Email Marketing Strategies: What to Expect in 2020 And Beyond

In today’s world, there are plenty of channels a brand can use reach a prospect.

Digital channels are the ones that draw the most attention and great deal of engagement.

Of course, by “digital channels”, I don’t mean targeted online ads, landing pages (here are some landing page examples to steal, by the way.) or social media platforms alone.

There is also the staple of digital marketing: email marketing, the medium that consistently produces the highest ROI.

email marketing strategies vs other channels ROI graphic


The statistic above shows how email marketing is the most affordable and rewarding digital channel. Part of email’s staying power comes from its ability to adapt to new marketing trends.

This is why we all need to be up to date with the current email marketing strategies while staying one step ahead of the competition.

Without further ado, let’s check out the email marketing and marketing automation strategies for 2020.

Video In Email Marketing

The trickiest of those email marketing strategies is using video in emails. Not all email clients support video, despite the fact that marketers have been trying to incorporate video in their email marketing endeavors since the late ‘90s.

According to Forrester’s research, “a minute of video is worth 1.8 million words.” It has also been found that a video can lead to a 200-300% increase in email CTR.

How can you apply this to your email campaigns?

Your first option would be to embed a video using HTML5. Unfortunately, few email clients use HTML5, which means they won’t be able to support this.

If you’re using an email platform like Moosend, you can use the video feature that comes in the editor.

Another solution would be to use a static image, a snippet of the video that will make the user click on the image. This is ideal if your image has a “fake” play button on it.

After clicking, the user is redirected to a landing page that contains the video.

You can also insert a GIF into your email. It’s one of the oldest image formats and is supported by most email clients.

It’s important to show the key aspects of your message on the first frame of your GIF because it’s not universally supported.

As you understand, video in email marketing can be hard work. But is it worth it?

According to SuperOffice’s study, including the word “video” in your email subject line can increase open rates by 6%. This will inevitably lead to higher click-through rates and will contribute to your CRO efforts if your content is spot-on.

Another reason why videos in email marketing are worth the trouble is the fact that it can boost engagement and help with your SEO endeavors.

What do I mean by that?

Your video won’t be just included in your email. By adding a “share with a friend” button it will be out there and you’ll be encouraging people to share and spread the word.

If you make content that’s fun and easy to digest, make everything clickable and remove autoplay, you’ll have a fantastic campaign that will be valuable to you and the recipients of your email campaign.

And a little hint here: You can always find a way to reach out to influencers on social media and ask them to share your video as well.


You can slowly but surely forget about the personalization tips and tricks all of us marketers have used so far.

The techniques we use today, both in email marketing and other channels, aim to enable us to entice prospects and increase metrics like our brand’s MRR.
They also aim to help brands reach the KPIs set at the beginning of each project.

AI is making many best practices obsolete.  But what does that mean for email marketing?

An AI platform will be able to go through data quickly and easily, make fewer mistakes than humans, and find patterns in that data.

These patterns will be used by the machine to help it learn and predict preferences and desires to deliver personalized 1-on-1 content without any assistance.

We’ve become used to the following steps: develop a buyer persona, implement demographic segmentation, and then personalize. Which is a technique that works really well, but growing consumer needs demand more and more attention.

Actually, consumers nowadays demand to feel special. It’s logical because they likely have dozens of brands fighting for their attention.

The main problem with this tactic is that personas cannot be all people. A persona represents the ideal customer that has XYZ characteristics. This does not mean the ideal customer will only have the five characteristics you need them to have.

Therefore, segmentation has more or less been treating unique prospects like parts of a group, which is something that will produce diminishing returns over time.

This is why we need AI.

Artificial Intelligence, as stated above, will read through the data gathered, identify patterns, and create content that will look and feel (and probably will be, too) tailor-made for each recipient.

email personalization


Up until now, it took hours and maybe years of data analysis, a highly skilled copywriter, and constant trial, error, and A/B testing to get one personalized subject line.

Imagine what it takes for a whole email that will lead today’s “evolved consumer” to eventually convert.

But all these don’t fully answer the question: “Why is hyper-personalization going to be a trend in email marketing for 2020?”

The reason is simple: AI can incorporate more than name, income and purchase history into the personalization process.

AI can use behavioral data, real-time triggers, and user history. Eventually, it’ll be able to create tailor-made content that’ll lead users to conversion. From triggered emails with incentives that the user could take advantage of right on the spot, to referral programs that can work by asking the prospect to share your email and earn some extra incentives.

And if you think this is too good to be true…

Personalization maturity graphic

Content evolution

There will be an increased emphasis on interactive content.

It’s not news because interactive content has been available for quite some time.  We’ll see a rise in its use because it’s a great way to make a brand’s emails stand out in a full inbox.

Standing out is not the only objective. Being memorable and having customers that keep coming back, is.

Marketers aim for memorability, virality, and engagement. Email microsites, GIFs, videos, quizzes and many more components that cause users to interact with the content in any way, can boost engagement and will make for a fantastic experience.

Content should be highly personalized. Imagine the engagement rates, when you deliver an email that is personalized and interactive at the same time.

How many curious people will open it and click on its CTAs? I bet plenty. Many will want to play with the content and interact with it. It’s a great idea for all email marketing campaigns

This kind of interactivity and personalization incorporated in storytelling emails, Is what I consider to be the future of email marketing.

