The Content Upgrade Funnel: How To Cash In On Your All-Time Best Posts — MarketDoc

A few months ago I had an epiphany: what if I doubled down on content upgrades so that people not only opted into my email list but also converted into customers off the bat.

It would give new meaning to blogging for business.

So I came up with a new idea. I call it the Content Upgrade Funnel.

Exclusive Bonus: Downloada PDF version of The “Content Upgrade” Formula.

Why Content Upgrades?

A content upgrade is a bonus or exclusive piece of content that is relevant to the blog post and gives additional information that helps them take action or an easy to digest version of the blog post.

Content upgrades can take your blog’s email opt-ins from a few per week to 100s per day if executed properly. Most content upgrades I see are executed poorly, so they don’t generate the number of opt-ins people expect to see from the extra time spent creating them.

I set up a post-specific content upgrade for the ultimate guest blogging guide. That alone generated 165 email subscribers for my email list.

Content upgrades when combined with pre-outreach or guest posts can prove invaluable for growing your email list fast.

Whenever you think about building your email list, you may default to thinking you need to create new content.

But if you have a lot of existing content on your site (that is relevant to your target audience), then you should reuse this material and turn it into a content upgrade.

You can create a bonus page for your content upgrade or send the bonus content to them via email.

LeadPages and ConvertKit both offer the option to use native lead magnet delivery. With their native integrations, you will spend less time setting up your blog post bonuses but it’s not for everyone.

Post Bonus: Get a PDF version of this post to read later.

Some bloggers prefer to redirect people after they opt-in to a landing page or bonus page. On that page, they can download the materials promised in the opt-in (or lead magnet) offer.

Blogs like Copyblogger and Videofruit have found that by offering a free community membership login with each email opt-in, their site’s engagement and sales have increased.

For examples, see or

Other bloggers prefer to email people the bonus materials after they opt-in using an email automation sequence or LeadPages lead magnet delivery.

Step 1: Create A Free Lead Magnet

Your lead magnet needs to be relevant to your target audience and should be specific to each post.

It shouldn’t consist of a 100 page document, since it won’t boost your email opt-in rates. Make your lead magnet relevant and simple.

To increase the perceived value of your lead magnet, hire a professional designer through Dribble or Upwork to turn your document into a well packaged opt-in offer. That said, be realistic about the quality of your lead magnet, if you’re giving away a spreadsheet or database, then design will matter less than if you’re giving away a checklist.

You do not need to create new content to create a compelling lead magnet. You can often repurpose your existing blog posts to design bonuses people desire.

Either way, make sure to outline your lead magnet before you create it.

Outline example:

  1. BuzzSumo video tutorial showing how to find influencers to email
  2. Amazon Mechanical Turk video tutorial showing how to obtain email addresses for influencers found with BuzzSumo
  3. BuzzStream video tutorial showing setup of email outreach templates
  4. Gmail video tutorial showing how to set up canned responses for follow up reply emails

You should test different lead magnet types and offers.

Some ideas for lead magnets include:

  • 3 or 4-part video mini-series (tutorial walk-through style or teaching a concept in front of a white board)
  • Contact list or database that makes outreach easier
  • Checklist
  • Key takeaways from a blog post
  • Printable blog post
  • Small eBook

Once you’ve created a compelling lead magnet, use LeadPages®, ConvertKit® or ClickFunnels® to upload the lead magnet connected to the relevant landing page or opt-in box you create.

Lead Magnet Delivery with LeadPages®

In LeadPages, click the down arrow on the right hand side of the interface, then click Lead Magnet Delivery.

Scroll to the bottom of the Lead Magnet delivery page and click the Upload File button to upload your lead magnet.

Lead Magnet Delivery with ConvertKit®

In ConvertKit, go to the Forms tab and set up a new form. Then click ‘Settings’.

In the Settings tab, go to Incentive Email and either upload the lead magnet by clicking ‘Upload a file’ or create a custom thank you page with a direct link to your lead magnet.

Step 2: Create a Tripwire Offer with Product Splintering

Next, “splinter off” a smaller piece of a flagship course, service or product you created and give it away for $7. $7 seems to be the magical number when it comes to setting a price for tripwire offers but some people prefer $9 tripwire offers and others prefer $7.

Before we chat about product splintering, let’s review some pricing psychology.

The Psychological Power Of 99

It’s been common practice in the retail industry to use “odd–even pricing”. In other words, stick to an odd number that’s less than $10 as odd numbers work better.

But is this true?

According to a research study by George Bizer and Robert Schindler, not at all. They suggest that pricing products at one cent below a whole number can be an effective method for increasing purchase demand.

