The content upgrade was a real eureka moment for businesses looking to grow their email subscriber list.
For those who are new to the term, a content upgrade is a tool websites use to entice visitors into subscribing to their email list by offering some premium-quality content for free as a reward.
The seeds are sewn when a user accesses your site - it's then up to you to get them to blossom as fully flourished subscribers and consumers. With estimates suggesting that a strong content upgrade can increase your subscriber list tenfold, content upgrade is one of the most powerful fertilizers in digital marketing.
So, brace yourself; with these 7 ideas to optimize your content upgrade, you could be in for a good harvest.
1. Get Into Your Target Audiences' Heads
Everyone thinks his or her content upgrade is unmissable. What makes yours different?
Content upgrades are hugely popular because of the powerful appeal they carry for potential subscribers, which is great. But it also means that there are innumerable websites and blogs out there that have already adopted this method. So, you need to stand out from the crowd.
To gain maximum exposure for your content upgrade, you should promote your piece to the audience who may be most interested. This could be in a form of effective email outreach to the people who are likely to read and share your content or in a form of quality guest blogging.
You'll need to get into the heads of your target market and ask “what can I bring them that's not available anywhere else?”
If you run a website that needs to stand out from a competitive market, sometimes it's not enough to share your knowledge on a PDF eBook or feature-length article - you can stand out by looking at other forms of media.
Offering an exclusive audio or video service could capture a new audience demographic.
People process information differently, and having an audio file or podcast to listen to on the train to work or a video that visually shares your knowledge on a given subject could be too good an opportunity to miss.
For instance, SEO giant Moz runs a popular video series called Whiteboard Friday, which attracts thousands of viewers each week.
As well as publishing an engaging video every Friday for the past 10 years, Moz releases a text version for those who like to read and an audio (podcast) version for those who like to listen. This is a great strategy, as it helps reach three different audiences with the same piece of content.
Your media content upgrade ideas don't have to be too elaborate, either; it could be as simple as narrating your favorite existing articles or publishing a webinar or discussion with another expert.
2. Make Your Content Upgrade User-Friendly
Nobody wants to put up with a hefty download or a poorly formatted document - keep your content usable, and be sure to make your written work printable, too.
Poorly created content can undo your hard work in gaining a subscriber. Bear in mind that there are many online browsers and loads of mobile resolutions to produce work for when publishing your content upgrade.
Releasing, for example, a cheat sheet or an exclusive blog post in a Word format instead of a PDF file would be disastrously sloppy because it could format differently for each device and even be unreadable on some.
This applies to media formats, too; for example, MP4 files tend to be better supported by iOS than AVI files.
Hence, it’s imperative to ensure that your content and its format is mobile-friendly and adapts to any screen size.
3. Avoid Generic Calls to Action
A call to action (CTA) catapults your content marketing into the shop window.
It challenges the visitor to make a decision on whether to take the plunge of becoming a subscriber, to make a purchase, or to find out more about a service.
Calls to action are a versatile tool. They are very popular online, and many visitors to pages have become accustomed to them and thus are dismissive of some of the more familiar, generic formats that they take.
Make sure your call-to-action is eye-catching and straightforward.
The use of images is a great way to grab attention, but make sure that a picture isn't so prominent that it distracts the visitor from the all-important “subscribe” or “sign up” button.
A popular tactic is to include images of people whose eyes are looking toward the call-to-action's button; this subconsciously guides your targets' eyes toward the action.
4. Use the Right Words
The way you word your call-to-action has a profound effect on your audience. Make it personal and emotive.
Use words like “you” and “your” to make it feel like you're addressing your visitor personally as well as “me” or “my,” which gives off a more conversational, less corporate feel.
Here’s an example of a well-put CTA:
Emotive words like “want,” “need,” “free,” “save,” and “try” all carry subconscious appeal to a reader – it makes them feel as though they'd be missing out if they don't sign up for your content upgrade.
It's important to emphasize that they're getting something valuable for nothing by simply giving you their email address.
5. Offer Variation in Your Service
If your website has different topics, tailor fit your content upgrade for all of your audiences by displaying different calls to action for content on separate pages.
Chances are, your website has sections covering a range of sub-topics and focuses. To really maximize your opt-in rate, you should produce content that covers all of your bases.
For example, if your website focuses on pet care, on one page you could display a call to action offering a content upgrade like a “10 Ways to Train Your Dog That You've Never Thought to Try” PDF, while on another, you could offer an eBook titled “How to Keep Your Fish Happy and Healthy While You're on Holiday.”
There are a number of email marketing and list-building tools, such as MailChimp and Email Hunter, that can help you automate this process and track results.
6. Earn Positive Reviews
Influence happy customers to vouch for your product; a five-star review or great testimony from a presumably unbiased source could better the reputation and trustworthiness of your business.
People love a little bit of affirmation, and thanks to the emphasis Google and shopping sites put on peer-reviewed websites and items, they have become accustomed to seeing star ratings and recommendations before they make a decision.
Your content upgrade should be no different. Invite subscribers and consumers to write a testimony and rate your service, then handpick the best to display on your call-to-action.
If anybody is on the fence about opting-in, seeing a positive review could help.
7. Offer an Improvement With Your Upgrade
So, you've found a new happy consumer - great. But the work doesn't stop there; your new subscriber will want more of your great content, and you'll lose profit margins if you can't give it to them.
The content upgrade is often seen as the first step at the top of a marketing funnel, where your subscribers will ultimately be wanting, and willing, to gain access to more premium content.
Make sure your premium content is a sufficient step up from your initial upgrade.
Upgrade Your Content
If you've followed the steps listed throughout this piece, then you should now be well aware of what makes your audience tick. So, give them the paid content they deserve - now all you need to do now is watch your profit margin rise.
About the Author
Dmytro is a Head Wizard at Solvid, a creative inbound marketing & software development agency in London. His work has been featured and mentioned in a wide range of publications, including The Next Web, Business2Community, Huff Post, Kissmetrics, Crazy Egg, Sitepoint, SEMRush, and more.