Let me explain what I mean: Storytelling is the act incorporating ideas, data, and various information into anything that could make one’s imagination run, resulting in crafting a tale and creating a bond between the brand and the customer.

In simpler words, people receive stories they can relate to better than spreadsheets full of abstract data.


Try and craft your email campaigns in a way that you’ll be able to promote storytelling that your target market can relate to.

It will be beneficial for your brand as well because storytelling can show your communication pillars-and true colors.

Go the extra mile by creating a serialized story email campaign.

A video series perhaps, or maybe a gif that will lead to a CTA button: “Login to uncover the full story.” This can have a marked impact on your engagement.

That’s what email will be about in the following years: More engagement, being the one to stand out, and making your brand known by targeting individuals and not segments of a whole.

Final tips

We’ve seen that video, AI, GDPR, and interaction are the four main ingredients when it comes to email marketing in 2020.

The following three components deserve an honorable mention: customer journey maps, UX through marketing automation, and real-time automation.

Customer journey mapping helps marketers and salespeople get a better grasp of the stages a prospect goes through before converting. Understanding the customer journey is one of the prerequisites when you’re crafting an email that will lead you to our second honorable mention:

Improving user experience through marketing automation. A map will help you understand what triggers users’ behaviors.

Through AI data analysis and fantastic content, you’ll be able to enhance the user experience. With some state-of-the-art marketing automation software, you’ll be able to send emails that will be triggered, timely, relevant and that the users will be eager to see.

Finally, real-time email automation, enhanced and centered around the customer’s needs, will continue to reign supreme and offer exactly what your prospects need, exactly when you need it, in 2020.


Of course, we should be expecting to see even more trends. Eventually, all standards will be obsolete and all bets will be off, which is the natural order of all things.

With so many options out there, the only real email marketing strategy is also its real objective: Stand out, be memorable, create experiences through engagement.

Copywriter-turned-content expert, Téa Liarokapi is one of the content writers of the email marketing software company, Moosend, and an avid researcher of all things email and all things marketing. In her free time, she tries to find new ways to stuff more books in her bookcase and content ideas-and cats-to play with 

6 Reasons Why Email Marketing Is Essential For Business

Brands use a plethora of digital marketing channels. For those that have the resources, tools like SEO, content, PPC, and email are common. For those that have a limited budget, one or two channels may suffice.

Out of all the digital marketing channels available to brands, there is one particular channel they use more than any other – email.

Email marketing for business is a great way to stay top of mind, generate revenue, and stay abreast of what their customers want. This post looks at 6 major reasons why email is essential to brands both large and small.

1. Email marketing for business has an unquestionable return

If a marketer were asked to give just one reason why they favor email over other digital channels, they’d probably say email marketing works. It’s as simple as that.

Time and time again, email has proven to be the king of digital marketing in terms of ROI. Brands that are looking to drive revenue turn to email marketing due to an ROI of 4,400%.

For every dollar brands invest in email marketing, they get $44 in return. No other digital marketing channel consistently offers this kind of return.

In contrast, the ROI for paid ads is a mere 200%. For every dollar brands invest in Google Ads, they get $2 in return. An ROI of 200% might still seem significant, it pales in comparison to the 4,400% brought in by email marketing.

Email marketing’s high ROI can be attributed to targeting and personalization. Email enables marketers and entrepreneurs to send messages, promotions, and offers that are relevant to each subscriber. In fact, targeting is essential if you want to get a 4,400% ROI.

The relevance that email marketing for business offers is what drives conversions and increases revenue. According to Campaign Monitor’s 2019 email marketing benchmarks, the average email click-through rate (CTR) is 2.69%. Meanwhile, Wordstream states that the average CTR of Facebook ads is just 0.90%.

This means that people are three times more likely to click on a link within an email than they are to click on a sponsored post on Facebook.

2. Email marketing has the largest user base.

Platforms like social media and YouTube permeate through much of today’s culture, especially among the younger generations. However, that doesn’t mean social media is the most widely used digital communications platform.

According to Statista, there are over 2.8 billion social media users in the world as of 2019. 2.4 billion are on Facebook, around 330 million are on Twitter, and LinkedIn has more than 600 million members.

Source: Statista

Despite these numbers, email still beats every social media network by a wide margin when it comes to its userbase. In fact, email has more users than Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn combined. As of Statista’s latest count, email has approximately 3.9 billion users worldwide, which equates to about half of the world’s entire population.

While using a variety of digital channels is important, email marketing is still the key to reaching the highest number of people possible in a meaningful way.

3. Email marketing for business has high deliverability

Email marketing benchmark data for 2019 indicates that the average email bounce rate across industries is only 1.06%. This means that a brand’s email has nearly a 99% chance of being delivered to its intended recipient.

Source: Campaign Monitor

On social media sites like Facebook, however, it’s an entirely different matter. When a brand posts on Facebook, only 2% of their followers will see it. In an effort to push brands to pay for advertising, Facebook has created specific algorithms that limit a brand’s organic reach. Other social networks have already followed suit.

To put this information into perspective, here are a couple of scenarios:

If a brand sends a promotional eCommerce email to 1,000 subscribers, about 990 of them will receive the email.

