The Complete Guide to Setting up Post Specific Bonuses with Mailchimp (save yourself $300/month)

Bryan Harris —  Bryan Harris - July 25th, 2014

Back in May I was sitting around a campfire with some buddies when a thought popped in my head.

The thought was actually just a word. One word.


5 days later I sold my lawn mower and bought two canoes off of Craigslist.

This was all kinds of awesome…

For one, I didn’t have to mow my lawn anymore. After all I didn’t own a lawnmower. So…I hired a guy.

AND we were the proud owners of two canoes. It just so happens that we live next to a 50,000 acre lake that I recently discovered has 32 islands scattered throughout.

My inner Huck Fin was going wild!

Anyway, our first canoe trip consisted of me single handedly carrying this gigantic 18′ canoe over 200 yards from the parking lot to the edge of the lake.

It was EXHAUSTING. You try it sometime.

Then I discovered this contraption:

This isn’t my actual canoe. I stole this picture off of the internet.

It’s a canoe caddie. Just set your canoe in it, throw the strap around and start pulling.

Instead of being completely exhausted before I even get in the canoe the caddie made it super easy to transport. Now I can carry the canoe without breaking a sweat.

Today I’m going to introduce you to the canoe caddie for building the #1 asset in your business – your email list.

Meet the canoe caddie for building your email list

4 months ago (before most of you even knew Videofruit was a thing) I introduced you to the Grocery Store Formula.

That formula is the canoe.

It’s the ‘vessel’ that will take you where you want to go.

68% of my 6,124 person email list was built with the Grocery Store Formula.

It is the single best strategy I know of for growing an email list.

Since discovering it, I’ve rolled it out to multiple clients and many friends have started using it.

Brian Dean reported a 785% conversion rate increase after installing it on his website, Backlinko.

In short: It works…really, really well.

Here is the problem though, it can be a pain in the butt to implement.

However, there are two major pain points with it:

Pain Point #1: Time spent creating the bonuses

For each blog post you have to create a unique bonus specific to that post. That takes TIME. And if you’re not careful it can take a lot of time.

There is nothing wrong with spending time on it. In fact, next to writing the article itself I think it’s the most important piece of your content marketing strategy.

BUT if you are already spending 5-10 hours on a post, another 1-2 hours on a content upgrade can cause you to not make it at all or create really crappy bonuses.

Pain Point #2: The technology is a massive pain in the butt

The single biggest hurdle that I faced when starting was knowing how to wire all of the different components together. It became a mess very quickly.

After a month of doing post specific opt-ins I realized I had created a TON of extra work for myself (duplicate subscribers, multiple lists etc.).

…so, that is what this post is all about. I want you to do it the RIGHT WAY.

I ended up buying a $300 per month email program to fix the problem. In hindsight I could have waited 2-3 months to do that had I known how to properly setup my email program.

Don’t do that. Don’t try to figure it all out yourself. Learn from my mistakes.

I’m going to show you 11 different ways to make content upgrades in under 15 minutes and then show you exactly how to set the technology piece up so you avoid the mistakes I made.

I’ll be your personal canoe caddie 🙂


How to setup your email system to track and deliver content upgrades without creating a mess

First, let’s start with the technology. Then we’ll get to creating the bonuses themselves.

The two most popular email service providers are Mailchimp and Aweber. I’ll be giving you a step-by-step process for how to set this up using Mailchimp. It’s the most user friendly of the two and better yet – it’s compeltely free for up to 2,000 subscribers.

I’ll also be using Leadpages to further simplify things (it costs $30’sih a month).

I have two main philosophies in my business:

1. Keep everything simple (more time spent = more abandonment)

2. Never mess with code (either pay someone or find a way around it)

By following this process you’ll be able to accomplish both of these things. You don’t have to be a coder or spend a bunch of time on it. In fact the setup takes less than 5 minutes.

[Note: You don’t HAVE to use Leadpages in this process. You don’t have to drive a car either, you could walk everywhere. But I don’t like taking 45 minutes to get to the grocery store, so I drive. Get the point?]

One other thing, there are many ways to set this up. I’m going to show you the easiest that I have found. If you’ve found a better way, let me know in the comments section below. I’d love to learn from you.

Setting up your content upgrade in Mailchimp

Note: I’ve put this entire tutorial into video form – for those of you that prefer that route –   you can view it in the bonus section

Step 1: Create a list field inside of Mailchimp

This will allow you to track who downloads each bonus. You will not be creating a new list for each opt-in bonus. 

All of your bonus download subscribers will dump into the same list and you will put an indicator on their contact record so you can know who has downloaded what.

That ‘indicator’ will be placed in a list field. You know how you can store someones first name, last name, email (etc.) inside of your email program? Those are list fields.

Well you can also create new fields to store other stuff in as well. We’re going to create a new one to track whether or not someone has downloaded your bonus.

