50+ Content Marketing Ideas Worth Stealing
There are 2 million blog articles written each day on the web, and almost every single one of those articles ask for email address. But very few offer something valuable in return. This is the content upgrade. Something very valuable, in exchange for your email address.
Putting an email subscription form on your website or blog with the words “Subscribe now”, or “join our mailing list” simply doesn’t cut it anymore. Your readers deserve something more. Something better. Something in exchange for their very private and important email address or even a backlink.
After all, we’re all bombarded with requests for our email addresses all day, every day. Our inboxes are flooded with mostly crap, and we’re all sick of it.
Don’t you agree?
That being said, why should anyone give YOU their email address?
What makes you so different? What makes your request so special?
The answer to that question is the content upgrade.
What is a content upgrade?
A content upgrade bonus content, offered to your website visitors or blog readers, in exchange for their email address.
For example, let’s say you write an article about how to make a delicious and famous Chicago style hot dog. At the end of the article, offer a free recipe the reader can save and download…but only if they subscribe to your blog by email.
Let’s say you put hours of research into what the top SEO experts around the world feel are the most important SEO signals. You write an amazing article, include lots of great data, and at the end of the article, you offer a much more in-depth, downloadable PDF with your graphs and data. This will let your readers easily save your epic content, and share it with colleagues and clients.
If that’s too much work, make a checklist highlighting all the important stats of your research so your readers can easily skim it for the highlights. Just remember, ask for an email address, first.
You quit your job, and like the hero you are, you decide to travel the world for a year. Of course, along the way you document your experiences in a travel blog. You share stories about the people you met, as well as your thoughts and insights on the culture.
Well, at the end of each post, share a checklist of things the readers must do, places they must go, or food they must eat, should they ever travel to that same place.
The example and ideas are endless.
Bonus Content Upgrade Strategy Tip
Most readers land on your articles after doing a search in Google, so they’re looking for something very specific. Make a different and unique content upgrade for each article. Don’t rely on one content upgrade for your entire blog.
50 Creative Content Upgrade Ideas
Great content upgrade ideas are endless, if you’re creative. It can be additional bonus content, or simply content that comes in a different format like a checklist, PDF, spread-sheet, or video.
Here are 50 types of content upgrade ideas to get your creative juices flowing.
Checklists are my favorite type of content upgrade because they’re simple, quick, and extremely valuable for the human mind. Like me, many readers don’t want to read an author’s long, drawn out opinions. We just want the meat of the article. The good stuff. The science. The data. Oh…and we want to be able to save it for later and skim through it when needed.
Checkli is my free and very simple tool that let’s you easily personalize, publish, and share checklists. You can download your checklists as PDF’s or share them right on Checkli’s website. Checkli is perfect for content upgrades.
Even the guys at Sumo think Checkli is great for content upgrades.
A creative idea for an Ebook is to sum up all your blog posts into one place. Ebooks are super valuable for the readers who love to dive deeper and learn more about a subject.
Unlike real books, Ebooks can be easily created, shared with the world, and easily downloaded on a computer or mobile device.
PowerPoint is still one of the best ways to give a presentation. Professionals, teachers, and speakers all over the world teach and present on similar subjects. Help your reader out by giving them a free PowerPoint template for their upcoming speech.
4. Spreadsheet (w/ a great formula)
A couple years ago, I was looking to buy an investment property to rent out. So the first thing I did was open a spreadsheet to start mapping out a formula.
Then it dawned on me.
I’m sure someone already created spreadsheet for investment properties, and probably a much better one than I was about to throw together. So, I did quick Google search, and sure enough, Zillow had one. But I had to give them my email address first.
So I gave them my email, go the spreadsheet, and yes, it was better than anything my rookie brain would have thought of.
Think about all the different spreadsheets you could give away, in exchange for an email address.
5. Contract template
Millions of people search for contract templates on the web. Create template for them so they can download it in exchange for their email address.
True story. I did this in my last startup, MySiteAuditor. Nothing got us more email addresses than the free SEO contract template we gave away. It was a huge hit.