Meanwhile, say the brand has a Facebook page that has the same number of followers. If the brand posts an update, only 20 of their followers will see the post on their newsfeed.

Based on these scenarios, the brand’s email message has about 50 times more chances to be seen than their Facebook post.

4. Email marketing is versatile.

While all brands, no matter their size or niche, should make email marketing one of their top priorities, a holistic approach to digital marketing is still best.

In addition to email, brands should use as many other digital marketing channels that they possibly can. This includes paid advertising, social media, SEO, and content marketing.

The great thing about email marketing for business is that it can be easily integrated into other digital strategies.

For example, brands can combine their social media and email marketing strategies. One thing brands can do is use social media to potentially grow their email list. On Facebook, brands can add a signup form directly on to their page. By using the right email marketing platform, brands can do this in just a few keystrokes.

The signup form appears as an entirely new tab on top of a brand’s Facebook page, as shown in the image below.

Source: Campaign Monitor

On Twitter, brands can tweet a catchy message and post the link to their signup form or landing page. On Instagram, they can attract the attention of followers with a high-quality image (of an upcoming product, for example) and write a caption that goes something like this:

“Want to receive more exciting updates? Subscribe to our newsletter by clicking on the link in our bio: [link to the signup form]

Brands should also encourage subscribers to share emails on social media. Adding social media sharing icons or buttons to emails is a great way to let social media followers do some of the legwork of spreading the news about a brand and its products.

Brands can also merge their email, content, and SEO strategies.

Search engines don’t index emails, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use them for the purposes of content marketing and SEO. Brands can save their newsletters and transform them into high-quality blog posts. They can turn newsletters that talk about a similar topic into one cohesive blog post and then insert the necessary keywords.

5. Email marketing performance is measurable.

Measuring the performance of certain digital channels can be difficult for marketers.

In a survey Curata, 52% of marketers admitted that they’ve faced challenges when reviewing their ROI from social media. The task of figuring out social media ROI is so cumbersome for brands that 70% of them have said that they don’t even bother doing it.

Content marketing effectiveness is also difficult to determine. According to a Content Marketing Institute report, 57% of content marketers admitted that measuring the performance of their content was their primary challenge. Meanwhile, 52% said it was measuring their content marketing ROI.

This is one particular area where email marketing sets itself apart from other digital marketing channels.

email marketing for business stats

Source: Campaign Monitor

Email marketing performance is easy to measure. Most, if not all, email marketing platforms available today have analytics features that show every metric imaginable. This includes email open rate, click-through rate, bounce rate, email ROI, engagement over time, etc.

Brands that want a convenient tool that simplifies the process of measuring performance should look to email marketing. With this digital channel, there isn’t any guesswork when it comes to figuring out engagement or ROI.

6. Email marketing is reliable

Social media may be a strong digital channel right now, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it will stay that way. There’s no way of telling if it will stay this way permanently. After all, how many social media networks were considered giants years ago but are now gone forever?

With email, you never have to worry about this kind of thing happening. Email has been around for almost 50 years, and it is as strong as ever.

If you’re active online, then chances are you have a valid email address. You’ll need to sign up for most things on the web because it’s one of the first pieces of information that an online service will ask from you.

Think about this: you can create your own email address with any email client you want (Gmail, Outlook, Yahoo!, etc.) without being a member of any social media network, but you can’t sign up for any social media network without an email address.

This prevalence is why email dominates the online world. It’s a medium of communication that shows no sign of disappearing any time soon. In fact, email will sit on its digital throne for the foreseeable future. By 2023, email’s 3.9 billion users is expected to balloon to over 4.3 billion.

If brands are looking for a reason to use email, then a pool of potentially billions of subscribers should be at the top of their list.


Whether they’re family businesses or companies listed on the New York Stock Exchange, it’s crucial for brands to have a diverse digital marketing portfolio. Leverage all the digital marketing channels your budget allows. A holistic strategy is the most effective.

At the same time, brands should also be aware of which digital marketing channels they should focus on. With its profitability, reach, and measurability, businesses should consider paying more attention to email marketing.

By prioritizing email marketing for business, you can reach a wider audience, grow your revenue, and separate yourself from the competition.


Ash Salleh is the Director of SEO at Campaign Monitor, where he works closely with content, copy, and analytics teams to improve site-wide optimization. Prior to his time at Campaign Monitor, he also provided SEO and digital marketing expertise at Zappos and Axiata Digital. You can find him on Gravatar.

9 Reasons to Never Buy an Email List (+What to do Instead)

Optimizing your website to grow your mailing list is hard so the temptation to buy an email list is real.

Enter your credit card details, get the contact information, and email them until they buy.

It’s like the perfect shortcut to growing your mailing list and, by extension, your business.

The bad news is that it doesn’t work nearly as well as we’d like and may be one of the worst things you can do. With purchased emails, you’ll only serve to burn bridges before they’re built.

Put simply, DON’T buy an email list.

This is the internet so I can’t expect you to take my word for it. Instead, I’ll give you a few solid reasons why you should never purchase emails and what to do instead.

