19/03/2024

11 min

Content Upgrades: Unlock Leads From Blog Content

đź’ˇ TL;DR: Content upgrades are bonus content pieces you offer readers in exchange for their email. They boost blog engagement and help you grow your email subscriber list.
Content upgrades are more contextual and targeted than global lead magnets. This makes them more appealing early in the buyer’s journey. Some case studies show that effective upgrades can increase sign-ups by 20-30%.
This article also lists a few effective types of content upgrades for SaaS businesses, such as:

  • templates
  • scripts
  • workbooks
  • cheat sheets
  • checklists
  • calendars and planners.

We also mention some tools (like Canva, Piktochart, ConvertKit, and Sumo) and considerations when creating upgrades for your top-performing blog posts.
Finally, we included a few tips to maximize content upgrades as part of your general lead generation strategy.

what are content upgrades blog header image

You have a blog that performs well, covers a healthy mix of different blog post types, and attracts decent traffic.

Yet, something is missing—the conversion rates from your posts could be better.

If so, content upgrades can help you convert more blog readers. They’re a great element to boost your blog post’s value while also building your email list.

As you’ll see, they’re are a simple, yet powerful concept that turns casual readers into engaged leads.

By the end of this article, you’ll want to go through your blog posts and find all the missed content upgrade opportunities.

That’s why we included step-by-step instructions to quickly start creating your content upgrades.

Let’s first define what content upgrades are and how they differ from lead magnets.

What Are Content Upgrades?

A content upgrade is a “bonus piece of content” directly tied to a specific blog post. It offers readers extra value on the same topic. You could also say it helps the reader put the theory into action.

Say you’ve just written a blog post about optimizing customer onboarding in SaaS platforms.

A fitting content upgrade or “bonus content” for this would be a detailed onboarding checklist. The reader can download and reference it whenever they need it.

So, the most important thing about content upgrades is that they’re highly specific to the content of the page the reader is currently on.

Now, want to see what a content upgrade looks like in action?

Take a look below. The screenshot is from an excerpt from HubSpot’s blog post about social media content calendars.

example of hubspot content upgrade
Image source: HubSpot

As you can see, the post discusses benefits, components, and best practices related to content calendars.

However, every so often throughout the post, HubSpot offers you to download a free calendar template.

The only thing you need to do is provide your email, and the template is yours.

hubspot content upgrade sign up form
Image source: HubSpot

Notice how HubSpot doesn’t bury essential information in the content upgrade?

They’re not holding information hostage until you’ve provided your email. You can still learn everything you need to know about social media content calendars.

However, HubSpot offers a practical tool that complements the information in the post.

That’s precisely what a content upgrade should be: helpful, relevant, and actionable.

How Are Content Upgrades Different From Lead Magnets?

If the concept of content upgrades seems familiar, that’s because you’ve already met their close cousins: lead magnets.

Content upgrades and lead magnets have a similar purpose—turning visitors into leads, and possibly customers. Still, there’s a difference between the two.

Lead magnets are resources designed for a broad audience with a general interest in a topic or company. In that sense, a lead magnet could also be a free product trial.

For example, Semrush offers free webinars to those who provide their name, email, and phone number.

semrush lead magnet example webinar
Image source: Semrush

On the other hand, content upgrades are more specific to a single content piece and more targeted in their approach.

For a more concrete depiction, look at the comparison below.

Lead magnet exampleContent upgrade example
A general ebook about digital marketing strategies (general information, not too specific)A spreadsheet for analyzing competitor keywords inserted into a blog post on keyword research
(tailored to the reader’s immediate needs)


In summary, content upgrades are more targeted and contextually relevant to the content the reader is already engaged with. That means they’re a perfect fit for people who are not yet ready to buy but are interested in your content.

Content upgrades are better aligned with what the prospect needs at the moment, which in turn results in better conversion rates.

The reader has read your post, found it valuable, and wants to implement what you just taught them.

If you offer a content upgrade that helps them do that, they won’t hesitate to submit their email address.

How Effective Are Content Upgrades?

You don’t want to waste time creating extra content that may not deliver any real benefits. So here’s some great news: when done right, content upgrades can be incredibly effective.