To create a new list field…

  1. Login to your account
  2. Click “Lists” on the left hand menu
  3. Chose the list that you want your new subscribers to go into

Click Lists from the menu. Click the List that you want to send your contacts to.


Next, click Settings in the menu and then chose “Lists fields and Merge Tags”  


Follow the arrows…Settings > List Fields


Now, click the “Add Field” button. Then, click “Text.”  


Follow the arrows…Add Field > Text

You’ve created a new list field (yay!).

Now it’s time to set it up.

I always name my list field after the blog posts that it is associated with.

For example, if I am writing a post called the “Spike Formula” then I’ll name the list field “Spike Formula [Bonus].”

You need to do three things now:

  1. Name your bonus
  2. Make sure the “Visible?” field is NOT checked
  3. Click save

I numbered them for you this time. Do the numbers.

That entire process should take you around 60-90 seconds to setup.

Step 2: Create the opt-in form inside of a LeadBox

Now let’s head over to LeadPages to get that piece setup.

(Note: If you don’t have LeadPages, get it. If you just refuse to use LeadPages here is an article that will get you started on how to hard code your forms into your site.)

Once you are logged into your account you’ll need to:

  1. Click “Leadboxes” in the upper right hand corner
  2. Click “Create New LeadBox”

Create a new LeadBox


You are the proud new owner of a LeadBox.

Now, you need to integrate your email service provider to that LeadBox.

To do that select Mailchimp from the dropdown list and choose the list that you added your list field to in Step 1.

Click “Okay

Now, click the “Advanced Settings” link and you’ll get a list of the custom fields that we just setup.

Click the checkbox next to the field that you created in Step 1.

Integrate your ESP and select the non-visible field created in Step 1

Now, click the custom field name (in my case “Spike Formula [Bonus]”).

You’ll want to set the “Default Value” to “Yes.”

What this does is automatically insert the word “Yes” into that list field inside of the contacts record in Mailchimp.

This will allow you to identify everyone who has downloaded the bonus by segmenting your list by those that have the value “Yes” in the “Spike Formula [Bonus]”.

(I’ll show you exactly how to do that segmenting later)

Assign the value “Yes” to the “Default Value” field

Make sense?


And you’re done.

Customize the cosmetics of the box to look and feel the way your prefer.

My finished LeadBox looks like this…

Start to finish this part should take 2-3 minutes.

Step 3: Embed your LeadBox form on your website

All we need to do now is copy and paste a little code.

After you name your LeadBox and save it, click the “Publish” button in the upper right corner of the page.

This will give you a box with a bunch of weird looking code inside of it.

It should look like this…

Code you need to embed

I always copy and paste this code into a text editor first.

I’ll then separate the two main parts of the code so it’s easy to put in the right spot inside of WordPress.

This is what that looks like when separated.

Now open up the WordPress post you want to embed your LeadBox into. Then find the text or image which you want to use to initiate your LeadBox.

Copy the upper section of code and paste it just BEFORE the text or image.

Next, paste the second half of the code directly AFTER it.

That will make the text or image clickable and initiate the LeadBox once clicked by your readers.

This is what that will look like when completed.

Annnd, you’re done!

Start to finish it should take no more than 5 minutes to setup.

Now, anytime someone downloads your post specific bonus their contact record inside of Mailchimp will be labeled accordingly.

All of your contacts will be stored nice and neat in one list and you’re life will be much easier.

Want to see me doing all of this on video? Check out the bonus section for a full walkthrough.

But how do I deliver the actual bonus?

Up to now we’ve covered how to configure everything to capture the email address, save it in one united list inside of Mailchimp and properly tag each contact record so that you can identify who has downloaded what.

But what about delivering the actual bonus itself?

After all that is what they signed up for in the first place.

You can do this two different ways.

Method #1:  Use the LeadMagnet system

Using this method requires no work on the Mailchimp side of things. Mailchimp stores and tags the email record but does not handle the delivery.

What happens is this…

As soon as the LeadBox is completed and your reader presses the ‘submit’ button LeadPages automatically sends an email that contains your bonus.

To set this up follow these steps:

  1. Toggle the “Send an email after someone…” option ON
  2. Click either radio button below
  3. Write the email that they will receive and:
    1. IF you chose LeadMagnet – Chose the file you want to send them
    2. IF you chose Customized Email  – Write the email and include a link to the file they will receive

Now as soon as your reader fills out the form they will receive an email from you (really its LeadPages) with the information on how to download the bonus

Method #2: Send them straight to the bonus

The quickest and easiest way to set this up (and my personal preference) is to send them directly to the bonus.

This is my personal preference because I feel like it is the best reader experience.

  • Enter email address
  • Get bonus

Instead of…

  • Enter email address
  • Check email
  • Click email
  • Go to bonus

Setting this up is pretty simple.

  1. Click “Thank You Page” on the left hand menu
  2. Enter the direct URL of your bonus

Send them directly to the Bonus

Here is an example of the type of thank you page I use to deliver bonuses.