I literally got thousands and thousands of free email addresses in exchange for my “Killer SEO Contract” template.
Here’s a link to that contract. It still works like a charm.
6. Survey Data
Take a really interesting survey. Collect lot’s of data and write a blog post about it. At the end of your post give away your interesting data in one centralized PDF; but only in exchange for your readers email address.
I’d even take a screenshot of it and add it to your post so your readers can see what they’re getting in exchange for their email.
7. Case Study (w/ interesting results)
Case studies are super freaking valuable. They’re perfect at showing real results of a real situation. Put a few of them up on your site, but save your best and most valuable ones for your content upgrades.
Let your readers, read your most valuable and interesting data that you collected with your time and energy, but only in exchange for their email address.
8. Audio download
I must admit my ADHD brain hates reading sometimes. But it loves to listen all the time. More specifically, I love listening to blog posts more than reading them because very rarely do we get the opportunity to successfully multi task.
Let your readers listen to the free audio copy while they’re driving in the car, working out at the gym, or lying in bed late at night.
9. Exclusive Interviews
Save a really interesting and exclusive part of your interview for your bonus content upgrade. Share the majority of it on your site, but give extra footage away after your reader gives you their email address.
10. Free Trials
Got a SaaS startup? Well, grab an email address in exchange for a free trial.
11. Educational Course
Smart people never stop learning. That’s why they’re so smart. Create a free education course for your readers, but ask them for their name and email address before they download and use it.
12. Watermark free images
Give away free photos or images. Offer them for free, and without your watermark, in exchange for their email address.
Great for photographers and web design agencies!
Do you have a list of really interesting events coming up. That’s great. Share your calendar in exchange for your readers email address.
Your readers will gladly give you their email address in exchange for a free webinar. Webinars are super valuable and well worth the cost of an email address.
15. Enter a contest
If there’s one thing I’ve learned being a digital marketer for 12+ years, it’s that people love free shit. Seriously, people love anything for free.
Have you seen what people will do for a free t-shirt at a sporting event? It’s insane.
Hold a simple and fun contest, and ask for a name and email address in order to enter. Giveaway something fun and valuable like a gift card to the app store, headphones, an ipad, software, or anything else you can think of.
16. Cheat Sheet
Read a good book lately or learn a new skill or trade? Offer a cheat sheet for those who would rather not take the time like you did. Grab for email for a free copy of that cheat sheet..
17. Coupon code or discount
Got an ecommerce store? Well, you need to build an email list so you can market your new products. Offer a free discount or coupon code in exchange for an email address.
18. Video tutorial
People love education and they love visuals. Videos of super visual, which helps the new information sink-in a little better into the human brain.
Create a video tutorial and give it away as a content upgrade.
No excuses. You have a mobile phone, so you have a camera.
19. Free consultation
Tell your readers you’re picking one new email subscriber each day to give a free consultation to.
20. A Free Tool or Widget
Develop nifty little tool or widget your target market really needs. Give it away for free, but require an email address to login and use it.
21. A PSD (Photoshop file)
Designing in photoshop takes talent and time. Save your readers some time by developing a photoshop template they could really use.
22. WordPress Plugins
Hire a developer to make a really cool WordPress plugin. The last one I had builty cost me $300. I found a developer in Pakistan to build it using UpWork.
Give it away for free, but ask for an email first.
23. Report or whitepaper
Do some heavy research on the web. Really dig in and find valuable information that your target market must have.
Give it away for free as a content upgrade.
Transcribe your video or vlog and give away access to the file in exchange for subscribing to your blog.
Everyone loves a new recipe. Write a really cool article about food and give away a recipe at the end, but only if the reader subscribes. Too easy!
26. How to guides
At the end of your article, sum up what you wrote in a simple how to guide. Let your users download it for free…if they subscribe to your blog.
27. Exclusive content or newsletter
Emails are great for notifying readers about new content. However, offer access to exclusive content that will never be on your blog if they subscribe.
