What are content upgrades and why should small businesses use them?

You may have heard the term “content upgrades” already – or maybe you haven’t. Either way, they are a marketing method here to stay and can be hugely beneficial to small business owners.

Content upgrades are typically offered at the end of blog posts and will be related to the blog topic, with an easy sign-up form to get access to the content. In exchange for your email address, you will be able to download the content upgrade and will likely then receive marketing emails to keep you “warm” to the business. You can unsubscribe from those emails at any time.

Despite the “GDPR fear”, content upgrades aren’t going anywhere. Sign up forms need to be GDPR compliant and explain to the subscriber exactly what they will get for passing on their precious details. As long as you are following those rules, you should consider adding content upgrades to your online marketing strategy.

Types of content upgrades

Content upgrades come in many shapes and sizes, but are typically one of these content types:

  • Ebooks
  • Worksheets
  • Checklists
  • Planners
  • Workbooks

The idea of a content upgrade is to provide additional value beyond the blog post, providing something tangible that the reader can interact with (e.g. filling out a goals worksheet, or printing off and using a checklist).

A general rule of thumb would be to create a more detailed content upgrade for the basic “how to” style blog posts and a simple one-page content upgrade for long-form articles.

Why should small businesses use content upgrades?

Here are just a few of the benefits of using content upgrades:

  • They help to grow your email list – creating warmer leads who are more likely to buy from you
  • Content upgrades are specific, reliable and helpful…all things that hopefully your business strives to be!
  • Experimenting with content upgrade types helps you to better determine what your customers want
  • Content upgrades are great at converting curiosity into sales
How to create content upgrades

Creating a content upgrade needn’t take up lots of time. In fact, you can create “how-to” PDF content upgrades using Canva in as little as 15 minutes!

All you need to do is:

  • Choose the PDF or Blog Graphic template on Canva – you could edit one of the pre-existing layouts or create your own
  • Input the content and include imagery from free stock sites like Pexels to add more colour
  • Use bold and bright colours throughout your content upgrade – but stick to your brand to maintain consistency
  • Export the file as a PDF and save it to your computer
Building an email campaign around your content upgrade

Using your email marketing software (I recommend Mailchimp), you can create a new automated email campaign with the content upgrade included in Email 1. The rest of your welcome series of emails should be designed to warm up the customer before introducing them to your usual email marketing (e.g. newsletter).

My recommended welcome series format:

  • An introduction email including a link to the content upgrade, brief information about your business and where to follow along online (e.g. Facebook page/group etc). End the email with a question as well as letting the subscriber know what to expect from your upcoming emails. Don’t forget the unsubscribe link at the bottom of your email to stay GDPR compliant!
  • In the second email, typically sent a couple of days after the first you should share some advice or insight into your industry and/or product to hook people in – you are an expert in what you do so share some wisdom! At the end of the email, ask a question and encourage people to reply to start a conversation with you. Entice them again with a teaser of what to expect from the next email.
  • The third email should be more “story-based” and sent a few more days after the second. Share an experience you’ve had that your customers will be able to relate to. Perhaps use this as an opportunity to give them an exclusive offer and let them know they will be receiving your monthly newsletter moving forwards. Again, end the email with a question to answer or at the very least think about!

This is a great format for your first email series – you can always develop it from there as most marketers recommend a 5 email welcome series. Start small and grow!

Not sure on where to start with introducing content upgrades to your online marketing? Book a digital marketing coaching session to discuss your ideas, inspirations and goals with a professional content consultant.

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