If you want to see the entire workflow in action, go to this post and click the download graphic at the very bottom.


Next up is creating the content upgrades themselves.

Once you do it once or twice – setting up the tech side is pretty quick and easy. Creating high value bonuses that entice your new readers to subscribe to you blog….that can be much harder.

But don’t worry, I’ve gotten pretty good at it. I’ll show you exactly how…

…next week 🙂

Make sure you are subscribed to the blog and you’ll be getting an email in the next few days with “11 Fool Proof Ways to Generate Content Upgrades in Less Than 30 minutes.”

These are techniques that I’ve tested and refined over the last 6 months and I’ll break them down, show you the exact conversion rates from each and then give you an easy to follow process for creating them in under 30 minutes.

Make sure you are subscribed to the blog so that you don’t miss out (you can do that here ).

Until next week —

PS: Have you tried setting up content upgrades on your blog? What problems have you encountered? Leave it in the comment section below.

I read every comment and always respond to questions.

  • Christopher Walker

    Awesome post man – I actually was just in this same position. i signed up for Ontraport then decided to refund it and go with the combo of Leadboxes, Leadlinks, and Mailchimp. MC was giving me an issue last week though so I switched one of my lists over to Active Campaign – have you seen it? It seems like it’s basically Ontraport with Mailchimp’s prices – so far so good, I’m really liking it’s capabilities.

    • I’m a FIRM believer in investing in your email list. In the end I’m glad I went with a higher end system. However, If I would have known how to do all of this, I could have delayed it a few more months.

    • I just went to ActiveCampaign, looks like a solution over Ontraport and Infusionsoft.

      However, ActiveCampaign said that they currently don’t intergrate with LeadPages. LeadPages needs to get X amount of requests before they will consider it.

      • Christopher Walker

        I integrated it with Leadpages by just using LP’s custom form HTML integration. It’s pretty easy, you just copy/paste the form code from Active Campaign into the ‘integration’ section on Leadpages/boxes.

        • I’ll have to try that out… thanks Christopher

        • Christopher, how did you manage to integrate the hidden fields in Active Campaign?
          Integrating the form is indeed easy, but those hidden fields don’t play nice with Lead Pages and thus the strategy can be implemented only half-way with Active Campaign…

          • Janna Melissa

            I would like to know this as well. I was using Mailchimp with Leadpages but I hit a wall in terms of certain specific automation capabilities. So I’m trying Active Campaign now. But wondering how to set up the hidden fields as that is a major part of my strategy with MC.

    • Leslie Beccard

      ActiveCampain is AWESOME! New CRM features too.

      Great post Bryan, step-by-step, exactly what I need. Thanks so much!

  • Jimmy Moncrief

    EPIC Post – as always! I’ve been wanting to know specifically how you leadboxes over your images. Thanks!

    • Thanks Jimmy. Hopefully that helped!

      In the tutorial video I do a live example of that. That might help on the image linking.

  • Thorough and useful tutorial again. Looking forward to session 2 on the bonus gift / lead magnet creation. Been mulling over different options for this. Thanks!

    • I’m excited about that post. I’ve been ‘mulling it over in my head’ for a few months now. Pumped to get it down on paper.

  • Bryan this one is EPIC!

    I cant wait to incorporate this advice into my first post “50 Restaurant Owners Weigh In: What is the one thing you wish you had known before you opened?”

    I wonder if you think a summary list broken down by category highlighting the most important responses is a good lead magnet to offer??

    • Where are you offering it? Universal or post-specific?

      • Thinking on a post-specific bonus for what I hope will be a very viral round-up style post.

  • 11 Fool Proof Ways to Generate Content Upgrades in Less Than 30 minutes

    — I’ll be waiting 🙂

    Actually in the process of creating a content upgrade and deciding on the popup stacks

  • Brilliant

  • Brian Dean

    Awesome actionable info as always, Bryan. I have a lot of people asking me how to set up content upgrades with maichimp. Now I have a place to send them 🙂

  • Awesome post, Brian! I remember asking this in a comment on a past post of yours a month or so ago. I finally invested in Lead Pages (2 days ago) and apologize I didn’t go through your link. Setting this up now

    • Looove it. Send over a link when you get your first one setup. Happy to give feedback.

      • Having a hard time setting it up with Aweber/Lead Pages. Have a tutorial on that, by chance?

        • What’s the issue?

          Shouldn’t be too hard..

          • I have had LP for 2 days now, that could be part of the issue.

            In LP, it is not showing up under ‘Hidden Fields’. I even called Aweber, but it was hard to explain.

  • MamaRed

    Holy cripes…epically awesome post. I use Mad Mimi and will be giving this a go since I have wayyyyyyyy too many lists and managing is my “control-freak” self on steroids. can’t believe I didn’t think to do this (and yup, I have LeadPages so I can go for the gusto.). I’ve written instructions and tutorials for over 30 years…this one is stellar!