1.      There are laws against purchasing emails

The recent GDPR regulation and even the CAN-SPAM Act address what happens when you buy or rent a mailing list for commercial purposes. They spell out, in no uncertain terms, that you shouldn’t be sending messages to people who’ve not given you permission.

Even people who’ve given you permission and no longer want to get your messages should be able to opt-out. If you use deceptive opt-out practices, it could spell trouble as well.

One thing to note is that you can also be liable for partners promoting your products and services to rented lists.

Make it clear to all of your partners that you won’t tolerate anyone who uses purchased emails for marketing.

if you buy an email list CAN SPAM Act applicable rules

You can view the full document here. The area outlined in red basically says you can’t contract out your responsibility for complying with the law. In other words, don’t buy an email list.

2.      The penalties for buying an email list are stiff

In May 2018, GDPR rolled out in the European Union and businesses were spooked. That’s for good reason, the fines instituted under the new policy are, in my humble opinion, exorbitant. A small business can be forced to close its doors if it makes a mistake.

GDPR has a fine of up to ten million Euros or 2% of annual global turnover – whichever is higher. In certain scenarios that can climb to twenty million Euros or 4% of annual global turnover. The fines are applied at the discretion of officers.

The CAN-SPAM Act is almost as tough. For every email that violates the act, you may face a fine of up to $42,530. What would your liability be if you buy an email list with 5,000 names?


3.      Reputable email marketing services won’t let you send those emails

Many email marketing services ask you how you got the list of contacts during the import process.  Usually, the software will prompt you to click a checkbox stating that they’re opt-in emails.

If someone lies about it, the number of spam complaints will quickly single them out and they’ll be pushed off the service.

Of course, you can always get around this by using an email marketing service that’s not so reputable but that comes with its own challenges. Generally speaking, they use shared IP addresses. If someone is using the service to send unsolicited emails then their bad reputation can affect everyone.

They can’t get their emails to land in the inbox and neither can you. It’s money down the drain.

4.      There’s no context for the recipient

After you buy an email list, you’re sending to complete strangers.

When these types of emails land in your inbox, what do you do? If you’re like me then you either delete or ignore them. If the person is too insistent then I’ll unsubscribe or take an hour out of my day to track them down and report it.

Apart from that, there’s little to no context when you purchase emails and send messages to those people. They don’t know who you are, what you offer, or if you’re trustworthy. What makes you think they’ll click on the links you send?

In the end, the majority of the money you spend on purchased lists is money down the drain.

5.      You’ll be labeled a spammer

What happens when too many of your emails get marked as spam? Email clients like Gmail and Yahoo will send many of them to the spam folder.

I have a bad habit, I only check messages in the spam folder once a month. Maybe you’re better or worse. The simple fact is that people don’t give the spam folder much attention.

Your messages don’t get seen and it puts your business in a tricky position. Even if you have an opt-in list, it’ll be difficult for you to get in contact with the people who want to hear from you.

6.      Your deliverability will suffer over the long term

This follows on the heels of the last point. I mentioned that major email clients will automatically send your emails to the spam folder. Even if you repent and no longer buy email lists, your reputation will continue to suffer.

It takes time and focused effort to repair your email sending reputation. Some tactics will work for you and some won’t. The best strategy is to never get a bad reputation in the first place. If you’re in doubt because your open rates are declining or you’ve purchased lists in the past then you can check your reputation using the resources here.

7.      Horrible response rates

Honestly, this should be the main reason why you don’t’ buy an email list. Yes, your reputation will be affected, you may be fined, and other negatives. The most important reason, the reason we send emails in the first place, won’t be accomplished.

There’s little to no ROI associated with it. You can’t come up to a stranger on the road, show them a product, and tell them to buy within the space of a few seconds.

You may have a genuinely good offer but people aren’t interested because they didn’t ask to see it. That’s why inbound marketing is more effective than outbound marketing in many industries.

In one scenario, people requested information. In the other scenario, people are having the information forced down their throat. If you want an ROI, build your list yourself.

8.      Others are sharing the same list

Yes, the people who opt-in to your mailing list may also opt-in to other mailing lists in your niche. The difference is that they know who you are and are expecting your emails.

If you and 40 other people are sending unsolicited emails to the same address, the person will eventually get fed up. The most likely scenario is that they’ll abandon the email address and open a new one. There are also people who have email addresses exclusively for marketing content so their real inboxes can avoid the clutter.

Whatever the case, your open and delivery rate will shrink like Ant Man.

9.      Don’t by an email list because it’s bad form

I like to think most people who’re doing business are honest. Unfortunately, they’re not. I have firsthand experience with that.

In a different time and place, appearances mattered. Now, not so much. I’m going to assume you’re cut from a different cloth and care about your reputation as much as you care about making money.

If that’s the case, know that purchasing mailing lists is the epitome of bad form. This is the information era. Your mistakes are just a tweet away from going viral.

How you should actually grow an email list

Now that we’ve made the case against purchasing email lists, it’s time to make the case for something else – opt-in mailing lists.

There are many benefits to mailing lists you’ve built over time but the most important one is that they produce an outstanding ROI. Some estimates put it as high as 70:1. Let’s look at a few ways to grow an email list the right way.

Identify your target audience

If you’ve done it then it seems obvious. The truth is that it’s anything but. When most businesses start out, they want to target anyone and everyone because, technically, anyone can use them.