28. PDF article
People love PDFs still. Give away your article in a PDF format as a content upgrade.
29. Unique calculator
Have a calculator created for something very specific or unique. Think about the value of a mortgage calculator, now get more creative.
Let anyone use it, if they subscribe to your blog.
30. Online event tickets
Have an event coming up soon? This is a no brainer. Grab an email for access to that event, or notification for future events.
31. Printable article
People still love printing articles. Maybe they’re for a meeting or event. Either way, if you don’t mind killing a few trees, offer your article in a printable format as a content upgrade.
32. Sample Book Chapter
Wow! Did you write a book? Well, give away chapter one for free, in exchange for a reader’s email address.
That way you can send them lots of cool articles, while quietly plugging your book.
33. Quiz Results
According to Noah Kagan of OK Dork, quizzes are one of the hottest blog posts types. People love taking them. So, here’s a double content upgrade idea. Ask for email to take the quiz, and ask for an email to see all of your collected results.
Businesses would kill for that data.
34. Desktop wallpaper
Do you have some crafty design skills. Whip up a really cool desktop wallpaper that speaks specifically to your target market.
Give away for free as a content upgrade.
35. Mobile phone wallpaper
Use your design skills to make clever wallpaper for mobile devices. Tailor it to your target market, and include a motivating quote or some key information they need to see everyday.
36. Free shipping
Free shipping is one of the top reasons people buy something online. If you have a ecommerce site, offer a free shipping coupon code in exchange for an email address.
37. Free catalog
Consolidate all your products into one downloadable catalog that a business can easily share internally. Give it away on your site, but make sure you grab an email address first, and maybe a company name too.
38. Travel Itinerary
Travel blogging is huge right now. It seems like everyone has a travel blog. If you’ve already travel to a place, offer a checklist of your itinerary in exchange for subscribing to your blog.
39. Map or directions
Got a travel blog? Know of a really cool secret spot, like a waterfall or beach? Be a pal. Give out directions, but only to those who subscribe to your travel blog.
40. Group access (Facebook or LinkedIn)
Don’t let just anyone in your private group. Weed out people who are not serious by asking for an email address in exchange for access to the group.
41. Charts or Graphs
People love and need charts and graphs to help them better understand data, and to help them better communicate something. Who knows, maybe they have a presentation coming up and really need a graph that only you have.
Give it to them, but ask for an email first.
42. Resource Center Access
Collect all your free downloads. Put them in a zip file, and store them in one secret location on your site. Give away total access to that resource center as a free content upgrade.
43. Email templates
People suck at writing emails. Offer a killer email template that you’ve tested and you know really works.
Make sure you grab an email address first though.
44. Home remedies
Are you into organic and natural living? So are millions of other people. Offer one of grandma’s favorite home remedies as a content upgrade.
45. Website Template
In the digital marketing industry? Make a free WordPress template and give it away for free in exchange for an email address.
46. Stock Photos
Millions searches are for free photos and images. Start carrying a camera everywhere you go, so you can snap some cool photos, and give them away as a free download in exchange for an email address.
47. Stock videos
It’s hard to find free stock video footage. Take some generic footage and give it away for free. This is perfect for people in digital marketing or video production.
48. Stock Vector Images
Bust out Adobe Illustrator and create some free graphics. Maybe a set of icons, or maybe some generic featured images for bloggers.
Give them aways for free, in return for an email address.
49. Stock Audio File
Record some cool sounds, or maybe even some interesting music and give it away free as a content upgrade for your audio blog.
50. Scavenger Hunt Clues
Hold an online scavenger hunt on your website, or in your city or town. Then give aways away clues to help your readers find the awesome prize you have waiting for them.
An email address is more precious than you relative. Your readers are becoming more and more savvy. An annoying popup or simply asking for an email address isn’t going to work, unless you have an epic name or some seriously epic content.
Take your time and give you readers something valuable. A bonus piece of content that they have to have….but only if they give you their email address first.