  • Dave Gillen

    Hey Bryan,

    In SumoMe there appears to be a new feature called “Leads”. It seems to be designed to work similar to Leadboxes. Just wondering if you’ve checked it out and whether it’s a viable alternative for this method?

    • Dave, I’ve explored it some. It’s still early on for Leads. I’m looking for to seeing it evolve. One of my personal hangups with using it right now is I am unable to link an image or text to the opt-in.

      As soon as they get that worked out, I’ll dive into it deeper.

      • Dave Gillen

        Cool, thanks man I appreciate the reply.

  • Nathan Rofkahr

    You always have such a clean teaching style, thanks for not skipping over stuff for the sake of speed!

  • Mridu

    Bryan, this post is a great follow up to Pat Flynn’s podcast (with Clay Collins) just recently. Clay talked about this same strategy and how to set it up on the LeadPages end (which was enlightening – although not nearly as detailed as this) but the missing piece for me was how to do it on the Mailchimp end. Actually both sides have been really helpful as you illustrated it step-by-step. LOVE THAT! Thanks so much and can’t wait to try to get this all set up this weekend. This was awesome.

  • Todd Bartlett

    Another great detailed post. I just found your site a few days ago and already have a page of notes. Looking forward to the next post. Im checking out Active Campaign too so even your comments are helpful!

  • That looks awesome Bryan. Thanks for creating a such detailed post. I’m currently using two lists to do that and using code move people around when they subscribe.
    The solves the problem of having multiple lists but basically requires you to create a new list of each bonus you want to deliver.

    I assume you are not using a 2-step confirmation for email? I guess that would make the process too cumbersome. How does this affect the quality of your subscribers?

    Also, I’m using Leadpages as well. I wonder if there’s a way to set other fields as well (e.g. a date field or set a specific value). That would make things easier to send email courses (e.g. send them n days after people have signed up).

    • Andrea, good observation. You can definitely setup a double opt in procedure with these. Personally, for these bonuses, I like making it very easy for my readers to get to them and having a double optin makes it more painful.

      @briandean uses a double opt in process over at Backlinco. You can checkout this work flow for some ideas on that.

  • Great post Bryan.
    I’ve a question for you:
    How can I make sure other members of my list get post specific bonus content?
    Do I have to email this to them directly or can I automate this with Leadpages and Mailchimp?

    • Not clear on the question. Do you mean “How do I deliver the bonus to people that opt-in via the blog post?”

      • Let’s say I write a blog post “A” and give away bonus content “A” via Leadpages.

        Then, I write blog post “B” and give away bonus content “B” via Leadpages.

        How can the readers of blog post “A” get bonus content “B”?

        • Janna Melissa

          I believe you would need to send them an email with the link to blog post B, then if they want bonus content B they would opt in again.

  • rabbimoffic

    Hi Bryan, thanks for this. I’m having some trouble at the end. When I post the code into a blog post, all I get is the image. The text–get the free e-book, etc–does not show up above the image. I tried separating the code, as you suggested, but I still can’t get it right.

    • Holler at leadpages support. They should be able to straighten it out for you.

  • This was a great tutorial and timely too! However, has anyone gotten this to work smoothly with Aweber?!

    • Aweber is a bit more of a pain. However, it is doable. Checkout

  • Bryan, great post! One question: how can I set this up so that my existing subscribers can get the bonus? Is there a way Leadpages allows current subcribers to enter their email and get the bonus without Mailchimp giving an error message (because they’re trying to “double subscribe”?

    • osbornechen

      Kyle, I have the exact same question. Were you able to figure this out?

      Brian, any sage advice?

      Thanks in advance

      • Hey @Osbornechen– Turns out, it doesn’t seem to be an issue. I was able to have subscribers double (or even quadruple) opt in with no issues. I don’t recall doing any specific setting. If you have Leadpages already, I suggest giving it a try and using your own email address (assuming you’re probably on your list already). I did a few tests and found that it was no issue. Hope that helps. Cheers!

        • osbornechen

          Thanks so much for the reply, I’m going to try this again. My friend helped me test it out (she was already an existing subscriber) and re-subscribing on a content upgrade gave her a “you’re already a subscriber” error.

          Were you able to get this re-optin functionality with Mailchimp alone, or is LeadPages necessary to gain this supapower?


          • Oh, I haven’t been able to do that with a straight up Mailchimp optin–Only when I use lead pages as the optin. Good luck!

          • osbornechen

            Ah, good to know. Thanks so much. This will probably make me pull the trigger on LeadPages

  • Great post 🙂 But I use Aweber! Any info on doing similar with them? (I actually switched recently-ish from mail chimp but now slightly regretting it …)

    • Thanks Laurence. I haven’t messed with Aweber enough to know. But am thinking about doing a bigger guide that covers all of the popular ESP’s. Would that be helpful?

      • Yeah — for sure!

        BTW — I found your content upgrades article super helpful. I’m in the process of creating one for a post of mine that has been viewed more than others. And I have additional content upgrade ideas in the pipeline for other posts I have up or will write in future.

