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How to Grow Your Small Business With Content Upgrades

Thomas Griffin
Thomas Griffin

Content upgrades are a great way to grow your small business. Learn the difference between content upgrades and lead magnets, and how to start implementing a strategy.

Do you want to drastically grow your email list with highly-qualified leads? If so, you're in the right place. Email marketing is, without a doubt, one of the most popular ways to grow your business. When you consider that most campaigns have an average return on investment of 4,400%, it's no surprise that this strategy works for companies across all industries. 

There are plenty of ways to grow your lead list; today, though, I am going to show you the value of enhancing your email marketing campaign with content upgrades. You're likely familiar with this concept if you've created lead magnets for your company in the past. 

We know what you're thinking; "Are lead magnets and content upgrades the same thing?" The short answer is, "Not quite." 

First, let's compare and contrast content upgrades and lead magnets, then I will tell you how to start enhancing your content. By the end of this article, you should fully grasp the difference between these two strategies and understand how content upgrades can exponentially grow your sales, leads, and traffic. 

Let's get started! 

Content upgrades vs. lead magnets

Let's clarify one thing – lead magnets and content upgrades are similar in many ways. Both options are designed to help you generate more leads through exclusive content and offers. The most significant difference is that lead magnets are far more generic than your typical content upgrade. 

A business can put up a lead magnet that applies to most of their target audience. It shouldn't matter if the user is on your homepage, blog or browsing your store; the lead magnet should have a very similar impact across the board. 

On the other hand, content upgrades are extremely targeted pieces of content that extend existing blog posts. The general idea is you want to catch the interest of specific users and encourage them to give you their email address in exchange for more of the same content. 

For example, if you're in the gardening business, you could create a regular blog post about the 10 best tips for growing flowers. When a user clicks on the post and reads through it, you can entice them to continue engaging with your brand by signing up for an e-book for folks interested in growing only flowers.  

Because the upgrade is so specific, you can almost guarantee that the people signing up for this offer fit into a specific audience segment. Essentially, content upgrades allow you to pre-segment your list in a way that's not always easy to implement with lead magnets. 

Now that we know the difference between these two concepts, let's show you how to create your first content upgrade.

The first part of this process involves finding your most popular content. Businesses across all industries write plenty of exciting content, but it doesn't always get traction. The hit-or-miss nature of blogging means you need to make sure you're making upgrades for posts that are getting clicks and engagement. 

You won't do your business, or leads, any good by creating upgrades for content that only has a handful of views. We suggest you start by reviewing your Google Analytics account to see what posts on your site get the most traffic. 

Once you understand where users hang out on your site, you need to start looking at engagement. If 5,000 people clicked your article, but the page has a bounce rate of 80%, you wouldn't do yourself any favors by creating an upgrade for this page. 

However, if your most recent blog post received a ton of traffic, comments and social media shares, it could be the prime candidate for an upgrade. If you're able to find the content that people like the most, you can start thinking about ways you can entice users to continue engaging with your brand after they've finished reading your articles. 

Brainstorm specific customer goals and pain points

Did you know that, on average, 80% of new leads never translate to sales? While this number sounds alarming at first, know that there are ways you can gain a competitive edge and increase the number of leads that turn into customers.  

The main reason for this trend is business owners are not looking at specific customer pain points and goals when creating new content. We know that this idea is vital for your blog posts, but the same value translates to your content upgrades. 

If you're offering extra content that doesn't resonate with your audience, you're going to have a hard time keeping them invested in your brand. But if you can identify their pain points and goals, you'll have a much easier time creating effective upgrades for your blog. 

We like using social media for audience research. Believe it or not, over 3 billion people use social media, making it one of the best ways to learn about your target audience. Spend some time browsing Facebook groups in your niche, exploring hashtags on Twitter and connecting with fans on your social media profile. 

The more you know about your customers, the easier time you'll have creating awe-inspiring content add-ons. 

Flesh out an existing blog post

Now you know your most popular blog posts and more about your target audience, what's next? The next phase of your content upgrade strategy occurs when you create the e-book, checklist or guide on your website. 

Spend some time reading and researching so you can add even more value to the upgrade. People want to sign up for businesses that truly enhance their lives. The best way to ensure that you're meeting this standard is to expand upon an existing post.

Let's say you wanted to engage individuals who want to grow vegetables for your fictional gardening site. In this example, you would not just tell people how to grow the same vegetables you covered in your blog post.

Instead, deliver some new tips and tutorials that will help your users meet their goals of growing vegetables in their garden. The most important part of this entire process is ensuring that you are building upon something you've already created, instead of just rehashing what you've already posted.

Deliver highly personalized emails

Finally, you should continue building rapport with your leads once they sign up for your content upgrade. You have all of the information you need at your fingertips to offer users personalized emails that will resonate with their goals, pain points and personality types.  

Research shows that by simply personalizing the subject line of your emails, you can improve your open rate by a staggering 26%. If users sign up for your email list through a specific piece of content, they are interested in seeing similar content and receiving relevant offers in the future. 

Don't forget to take advantage of this opportunity by sending occasional emails letting subscribers know about new posts and promotions that fit their needs. 

If your goal is to eventually sell a product or service, you need to build trust with your audience and show them that you are interested in helping them reach their goals. Personalized emails can help you take an average marketing campaign to the next level, and content upgrades make segmenting your leads more accessible than ever.

Back to you

Now that you know the difference between a lead magnet and content upgrade and checked out our tips to get started, you're ready to get out there and create some excellent add-ons for your audience. 

When you implement this marketing strategy into your business, it's going to take some time before things settle and you know how to segment and target customers. There's nothing wrong with taking your time and fine-tuning your content upgrade strategy for maximum effectiveness. 

Success is within your reach; it's up to you to get out there and get started!

Image Credit: Sfio Cracho / Shutterstock
Thomas Griffin
Thomas Griffin Member
I'm president and CTO of OptinMonster, a powerful lead generation tool that's installed in over 700,000 websites.