Just ask Bryan Harris of Growth Tools. According to this ConvertKit guide, Harris saw a 20-30% growth in sign-ups after implementing content upgrades.

growthtools example of downloading content upgrade
Image source: Growth Tools

Another case study by Brian Dean tells a similar success story. Sign-ups went up by 185% just by offering additional targeted content.

And here’s the absolute winner; RazorSocial increased conversions by over 520% through content upgrades.

We could list a dozen more but you see the point; content upgrades are a proven strategy to engage your readers more deeply.

Types of Content Upgrades (With Examples)

By now, you understand that content upgrades are helpful because they’re so specific and contextual.

This is also why there’s no one-size-fits-all content upgrade. It needs to align with what your SaaS product does, your blog topics, and—of course—what your audience needs.

The format and type of content upgrades also matter. It influences the level of engagement and the quality of leads you generate.

We picked a handful of effective SaaS blog content upgrade ideas to grow your email list:

Templates

Templates eliminate a lot of setup work for the reader. Instead of building their own, you can offer your prospects ready-made templates they can customize for their needs.

For instance, here’s a post on customer management strategies from ClickUp. Within the post, ClickUp offers a free SOP template for standardizing procedures in customer service teams:

example of content upgrade: template for SOPs
Image source: ClickUp

The prospect can quickly hit the ground running and start optimizing their processes ASAP. Hello, immediate value and brand affinity!

Workbooks

Workbooks or worksheets are an excellent way to help readers jump straight from learning to execution. It supports active participation and boosts their sense of accomplishment.

example of workbook content upgrade from Squarespace
Image source: Squarespace

This leads to happier prospects because they can immediately implement their learning and reach success much quicker.

Cheat Sheets

Cheat sheets are handy reference guides your leads could use to save time and energy when they need to do something.

For instance, do you have to google the best image size each time you want to create an ad?
To help readers with the same problem, HootSuite’s prepared a cheat sheet for Facebook ads.

example of content upgrade: cheat sheet
Image source: HootSuite

Such cheat sheets help prospects save some time instead of digging for a piece of information, so they can do their work more efficiently.

Planners and Calendars

If there’s one thing we all struggle with sometimes, it’s staying organized and consistent.

That’s why planners and calendars are especially popular as content upgrades.

Pipedrive content upgrade example
Image source: Pipedrive

Calendars and planners help your readers organize their work, presenting you as a helping hand in the process.

Scripts

Pre-written texts or scripts are especially popular with readers who handle a lot of interactions with their customers. That’s why they’re common with SaaS tools related to sales calls, customer service responses, or email outreach.

The example above is from a blog post from LeadSquare about overcoming common sales objections. The content upgrade contains scripts readers can copy/paste and additional helpful tips too.

Checklists

Checklists let you break down actions into bite-sized steps, or highlight crucial items you’ve mentioned in your blog post.

example of content upgrade: checklist
Image source: Acomplix

People usually love checklists because they ease the mental load and standardize processes. When you follow a checklist, nothing falls through the cracks.

How to Create a Content Upgrade

You’ve seen what content upgrades are and how they can level up your blog. Now it’s time to start creating your own content upgrades.

#1 Decide Which Content to Upgrade

First, you need to select which posts to upgrade, as creating upgrades for every blog post isn’t practical or efficient.

Your best bet is to start creating upgrades for your best-performing blog posts with healthy traffic and a long time on page.

The strength is in numbers; you’ll see more conversions because of the sheer traffic size.

To find those posts, use Google Analytics or similar performance tools.

Here’s how to find your top pages in GA4:

how to find top performing posts in GA4

As a starting point, pick five top posts to create upgrades for first.

#2 Brainstorm Ideas for Content Upgrades

Once you’ve made a list of top-performing blog posts, it’s time to brainstorm ideas on what sort of upgrade to create.

Every upgrade you create should be:

  • specific and closely tied to the blog post topic
  • easy to consume
  • actionable
  • (relatively) easy to create

Ideally, your upgrades should also be reusable on multiple blog posts with the same overarching topic.

