How to Actually Deliver That Free Guide to New Email Subscribers

Hanne   47

Updated on January 13, 2023

You've followed all the "how to grow your email list" instructions:

It's time to hit "go" and share this with the world. But...

How are you actually going to send that free PDF guide to your subscribers? And how does it work if you have more than one PDF?

In this article you'll find several solutions and the pros and cons for each one. Answer a few quick questions and discover which method would work best for you or read the whole article and get the big picture... It's up to you!


Step 1: Get the Download Link

For every delivery method detailed below, you'll need a download link to give your new subscribers. This means you have to host your PDF online. Luckily, this is simple.

Because a PDF typically is a small file, you can upload and host it on your own WordPress website just like an image.

To upload a PDF to your site:

  1. In your WordPress dashboard go to "Media" >> "Add new"
  2. Click on the "select a file" button and select your PDF
  3. Once the file is uploaded, click on "edit"
  4. You'll see the "File URL" on the right side of the page. This URL is your PDF download link. It ends with name-of-file.pdf.

Now that you have the download link, let's see what delivery method fits your needs.

Step 2: Choose Your Delivery Method

Answer a few quick questions to discover the best delivery method for your opt-in offer(s):

Method 1: Show the Download Link After Sign-up 

The easiest and fastest way to deliver your PDF to new subscribers is by immediately giving them the link after they opt-in.

You can put this link on the thank you page or you could even deliver the PDF on the thank you state of your opt-in form.

It can be as simple as a text link "Click here to download your XYZ" or you can use a button linking to the PDF download.

Download Link After Sign-up - Pros & Cons

  • Easy to set up. You don't even need to go to your email marketing service.
  • Visitors never leave your site, they can continue engaging with your content.
  • Not ideal if you're using a confirmed (AKA double) opt-in process because your new subscriber has no incentive to confirm their email.
  • You're not teaching your subscribers to open your emails. Next time you send an email they might not remember who you are. 
  • The new subscriber sees the link once and has no way to easily go back to the PDF in the future.
  • You'll have to create a new thank you page or a new thank you state for each new PDF opt-in offer.

When and How to Use the Download Link After Sign-up

Use this method if you're looking for a quick way to deliver a PDF without having to set up new lists, groups, emails, automations, etc. in your email marketing service.

If you're using this method, we suggest you still send a general welcome email to introduce yourself and your brand. This will allow you to create a relationship with new subscribers.

Method 2: Send Download Link in Welcome Email

Any decent email service provider allows you to automatically send a welcome email to new subscribers. In this first email you can put the PDF download link. Your thank you page or thank you state would tell new subscribers to check their email for the download link. If you have multiple PDFs that you'd like to share you could always merge PDF documents into one file that you share. Sending too many documents may prove overwhelming or confusing for your users.

Download Link in Welcome Email - Pros & Cons

  • Easy to set up. As long as you only have one opt-in offer.
  • You teach your subscribers to open your emails. This feeling of familiarity might increase future open-rates.
  • You can use this method with a confirmed (AKA double) opt-in process.
  • This method will quickly become cumbersome when you're adding multiple opt-in offers to your site.
  • You ask new subscribers to leave your site. They might never come back.
  • There often is a delay before the welcome email arrives.

When and How to Use the Download Link in Welcome Email

Use this method when you only have one opt-in offer and you need a confirmed opt-in process. Make sure to clearly indicate what steps your new subscriber has to take to get the opt-in offer on the thank you page or on a thank you state. You do not want your subscribers wondering if they'll get the PDF!

If you're being smart with your thank you page, you can use this delay (the 10 min between signing up and actually receiving the welcome email) to build a relationship or even make another offer but make sure to avoid the most common funnel mistakes.

Method 3: Use Automations to Send Download Link

Most of the top email marketing service providers allow you to start an automation based on a specific action. An automation allows you to send a series of follow-up emails. The action can be when a subscribers enters a specific group, gets a certain tag, is added to a list, etc.

Use Automations to Send Download Link - Pros & Cons

  • You're in full control of the welcome message each subscribers gets.
  • You can use a universal thank you page.
  • Works with a confirmed (AKA double) opt-in process.
  • Difficult and time consuming to set up.
  • You ask new subscribers to leave your site. They might never come back.
  • There often is a delay before the welcome email arrives.

When and How to Use Automations to Send Download Link

The only reason to use automations to deliver different opt-in offers would be if you have a complete follow-up sequence tied into that specific opt-in offer.

