Lead Magnet vs. Content Upgrade and How to Choose Yours (+ a freebie!)

Lead Magnet, content upgrade, freebie.  All of these are terms used to describe something valuable that you are giving away for free in exchange for an email address.  You may have been hearing all of these terms around internet town, but you may find yourself at a standstill when it comes to deciding on what to offer on your website.  Today I will be discussing the similarities and difference between a lead magnet and content upgrade and how to choose one (or many!) for your site.

A lead magnet is something that you offer that is generally related to your blog/website purpose.  For example, a bargain style blogger may offer a lead magnet of a 5 day E-course for optimizing your work wardrobe without spending more than $20, and the opt-in form may be a timed pop-up, embedded in their sidebar or in a bar across the top of their site.  The course would be packed with valuable content and would be appealing because there are plenty of people that would like to dress more stylishly for work without the high price tag.  This is considered a lead magnet because the blogger may be selling a paid course called “Four Seasons of Style With One Benjamin” that they are trying to “lead” subscribers to.  That paid course is related to the theme/focus of their blog (bargain style shopping) and the free course was just a small portion of what they really have to offer.

A content upgrade serves the same purpose as a lead magnet.  In fact, it IS a lead magnet, but is more targeted to specific content shared on a website.  For example, a food blogger may write a blog post sharing their best lobster bisque recipe.  At the end of the post, they may offer a free download of a mini-cookbook containing five more recipes that you can create using the same ingredients and the opt-in form may be embedded directly into the post or just a link or button to click to sign up.  This is great for the reader because if they are going to make the lobster bisque, they will probably want to know what the other recipes are since they plan to buy the ingredients anyway.  Another bonus for the reader is that they will be maximizing their dollars (always welcome in my book!).  This is considered a content upgrade because it is a freebie that you are offering that is directly related to a specific post rather than the sites general theme.

Content upgrades are awesome because you can have so many of them but they won’t get in the way of your site layout.  This is important because you should have various ways for readers to opt in to your email lists directly on your site, but they should be as unintrusive as possible.  If you have 50 freebies, you don’t want to display them all in your sidebar, right?  You definitely don’t want 50 pop-ups either.  That means slide those puppies into your blog posts!

A commonality of lead magnets and content upgrades is that you can stick both of them in applicable blog posts...multiple times!  For example, back to our style blogger, they may write a post about timeless autumn looks.  Their four seasons of style course can be promoted in this post because it’s directly related.  As for our food blogger, they may write a post on how to choose the freshest lobster out of a bunch.  They can offer the same lobster recipes from the original post in this one as well since they are directly related.

Now that you understand the difference between a lead magnet and a content upgrade, let's get into HOW to choose yours!  I have a great formula for choosing mine.

Step 1

Start with the ultimate goal/purpose for your blog/biz.  Do/will you sell E-courses, consulting/coaching sessions, physical products, services, etc.?

Step 2

Brainstorm reasons that your products/services are valuable.  Why would someone want to purchase from you?  Will they gain knowledge in a shorter time period than they would without your product?  Will they feel more prepared to handle a particular situation?  Will they be able to help others?  Will they gain more time?  Will they make more money?  Will they feel more confident?  Let these ideas flow.

Step 3

For each reason that you have specified as being valuable to your clients/customers, think of five topics directly related to those values*.  For example, if you are a product photographer, the value that you provide is professional product imagery for clients to use on their websites.  Using professional imagery as the value, five topics related to photo professionalism could be the following:

  • The Importance of using a professional  profile photo on your website and social media accounts

  • Creating a professional Instagram feed using objects around the house

  • Professional photos and their effect on the perception of your website

  • How to take beautiful, professional flat lays

  • Mobile Photography editing tips from a pro

*Whoa...congrats...you just figured out a nice list of blog posts to write in the future from this step!

Step 4

For each topic, think of one way that you can offer a nugget of value for free.  For example, if you are selling an E-course on branding your blog/biz, you may offer a cheat sheet on which readers can fill out key pieces of their branding such as their brand color codes for web and print, brand fonts, blog/biz blurb for social media, custom bit.ly links, tagline, etc.  This is valuable because all of their brand info will be in one place for their reference at all times.  Also, know that your lead magnet doesn’t have to be an actionable document;  it can simply be your own stock photos, art prints to print and hang, Photoshop actions to make processes smoother, etc.

Fortunately, the process for choosing a lead magnet is similar, but you only need to stop at step 2 because, again, the lead magnet is related more to your overall blog/biz purpose.  If you sell physical products, a coupon code can be your lead magnet.  If you are a coach, you can offer a free 15 minute session.  If you are a photographer, you can offer a library of free photos directly related to your target audience.  Dig deep into that creative arsenal of a brain and let the ideas flow!  No idea is too crazy.  In fact, the more unique your offering, the more that people may want to sign up.  Also, another thing to keep in mind is that you should absolutely have a content upgrade for your most popular post (preferably your top 5 posts if you’re up for it!).  This is a list building technique that works well since those posts are already getting mucho traffic.

By following these four steps, you will be able to come up with not only various blog post topics, but also content upgrades for each one!  Remember, you can use these content upgrades on multiple blog posts if they are related to each other.  To help you organize all of these great thoughts that you are now coming up with, I have created a worksheet that goes through each step above as well as a list of various types of lead magnets and content upgrades that you may want to use for your blog/biz!  Click here to get your free worksheets!