You have a blog so that readers will come, learn something valuable or be entertained, and share what you have written so that your brand will spread. You should also be using your blog posts, every single one of them, to get conversions that generate leads. You are not selling your product or service with your posts, of course, but you do want to get emails addresses and subscriptions. These will be the leads you can then continue to develop.
Just offering a subscription at the end of your posts will not do the trick. It probably has not moved you when you read the posts of others, and your readers are no different.
You have to have something within each post that will entice, that will offer something of value, and that will compel a reader to click through to that value, providing an email address to get it. These are commonly known as content upgrades, and they are easy to do.
What is a Content Upgrade?
When you write a post, include valuable content, but don’t give everything away. Hold something back or provide a re-packaged version of your content in a different form. Offer this a few times during the course of your post in a separated out box that allows a click-through to it. There are two important things to remember as you do this.
- Whatever you offer must relate directly to the content that is in your post. People are reading the post because the want the information in it. If you try to offer them something totally different they will see it as “bait and switch.”
- Place the offer at least twice within the content of the post, more often if the post is long.
Here is an example of a content upgrade offer from a post on the blog QuickSprout by Neil Patel, an expert in content marketing.
4 Conversion Rate Optimization Tactics That Hurt You in the Long Run
by NEIL PATEL on FEBRUARY 24, 2016
I’m about to show you four specific conversion rate optimization tactics that can appear to give you positive results in the short term but can do serious damage to your business in the long term.
Download this cheat sheet to get to know about 4 conversion rate optimization tactics that hurt you in the long run.
On top of that, I’ll show you what to do instead.
You notice that the content upgrade is a “cheat sheet.” Patel’s posts are always quite long, and he knows that his reading audience doesn’t always like to read up to 4,000 words. So he has a condensed version of the post that someone can click to. When they do click through, however, they will need to supply an email address to get it. The reader has received something of value, and Patel has another email address to add to his list.
Other bloggers also find this extremely effective. Bryan Harris of Video Fruit, states that these types of content upgrades can result is as much as 20-30% increase in click-throughs than other lead generating methods.
5 Types of Content Upgrades You Can Create Easily
Content upgrades will add a bit of time to production, but most can be accomplished in about 30 minutes. If you can get 10 or so click-throughs, though, that 30 minutes is so worth it. Here are five that you can create easily.
1. A Checklist
Here, you simply turn the main points of your post into a checklist that can be downloaded for future reference. This type of upgrade is perfect for either “how-to” posts or as a list of things or other criteria that a person must have. Here is a simple example:
An e-commerce plant nursery sells plants that it ships to its customers. It has a blog that is related to yards, especially plants, flowers, shrubs, and trees – how to plant them, when to plant them, soil requirements, sun/shade needs, etc. there are infinite possibilities for posts, but it is the end of winter now, and readers are thinking about their spring gardens.
The owner has written a post on perennials, as a permanent alternative to annuals which must be purchased and planted every year, the climate and other specifications for each type. Within the post, s/he offers a checklist of this information that consolidates it all for the reader. This is a valuable piece of content for someone who wants to see at a glance which perennials to buy for which parts of his/her yard.
Creating the Checklist
Make your list of perennials to include and fill in the details under each one.
- Use simple vocabulary (6th grade level please)
- Keep the details as short as possible
- Include visuals if possible
- Format the checklist in an attractive “package.” You can do this by using Google Docs or a program like SweetProcess.
You actually could make a few checklists for a post like this and offer them at different points. Readers may want different information on the topic and you never know which one might pique their interests.
2. Lists of Other Relevant Sources
When you write posts, you really want to help the reader find solutions to his/her problems. Often, in addition to creating great content, you provide the reader with lots of links to other sources of information. Now may be the time to hold back on those and, instead, offer those sources/links as a content upgrade that can be downloaded. Michael Hyatt, an author and publisher who has his own blog, figured this out, and this is what the reader gets:
3. Make a Video
This may sound like a lot of hard work and investment of money to get a professional in to produce a video, but this is no longer the case. Videos are the perfect upgrade for any “how to” post, because readers want visual explanations not text to read. You may be a paint and stain company, and your post may be on how to prepare a deck for re-staining. Certainly, you will probably have text that points out the importance of the preparation, but for an upgrade you can offer a video. This is example is from the Benjamin Moore Company:
This is a pretty large company, but the video has a very homemade quality to it. Your readers are not expecting a Hollywood feature film – they just want to see how it is done. As long as you have high quality video and audio resolution, you are good to go and can create your own, even with your iPhone. There are plenty of video creation tools out there that you can use, many of them for video editing. Here are some other tips:
- Outline what you plan to say, but don’t memorize it word for word – you will sound too scripted. This is a casual piece
- Record the total thing in one take – you will be editing afterward.
- Always upload your video to YouTube. And then provide the download link as an upgrade in your post, with a simple fill-in form for name and email address as a gate to the video.
4. Offer a PDF Version
This may not seem like a big value, but to some readers it is. If they like what they are reading and want to refer to it at a future time, they will have to remember how they found you and/or bookmark your site. Make it easy for them. They can just download and save the PDF version. This is probably the easiest upgrade to produce. Google docs will “walk you through” each step of changing a Word do into a PDF.
5. Hold a Contest or Competition with a Post
We’ve all seen contests on social media. But you can do this with a blog post too, and just promote it on your social media platforms. They’re easy to set up. Suppose for example, you have a customer who found a unique use for your product and shared that use with you. Write a blog post that features that customer and then hold a competition for others to come up with their unique uses. If you sell pet supplies, hold a photo contest; ModCloth a clothing retailer, holds contests for customer to “name new items of clothing it is carrying. The winner will be rewarded with the item.
And this is the key here – if you run a contest, the prize must be significant. And consider multiple prizes. If readers think they have a better chance to win, they’ll enter. Of course, the entry fees are their email addresses.
These are five upgrade tactics that you can put into action right now. Other than the video, they will take about 30 minutes or less to create. Just remember the two rules:
- Any upgrade you offer must relate to the topic of the post and it must be valuable and fresh.
- Place the offer multiple times within the text of your post.