The problem is that not everyone will use your products and services. Instead of trying to appeal to everyone. It’s important to identify the people who can benefit the most from your solution and create messages that appeal to them.

Survey your ideal customers

Once you’ve settled on a target audience, you don’t want to jump in and start asking them to join your mailing list. What do you have to offer and will it even appeal to them?

Those are good questions.

Create surveys that help you understand who they are and what they want. What are their wants, needs, and desires? After the survey, get on the phone with a few and pick their brains further.

When you’re done, you’ll have a clear understanding of what your audience wants. With that information, you can create lead magnets, ads, and product pages that people will respond to.

Use Popups

We’re a little biased because we have awesome software that makes popups and opt-in forms. With that being said, they work.

A well-designed content upgrade can convert anywhere from 4-7% of your email subscribers. A perfectly timed exit-intent popup will yield similar results. The key is to make a lead magnet your target customers actually care about.

For example, a lifestyle website covers topics like fashion, family, travel, and cooking. You could create a single lead magnet that gives away fashion tips in exchange for an email address. This will work to an extent but a better option would be to create a lead magnet for each of your main topics and offer them to the right visitors. This will help you segment your audience and increase your conversion rates.

Use Quizzes

Lead generation quizzes are a different beast altogether. On average, popups will convert 5% of your visitors. Lead quizzes will convert 6x that amount or more. Not only do they convert more visitors into subscribers, but they also reveal deep insights about who they are and what they want.

That’s just not possible with any other lead generation device.

The key with lead quizzes also understanding your audience but they can be more general which makes them more versatile.

A great location for your quiz, as long as your brand lends itself to it, is on your homepage. Create a quiz that will appeal to the largest segment of your audience and watch as your homepage traffic turns into email subscribers that buy from you over time.

Here’s an example of a quiz that generated hundreds of thousands of views in a few days.

Quiz example as an alternative to buying an email list

Together, this process will help you skyrocket your conversions.


Buying an email list is something that seems attractive on the surface but can end up costing you much more.

This article has looked at the pitfalls of purchasing emails. Some of them are monetary penalties and some are penalties that affect your reputation. Whatever the negative side effect, it’s too expensive for any brand to sustain.

Dive deeper into the alternative methods for growing your mailing list mentioned here and refer to the resources if you get stuck.

As always, let me know what you think in the comments and don’t forget to share.


33 Content Upgrade Ideas to Build Your Mailing List + Examples

Last updated on June 6, 2019

What’s the big deal about using content upgrades to build a highly engaged mailing list?

If you launch a product, subscribers are the first ones to buy.

When you publish a blog post, they’re the ones who share.

As you grow your brand, they’re the people who create hashtags in your honor.

Let me ask. How well does that sidebar opt-in form convert?

Most likely, it’s less than one percent.

The right lead magnets on the right pages can convert as many as 50% of your visitors into subscribers (those, of course, are not normal results. You should be aiming for 5-6% conversion rates on content upgrades).

Content upgrades and decent traffic levels are the difference between a thriving mailing list and a sick one.

In this article, we’ll explore what a content upgrade is, dozens of ideas, and how to quickly make a content upgrade for your best performing content.

What is a content upgrade?

A content upgrade is a bonus or addition that expands the utility of a specific piece of content. The best ones make it easier, faster, or simpler to implement the insights gained from the main content.

For example, if you’ve created an ultimate guide about window washing, a content upgrade could be a PDF download of the article. It works because it’s difficult to retain all the information from an ultimate guide.

People can just refer back to the PDF download when they get stuck or need a refresher.

Generally, content upgrades are delivered using a popup but you can use other tools like landing pages, though it’s a bit more work.

Another benefit of a content upgrade is the ability to segment your audience based on their interests. Different groups of customers are interested in different things. The content upgrade they sign up for gives you insights into those interests.

The possibilities are, quite literally, endless.

Now, what can a content upgrade do for your conversion rate?

This post about SEO audits has 2 content upgrades and converts about 5% of the visitors into email subscribers.

The interesting part is that it’s a PDF of the post.

There are multiple instances of content upgrades performing extremely well.

Kim Roach of Buzz Blogger got a 16% conversion rate from a content upgrade she created by splitting an article into two parts.

How to create a content upgrade with KyLeads (in less than 5 minutes)

You can use multiple popups types to create content upgrades with KyLeads. I’ll use a modal popup to illustrate.

Step 1:

Log in to your KyLeads account and click on the menu option to the left labeled “form builder.” When the page loads, click the green button in the top right corner labeled “create new opt-in form.”

Step 2:

A screen will pop up and ask you want your goal is. For your content upgrade, that will be to capture contact information. Name your popup and choose the website you’d like for it to work on.

image of creating a content upgrade in KyLeads step 2

Step 3:

Choose the type of popup you’d like to use for your content upgrade. This example will be with the modal/lightbox popup. After selecting the type, scroll down and select your template.

image of creating a content upgrade in KyLeads step 3

Step 4:

You’ll land on a page that asks you to set your cookie duration for when people submit their information successfully and for when they exit your popup.

image of creating a content upgrade in KyLeads step 4

Step 5:

Customize your opt-in form to your heart’s content.

image of creating a content upgrade in KyLeads step 5

Step 6:

The last step is to set your targeting options. The most important of which is page-level targeting. This ensures your content upgrade appears on the right pages.

image of creating a content upgrade in KyLeads step 6

Hit publish then copy and paste the embed code wherever you’d like to use it.