Survey respondents thought that they could buy more products priced with 99 endings than products with prices ending with 00.

The researchers suggest that there is a direct relationship with the drop-off mechanism. The drop-off mechanism is a phenomenon where the consumer drops off or pays less attention to the two digits on the far right of a product price.

122 respondents were presented with an item’s price and got asked to provide the number of items that can be purchased for $73. The ending digits of the price varied, half the time they were shown 99-ending prices and other half 00-ending prices, just one cent higher than the 99-ending prices.

Items with 99-ending prices were considered more affordable than those with 00-ending prices.

On the other hand, Derek Halpern suggests that pricing differences between $97, $99 and $100 don’t really matter in the grand scheme of things. Instead Derek considers price elasticity, or how sensitive your customers are to an increase or decrease in pricing, more important than whether you A/B split test the ending number of your prices.

Pricing your tripwire offers is a personal preference. So I recommend you select the pricing strategy that best fits your personality and goals.

Blog Post Bonus: Grab a PDF of this 2,700-word article to read at your leisure.

Tripwire Offers

Ryan Deiss of Digital Marketer first talked about product splintering tripwire offers in late 2014 and how his team generated $188,674 from an burned out list of email subscribers and a tired product offer.

The purpose of the tripwire offer is just to entice your email subscribers to buy something from you of low value. Many case studies reveal that people are more willing to buy from you again if they’ve bought from you in the past.

It’s important that any offers you create from product splintering are made at a low price and used to attract a specific buyer persona with a specific offer that encourages a specific end result.

The logic goes that each time a customer returns, they are more likely to come back again and again. Offer discounts to first time customers to increase the chance of a second purchase.

According to Sumall, a customer who purchases from you one time has a 27% chance of revisiting, but someone that’s made 3 purchases from you has a 54% chance of making a 4th purchase.

You can use the Lead Magnet >> Tripwire Offer >> Core Product Offer sequence to improve the likelihood of an email subscriber or visitor buying your full product offer. The increase in know, like and trust from receiving your lead magnet and tripwire offer will improve the probability that they will want to buy your full product.

As a result, you can put more money into advertising with Facebook Ads and other paid media because you’ve increased your average customer lifetime value (CLV).

You could even use this process to enhance your affiliate profit margins by giving affiliates a cut of the full product but keeping the earnings from your tripwire offer sales.

The tripwire offer is only intended to turn as many people as possible into first-time customers. It is not intended to generate significant revenue.

Step 3: Integrate Your Core Product Offer

Next, you can create another landing page for your full product offer that links to a checkout page (setup this up with SamCart, GumRoad, PayPal or Infusionsoft Ecommerce).

I find that GumRoad and SamCart are best for highest checkout conversion rates. I recommend them unless you can afford to pay a skilled web designer and coder to build a custom design Infusionsoft checkout page.

How To Price Your Core Product Offer

There are many ways to price your core product offer. I recommend you look at other products in your space and price your product slightly above everything else out there.

  • If you’re creating a list building course as your core product offer and the higher market rate for a list building course is $2,500, aim for $2,750 to $3,000.
  • If you price your core product offer above $500, I recommend offering one-time and recurring payment plans (with the default set to a recurring plan).
  • If your core product offer is less than $500, then don’t offer any payment plans as most people you want to attract to your product should be able to afford $500.

This can even out your cash flows but also will increase the risk of people defaulting on the recurring payments. Many first time digital product creators don’t consider this issue when offering recurring payment plans.

My advice: don’t sweat the added default risk if you’re selling a digital product because you can always cancel the course on them if they default and ignore your payment failed emails, it’s their loss. Although, you may want to let them keep the product anyway but let them know their payment failed because they could become good word-of-mouth for future products you release.

Time Pressure

Add time pressure to your core product offer, so people are motivated to buy the product before it goes away. Course creators often combine evergreen launch funnels with time pressure that open and close the core product offer landing page based on the date the email subscriber first opted in for their free lead magnet.

You can use software tools like Timerlay or Countdown Monkey to add timer based scarcity to your core product offer without hiring a developer to create this feature for you.


You use the power of scarcity to make it appear as though you have a limited number of copies available for purchase.

I don’t recommend scarcity for digital products but some people prefer it. It’s up to you.

Specificity and List Segmentation

Specificity that addresses the subscriber’s biggest problem area or point of weakness is key to generating high conversion rates for your offers.

You won’t see high conversion rates by trying to sell everything to everyone on your email list.

It’s important to start segmenting your list right away, otherwise you will lose out on valuable customer data that will help you create relevant offers.

