What Is A Content Upgrade?

Content Upgrade Guides

A content upgrade is a piece of content that a user sees on your website that generates enough interest so that the user will want to provide an email address to receive it. Ideally, this piece of content falls in line and progresses the conversation forward for the user, beyond that of the original reason why they came to your site.

If you’re interested in content upgrade tactics and examples that can help your company improve its bottom line, then please read further.

Content Alignment

So let’s talk BBQ; it’s a topic I talk a lot about in this blog as most can relate to it. Let’s say you have a blog about BBQ, and someone has landed on your blog post regarding “how to make your own BBQ sauce.” The user came there for that information, but you could offer a content upgrade, a white paper on flavor profiles that match the right type of sauce to various kinds of meats. Simply enter your email address and receive the PDF in your email box; classic content upgrade there, it:

  1. Aligns the content upgrade with the content the user came for
  2. Progresses the conversation forward
  3. BBQ company can now offer more content via email (and maybe even make a little money selling their book on BBQ recipes).


This tactic showcases what we mean by content alignment. Align the content(1) with the upgrade(2) with the product you are selling (3). The user’s thought process goes from:

  1. How do I make BBQ sauce
  2. Oh! I am making Brisket; I want this sauce
  3. AND they sell a recipe book on sauces?! TAKE MY MONEY!

Just like anything, you have to know how to ask.

Everyone loves popups. Wait, no, they don’t, just like anything, you have to know how to ask. Several tactics can be used to ask the user for their email address. A big part of the ask relys on the length of the post and how people interact with your site.

A stand-alone tactic can be exit intent; you can have a listener that detects how the user’s mouse is behaving, and if it looks like they will close the browser window or go up to the address bar, you can hit them with a model takeover and ask. This is generally a last-ditch effort. I wouldn’t say I like any form of popup.

Ideally, an embedded form works best, avoid the extra clicks and barriers, take as little real estate as you can but get your point across. You should duplicate the form once for every 1500 words in your blog post. So if you have a small to medium-sized blog post, place it near the top, just enough distance down the page for the reader to be enjoying the content so that they may trust you as a source and want that upgrade. For larger posts, space them out.

Content Upgrade Examples

There are plenty of types of content upgrades out there. Here are a few of my favorite high performers:

  • Checklists are great for upgrades for people trying to learn a concept and would like a list to go off of to self implement.
  • White papers can be used to drive a point home in a controlled, well-designed format.
  • Case studies are another great tool to help drive a point home. These can be used to help a user understand the potential for what they are researching.
  • Examples are more informal case studies, more ideas than anything. Use this to progress the conversation forward and creativity to your users
  • Guides are one of the most in-depth styles of content that you can share. This is generally used to showcase the level of knowledge you have and provide the user with a single document to immerse into a topic
  • Recipes are generally used for food and beverage style sites. These are great to showcase uses for products, ingredients, or services.
  • Webinars are a great way to show the depth of your knowledge. Video sells.


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