To decide which specific content upgrade pieces to create, the following questions will help you find just what you (and your readers) need:

  • What do my readers need right now, while reading this post?
  • How can I help the readers overcome the challenges that led them to this post?
  • Can I make the advice from the post easier to implement?
  • What additional resources could the readers use?
  • What are some common questions my readers might have and how can I address them?

The ideas for good content upgrades should revolve around your readers. Still, you have a business to run, so upgrades should also be feasible for you to create efficiently.

We’ve selected some tools that make your content upgrade creation process smoother even with limited time and budget.

#3 Tools to Help You Build Your Content Upgrade

Now it’s time to get to work and build and distribute content upgrades!

Creating a digital asset is now easier than ever. You likely already have the necessary tech stack in your company.

acomplix lightbulb icon

Creating content upgrades boils down to three elements: designing the content upgrade, housing it, and distributing it to readers.

To create stunning visuals, you don’t need to look further than Canva. Even the free plan offers plenty of templates to get you started.

And with a Pro version, you can go even further and customize templates to reflect your brand perfectly.

Canva templates for workbooks as content upgrades
Image source: Canva

Another tool that makes creating content upgrades a breeze is Designrr. It converts textual content and audio transcripts into professionally-looking eBooks or flipbooks.

Designrr templates for ebooks as content upgrades
Image source: Designrr

For eye-catching and engaging data presentation, you can go with Piktochart. You can also create reports, diagrams, and more, to diversify content upgrades beyond infographics.

piktochart template for infographics as content upgrades
Image source: Piktochart

Content creation is just the first step in this journey. You need to effectively distribute your upgrades so they reach your readers.

Email marketing tools like ConvertKit and Mailchimp help you streamline sending content upgrades directly to your subscribers.

If, for example, you create an email course as a content upgrade, such tools simplify creating and scheduling emails.

Make sure your email tool is reputable and reliable. People expect to receive their digital freebies immediately. In addition, they’re more trustworthy regarding privacy regulations and data protection.

As an alternative, you can create a separate resource page on your website that hosts all your content upgrades.
That’s a practice that the Search Engine Journal follows. Once you’ve submitted their email, you have access to all resources on this page exclusive to email subscribers:

sej resource page member exclusive
Image source: Search Engine Journal

Lastly, you’ll need a tool for capturing new email addresses.

Pop-up tools, such as OptinMonster and Sumo, also come with stellar data insights so that you can track how effective your strategy is.

As you can see, creating and distributing your content upgrades can easily fit into your current tech stack. The most difficult part is coming up with effective and creative ideas.

Tips to Incorporate Content Upgrades Into Your Lead Generation Strategy

We’ve already mentioned that content upgrades are a more specific form of lead generation. So let’s briefly look at how to align them with your general lead generation strategy.

Consider these additional tips:

  • Placement
    • Integrate your content upgrades in your most visible posts, where you already have a sizeable audience.
  • CTAs
    • The call to action should blend with the surrounding content to emphasize context and relevance.
  • Cross-channel promotion
    • Promote the upgrades on social media or newsletters to reach high-value leads who might not visit your blog otherwise.
  • Audience segmentation
    • Customize content upgrades for specific audience segments. You can start by determining what your readers’ jobs are, what they want to achieve, and what they need to do it.
  • Follow-ups
    • After the download, stay in touch with the lead and engage them with more similar and relevant content.

With these tips, you have everything you need to take your content upgrades from good to great, while also generating more leads.

Use Content Upgrades to Capture High-Quality Leads

Content upgrades are more than a way to liven up a website; they bring value to both the reader and the business.

While they have a lot in common with lead magnets, it’s important to remember that it’s the context makes content upgrades super effective.

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We hope you’re now combing through your existing blog content, looking for opportunities to upgrade it.

If you find yourself needing a bit of help in your content operations, may we suggest you get in touch with Acomplix?

We’re passionate about uncovering opportunities in the content you already have so you can make the most of your content budget and your time.

About The Author

Hi, I’m Ivana Maric Dugalic!

CEO and co-founder of Acomplix, content aficionado, language nerd. Got my Masters in German and English translation, spent years in customer service, and honed the art and craft of content marketing.Now I help businesses use content to create meaningful connections and exceptional experiences for their customers.

Here’s how to reach me: