What is the purpose of content?
The purpose of content is not to make “noise” because you think you should.
The purpose of content is not to demonstrate that you’re always on.
The purpose of content is not to clutter up inboxes or newsfeeds anymore than they already are.
The purpose of content is to move, inform, and persuade by providing value in the eyes of your most valuable customers.
Guess what? You can do that without reinventing the wheel, brainstorming a list of new topics, or writing all new posts. The beauty of content upgrades lies in the fact that the value you have to offer is lying right under your nose – all you have to do is stretch it a little bit further to work in your favor.
Content upgrades are like bonus tracks to your existing content. They expand on an original piece by making it more valuable, more accessible, and more detailed than ever before.
The work it takes to finesse your content is rarely in vain, either. Since you already have “proof of content” through analytics, you know that the content you’ve published is already valuable. By providing highly specific insight and information on an already well received post, you’re only making it easier for the same audiences to access deeper information and new audiences to perceive you as a resource worth trusting.
Need further confirmation? Marketers like Devesh Khanal of Growth Everywhere increased one blog post’s conversion rate by a shocking 492% by providing an “early riser checklist”, while publisher Michael Hyatt reports a 59.2% email conversion rate on one of his articles. While the origins of content upgrades are unknown, Kim Roach of buzzblogger.com is known to have split a blog post into two parts back in 2014, using the second part as a content upgrade and reserving Part II to those who opted-in to her email list. Her conversion rate? A whopping 16%! Here, Kim explains this simple blog strategy in a short video.
So how do you go about upgrading? Let’s get into the details.
Whittle down your Top Twelve.
In order to share content of value for the future, you need to identify the content that's been most valuable in the past. Don’t assume what your readers will gravitate to, and don’t pick what you find most exciting. Remember, this is about providing value and being a credible resource to the people who are already trust your opinion.
Login to your analytics dashboard of choice. If you use Google Analytics, login to your account (Behavior > Site Content > All Pages), or your Squarespace account (Metrics > Popular Content > Month). If you’re using WordPress, tools like JetPack, WP Power Stats, or other tools listed here can give you the same information.
Once inside, you’ll see your most popular content ranked by popularity along with page views, time spent on the page, bounce rates, and more. These analytic subsets are less important than your page views though, so don’t get too distracted! Remember, you’re focusing on blog posts only here, so filter out other pages of your site
Export and organize.
Next, set up a Google Drive spreadsheet. This is where you’ll get specific about content upgrade ideas for each post. Divide your spreadsheet into these sections:
• Title (the name of your previously written blog post)
• Pageviews (the number of page views as reported by Google Analytics or Squarespace)
• Upgrade Ideas (the place where you’ll jot down ideas and possibilities)
• Chosen Upgrade Idea (the place where you’ll define your content upgrade for each post)
• Desired Action (the action or desired outcome you’d like your audience to take)
• Publish Date (the date you’d like to publish your upgrade by, ideally one each month)
Once this information is in your spreadsheet, highlight ONE blog post and content upgrade you’d like to pursue first. You’ll come back to this document when you’re ready to tackle more. Knowing you’ve got high quality content in the pipeline means there will always be something to pursue next!
Choose the right content for context.
In this case, it’s important to revisit your original content. Avoid the desire to edit your post (the internal editor in all of us is real!), and focus on the open-ended areas of your content that could segue into a content upgrade.
For example, you could offer:
• A checklist based on a long tutorial, step-by-step guide, or how-to post you’ve written.
• A downloadable PDF list of resources or tools you referenced in your blog post.
• A 60-second screencast capturing a tutorial you’ve previously written about.
• An easy to download case study detailing a project from concept to conclusion.
• An infographic series that explains and visualizes dense information quickly.
• An eBook featuring several blog posts if you’ve written about a certain topic multiple times.
• A SlideShare version of your post which focuses more on visuals than words.
The possibilities really are endless, but the right content upgrade will be the right offering that a.) makes sense to the post, b.) makes sense to your audience, and c.) makes sense for your brand.
Ultimately, content upgrades work best when they help people take the next first step that conquers a specific challenge. They also do a great job of distilling and simplifying information as a complement to longer, more thorough posts. If your blog post content is your meat, your content upgrade should be the side dish that complements and enhances its original flavor.
Get to work.
Time to get your hands dirty. You might choose to DIY your content upgrade, or you could hire an outside expert to support you. In our case, we often help clients not only publish content regularly and consistently each month, but we also help them with content upgrades such as email campaigns, downloads, media kits, and more.
Remember, a PDF is a format that everyone can access regardless of operating system. So, if you’re using Keynote to create a presentation, Photoshop to design a guide, or Canva to create a graphic, you can always export to PDF and make it available to download – no extra hoops to jump through.
Promote twice for better conversion.
If you think saving your call-to-action for the bottom of the post is best, think again. In the case of Brian Dean of Backlinko, it was found that promoting content upgrades twice – once at the top and once at the bottom – converted 315% better than posts with content upgrades only at the bottom.
If you’re a WordPress user, you can use a service like Content Upgrades Pro to embed an opt-in form at the bottom of the page. On Squarespace, you can embed forms by creating blocks, insert header and footer captures, and other opt-in features that even sync with your MailChimp account.
No matter where you put your opt-in, it’s important to create an enticing message that clearly articulates the value your audiences can expect. For instance, a successful call-to-action might tell people how they can use a checklist to save time, how a free guide can double their revenue, or how a free course or eBook could deepen their knowledge.
For the sake of this post, implementing opt-in’s is too dependent on the platform you’re using – but hey, we’ve got an opportunity for a content upgrade!
Accompany your content with appropriate visuals.
As you prepare your content upgrades for release, think about where they’re most likely to be seen and how you can position your content as a brand asset. If you’re sharing on Facebook, be sure that your graphic is the appropriate size and that it matches your branding. If you find that Pinterest is your most valuable referral source, make sure you create visuals for the right dimensions. Likewise, if you’re creating a graphic for Instagram or Twitter, make sure you tailor your visuals for the appropriate channels.
Share with your tribe.
If you’re the kind of person that’s into conversion rates and opt-ins, chances are you’ve got an established email list at the ready. Put it to work! Whether you share your original blog post with a “P.S. Here’s a freebie you can download right now”, or you announce your content upgrade as a standalone, take the time to share with your people.
Bonus points if you enlist the help of others with established email lists. Reach out to your fellow bloggers and marketers and see if any are willing to include your upgrades and original blog links so that you can expand your reach by getting your content into the hands of more people who will find it valuable.
Check back often.
Don’t let this exercise be the only time you return to your analytics dashboard. Each month, make it a point to reassess what your most popular content is to date. As you make an effort to publish content upgrades, you may find that you’re getting more traffic to other blog posts. Content upgrades are a great opportunity to check in on your analytics, and revisit your original spreadsheet to determine what’s of most importance to your audience.
Get started with our Content Upgrade Planner Template!
Save yourself a little work and jump right into the action by grabbing a copy of our Content Upgrade Planner. Just enter your email address below (practicing what we preach!) and you'll immediately get a link to it on Google Drive, with instructions on how to save a copy for your own use!