        Will let you know how it turns out 🙂

      • Hey Bryan,

        I’m an AWeber user, and one potential hiccup for us AW users is we’re allowed only 25 custom fields per email list.

        So, if we wanted to have a bonus material for every post, we’d have to create a new list once we hit post #25. I suppose we could just have ONE custom field for “Bonus materials,” but this wouldn’t let you track when a user has subscribed to multiple bonus materials. You would only know they subscribed to *a* bonus material. It could be one bonus or it could be all.

        Another snag is AWeber doesn’t appear to give us an easy option for making a custom field invisible to the user. You have to choose the “Raw HTML Version” for publishing, and then MANUALLY add your new, custom field as a hidden field when you’re pasting the HTML code into your post or theme.

        It’s not a problem for me (I’ve been doing this for 13+ years), but I would hate to be a novice trying to figure it out!

        Anyway, I love your concept here. I just wish AWeber allowed me to have more than 25 custom fields. As it is, I’m better off creating a new list for each “bonus” campaign (since AWeber permits an unlimited number of lists), and whenever someone subscribes to a bonus material list I automatically add them to my “main” mailing list (via a list automation rule).

        Sure, it’ll mean I will have a lot of lists, but it will be easier to track than a list for bonus materials 1 – 25, a list for bonuses 26 – 51, etc.

        Or maybe not. I’m beginning to get a headache. Haha.

        Hopefully there is an easier way.

        Can you think of an outside the box solution, Bryan? I’ll play around with it and see if there is something I’m missing.

        • Good observations Kevin. I haven’t used Aweber enough to be able to give super specific advice.

          However, you might checkout They can extend Awebers functionality a long ways.

          At the end of the day the best long term solution is to graduate to a higher end ESP like Infusionsoft. If you aren’t monetizing your business I wouldn’t recommend that at this stage.

          However, if you are selling a product and service and are intent on growing your list. Just buy it. Your life and list will be MUCH better off.

        • I use Aweber pretty heavily and this post inspired me to track my content upgrades better. Here is the route I’ve taken.

          a) Create a list designed for all blog post opt-ins. (Mine is called cc-interest)
          b) Inside of that that list, create a sign up form for each unique blog post –
          c) Select the correct sublist when I create my leadbox –

          • Janna Melissa

            That’s great that aweber lets you create sublists on the same list with different forms. Does anyone know if you can do this with Mailchimp?

          • i followed your advice here Alzay as I use Aweber too. Seems to be working but one problem is that I can’t see WHO has downloaded each post specific bonus. In the web form I can only see how many submissions but there’s no way to know who it is. Did you get around that or were you able to work out how you can see who has downloaded each optin?

          • Hey Shae, you can do it with subscriber search. It works, but I found it a bit clunky (slow). –

            The optimal solution here is to “tag” people when they download an upgrade. Aweber doesn’t do this out of the box and requires a premium add-on to allow for this functionality. If you want to “go pro” with there are other services previously mentioned that are better.

          • Thanks Alzay!

  • Hey Bryan,


    You wrote:

    “Method #2: Send them straight to the bonus

    The quickest and easiest way to set this up (and my personal preference) is to send them directly to the bonus.”

    I’ve seen this technique on VideoFruit as well as several other blogs I read. With this method, won’t there be users who enter their email, immediately get the free bonus, and then simply never bother to click the “confirm” email you send them?

    I guess a better question is: In your experience, how often does this happen?

    My hunch is you’ve determined the better user experience (enter email, go straight to content) is worth the lost subscribers who will run as soon as they get your bonus, right?

    Interested in your thoughts. Hope you’re having an awesome Monday.

    • Good questions Kevin.

      You are dead-on. I like the overall user experience better. I currently do single opt-ins with all of my content upgrades.

      However, I am testing a qusi-membership site setup. Where everyone that is a free member (and logged in) gets the bonus immediately and if you are not (a member or logged in) you hit a login/signup gate.

      That way I can double optin and give long time members a good experience still.

      No right answer. Got to do what feels right to you.

      • Hey Bryan,

        Ah, so you do single opt-ins on content upgrades. That makes sense. It address the main hiccup I was worried about. (Of course, single-optins have their own quirks, but everything has pros and cons.)

        When someone subscribes to your content upgrade, do you automatically add them to your primarily mailing list? (I’m assuming yes.)

        Interesting idea with your membership site. I noticed your “Members” button at the top of the site, but had not yet investigated. Is it up and running? Having success with it so far?

  • Thanks Bryan for the post. A place where I’ve gotten stuck in the past is integrating the leadbox without messing up the formatting of my entire blog post. (WordPress can be touchy-feely sometimes). For my next post I will copy and paste the leadbox code in Notepad and then copy and paste into the blog. Thanks for the details!

