How to Use Content Upgrade On Your Blog & Build Your Email List

Before I explain what a content upgrade is, try to remember how many times were you offered a cheat sheet, a downloadable PDF of a long post, or a free template, workbook, as soon as you started reading the post?

A content upgrade is a lead magnet that relates to the content a user is going through.

For example, a content upgrade on this page will be a PDF of everything written here in this post or a free checklist that has 10 ideas for creating with a template.

Since you are eager to read about how they work, the chances you’d want to download this post in a PDF format are really high.

It can be a cheatsheet, workbook, a recording, a related course, or an E-book. It can be anything that is highly similar to what a user is reading, viewing, or listening to.

Email Marketers use this to generate more leads by targeting a specific area of users by offering a relevant incentive as an ethical bribe.

An example of a content upgrade on my blog post

In the screenshot above, before the first heading, you can see a section that says, “download this post with clickable links and template.”

When you click on the “get it here” link, you’ll immediately see a popup asking for your email. In return for your email, I will give you what I promised. That’s how it works.

Similarly, At the end of this post, you can see one of my category-specific content upgrades. You should have seen a slide-in popup just about after 5 seconds you landed on this article, which too had one.

It’s a two-step process; at the first step, you click on the link, and at the second, a popup is shown asking for your email. Once you fill up and click on the button, you are redirected to the specific page where your bonus is kept ready for you.

You offer something valuable to the readers of your content, and in exchange, the readers give you their email. The content upgrade is used on a particular set of content rather than offering them site-wide as the same.

If you run a food blog, you may have a lead magnet that shows “10 secrets of a great chef,” but you can’t expect a reader of your post on “how to make cakes to be interested in it.”

Instead of doing that, offering them a cheat sheet or a “checklist of making a cake with ingredients” can convert really well.

A content upgrade is basically an ethical bribe, also known as a lead magnet.

All I’m doing is giving you a reason to optin and subscribe to my list. Gone are the days when people intentionally left their emails to subscribe to a particular blog just for receiving its updates.

Simple optin forms without any lead magnet don’t convert a fraction of what an optin from doing with a content upgrade as an ethical bribe does. They give your visitors a solid reason for giving you their permission to reach them again and again, even if they don’t ever come back to your site.

The content upgrade is all about value. By giving something valuable, useful, and beneficial to your users, you are genuinely helping them in exchange for their email and other contact details.

Also, note that they don’t work on every page and post. Instead, they are meant to be used on high-value and top landing pages that, in general, means your most viewed and traffic generating posts.

Site-wide-wide optin forms that show everywhere on your pages don’t convert so well because they simply don’t add value and are not targeted. Targeting a specific audience by offering them something in their area of interest is what content upgrades do.

Also note, They should not be used on each and every blog post. You have to be very selective while choosing the best content to start with, and we’ll discuss that as well later in this guide.

Google Analytics has everything you need to get started with targeting specific posts for placing content upgrades for the best conversion results. Here’s how you do it:

  1. Find your top landing pages using Google analytics
  2. Create A simple PDF of that page using Print-friendly & PDF chrome extension – this will be your content upgrade
  3. Create an optin form and use the content upgrade as an ethical bribe/lead magnet
  4. Create an autoresponder that will deliver the promised content upgrade. (Requires an email marketing service like ConvertKit or Constant Contact)

That’s how it works.


1. I have got a detailed tutorial on how you can create a content upgrade with an online tool “Beacon” below. It takes no more than 5 minutes to create your first one. You can use any of your great content, which is over 1500 words.

2. You can use Canva. These are online graphics tools and work the way you want.

Simple go to any of the tools and select a type of graphic you want to create. You can use this tutorial to create an Infographic, Cheatsheet, or E-book. Each of the tools is free to get started with.

3. Using the spreadsheet. Use Microsoft Excel or Google spreadsheets to make a data cheatsheet you can use as a lead magnet. It takes no more than 10 minutes. You can use your top 10 or top 25 list content for doing that.

Make sure the link you attach with the text are clickable or else the subscribers will have a hard time and may not like the upgrade you did 🙂

Also note that if you have nothing to use, Microsoft Word is still a great option to create an eBook. You can write an eBook on a topic that is similar to the post you are going to use it as a content upgrade. Just make sure you take time in proofreading and designing your eBook

WordPress Plugins

There are very few WordPress plugins that can create content upgrades right from your WordPress dashboard, but the main fact is, Less than 5 of these are actually working as of 2018. I tried them, all of the 8 plugins.

