How To Boost Conversions by 529% in 45-Minutes (Two Step-By-Step Case Studies)

Conversion Optimization
There’s a ridiculously simple way to build your email list.

And once you know what it is, and how it works, you’ll want to kick yourself for not trying it sooner.

In fact, this technique (The Content Upgrade) has flooded my business with thousands of new subscribers every month.

And today I’m going to show you how two Backlinko readersย  — a pro golfer and a life insurance agent — used this strategy to boost their blogs’ conversion rate by an average of 529%.

I’ll also reveal the two bizarre twists they added to The Content Upgrade that made this strategy (somehow) even more powerful.

Free Bonus Section: Learn how to dramatically boost your blog’s conversion rate with The Content Upgrade. The bonus section includes a PDF checklist, 17 templates and 5 real-life case studies. Click here to get access.

But First, a Quick Backstory…

A few weeks ago I cleared my calender so I could focus on ONE thing:

Implementing The Content Upgrade on every post at Backlinko.

The result?

I added Content Upgrades to 15 blog posts.

And — BAM! — my site-wide conversion rate increased by 185%.

(From 1.19% to 3.34%)

Conversion rate in GA

And when you look at the conversion rate of some of the blog posts that I added Content Upgrades to, we’re talking even crazier numbers.

Like this:

Google Analytics Conversion Rate Screenshot

And this:

Google Analytics Conversion Rate Screenshot

Here’s the 3-step process I used for every post…

Step #1: I Used Google Analytics to Identify Blog Posts that Brought In the Most Traffic

To do this yourself, just go to Behavior–Site Content–Landing Pages in the Google Analytics sidebar:

Google Analytics Landing Pages

Your pages will automatically be sorted by sessions (also known as unique visitors)

Top Landing Pages

I recommend starting at the top and working your way down the list.

Step #2: I Created a Resource that Would Make Each Blog Post Even Better

My go-to Content Upgrade resource is the trusty checklist.


Easy to make.

High perceived value.

For example, you may have seen my post from last year, YouTube SEO: The Ultimate Guide.

YouTube SEO Post Screenshot

Like most of my guides, this one has A LOT of information. I cover keyword research, video development, video SEO and more.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed.

That’s where my checklist comes into play.

The checklist cuts out the detailed descriptions and gives you ONLY the critical action steps.

Here’s what the checklist looks like:

YouTube SEO Checklist

Looks pretty nice, right?

To sweeten the deal, I included two bonus YouTube marketing strategies at the end of the checklist.

checklist bonus materialSo you have a Content Upgrade ready to rock.

Nice work. Give yourself a high five.

Now it’s time for THE most important step in the process:

Turning your Content Upgrade resource into more subscribers.

Here’s exactly how to do it:

Step#3: I Offered the Checklist In the Post

This one-two punch converts beautifully:

First, I added a yellow box after the post’s introduction that pitches the checklist.

Blog Post Box

(As you can see, I mention the two bonus strategies in the yellow box. More on that later.)

Then I turn my blog post conclusion into a description of the checklist.

Blog Post Graphic

If you click on the link in the yellow box or the big cloud download image, a LeadPages box appears.

leadpages in action

With an insanely-targeted offer like a YouTube SEO checklist, it’s no wonder that my post converts 3.3% of it’s visitors into subscribers.

Fun fact: That’sย 3x higher than before I implemented The Content Upgrade.

At this point you may be wondering:

“Sure, Brian, The Content Upgrade works for you. But will it work for me?”.

Well you’re in for a real treat.

Because today I have not one — but TWO — step-by-step case studies for you.

Both case studies will show you how Backlinko readers used this conversion rate optimization technique to dramatically improve their site’s opt-ins.

Let’s jump right in.

Case Study #1: How Josh Used The Content Upgrade to Boost Conversions of by 459%

Josh Thompson is a former pro golfer with several tournament wins and course records under his belt.

Josh Playing Golf

He’s also the co-founder the golf blog,

My Golf Tutor

Josh’s traffic was growing steadily.

But he was having a REALLY tough time turning that traffic into email subscribers.

Or as Josh put it:

Josh Thompson

Even though’s traffic was growing fast, we struggled getting that traffic to convert. We tried popups, popins, sidebar forms, featureboxes. You name it, we tried it. But nothing worked as well as we had hoped.

Josh Thompson
Josh Thompson

Keep in mind that Josh was throwing the kitchen sink at his conversion problem.

He had a very nice FeatureBox on every post:

website featurebox

An opt-in form in his blog’s sidebar:

Sidebar Optin

And an attractive squeeze page:

Squeeze Page Example

He also used the excellent Sumo popup:


Despite all that effort, his average blog post conversion rate was stuck at .59%.

Blog Post Conversion Rate

That’s when Josh decided to give the Content Upgrade a shot.

How did it go?

His most popular post’s conversion rate went from 0.64%…

Conversion Rate in Google Analytics

to 2.94%.

after conversion rate

For those of you keeping score at home, that’s a 459% lift.

After about an hour.