  • Janna Melissa

    Thanks for this tutorial. I have been doing something similar with Mailchimp but instead of using list fields I have been using Groups. On the signup form I create a hidden field with the group name being “I am downloading” (or “I am signing up for” etc.) and then beneath the group name I have a series of check boxes to indicate what they signed up for (Bonus 1, Bonus 2, etc.) In Leadpages I then go into the hidden form fields area, check the box for the hidden field, and then within that field check “Bonus 1” or whatever for the default value to correspond with the bonus on that page. Is this basically the same as using list fields? Can you see any long-term advantage or disadvantage to doing it with list fields vs. groups? Thanks.

    • Janna Melissa

      P.S. I just started doing this about a week ago and have had some subscribers, wondering if it would cause a problem down the road though.

  • Love this concept, but I’m finding the implementation more than a little daunting.

    I use Aweber, so I’m trying to figure out the step-by-step process to get this done. I don’t need to differentiate who is opting in for what specific bonus – I would just like every new subscriber to receive their bonus immediately and then have Aweber complete the double opt-in process (with a welcome message after confirmation and possibly an auto responder series after that).

    I would also like current subscribers to be able to opt-in and receive a post specific bonus, without receiving an “already subscribed” message, or being duplicated on a my list.

    Is this possible? Any suggestions on how to implement this?

  • Bryan, I love this article but Im afraid that its actually not working like that. MailChimp limits you to 30 Fields per Subscriber, so you could maximum create 27 Bonuses (Assuming that you also storage the standard email, first name and last name) with these technique.

    You can find this information on at the end of the page.

    Maybe the technique Janna Melissa used would work.

    • It works. However, once you get to the 27 mark you’ll need to look into a more beefy option like IFS or OAP.

      • Janna Melissa

        UPDATE: The technique I was using (mentioned earlier) ended up not working. This is because say they opted in for Bonus 1. Then a week later they opt in for Bonus 2. When they submit the form for Bonus 2 it erases the prior data so it no logner shows that they opted in for Bonus 1. I was using a single group for “Item Opted In For” and a checkbox for each item, but it can’t seem to store multiple items across different opt-in instances.

        I tried doing Bryan’s technique on a different list, using the list merge fields with the hidden fields default text “Yes” (set up in Leadpages). This seemed to be working when I set it up and tested it myself. But with my new subscribers it is causing weird things to happen, and I’m still losing data/getting mysterious opt ins with no way to track the source. It is very frustrating and making my head spin.

        Bryan, have you noticed that when they submit a new form it wipes out the list merge field data from the other form they filled out before?

        I think what I will try is to create a new GROUP for each bonus and see how that works. I’m hoping I won’t have problems with my data getting wiped out. Anyone know if this will work, and is there a limit on the number of groups you can create for a given list?

        I can’t find info on this process anywhere else online. Thanks for any help.

  • MamaRed

    I’m putting this to work using the approach you detail with MadMimi as the email system. So far my test worked well. Now to get more of the Content Upgrades created! Thanks for such amazing detailed posts Bryan.

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  • Saw this post after watching your amazing interview on the Branding Summit. You saved me HOURS! Thanks Bryan!

    Keep up the great work.

  • Guest

    Hi Bryan,

    there is an obvious issue when using that method, and I’m surprised no one mentioned it.

    When an existing subscriber opts in again through LeadPages, existing values for other fields are wiped (or reset to default) unless all the values for all the existing fields are sent through the url (?, etc).

    Issues :

    1. That means users who opt in directly to the page (not through a link in an email) won’t have the form pre-populated : there is no chance to preserve custom fields’ values.

    2. Even if existing subscriber click through a link sent with Mailchimp and you want to update only one field, you need to pass all the other parameters through the url if you want to preserve their values. This is not scalable.

    3. Mailchimp doesn’t create merge fields for groups : If you have a group “Lead Magnets” with different options available, you *can’t* give it as a parameter through the url.

    I contacted Leadpages today to know if it was possible to leave a field “as is” (not updated) or have another alternative. I am waiting for an answer.

    Bryan some readers might loose data without noticing and I thought it could be worth it updating this post with a disclaimer.

    What do you think?

  • Do you have a tutorial on how to actually deliver the bonus through just using Mailchimp? I’m confused on how to set up multiple thank you pages with one list.

    • I’m interested in this part as well. I know you can deliver PDFs with Mailchimp but how do you customize them per list field?

  • Benn Mendelsohn

    What happens if someone opts in for the lead magnet but are already subscribed to my mailing list? Will mailchimp automatically update that field or will it tell the person they are already subscribed?

  • This is great! While I am in the process of setting up bonus content/upgrades for my blog posts, one of the biggest problems I’m having is segmenting my list to prevent duplicate subscribers on different lists.

    This post may have answered it. My problem is I have multiple lead magnets (and I will have more when I do the bonus content strategy), and I’ve been creating a new list and having the subscribers sign up on each respective list to get the free offer. That has made a mess of my email list, and many people are on two lists, and maybe a few are on more than two lists.

    I think I can take what I’ve learned here and use it not just for content upgrades but for different lead magnet/free offers.