If you're only using automations to send one email (the welcome email with the download link) there are better and quicker ways, such as the asset delivery method.

Method 4: Asset Delivery

If you're using Thrive Leads for your lead generation, you have access to the Asset Delivery feature.

This allows you to send a specific email, with the right download link without ever having to open your email marketing service provider. You can set up the emails from within your Thrive Leads dashboard. 

This means, no hassle to deliver as many different opt-in offers as you like.

Use Asset Delivery to Send Download Link - Pros & Cons

  • You're in full control of the welcome message each your subscribers gets.
  • You can use a universal thank you page.
  • Email delivery services are free up until a very large amount of emails sent.
  • Quick and easy to set up from within your Thrive Leads dashboard.
  • You need to set up an email delivery service (but don't worry we have you covered with tutorials and it's free)
  • You ask new subscribers to leave your site. They might never come back.
  • The email doesn't come from your usual service which means the next email you send from your "normal" email service is technically the first email your subscribers ever receive. 

When and How to Use Asset Delivery to Send Download Link

The asset delivery feature was built with content upgrades in mind. Content upgrades are opt-in offers specific to a single blog post.

Setting up a new list, new automation, new tag, new group, etc. for each of these content upgrades quickly becomes exhausting.

Use this feature if you have multiple opt-in offers and use your thank you page to create a relationship with the new subscribers. Make sure to use the same "from" names in the Asset Delivery as you use in your email delivery service so new subscribers recognize your name in their inbox.

Step 3: Implement Your Choice

There are pros and cons for each delivery method and one method might fit your needs better than the other.

The most important thing is: Pick one and set it up to start growing your email list as soon as possible.

Do you have any questions? Did I forget methods? Let me know in the comments below!

by Hanne  June 21, 2017


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Leave a Comment

      • And I didn’t like it. Somewhere by the 7-th question I stoped because… How many questions I will get here?

        (There should be some counter like “7-th out of 10” or something! :P)

      • Hi Danielius,

        Sorry to hear you didn’t like the quiz… there are only 5 questions max though (depending on your answers) 🙂

  • I love how you put the quizz on the middle of the article! I have no Idea it was possible to embed quizz like this!
    I though, Quizz or Article
    But quizz + article is really great, it’s more engaging!

  • Hi Hanne, great article! You’ve solved a problem I didn’t yet know that I had. I quite enjoy your very relatable writing style as well. I’ll definitely be sharing this in a business group of which I’m a part on fb. Thanks a million!

  • Thanks Hanne,

    This is a fine piece of work…and useful. It answered several questions and got me moving on my project.


  • Thanks Hanne, great overview of all available options! Asset Delivery is a neat feature of Thrive Leads and it can save you a lot of headaches when you have multiple content upgrade offers. It’s not ideal, however, if you’re using double opt-in for your e-mail.

    • Indeed Michiel, I don’t suggest using asset delivery with double opt-in… Or make sure to send people to a page that explains they have to confirm their email (with clear benefit on why to do that other than the freebie)

    • Actually, the REAL useful application of Quiz Builder would be to be able to have people opt in and get a freebie. I have just wasted hours trying to change either the optin form email responder sequence follow up page to be the thank you/download page – or – modifying the Quiz results page. The Quiz results page is completely unmodifiable, which for me is actually a complete deal breaker for Quiz Builder. I can’t modify the email sequence flow. I have wasted hours. I love Thrive stuff but I continually run into seriously flawed applications that make things unusable.

      • Hi Leslie,

        I can feel you’re very frustrated about this, unfortunately there is nothing we can do from within Thrive Quiz Builder to change your email sequence flow. That is totally related to the email provider.

        I’m not sure what you mean with the quiz results page being not modifiable… On the results page you can add any element you like. This could include a download button for the freebie you want your quiz takers to have!

  • Hi Hanne
    Great Article, thanks for that. Another cool way to increase your reach if you have an additional piece of downloadable content is using Smart Bribe (not my software, just a user). It lets you offer the second piece of content as a VIP upgrade if your potential subscriber tweets a link to you and sends an email or posts it to their Face Book timeline. A nice (free) way of increasing your reach by using their network. Link is:

    • Hi Simon,

      Thanks and I heard about the tool 🙂 One thing we noticed with incentivized sharing (like a share to unlock) is that many people pick the network they are least active on… We saw big share counts but not necessarily a lot of more social traffic. But it’s worth a try.

  • Hello,

    I’ll explain my idea, and then I’ll ask my questions to see if it’s possible to do it with Thrive Leads.

