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How to Add Content Upgrades in WordPress and Grow Your Email List

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Do you want to add content upgrades in WordPress to help grow your email list?

Content upgrades are specific bonus content that your readers can get by signing up for your email list.

In this article, we’ll show you how to add content upgrades in WordPress and grow your email list.

How to add content upgrades in WordPress and grow your email list

What is a Content Upgrade?

A content upgrade is when you offer your readers exclusive bonus content for signing up for your email list. This additional premium content offered for completing an action is also known as a content bribe.

What are some content upgrade ideas?

  • eBooks
  • Checklists
  • Excel worksheets
  • Downloadable PDF version of your blog post
  • Exclusive video interview related to the post
  • Bonus how-to’s for the article

Basically, content upgrades have to be highly relevant to the post you’re offering it on.

For example, a post about baking banana bread should offer a content upgrade like downloadable recipes or exclusive videos.

Tip: To easily create content upgrades, you can use a tool like Beacon. Beacon is the best lead magnet software on the market. It comes with a drag and drop builder for creating professional eBooks, checklists, workbooks, and more.

Human psychology plays an important role in the effectiveness of content upgrades. The psychology principle known as Zeigarnik Effect states that people are most likely to complete a task if they initiate it themselves.

For content upgrades, it works because users initiate it by clicking on a link or an image. This makes them more likely to complete the task by finishing the signup.

Sounds too good to be true, right?

See these stats from Syed’s website comparing a regular popup and a MonsterLinks™ content upgrade.

Comparison of regular popup and a MonsterLink content upgrade

The generic popup was running across the site and was seen by nearly 26,000 users, out of which 744 signed up.

On the other hand, the targeted MonsterLink™ was placed on a single page. It was viewed by 270 people, and 74 users signed up. That’s an insane conversion all from a single page without running any split tests.

Now that you know what a content upgrade is, let’s see how you can use it on your own website to get more email subscribers.

How to Add Content Upgrades in WordPress?

The easiest way to add content upgrades to WordPress is using OptinMonster. It’s one of the best WordPress lead generation plugins in the market used by over 1.2 million sites.


It allows you to add beautiful opt-in forms like lightbox popups, scroll-triggered slide-in forms, floating bars, sidebar optins, below-the-content forms, and more.

It is super fast and works beautifully with WordPress-powered websites. Adding content upgrades is a breeze with the MonsterLinks™ feature in OptinMonster.

Note: Our founder Syed started OptinMonster to use on WPBeginner, and we increased our email subscribers by 600%.

If you don’t have an email list, then check out our guide on why you should start building your email list right away.

Step 1: Setting up OptinMonster

First, you will need to install and activate the OptinMonster plugin on your WordPress site. If you need help, then please see our guide on how to install a WordPress plugin.

This plugin acts as a connector between your WordPress website and OptinMonster.

Upon activation, click on the OptinMonster menu item in your WordPress admin bar.

OptinMonster setup page

Now, you’ll need to connect your site to OptinMonster by clicking ‘Launch the Setup Wizard’.

Next, you’ll be prompted to connect to an existing account or claim your free account.

OptinMonster setup wizard

Once you’ve finished going through the setup wizard, your WordPress site will be connected to OptinMonster.

You can navigate to OptinMonster » Settings to double-check that you’re connected.

OptinMonster account connected

Step 2: Create a New Popup Optin

Once you are successfully connected, navigate to OptinMonster » Campaigns.

Then click the ‘Add New’ button to create a new campaign.

Add new OptinMonster campaign

Next, OptinMonster will ask you to choose a template or select a ready-to-use campaign inspired by famous brands.

For this tutorial, we will use the ‘Templates’ option.

Select a template or playbook

After that, you’ll need to select the Campaign Type. In this case, it’s Popup.

Then, you can choose a popup template.

Choose type of OptinMonster campaign

Just hover over the template you like and click ‘Use Template’.

This will be the foundation for your popup design.

Choose OptinMonster template

Once you’ve done that, enter your campaign name in the ‘Create Campaign’ popup and click ‘Start Building’.

The name of your campaign is to help you remember, it won’t appear in your design.

Name your OptinMonster campaign

This will open up the OptinMonster app, where you can totally customize the appearance of your popup.

You can change virtually every part of your design, including your background and font colors, text, subscribe button, and more.

Customize OptinMonster popup

After you’re happy with your design, click on the ‘Display Rules’ tab.

This is where we’ll set your content upgrade display options.

Select MonsterLink display rule

First, we’ll set the conditions for when the popup will appear. Simply click on the ‘MonsterLink™ (On Click)’ option to add the rule.

After that, click the ‘Done? Go to Actions’ button.

Copy monsterlink codes

You can leave the default options on the next screen.

However, feel free to add an animation effect or sound effect to the popup.

Add monstereffects sounds and animations

If you scroll down, then you’ll see the Cookie Settings for your campaign.

Here, you can choose when to show the popup again to users who haven’t converted.

Edit cookie settings

Once you’re finished, click the ‘Done? Go to Summary’ button.

On the ‘Summary’ page, you’ll need to click the ‘Copy MonsterLink™ Code’.

Copy the monsterlink code on summary page

Now you need to open a plain text editor like Notepad and paste the code you copied. You will need this code later.

After that, navigate to the ‘Publish’ tab and switch the ‘Publish Status’ from Draft to Publish. Then, you can click ‘Save’ and exit the screen.

Publish OptinMonster popup

Step 3: Enable MonsterLink™ Optin on Your Site

Once you exit the form builder screen, it’ll take you to the ‘WordPress Output Settings’ screen.

Here, you can set which pages and posts you want MonsterLink™ to work on. You can leave the default settings. But, make sure the status is changed to Published under the ‘Visibility & Status’ box.