    Anybody have any thoughts or experience with this?

  • Does anybody know if you can set up an auto-responder series to a list segment in AWeber and/or MailChimp?

  • Michael Andersen

    What happens when you run out of fields in MailChimp? Looks like you only get 30 data fields in addition to the e-mail field. Would it be better to create one field that is titled bonus, and instead of putting “yes” have it put the name of the bonus. This way you never have to worry about running out of fields. The only caveat is that you will only know the most recent opt-in from a particular user, but that doesn’t seem so bad. What do you think?

  • This helped me so much. I used it to solve a problem. PS I did the transcription work when Navid interviewed you on his podcast. 🙂

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  • Bryan this is great. We started doing this 2 months ago with leadboxes into Infusionsoft and now are adding an additional 10-15 opt-ins/day. For speakers, like me, I also recommend adding them in your podcast and even you “About” page. Definitely bookmarking this post!

  • jbaxter29

    Awesome post, thank you! I already had LeadBoxes set up for my content upgrades but I was filtering them onto separate lists and I didn’t want to have a hundred different lists! So I don’t need to integrate my existing LeadBoxes over again, right? Just go back and add the list field to each one? Also, did you already do the post about how to segment them?

  • I love this tutorial. However, I’ve been researching how to do this without Leadpages. Let’s say I’ll embed the mailchimp form directly on a page or post.

  • Nicole DeVries

    I am trying to set up a LeadBox, but it will not let me integrate with MailChimp. Under ‘Integration’, it says, ‘Integrate form with:’ and in the drop-down my choices are ‘API Integration’ with the clickable option of ‘Lead Notifications’, and ‘HTML Copy/Paste’ with note ‘reconfigured’. How do I make integration with MailChimp an option?

    Also, I have been having a problem with the link I provide for a ‘Bonus’. When readers click on the link, they are told that the page cannot be found. The link is to a PDF I created. Any ideas what I can do to fix this problem?

    • Nicole DeVries

      Nevermind about the first question– I figured it out! Yay!

  • Thank you thank you! Setting this up right now on a post I’m going to publish tomorrow!

  • This is confusing… Is that whole section messing with lead boxes just to save writing a single line of HTML inside the form? What does the leadbox actualy do?

  • Leah Dossey

    OMG you just saved my life. No one I asked could answer this question. No one knew how to set it up properly. I cannot thank you enough (I know I sound like a Russian spammer, but I promise, I’m not). It’s just when you FINALLY find the content you’ve been searching for you kinda get happy about it.
    I am using this tutorial as we speak to properly integrate my mailchimp and leadpages accounts (with the benefit of the hidden form field!!!).
    Thank you again so much. Based on the merit of this post alone, I am subscribing to your blog.

  • Bryan, doesn’t leadpages have this functionality built right out of the system (lead magnet delivery)? Why would you have to do the bonuses?

  • Tried looking for a free version of the content upgrade functionality, but couldn’t find any! So figured out a way to do all this using Gumroad > Zapier > Mailchimp.

  • Denise

    Great post! Though, how does the content upgrade work with subscribers who are already on your email list? If they are already on your list MailChimp will not allow them to subscribe into the same list again to get the article bonus material. I plan on implementing this method on my site and I am glad I found your article. Just wondering how you address this issue with current subscribers. I plan to embed the forms myself since I have already done that before.

  • I know this post is dated but figured out a workaround that may help others. Using Mailchimp, if someone is already subscribed and wants a bonus on another post, they can’t subscribe twice. MailChimp defaults to respond with something like ’email address is already subscribed’. I change that text to be a link to the bonus download page. So basically instead of it saying sorry you’re already subscribed, it says here’s the bonus. That’s one way to stay with MailChimp a little longer. Hope that helps!

    • Man, that’s a great hack! Thanks for sharing! 🙂

    • Robien Hali

      Thank you so much! Love this post, Bryan, and now the little help from Jason my problems are solved…

    • Bear Cat

      I know “this” post is dated, but I’ve been trying to solve the same problem and this is a perfect hack. But, do we actually have access to that area of the form from Mailchimp? Has anyone got this to work? Thanks….

      • Jason McCoy

        I’ve since switched to ActiveCampaign so I’m going off memory here, but yes there is a section within MailChimp that shows all your default messages for each form. That’s where you can change it. I was also using the MC4WP plugin and recall you could change it from the plugin settings as well.

        • Bear Cat

          Thanks so much for getting back to me Jason!

  • Jalal N Zaitouni

    Thanks Bryan, very helpful 🙂

  • Crystal

    So glad I came upon this post. You did a great job at showing how to do this. I can make the content upgrade and I can do a Leadbox, my problem is in merging the two. I have tried your suggestions, but am just not getting it. I created a separate page on my site thinking that is what you meant, but seem to still be struggling. Do you have another tutorial on combining the two? I followed you up until you got to the custom email part. Thanks Brian, I will definitely be stopping by to see what else you can teach me.