Now that you’re well versed in what a content upgrade is and how to make one, let’s dive into the different types.

1.     PDF of the post

I mentioned this before. Turn the article into a PDF so people can refer back to it whenever they need it.

This content upgrade works best when you have longer detailed content. A five hundred word post, won’t deliver enough of an incentive to prompt someone to download the PDF version.

An ultimate guide is a different beast altogether. It’s long and detailed enough to make someone think twice about reading it all in one sitting. More and more content is being consumed on mobile devices.

That means there are a lot more distractions you have to fight with to keep a reader engaged. With a PDF version, they can just download the article and save it for later.

2.     PDF Guide

A PDF guide seems similar to a PDF of the post. They’re different. This type of content upgrade gives your reader detailed information about the topic at hand.

This is ideal for a shorter series of posts. For example, we have a lot of articles that are relevant to market segmentation and demographic segmentation. It wouldn’t be too difficult to package those posts as a more in-depth guide.

We already have most of the necessary content. All we’d need to do is package it, add a few more details, and let it loose on the world. It’ll also be a relevant content upgrade for multiple articles.

3.     Checklist

This is my favorite type of content upgrade for tutorial style posts. Generally, in a tutorial, you’ve laid out all the steps needed to arrive at a specific outcome.

The only problem is that they’ll need to open your article every time they want to go through the process you’ve laid out.

What if they forget the URL? What if they don’t want to open their browser (yea, people are lazy)?

A checklist lays out the major steps required to achieve the desired outcome in an easy to digest format. The value is clear and immediate.

4.     Video of the article

Everyone learns best via different formats. I like written and audio content. For me, videos are best for entertainment.

Not everyone shares my particular angst. Video content made up over 69% of internet traffic in 2017 and is estimated to reach 80% in 2019.

It’s much harder to create and edit than written content.

To go back and change a few words in a document is a few orders of magnitude easier than adding an extra segment to videos.

Go this route if you have the skills or resources to make great video content for your audience.

5.     Audio of the article

Podcasts and audiobooks have been getting more and more popular over the last few years. A startup creating audio summaries for books raised $18 million and does millions of dollars a year in revenue. The podcasting startup Gimlet media was acquired by Spotify for around $200 million.

It’s not by accident. People can listen to audio while performing other tasks which makes it an easy way to consume info.

Audio content isn’t as easy to edit as written content but it’s simpler than video (you can record in your pajamas after all).

The good part is you can outsource audio creation to multiple services for just a few dollars per article.

6.     Email course

An email course is a more difficult content upgrade to produce but can have the highest impact.

Why do you think that is?

People know they signed up for a course that’s being delivered via email. To get the material, they have to open the emails you send them. Your open rate and engagement go up.

If your content is good then they’ll get used to opening your emails – even when your email course is finished.

Not only that.

There’s an opportunity to pitch your premium products in every email you send. That’s a win-win.

We have multiple email courses around KyLeads. My favorite is the Growth Course. It takes thirty days to complete and a large percentage of people end up starting a free trial for KyLeads.

7.     Cheatsheet

A cheat sheet is a shortcut to a process or method you’ve shared with your visitors. It condenses the information it may have taken you months or years to accumulate.

This is the perfect content upgrade for topics that it’s almost impossible to cover completely. For example, we have an article on affiliate marketing tools. It’s a huge topic.

There’s traffic generation, email marketing, selecting products, etc. etc. Our cheatsheet distills the major strategies visitors can use to grow their affiliate empire.

The best part about cheatsheets is they can be used across multiple pieces of content. Our affiliate marketing cheat sheet can be used across many posts related to affiliate marketing.

8.     Related Ebook

An Ebook is one of the meatiest content upgrades you can create. It dives deep into a single relevant topic.

An effective Ebook is well designed, detailed, and easy to consume. At the same time, it moves people closer to the next action you’d like them to take. Lastly, it can be used for multiple posts or an entire category of your website.

Let’s say you have a section on your website that focuses on vegan recipes. A content upgrade could be a collection of your top vegan recipes.

It’s simple, relevant, and effective.

9.     Resource library

Over time, you’ll create a lot of content upgrades, Ebooks, videos, and audio content. Of course, they’ll serve as individual ways to opt-in to your mailing list.

What many people fail to realize is they’re sitting on a goldmine.

You’re not building a publication like Forbes. You’re building a content library that people would find useful at different points in their journey.

Think of it like this. Instead of buying a magazine off the shelf, they’re checking out a book from the library.

I digress.

Put together your best resources and offer it as a downloadable file or members-only area.


Of course, we have a soft spot in our hearts for quizzes as a content upgrade. Not only do quizzes produce a much better conversion rate than almost any type of lead gen device, but they also reveal insights about your audience.

It’s the best of both worlds.

We’ve already covered how to produce a quiz for lead generation so we won’t rehash it. To find the right articles to use as content upgrades for your quizzes, think about the commercial intent.