So far two plugins work really great:

  1. Content Upgrades  by Krish
  2. Lead magnets by

Both of these plugins still work, and they will really save you a lot of time.

The best part of using it is a mutual benefit. When you get the content upgrade, you can actually get more benefits for free, and the one who offered it to you can now reach you with an email anytime.

If you aren’t using this tactic of generating leads faster than ever, you are missing out on potential customers every day.

Also, read:

How To Create Your First Content Upgrade

You would be eager to know how you could actually make a content upgrade right from your WordPress dashboard with the help of a plugin.

In this section, I’ll show you how to do that in a few easy steps. Before that, have a look at the tool we are going to use.

Beacon Lead Magnet Software

Beacon (also known as is an online publishing platform and tool which also comes with a free WordPress plugin you can use to create a content upgrade for your blog posts in minutes. With Beacon, you can create:

  • E-books
  • WorkBooks
  • Charts
  • Checklists
  • Resource guides
  • and email templates

It’s like having everything under one roof.

Beacon can be used with any blog publishing platform, including WordPress, HubSpot, Blogger, and So, Its quite compatible.

Below are the steps you need to follow to create an excellent content upgrade in less than 5 minutes using the Beacon publishing and lead generation tool.

Go To The Beacon E-Book Generator & Publisher

This will be your one-stop solution for creating excellent lead magnets/ethical bribes and use them as your content upgrade. It’s very easy to use, and I enjoy the various customization options they offer.

Beacon is actually free to use.

It comes with a subscription you can choose if you wish to get No-branding & other features. They also have a plugin so head on the WordPress plugin repo, look for beacon marketing e-books plugin, or download it from here and install it.

Alternatively, you can skip this step if you wish to give Beacon a try before. Simply go to their online tool, Sing up for a free account, and follow the next level.

Choose Your Content Upgrade Type

Login to your Beacon account and go to the dashboard. Here, you will see a create a new button, you have to click on that. On the next screen, you have to choose from 5 different types of lead magnets.

So far, the best one, to begin with, is an E-book. Click on the E-book icon.

The Beacon will then ask you if you want to repurpose a blog post for using it as your lead magnet.

Click yes. Select the CMS you use that is the blog publishing platform you use. If you are using any other than HubSpot, select different options.


Now, all you have to do is enter the URL of the blog post you wish to turn into a led magnet E-book. After that, select the theme of your choice from the available ones.


Click on any of the themes and preview your new e-book. Make sure everything’s correct and then click on the publish button and voila!. Your post will be converted into an e-book with different relevant pages, along with your main content.


As you can see, my post of best plugins for more leads has been converted into an excellent full E-book with necessary pages and context.

Now that we have made our content upgrade, we will have to use it as our lead magnet, and this can be done right from your beacon dashboard.


Go to your Beacon dashboard and click on the share button of the content upgrade you just created. Then, click on the create a lead magnet button.

The beacon tool will show you the most preferred settings for your lead magnet, but if you want to customize the message and color of your optin form, you can do so by clicking on any element shown.

Now click on the embed option and copy the code shown on the screen.

If you use an email marketing service such as MailChimpConvertKit, or Aweber, you can integrate it with Beacon by clicking on the email integration tab.


Then paste this code by going to your website HTML editor. In WordPress, make sure you paste this code in the TEXT editor rather than the visual. Preview the post, and you’ll see your content upgrade attached with a beautiful optin form to act as a lead magnet. So Simple.

You can use this code to show this content upgrade on multiple posts, but make sure you do so on highly relevant posts; otherwise, the potential of this tactic will be over.

Once you have pasted this code on any of your live posts, you can check the leads section on the Beacon share menu, where you will find all of the first emails.

You can then export this list as a CSV or, most preferably, it’s best to integrate Beacon with your email marketing service.

Repeating this step, you can now convert any of your blog posts or even pages into content upgrades in less than 5 minutes without any hassle.

That is how you make your content upgrade and lead magnets to collect more leads with the Beacon publishing tool.

A content upgrade is something that will always work, but it needs to be done right and to do things right, you need to do a few experiments.

A couple of A/B tests will help you get more precise on how, when, and what to use. Ever I’ve used them myself, I can’t help recommending it to anyone whose focus is on conversion rate optimization.

The only tools you need to get started with content upgrades are:

That’s it.

I hope this guide has helped you.

Share this with your friends & let me know how this strategy is working for you in the comments section below.

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