How to Double Your Email Subscribers Using the Content Upgrade Method
chad November 22, 2017

Chad Arrington, From day 1, many bloggers make the mistake of not collecting email subscribers. Aside from the content itself, email marketing is one of the most important strategies when building a brand, increasing traffic, and creating customer loyalty. Some bloggers simply add a form to their website, sit back, and wait for visitors to subscribe, without taking time to test different methods to increase their opt-in rate. In fact, making small tweaks to your opt-in form and the way you collect subscribers can make a huge difference. For example, utilizing content upgrade pop-ups can double your opt-in rate, (but this must be done correctly for it to be effective). That said, here are some tips to help you get started.


Today, we’ll be discussing why the right email opt-in form is important and what you can do to improve your form. The more engagement on your form, the better for your bottom-line because this will eventually increase subscribers. With more subscribers, you can increase conversions which will help your bottom-line, it’s that simple. Let’s get started and any questions or feedback you have, please leave it in the comment box below.

Step 1– Analyze Your Website

For this strategy to be effective, you need to know your audience and the type of content they love to read. I like to use Google Analytics to find out more about my visitors’ behaviors. I pay close attention to the types of content on my blog getting the most visitors so I know where to narrow my focus. I can then be creative and think about an awesome content upgrade I can offer them in return for their subscription to my email list.

The key is to find 1 or 2 pieces of solid content with the most readership. Utilize other signals than just traffic statistics. For example, I’ve found the most popular content on my website gets the highest amounts of comments and social shares as well. Traffic, comments, and social shares combined will be enough to tell me what piece of content engages my readers the most.

It’s important to note, there are many other tools available which will help you select the right content. But, some are paid which is NOT good for anyone with a limited budget. However, if you have some money to spend then you might want to consider purchasing the paid tools available to you. These will provide more functionality and make your job easier.

Step 2 – Identify the Right Content Upgrade

Now that you know what content gains traction, it’s time to identify the right upgrade to provide your visitors in return for their opt-in. The upgrade or resource must be relevant to the most popular content, provide value and be enticing enough where readers want it badly. This isn’t a difficult task if you know how to utilize the information you already have. For example, you have a lot of suggestions and questions from you readers in the post’s comment section.


It would look something like this (courtesy of Brain Dean at

You’ll notice how each comment has a question. Go through all the comments under the post, making a list of the most popular ones. Create your content upgrade based on the most frequently asked question. If you have time, you can skim other blogs in your niche with similar content and go through their comments to find other questions being asked too.


I suggest trying different content upgrades until you find which one works best with your readership. Keep track of how many people subscribed because of your content upgrade. In the end, you’ll be able to narrow down which content upgrade works best and can stick to utilizing that one with your visitors. Google Analytics is a great tool which allows you to set custom goals and track how many people opt-in to receive your upgrade. The tool your using to collect email subscribers will also provide you with all the data you need.

Once you’ve decided on a content upgrade, it’s time to get creative.

Step 3 – Create Your Content Upgrade

Visitors subscribe to your email list for a reason so it’s important you follow through on your promise. You’ve set their expectations. And you are responsible for fulfilling them because if you don’t, they’ll have no problem unsubscribing.

After completing the 2 steps above, you learn your visitors are interested in link building. They recommend you provide an easy-to-follow checklist; you should do exactly that. And, on top of that, look for ways you can provide that extra “wow” factor. This will help you stand out from your competition while building loyalty at the same time.

I suggest researching what your competitors have failed to do. For example, if your competition provides a downloadable Word file, create a colorful infographic. You can even create a video checklist, which walks your readers through in a how-to format.

SemRush has created some of the best SEO checklists, check out one of their infographics:

Remember, always do research beforehand so you can see what’s already out there; then create something better. You’ll be surprised how many of your readers will appreciate your effort. And it’s a great way to show off the high value they’ll receive from all your work.

Step 4 – Execution

For your strategy to be successful, you need to pitch this upgrade to your readers. If your readers can’t see the upgrade that’s offered, how do you expect to receive conversions? Personally, I like to place the opt-in box right in front of the reader so I know how well it’s working right away. I’ll always use a pop-up, which dims the screen 20-30 seconds after the visitor arrives. Many believe this is a long delay, however, it gives the visitor a chance to start reading my content and get a taste of the value I’m providing before the pop-up comes in. Having the opt-in button pop up too quickly will act just like any other box to them – a distraction with no value.

Secondly, downloadable links throughout my content have converted very well especially if I place a yellow-highlighted box behind them. Here’s a great example from Brain Dean of Backlinko:

This type of box is hard to miss and very easy to grab the user’s attention. I`ll add 2-3 throughout my content because you never know where the visitors find the value they are looking for. Always try different placements and split test the forms because some will perform better than others. Know that almost every email marketing service gives you a quick way to split test your forms by creating different variations of them.

Step 5 – Test and Tweak

Online marketing is about trying different things until you find what works. You might get this strategy right the first time around. Or you might have to tweak your forms and content upgrades. Even if things seem to be working great, I recommend making small changes to try to improve your opt-in rate. Worst case, you can always revert back later. If you have installed Google Analytics, then it’s important to do this right now. The tool is free and will provide you with a lot of information on your audience. You can also setup custom goals to track conversions and what’s been working for you.

Next Step

Implement this strategy now by going through each of the steps. You’ll be surprised how understanding the relationship between your readers and content can double your opt-in rate. Don’t forget to test and tweak along the way for optimal results. Again, use Google Analytics to find what content gets the most subscribers and essentially what works for getting you to your bottom-line. Whatever you’re doing, you need to keep your main objective in mind because this will help you stay focus until the end.

email subscribers

Final Thoughts

Creating the right opt-in form is essential to high conversions. But, this does take time and you need to try out different things until you find out what works. Above, I have listed a few steps you can start to take right away which will allow you to start testing different angles. I’ll admit, you won’t be able to implement everything, but just enough to get you moving in the right direction. Read through my content again taking notes on what to implement so you can get moving. Don’t forget to try different forms, content upgrades, and track every single conversion.

Once you know what works, you can stick with those elements which give you the highest conversion rate. Don’t forget your bottom line and always provide value to your audience. It’s the only way you’ll be able to grow your blog, build loyalty and increase profits.


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