(Yes, you read that right)

Here’s exactly how Josh did it:

First, Josh used Google Analytics to find the post on his blog that brought in the most traffic

That post happened to be “How to Hit a Draw in 3 Simple Steps”.

Golf Blog Post Screenshot

For those of you that know nothing about golf (like me), a draw is a type of shot. Who knew? ๐Ÿ™‚

Anyway, once Josh identified his top post, Step #1 was officially in the books.

Next, Josh created a valuable Content Upgrade resource specific to that post

I can’t emphasize this enough:

The Content Upgrade works well for one simple reason: It offers your readers something intimately related to what they’re reading.

Josh could have offered a generic free report, like “10 tips to lowering your handicap”.

And that probably would have helped…a little.

But Josh realized something important:

Someone that reads a post about hitting a draw wants more information on (wait for it) hitting a draw.

So he fired up Google Docs and created this simple, yet high-value checklist:

Golf Checklist

The checklist gives golfers the core info they need to remember when practicing their draw. Nothing more, nothing less.

Finally, Josh offered the checklist to readers of that post.

He followed the same 1-2 punch that I outlined earlier.

A yellow box at the top of his post…

Yellow Box

…And a download image at the very end.

End of post pitch

As soon as the yellow box and cloud image were live, conversions increased by 459%.

How long did that entire process take Josh?

  • Creating the Checklist: 30-minutes
  • Uploading checklist to Leadpages: 5-minutes
  • Creating the Leadbox and Implement on Blog: 10-minutes

Grand total: 45-minutes.

Stop and think about that for a second:

Josh was able to increase his conversion rate by 450+%…from 45-minutes of work.

That’s how insanely effective The Content Upgrade is.

Pro Tip: Create a Mental Movie of Your Content Upgrade Resource in Action

For example, you may have noticed that I say “Easily save as a PDF or print for daily use” in all of my LeadBoxes.

leadbox screenshot

I do that so potential subscribers picture themselves printing out the checklist and using it as a reference.

(Shout out to Noah Kagan for that specific wording)

Josh brilliantly uses the same technique in his Content Upgrade pitch.

Note how he says: “This is great to take to the driving range and practice”.

top of blog post pitch

When you read that sentence, a little mental movie plays in your head.

You can actually picture yourself taking the checklist out of your pocket before your next shot.

It’s a powerful mental image that makes the checklist seem more real.

Trust me, this little trick increases conversions A LOT.

Since the massive success of The Content Upgrade on his “hit a draw” post, Josh has added The Content Upgrades to several other posts.

And the boost in conversions have been just as substantial.

So that’s Josh. A relatively green internet marketer who tripled his conversions in 45-minutes.

Not too shabby if you ask me.

Next up we have Christopher Huntley, a life insurance agent based in San Diego.

I’m going to show you the creative approach Christopher took to The Content Upgrade…

…an approach that turns over 6% of his blog post readers into loyal subscribers.

Case Study #2: The Step-By-Step Process Christopher Used to Turn His Blog Post Into a Lead Generation Machine

Christopher isn’t your average life insurance agent.

Sure, he can give you a quote on a policy just like any other agent. But what sets Chris apart is the fact that he’s a razor-sharp internet marketer.

In fact, his site teaches life insurance agents how to get more business from the web.

ElifeTools Homepage

As you can see in the screenshot above, Christopher’s homepage was optimized REALLY well for building his email list.

He had a strong offer, with his “New Agent Guide”. He also threw in a nice testimonial from the founder of

So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that his homepage converted at a hefty 5.5%.

There was only one problem:

What about visitors that didn’t land on his homepage?

In other words, traffic that came from Google, social media and email newsletters and landed on one of his blog posts.

In Christopher’s words:

Christopher Huntley

My homepage was already converting really well. But I wasn’t having much luck with my blog posts. It seemed that
most people would read the content and then click away.

Christopher Huntley
Christopher Huntley

When Christopher says he wasn’t having much luck with his blog post conversion rate, he wasn’t kidding.

His average blog post conversion rate was around 1%.

Christopher isn’t alone here. As you’ve probably seen firsthand, most of your visitors probably land on one of your blog posts.

And VERY few of those blog post readers ever go to a high-converting homepage or squeeze page.

Bottom line: Squeezing more conversions from within your blog posts should be a top list building priority.

Fortunately for Christopher, he realized the same thing. And it made a big difference in his conversions.

Here’s what he did:

Step #1: Christopher Found His Highest-Trafficked Blog Post

Like Josh, Christopher had a post on his blog that brought in the lion’s share of his traffic.

That post was: “How My Sites Generate 700 Leads Per Month Using Compulifeโ€™s Quote Form”.

elife tools blog post

This post reviews a piece of life insurance quote software called Compulife, which insurance agents use to generate leads from their site.

Christopher’s post provided a ton of value for agents that were on the fence about buying Compulife.

But his post was lacking something BIG.

Something that people were desperate to know more about.

What was it?

Keep reading.

Step #2: Christopher Created a Killer Content Upgrade Resource

Christopher’s post talks about why insurance agents might want to use Compulife on their site.