Make OptinMonster form visible

If you do make any changes, make sure you click ‘Save Changes’

Step 4: Add Your Monster Link in a WordPress Post or Page

Adding your MonsterLink™ in WordPress is very simple.

Simply edit the post or page where you want to display MonsterLink.

On the post edit screen, switch to the text editor and paste the MonsterLink™ code you copied earlier.

It will look like this:

<a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Subscribe Now!</a>

This code will show plain link to the users however it won’t really stand out.

So how do you make it stand out? You can add a box around it like this:

<p style="background: none repeat scroll 0 0 #fffecf; clear: both; margin-bottom: 18px; overflow: hidden; border: 1px solid #e5e597; padding: 13px;">
<strong>Exclusive Bonus:</strong> <a href="“ target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Download The Blog Post Checklist</a> to use before you hit publish.
Content upgrade popup example

You can also create a shortcode to make the box styling easy in the future.

Simply add this code in your theme’s functions.php file, in a site-specific plugin, or by using the code snippets plugin like WPCode:

function wpb_make_yellowbox($atts, $content = null) {
   return '<p style="background: none repeat scroll 0 0 #fffecf; clear: both; margin-bottom: 18px; overflow: hidden; border: 1px solid #e5e597; padding: 13px;">' . do_shortcode($content) . '</p>';
add_shortcode('yellowbox', 'wpb_make_yellowbox');

You can now add your content upgrade link in your WordPress posts using the shortcode like this:

<strong>Exclusive Bonus:</strong> <a href="“ target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Download The Blog Post Checklist</a> to use before you hit publish.

You can also show the link with an image. This way you can make it much more prominent and attractive.

Here is how you can add the image with MonsterLink™ in WordPress:

<a href="“ target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><img src="" alt="ebook download" /></a>
MonsterLink around an image will make it look more prominent

Step 5: Delivering the Content Upgrade in WordPress

Now we need to take a look at how to deliver the content upgrade that we promised to the user.

Your content upgrade could be anything. You can use PDF, video, audio, or any other kind of content.

Once users enter their email addresses, you can provide them with the promised content upgrade. There are multiple ways to do this:

Show Download Link as Success Message

You can show a download link as a success message inside your popup.

Edit your optin in the OptinMonster form builder and click on the ‘Success’ tab.

Then, edit your success message text and include a URL to your downloadable content upgrade.

OptinMonster success message

Redirect to Thank You or Download Page

You can also redirect users to a thank you page that has the link to download the file. To do this, you’ll need to be on the ‘Success’ tab.

Next, we’ll add a button that says ‘Download Now’.

After that, click ‘Action’ and select ‘Redirect to a URL’ from the drop-down list.

Then, enter the URL in the ‘Redirect URL’ box.

OptinMonster success redirect

Make sure you click ‘Save’ to save any changes you’ve made so far.

Send as an Email

Most email marketing software providers offer autoresponder features where you can send welcome emails to new users. You can use it to send the download link to the user.

You will have to check your email service provider’s documentation section for instructions on how to do this. OptinMonster offers a wide range of integrations with the most popular email marketing tools.

Content upgrades aren’t as popular as they once were. But, they’re still an extremely effective way to generate leads and grow your email list.

If you’re serious about growing your email list, then you should definitely try out content upgrades. It will take you anywhere from 30 minutes to 1.5 hours to build and add a content upgrade to your post, but it’s totally worth it.

We hope this article helped you add content upgrades in WordPress to grow your email list. You may also want to take a look at our guide on WordPress SEO and our list of 17 ways to grow your email list faster.

If you liked this article, then please subscribe to our YouTube Channel for WordPress video tutorials. You can also find us on Twitter and Facebook.

Disclosure: Our content is reader-supported. This means if you click on some of our links, then we may earn a commission. See how WPBeginner is funded, why it matters, and how you can support us. Here's our editorial process.

Editorial Staff

Editorial Staff at WPBeginner is a team of WordPress experts led by Syed Balkhi with over 16 years of experience in WordPress, Web Hosting, eCommerce, SEO, and Marketing. Started in 2009, WPBeginner is now the largest free WordPress resource site in the industry and is often referred to as the Wikipedia for WordPress.

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Reader Interactions

10 CommentsLeave a Reply

  1. Syed Balkhi says

    Hey WPBeginner readers,
    Did you know you can win exciting prizes by commenting on WPBeginner?
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  2. Mrteesurez says

    fantastic, I couldn’t believe this. just 270 visits give 74 signup using content upgrades, Imagine how much conversion would be given by the pop box assuming it offers incentives for the users. Honestly I have signed up for many these online just to download ebooks or template. This post is an eye opener to me.

  3. Moinuddin Waheed says

    Nice idea and infact new idea in my wordpress knowledge base.
    Though I have downloaded many PDFs and other such upgraded materials in exchange of email but never knew why they are doing it.
    Thanks for the clarification for the topic.
    I have a query though regarding this and also need your advice for this, how to ensure that the email given by the user is the same that one is using and is not a fake email?
    second, is it advisable to ask for mobile number as well and authenticate via OTP before giving access to the material for downloads?

    • WPBeginner Support says

      If you are concerned about the email being used then you can email the link to the email address or a link to the page to the email address that the users provides. For phone numbers unless you have a good use for it then it is normally best to only ask for the email address.


  4. Samson Mwangi says

    Thank you so much for the well-detailed post. I always thought they are images (poor me ..haha).

  5. Earl says

    When doing the step above, is the ebook you upload to your site will be protected from anyone who got a link of that page and prevent them from downloading the ebook without leaving their email address?

  6. Lisa says

    Thank you for this informative post. I have been trying to figure out how most websites have been making that content upgrade box. I never knew it existed on Optin Monster!

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