Segment your list with tags (Infusionsoft or ConvertKit), groups (MailChimp) and/or segments (MailChimp or ConvertKit).

Create different drip email course sequences for different lead magnet offers and buyer personas.


Add bonuses to your core product offer and remove them as time elapses before you close down your core product offer.

Some examples of bonuses include:

  1. Exclusive access to a private Facebook group
  2. 6 months of “ask me anything” consulting
  3. Courses that complement your product that were created by other top bloggers (included with their permission)
  4. Premium WordPress Theme
  5. Premium Software Tools
  6. “Done For You” Templates or Checklists

Step 4: Add An Upsell Offer After Your Core Product Offer

Maximize your average customer lifetime value by adding an upsell available for purchase immediately after your core product offer checkout page.

Since this person has already interacted with you or your company multiple times, they will probably want to buy from you again.

Your upsell should be in the form of ongoing coaching or consulting services or a private mastermind group. Some people create upsell offers that are more expensive than the core product offer, but in my experience, the upsell offer should be less money than the core product offer.

Step 5: Downsell Offers and Cross-sell Offers

Downsell Offer

If you have a related smaller product that relates to your core product offer, you can add a downsell offer to your sales funnel for people who don’t end up buying your core product but that expressed high interest in buying your original offer.

With a downsell offer, you can close the gap on people who were interested in your core product but maybe couldn’t afford it or forgot to buy it during your product launch window.

You can use ConvertKit or Infusionsoft to tag people who click a link in your email offer or that don’t take an action on your sales page.

For example: if they don’t purchase your product, they won’t be untagged as a person showing interest in the product and retagged as a product purchaser.

By leaving that person tagged as showing interest in your product, it ensures you know who to follow up with that didn’t purchase your core product offer.

Then you can send them an email to your downsell offer landing page or checkout page.

Set Up Email Sequences and User Tags

After you set up the content upgrade funnel, add a drip email sequence to lead people back to your landing pages based on the previous actions they’ve taken. You can set up this email automation based on an individual user’s behavior with ConvertKit, Infusionsoft or ActiveCampaign.

For example, if someone opts in to your initial lead magnet offer but decides to leave before buying your tripwire offer, send them an email reminder that brings them back to your tripwire offer landing page.

Additional Advice About Email Sequences

You should vary your email sequence length, for days between each email sent and the total # of emails, based on the subscriber’s initial traffic source.

Passive blog readers may require more teaching emails and time between emails sent to nurture without causing them to unsubscribe from your list. Visitors from Facebook Ads that clicked on your ad for a specific offer may take fewer teaching emails and less time between emails sent to convert to a sale.

Email Sequences and Landing Pages

Here is a sample workflow that you can steal or modify for your sales funnel:

  • 1 day after a user opts in for your free lead magnet but doesn’t buy your tripwire offer, send them an email reminding them to check out your tripwire with links to your tripwire offer page.

Lead Magnet Landing Page

  • After buying your tripwire offer, send the subscriber a copy of the tripwire offer and thank them for checking it out.

Tripwire Offer Landing Page

  • 1 day after a user buys your tripwire offer, send the subscriber a follow up email asking them what they thought of your tripwire offer and inviting them to buy your full course, service or product offer.

Core Product Landing Page >> Checkout Pages

  • Immediately after user buys your core product, send the subscriber credentials and a welcome message with instructions on how to access the product they purchased.

Downsell Offer Landing Page

  • If a subscriber doesn’t buy your core product but expresses high interest in the core product offer (either by opening your offer sequence emails or visiting your core product offer landing page), send them a downsell offer for a similar smaller product that costs 50% — 80% less than the core product.

Survey Pages (Hosted by SurveyMonkey)

  • 30 days after a user buys your core product, send them a survey asking them how they liked the product and what they would improve about it. You can use SurveyMonkey set this up and add a link to the body of the email.

Over To You

Creating a content upgrade funnel may seem complex at first, but the potential rewards are enormous.

The funnel gives you an excellent opportunity to monetize your pre-outreach or guest blogging efforts. It converts far better than Facebook Ads because you’ve built, like and trust by sending people to read your blog post first.

Emil Shour recently wrote a post for Grow and Convert that talks about how Snack Nation turned their blog’s thank you page into a lead generating machine.

The Content Upgrade Funnel takes this concept a step further, and you can implement it for guest posts on other blogs as well as posts on your home blog.

By generating sales directly from my posts, you can attain higher conversion rates than a standard long-form sales page without being salesy.

Once you’ve tried this strategy, I want to know what your results were and would love to feature your experience as a case study on the MarketDoc blog.

Originally published at on March 31, 2016.

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