These tend to be middle of the funnel pieces with high buyer intent. You can position your quiz as a way to select between different solutions.

With the insights you gain, you’re able to refine your messaging and turn motivated browsers into customers.


Polls are similar to quizzes in that they’re interactive content. They require your visitors to actively engage. Otherwise, they won’t get the value.

These work best when you have a piece of content that compares two or more options. It also works well with best of lists. For example, you can add a poll to a list of the best destinations to travel to.

Phrase it as either a question about where people have traveled, where they’d like to travel the most, or what they think is the best destination. When you gate the answers, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how many people opt in to see the answer.

12.Collection of tools or resources related to the article

This one is similar to the resource library but the tools and resources you compile don’t need to be created by you. Curate the best information or tools available.

This works best on topics that can’t be covered in a single sitting no matter how in-depth your content is. Well, you could write a book but no one will read that on a page in a single sitting so the same thing applies.

You can use your collection of tools across many closely related articles.

13.Bonus content

I’ve mentioned this before. Your work is never complete. There will always be something to add to what you’ve created. I could as well add ten more content upgrade ideas to this post. Or, I could give them away in exchange for an email and build our list in the process.

It fits nicely into the criteria for a content upgrade because it’s super relevant and helps your visitor take the next step.

That’s not the only way to create bonus content. Technically, many content upgrades on this list would fit the criteria of bonus content.

I’ll define it as more of what you’ve given in the original piece. If you have 100 outfit ideas then bonus content would be 30 more outfit ideas.

14.Done for you scripts and templates

I love these. Sometimes, a strategy has a specific portion that made it effective. That could be the wording someone used during a call or email or the way they designed their ad.

The thing is, without the script or template then you’d have a hard time replicating their results. That’s why scripts are so valuable.

They help you remove a lot of trial and error from the process and jump straight into generating results.

A note about templates and scripts: be sure to tell your subscribers to tweak them and make them their own. The more anything is used, the less effective it becomes.

15.Designs or stock photography

This content upgrade isn’t used often because it’s hard to create. That’s what makes it so valuable. How many photographers do you know giving away exclusive images?

I know you’ll probably think about Pexels or Unsplash. While these services are useful, they’re also ubiquitous. You could limit the distribution of your photos and drive up your conversion rate.

The key, of course, is to keep it relevant.

16.Part of a larger product

I’m not talking about a free trial. Regardless of what people say, a free trial isn’t giving someone something for free. It’s an opportunity to showcase your product. Think of it as a no-touch demo.

That’s a topic for another day.

Moving on.

Can you break off part of your course and give it away free? What about a book – can you give your audience members a chapter in exchange for their contact info? Is it possible to break off a piece of your software and offer it completely free?

All of these things work well as a content upgrade because it gives people an idea of what they’ll gain from the paid version.

17.Interview series

Tapping into the wisdom of others is, perhaps, the smartest way to accelerate your growth. That applies to both professional and personal growth.

It only makes sense that people would be willing to part with their contact information in exchange for an interview. When you turn that into an interview series then you’re on hallowed ground.

To make this work, there are just two requirements:

  1. Interviews with relevant people
  2. Interviews that deliver a lot of value

I’ve watched and listened to interviews with people who are rock stars in the space but they suck at interviews. It’s not fun.

Create high-value interviews. Give them away free.

18.Private community

This may not seem obvious at first but a community can be one of the best content upgrades you’ll ever make.

It’s hard achieving a goal alone. It’s even more difficult when you’re doing something that’s out of the ordinary (like starting a business). This process becomes infinitely easier to do it when you have people supporting you.

A private community brings together people from different backgrounds with similar goals. If the conversation is high quality then people will stick around.

19.Formula or roadmap

Think of this type of content upgrade as a way to focus on one aspect of your article and execute it well.

For example, an article about dressing well for the summer could have a formula content upgrade that explains how to match colors and textures. You give them the formula which they can apply in many different situations.

20.Behind the scenes processes

I’m biased. I love seeing what my favorite companies are doing behind the scenes or how my favorite artists create their work.

I’ve paid for this kind of content with cold hard cash so, for me, an email is cheap.

If you sit down in your pajamas behind a screen all day, don’t be discouraged. You can also make videos that show how you get the things you do, done. For example, you could walk someone through the rationale behind how you create content or source products for your business.

21.Tutorial video

This is similar to a behind the scenes video. Where a behind the scenes video focuses on your thought process and the culture of your business this one focuses on the step by step tactics.

To achieve any level of success, you’re sure to have created a few processes that you use all the time. You may even have videos that you’ve used to train your assistants or team members.

What’s stopping you from sharing it with your visitors?


This is repurposing at its finest. A few years ago I created an expert roundup post on one of my other websites. It got shared thousands of times and drove tons of traffic.

It was a success.

I thought about how I could expand the utility of the post and repurposed it into a Slideshare presentation. It was selected by the SlideShare editorial team and featured among the content of the week.

People consume content in different ways. This is a mix of visual and written content that works well as a content upgrade.


The name says it all. A workbook is a book that allows people to work through a process in a structured manner. It removes a bit of the abstraction from whatever lesson you’re trying to teach your readers and makes it easier to accomplish the end goal.

In essence, it adds structure to a concept.