But Christopher realized that his post didn’t outline the very important next step…

…a step that a most readers would want to know:

How to actually USE the software.

So Chris created a killer, 7-page PDF tutorial that teaches people how to set it up.

compulife checklist

This is the type of high-value Content Upgrade that put a huge grin on my face.


Because it makes subscribers absolutely LOVE you.

Sadly, most marketers treat their email lists like a piggy bank. They hit them up with offer after offer.

But when you send people something outstanding like Christopher’s checklist, you’ll turn skeptical subscribers into raving fans.

Pro Tip: Give People 100% Exclusive Content in Your Content Upgrade Resource

A checklist or a PDF of your post is nice and all…

But it’s NOTHING compared to exclusive content that readers can only get from your Content Upgrade.

For example, you may remember that I include two bonus YouTube marketing strategies in my YouTube SEO checklist.

Well it turns out that those two exclusive strategies make a MASSIVE difference in conversions.

According to LeadPages, my YouTube SEO Content Upgrade is the #1 best-converting on my entire site.

In fact, 76% of the people that click on my Leadpages link end up signing up:

Leadbox Conversions

Now compare that to my Social Squeeze Page Content Upgrade resource.
Content upgrade checklistIt’s a really nice checklist…
ssp checklist…but it doesn’t give you any brand new information.

That’s probably why only 52% of the people who see that Leadbox pull the trigger and sign up.
Leadbox ConversionsBottom line: Offer something exclusive — like a some bonus tips, a tutorial video or a template — that people can’t get from the post itself. More exclusive content=more conversions.

Step #3: Offer The Checklist

Like I recommend to everyone, Christopher leveraged the standard yellow box/download image formula in his post.

But he also tried something really creative that bumped up his conversions even more…

What was it?

Christopher mentioned his PDF tutorialย inside of the post itself.

Here’s an example:

in post pitch

When you click on that link, you’re taken to the bottom of the post.

That’s where he has more information about his bonus resource (and a download link).

Cloud Download Image

That clever tactic is one of the reasons that this post converts at an incredible 5.9%…

google anaytlics blog post conversion rate

a 600% improvement than before The Content Upgrade.

In fact, Christopher’s post now converts better than his homepage.

Ready To Rock? This Will Help:

I probably don’t need to say this, but I will anyway:

If you’re serious about building your email list you NEED to try The Content Upgrade.

To make the process super-simple for you, I’ve created a special bonus area just for this post.

The free bonus area includes:

1. A step-by-step PDF checklist that shows you EXACTLY how to implement The Content Upgrade.

2. 17 “plug and play” Content Upgrade resource ideas that you can give away on your site.

3. 5 more real world examples of The Content Upgrade in action.

Click below to access the special bonus area:
List Building bonus


  1. Wow! That is ridiculuosly awesome technique, something has already came up with my out of the box thinking. Gonna tweak this one also.
    Another epic post Brian!

  2. Hey Brian!
    Excellent post and I learned about this content upgrade idea from Bryan Harris. I signed up for the content upgrade on this post, but was sent to a YouTube SEO guide? Am I missing something?

    1. Thanks Adam. Bryan is one of the people who introduced The Content Upgrade to me (along with Kim Roach).
      Sorry about that. A bug with Aweber. If you clear your cache and try again you’ll go to the bonus area.

    1. Thanks Ife. That’s what I set out to do every single time. It’s one of the reasons I don’t publish as often as some other blogs: I don’t want to publish content that isn’t backed by real world results.

  3. Hi Brian,
    This is awesome. One unique quality that makes backlinko different from other billion of blog posts is the real practical approach.


    One doesn’t need to be SEO savvy before he applies the crazy methods.

    You keep turning me crazy with your posts.

    1. Thank you, Quadri. That’s a good point: you don’t need to be a marketing expert to get results from something like The Content Upgrade.

  4. Hey Brian

    Your content upgrade idea is incredible. I’m always reading marketing and SEO blogs as well as running my own and you are the first person to mention it – its incredibly powerful and simple to implement.

    Every time you post I think to myself, how is he going to top that.. but each time you do.

    Looking forward to your next post !
    Paul Back

    1. I really appreciate that, Paul. Let me know if you give the Content Upgrade a shot on your blog or if you have any questions.

  5. Thank you for this amazing post Brian and to be frank am now a fan of yours. I take care to go through your page almost every day. I have a request can you do case study on “Churn burn methods” am just curious are they still working because for me everything was working well till the last update and now with Google Panda4.0 am searching for a newer technique that is for ranking a website in short time and back a lot of money out of it. I know its ridiculous but Churn and Burn always gives me a lot of income in just two three months. Am already sure you are a pro in SEO but if you did like to know the methods please do feel to write back to me. Keep the work up Brian ๐Ÿ™‚ thank you

  6. Great post, and great reminder to use the content upgrade! I have a couple posts in mind where this could work effectively.

    I noticed you mentioned “X%” a couple times in the article, probably a typo?

    1. Thanks Takeshi. Would be very interested to hear how they work out for you.

      Those X%’s were placeholders until I got the final data from Josh yesterday. Forgot to replace all of them.

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