  • If I code it through MailChimp instead, how do I deliver the content upgrade for just that one post?

  • MaryJaksch

    One of the problems with Mailchimp is that it’s set for double optin. Double-optin means a much smaller signup rate because many new subscribers get lost between signing up and confirming their email.

    There is a nifty way to get around this. If you create content upgrades with Monsterlinks (which is an app you get with OptinMonster), you can integrate OptinMonster with Mailchimp and set it to single optin!

    We have tried this successfully on

    BTW, I’m still waiting for your post, “11 Fool Proof Ways to Generate Content Upgrades in Less Than 30 minutes.” Maybe you need a talented guest poster to write it…? 😉

  • Hi Bryan,
    Thanks for posting!
    Can you clarify something for me please? When someone downloads a content upgrade from you, he/she is automatically subscribed to your newsletter?

    • Yep, @disqus_0kuAv9MdtV:disqus , that’s how it works. They are automatically subscribed to the list (without having to double opt-in).
      If you’d like to learn more about creating and delivering content upgrades to grow your list, I’m teaching a free live webinar on that tomorrow. You can sign up to attend here:

  • Stephanie Clairmont

    OMG, this has been so incredibly valuable. I’ve wanted to track people downloading tools and bonuses for so long using Mailchimp. We just started doing content upgrades. Honestly, I truly can’t thank you enough. This is amazing. Thank you Thank you!

    • +1! This post was the best resource I could find on setting up content upgrades in MailChimp.
      Tomorrow I’m teaching a free live webinar on content upgrade formats that convert the best in 2016 — I thought you’d be intersted. You can sign up to attend here:

  • This post was an invaluable resource to me when I started researching content upgrade delivery methods for my website – thank you for sharing!

    I didn’t want to dish out $37/mo for LeadPages, so I found a way around it using a combination of tools: ActiveCampaign, a WordPress self-hosted installation, and a subscription form plugin (I use Bloom). With my small list (less than 500 subscribers), I’m only paying $9/mo for an ActiveCampaign subscription and am able to deliver multiple unique content upgrades to new subscribers. I wrote a blog post about how I set everything up, if anyone’s interested in seeing how I did it:

  • Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!. You just made my life so much easier. Knew I needed to start using content upgrades. Just didn’t know how…until now.

    • agreed @douglas_curtiss:disqus . This post was the best resource I could find on setting up content upgrades.
      Tomorrow I’m teaching a free live webinar on the best-converting formats for content upgrades — would love to invite you. If you can make it, here is the signup link:

  • LadyDee

    This is so very helpful, thank you.

  • Awesome post and love your work around but you should checkout vyper .io, we are solving this pain point for people as we make it super easy to create and use content upgrades.

    Would love to get your feedback on our platform, shoot me an email if you are interested 😉

    Nice looking canoe 😉

  • Elaine Brisebois

    Hi Bryan, this post is so helpful! I have 2 questions. The first: as part of my new lead magnet I want to offer a 5 day email series. My assumption is that this would be done through mail chimp and not lead pages. Can I still integrate this into what you’ve outlined above? My second question: If you have one list but want to have multiple lead magnets, is adding the merge field (within your list) what allows you to deliver multiple lead magnets to the same email address without the subscriber getting a message saying “they’re already subscribed to the list”?

    Thank you so much,

  • Anna Travis

    Has anyone else had trouble the second time a person signs up for one of your content upgrades? My issue is that they get told they are already a subscriber, and mailchimp gives them the offer to edit their profile. that’s all well and good, but a reader is not going to know all my codes, and besides, the field is hidden!

    Any suggestion?

  • Zérodéchet Nice

    Hi! Thanks for the post. I am still not sure it can work with mailchimp only. I am starting and don’t want to spend money for too many tools. One of my rule is actually to do it myself (including coding!) instead of paying for it or installing multiple plugins. With mailchimp I don’t see hom to fill in a field for only a specific form, I only see the option to do it for the whole list so it won’t work to send the bonus afterwards.

  • Brandy Calderón

    Hi, thanks for your response.

    … but the problem is that if I offer 10 eBooks in 10 different landing page. And to all I add to the same list, but to different groups. Then a user could only download a single eBook, since if he tried to download another, in another form he would get the error.
    Then I would have to create 10 different lists for each of the eBooks, and if I intend to have many more, it is an impractical method.

    any idea??

    • Maria Zamarripa

      Brandy, did you ever figure this out? I am in the same boat!!

  • Maria Zamarripa

    Thanks for the helpful post! I know it is a few years old, but I am just wondering: does this above process allow subscribers to download multiple content upgrades without getting the “you’re already subscribed” message? Also, does it “double count” them as another subscriber? (Right now I am using the free version up to 2000 subscribes…)

  • Wow, thank you for this. I was finding content upgrades totally overwhelming. The pictures in this tutorial are sadly out of date but I managed to muddle through regardless. Still a priceless tutorial, thank you so much!