    I have a blog. I want to have a list of subscribers. Offer my visitors eBooks that they can download after filling out a forms. I have in mind to offer multiple eBooks.

    I used mailchimp for this, but it is not possible. For example: When a user downloads an eBook, and then tries to download another, an error appears indicating that that user is already subscribed to the list.

    What I want is for a user to download all the eBooks he wants, and if he is already subscribed, simply receive the content in his email. Even if he is able to download the same eBooks again and again, he can also do it without having to go through the optin-double, nor does he appear any errors.

    Does Thrive Leads allow me to do this without any problem ?, How?


    • You can do this with Asset Delivery, but the PDFs will be delivered before an opt-in confirmation. So, it really only works well with single opt-in.

      The real problem here is MailChimp, in my opinion. It has a generous free plan, but in every other aspect it’s just not as good as more serious solutions like Active Campaign or Drip.

  • Hi there Hanne…wowser, never even thought about using a quiz the way you’ve used it here. Talk about making a post interactive. And ya know what, you’re right. So often the instructions leave out 3/4 of what you need to do and I’ve made so many mistakes it would sink the Titanic because of it.

    AND, what I’ve learned is that the “simple and easy” is total B.S. unless you really take one thing and follow it through. There are are lot of steps (or missteps?) to be taken on this journey.

    Again, super kewl!

    Hugs&Blessings. MamaRed.

  • Nice post Hanne – I wonder how we handle the whole issue of having multiple opt-in offers for a single double-optin list? Do we send them a link to ALL the resources? I am thinking a single list so you don’t end up with subscribers on multiple lists getting multiple emails when sending broadcasts. Really appreciate your thoughts here. 🙂

  • Great post! I have a question as a newbie with an upcoming blog. When new visitors land on the site/blog page I was wondering how many optin form types would be considered too much and annoying? I am thinking of going with 6 form types In content
    Post Footer
    Screen filler
    Scroll Mat
    Sidebar Widget

    Is this too much?

    • Yes :p

      I would never put a scroll mat, screenfiller, and lightbox on the same page.
      Pick one “intrusive” form (like the above) and 1 or 2 non intrusive (like post footer and widget)

  • Hi Hanne!
    I’ve just been builing pages using the plugin.

    Regardind the PDF download for new subscribers, I wanted to know how can I set the Download Button with a direct download asking the users to Save as in their computer instead of appearing the pdf in the screen or to openning in a new window.

    How can I do that? Is it possible?

    I couldn’t find an option in the button settings.

    Thank you very much!!

    • Hi Mara,

      A link to a PDF document will always open that document. You can set it to open in a new tab so that people can easily stay on your site and save the PDF.

  • I love Thrive Leads, but I wish I didn’t have to create a different Lightbox for each and every optin.

  • Do you have to connect thrive to an email service? Or can you edit forms in thrive and just email the site owner when a new lead comes in?

    • Hi Matthew,
      Those are 2 different questions:

      1. Yes you have to connect the lead generation form to an email service (if you want a free solution, you can use MailChimp)
      2. If you’re using Thrive Leads, you can use the notification manager to set up an email notification to the site owner when a new lead comes in. If you’re using Thrive Architect, this email would have to come from your email service.

  • Hanne,
    Too bad the Quiz did not have a restart button or a backwards button.
    Can restart or backwards buttons be done in Quiz Builder?

  • Hi Hanne. Great article! Here is my challenge: I’ve created a booklet for home sellers that I would like to market. My goal is to have the lead follow a link to “get it now”. I would like the lead to be required to fill out a form that request an email address that requires verification in order to receive the booklet. I would then like an automated email sent to the lead to confirm their email address. Upon verification, I would like the PDF booklet automatically sent to them. I’m not sure if this is covered above. Can you point me in the right direction?? This process can or can not be associated with my website. Thanks in advance – John

    • Hi John,

      What you’re talking about is called a confirmed sign up process also called “double opt-in” process.
      A quick search for the email service you are using should do the trick. And yes then you can still use the technique outlined above.

  • Hi Hanne,

    My Access and Security Key don’t seem to work when selecting amazon as my email delivery service. I’ve copied them correctly, the three email zones it lets me choose between are ireland, U.S east (virginia), U.S west (oregon). I live in London (U.K)

    • No asset delivery uses a email delivery service. This means that people do not get added to a list at all. So logically there is not double opt-in required because they don’t actually opt-in at all.

  • {"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}