If you go down this road, there’s one thing to keep in mind. Workbooks should look good.

Why does it matter?

People will be interacting with it over an extended time. It should be a joy to access and use.


Visual content in all its forms is loved by the masses. Convert your blog post into a visual form for download or even republishing. Infographics are relatively easy to make useful, eye-catching, and relatively easy to make.

An added benefit is that they’re highly shareable. If you’ve got an eye for design then use a tool like Canva, Venngage, or Piktochart.

If not, outsource it on Upwork or a similar site.

25.Webinars and replays

This works for two reasons.

  1. Webinars teach valuable lessons
  2. You get to pitch a product (you did pitch a product on your webinar right)?

The only problem with webinars is that there are a lot of lessons to absorb. Even if you take notes, you’ll miss some points. A replay makes it possible for your audience to members to cycle through the content over and over again.

Place the webinar replay as a content upgrade across multiple relevant posts.

26.Swipe file

I have a copywriting swipe file I use for inspiration when I’m creating ads and sales pages. It makes it easy to get the creative juices flowing and prevents you from making simple mistakes.

It’s taken me years to compile. I consider it a secret weapon.

How valuable do you think your personal swipe file would be for your audience? Yes, it would be very valuable.

If you’re talking about Facebook ads then give away a swipe file of advertisements. It’s simple.

Anything that can be used for inspiration would count as a swipe file.

27. Spreadsheet

Part of the problem with data is structuring it properly.

Are you capturing everything you need?

Is there a better way to organize the information?

A spreadsheet solves this problem. Give your audience a spreadsheet that helps them organize data. You could even fill it out for them and encourage them to add more information as they continue.

This works especially well if you’re in a niche where people have a lot of information that needs to be organized like marketing or finance.

28.Show notes for podcasts and videos

As much as we love podcasts and videos, we don’t always have the time to interact with them the way we’d like.

Show notes make it possible to get the major points without sitting through a thirty to sixty-minute episode. If you run a podcast or regular make video content then show notes can be a consistent content upgrade option.

I, personally, always download them for my favorite podcasts.

29.Case study

This is what we refer to as bottom of the funnel content. The person who downloads your case study is more interested in the services you offer and specific results you’ve gotten for people in the past.

It’s like the last step before they make a purchase decision.

Conversely, you could also write a case study about influential people in your field and package it for download. The results aren’t directly related to your product or services but they’re interesting nonetheless.

That’s part of the reason headlines like “How I got to $1 million” are so appealing.

30.Proprietary Research

Do you know why people don’t do research very often? It’s difficult, time-consuming, and expensive. Do you know why people want proprietary research so much? It’s difficult, time-consuming, and expensive.

This content upgrade is high converting and it positions you as an authority in your field.

Fill your report with visuals and detailed explanations of what your findings mean. It’ll take a bit of effort but it’s worth it. Use it across multiple posts or an entire category.


A calculator doesn’t have to be a software product or something that requires a developer to get involved. I’ve made sales calculators with an Excel spreadsheet that converted like gangbusters.

We also have an email ROI calculator (no email address required) that people use all the time to understand the impact of email marketing on their business.

Don’t overthink this. Create the formula in Excel or Google Sheets and give it away in exchange for an email address. People will thank you for it.


Consultation is generally expensive and valuable. You can use this to your advantage by offering short consultations to people.

To prevent yourself from getting overwhelmed, you’ll need to set up a system. For example, you can only allow a certain number of people to request free consultations in a day.

Conversely, you could hand it off to someone on your team (if the consultation doubles as a way to generate new clients – which it should). Otherwise, turn it off if it becomes too much for you to handle.


I shy away from this strategy because a discount can attract the wrong type of customer. That being said, it works.

People are always looking for deals on clothes, software, food, and anything else you can think of. Be careful about how often you use this method and how much you discount your products. For most ecommerce brands, 10-20% off the first purchase seems to be the norm.

Don’t feel pressured though; go with whatever works best for you and your company.

The problem with content upgrades

Content upgrades are great. We love them because they have such a huge positive impact on conversion rates. There’s just one problem – it can get difficult to make them if you produce a lot of content.

There’s not enough time in the world.

This is especially true when you have tons of blog posts on your website. If you have decent traffic then that’s the norm.

So what do you do?

If you didn’t start from scratch then your best bet is to create content upgrades for the most popular posts as well as specific categories on your website.

Let’s look at how to find your most popular posts.

Log into Google Analytics (you are using GA aren’t you) and navigate to behavior > site content > all pages (or landing pages).

After our homepage, the most popular page on our website (as of writing this) is the one we have about affiliate marketing tools. It has a current conversion rate holding steady at about 6%. Not bad.

We’ve also made a content upgrade for our post on confirmation bias but it converts about 3% of the traffic. It could be better. 4% should be the absolute minimum for content upgrades.

We’re working on it.


That’s over four thousand words about content upgrades. We’ve covered everything from what they are, how to make them, and ideas about what to use for your content upgrades.

The only thing left is to find your most popular posts and start creating content upgrades.

Apply the 80/20 rule and start creating them for every new article you make. The snowball effect will kick in and your site-wide conversion rates will be on fleek.

Let me know what you think about content upgrades in the comments and don’t forget to share.

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