Take time to brainstorm ideas. Use the entire team if you have one. Come up with hundreds of ideas, most of which will never make it to the development stage. Hit on the ideas that you know your audience won’t be able to pass up.

For AudienceOps’s content upgrade, there are two identical CTAs. One appears about halfway through the post, and the second comes at the end before the comments section. It promises free templates.


Use an Exit Intent Popup to Generate Leads When Visitors Are About to Leave Your Website

Let’s say that someone visits your site, pokes around, and decides to leave. Do you just want to give up?

Of course not. You need an exit intent popup — something that reads like the example below.


Exit intent popups give your visitor one last chance to convert.


The result? An additional 875 sign ups for Hello Bar and a goal conversion rate of 17.8 percent.

Get Traffic to Your Blog and Get More Leads Using Social Media: Offer Your Amazing Content Upgrade to Your Followers

You don’t have to leave your content upgrade on your blog article alone. Share it with your followers. You can advertise your content upgrade on any social channel, so make sure you have an appealing graphic, headline, and CTA so people click through.

The following social media sites are ideal for spreading the word about your content upgrades.

Once You Capture the Leads, You Must Create a Powerful Sales Funnel to Nurture New Leads You Will Get Using Content Upgrades

Content upgrades are perfect for capturing new leads, but what then? You need a way to funnel them toward a purchase, which is where your sales funnel comes in.

Use email drip campaigns, discounts, free content, and other incentives to keep your email subscribers coming back for more. The more generous you get with your offers, the more revenue you’ll generate.

Use Our Fill-In-The-Blank Autoresponder Series Created Specifically To Suit Bloggers Needs to Highly Engage Your Leads

Not sure how to welcome your content upgrade converts to your email list? Check out our list of 12 slam-dunk welcome email examples to inspire you.

You want that first impression to be a positive one. Make your subscribers feel appreciated but not overwhelmed.

A great way to welcome your new leads is to set up autoresponders. That way, every new lead gets a welcome message along with the content upgrade. Additionally, you can use autoresponders for abandoned carts and other catalysts that inspire you to reach out to leads.

With that said, you don’t just want to send the free download or link. That’s an opportunity missed. Instead, you want to establish your brand and create a positive impression through awesome communication.

Your welcome email might start like this:

Dear John,

As promised, here’s your guide to 101 tips on training your dog. We wish you the best of luck!

But what then?

If you end your email with that, your lead doesn’t know what to do next. Since you’re likely marketing to people at the top of the funnel — those who are seeking information — consider pointing them to other resources on your site in which they might be interested.

You could link out to relevant blog posts or share a free guide on your site. Consider promoting your social media profiles, as well.

Nurture Your Leads by Providing Amazing Content Through Email Marketing

Content marketing isn’t just for your blog. Every time you write something intended for your audience, you’re engaged in content marketing.

Consider your email campaign. If you offer amazing content every time your subscribers hear from you, they’ll not only open your emails, but look forward to them.

How do you write awesome content? The same way you do for your blog. Write in a conversational tone aimed at your buyer persona.

Send Promotional Emails to Generate Revenue Using Email Marketing

Promotional emails shouldn’t arrive in your subscribers’ inboxes every day. That’s a surefire way to annoy them.

However, if you have a special offer to share, don’t be shy. For instance, you might offer a subscribers-only 5 percent discount on all of your products or services.

Here’s an example from Helzberg Diamonds. It’s beautifully designed and suggests that users should take advantage of an opportunity to save some cash.


A discount code works well because it’s easy to use. Make sure it’s also easy to remember. For instance, you could relate the coupon code to your content upgrade’s topic.

5 Ways to Monetize Your Blog Using Your Sales Funnel

Your blog can turn into a business overnight if you find the right way to monetize it. Think about content upgrades. They automatically siphon leads into your sales funnel, but what next? If you don’t have a product or service to market, you’re wasting your time.

Let’s look at some of the best ways to monetize blog traffic using the sales funnel you’ve created with content upgrades.

1. Offer Coaching Services on Your Area of Expertise

You’re clearly an expert on a topic — otherwise, why would you have a blog? Consider offering coaching services for people who need one-on-one guidance.

You can do coaching in person, via Skype, over the phone, or even by email. It all depends on your preferred communication method. Similarly, you can charge by the hour or come up with flat pricing packages.

That’s what Regina Coeli does. She coaches people who want to be more fluent in a foreign language.


2. Create and Sell an Online Course on Your Area of Expertise

Online courses are, in some ways, more lucrative than personal coaching because you only have so many hours in a day. You can’t spend unlimited time coaching clients, but you can sell unlimited copies of the same course.

Sites like Kajabi and FreshLearn enable you to set up your website with access to online courses. Customers can pay for the courses all at once or in installments, depending on your preference.

You can find a great example at Dethroning Your Inner Critic. It’s a site run by two professionals who sell online courses on personal development and self-esteem.

3. Make Money Writing and Selling an E-book

I’ll talk about e-books as content upgrades later on, but what about a full-fledged e-book as a product. People are selling tons of e-books on their own sites and on Amazon thanks to the proliferation of self-publishing.

Of course, you can always seek an agent and a traditional publisher if you want. The larger your platform, the better your chances of landing a book deal.

Glen over at ViperChill managed to make over $30,000 off one e-book, and that was nearly a decade ago. Try it for yourself.


4. Offer Other People’s Products and Get a Commission on Every Sale You Make

Have you ever heard of affiliate marketing? It’s a business model that doesn’t require you to create your own products.

Instead, you sell other people’s products in exchange for a commission.

Let’s say, for instance, that Company A sells widgets for $50 a pop. You include links to those widgets on your blog, and when people use your special link (called an affiliate link), you get credit for the sale. If you earn 10 percent commission on every widget sold, you’ll bring in $5 per sale.

Affiliate marketer Sugarrae (Rae Hoffman) is one of the most prolific affiliate marketers of all time. She started when she found herself unable to work because she needed to care for her severely, multiply handicapped infant son.

She discovered affiliate marketing and was able to replace her husband’s salary within a few months.

5. Partner With Other Influencers in Your Area to Create and Sell Products Together

There’s no reason you have to monetize your blog alone. If you know another influencer who works in a similar industry, consider partnering up, pooling your resources, and selling products together.

For instance, maybe you review fitness equipment and your pal reviews yoga clothing. Your niches are extremely close together. Find a way to create a product that will appeal to both audiences so you both pocket extra revenue.

Daniel Wellington, the watch brand, does a great job of seamlessly collaborating with influencers to get their product in front of new audiences and grow their reach.


Content Upgrade Successful Case Studies to Inspire Your Lead Generation Campaign

Tim Soulo over at BloggerJet increased his conversion rate by 300 percent using a content upgrade. Amazingly, he didn’t offer a super-long piece of content or a detailed toolkit. Instead, he simply offered to share a secret.


Just an email subject line. That’s all.

But it worked. People know Rand Fishkin as a premier marketer, and they wanted to know how Tim successfully got him to return an email.

If a simple content upgrade like that can boost conversions by 300 percent, imagine the results you can get with something a little more expansive.

ChordBuddy has also had excellent results from using content upgrades to boost conversions. You can see one here:


This one’s also pretty simple in design. It also comes with a discount, which makes it even more attractive to readers. This site converts at nearly 3 percent, which makes it an excellent example.

Then you have Neil Patel, who needs no introduction. He used a content upgrade on his blog and experienced an increase in email collections of nearly 37 percent.



Content upgrades are a powerful way to boost your email lead generation and build your audience. All you need are the creative tools at Piktochart and the lead generation tools at Hello Bar. Sign up today and get the best of both worlds.