Your blog may look great and offer a variety of rich original content, but without a significant subscriber base, there’s only potential and not results. Fortunately, there are a number of proven tactics for getting more subscribers for your blog, which in turn can result in more subscribers and followers for your blog’s newsletter and social media as well.
Regardless of a blog’s topical focus, the ideas below can set a quality blog in motion for obtaining a consistent growth of new subscribers:
- Provide Exclusive Content
If visitors can already see 100 percent of a blog’s content without subscribing, there’s little incentive to do so beyond being reminded when a new post is made. That may be enough for some, but a notification isn’t enough for most to input their name and/or email. As a result, it’s a good idea to offer exclusive content via your newsletter. It’s an ethical bribe: They exchange their email address for quality, original and exclusive content.
Ideas for newsletter-friendly exclusive content include holding a contest open only to subscribers, teasing an informative how-to article for subscribers only and – if you run a business – coupons for a discount on a service/product. Chris Spooner of BlogSpoonGraphics found that his subscriber count increased 10 times when offering exclusive design resources in his newsletter, and he’s not alone in reaping the benefits of offering exclusive content to potential subscribers. With exclusive content, many will transform from potential subscribers to active subscribers quickly.
- Reduce Your Bounce Rate
Your blog’s bounce rate is the percentage of visitors to your website who leave after viewing only one page. It’s a good indication of how immediately engaging your site is. Ideally, if someone is visiting via a search engine for a specific request, you want your blog to entice them to explore more beyond their initial topic.
Studies have shown that reduced bounce rates result in improved ad earnings, which sensibly suggests that it will improve a subscriber base count as well. One of the reasons for this is increased search traffic: Google considers bounce rate in its search algorithm when identifying site usability. In addition to how long a site takes to load and potential pop-ups, bounce rate is a considerable factor.
A site’s bounce rate is unique to its own appearance and content, but generally you can aim to reduce bounce rate by cleaning up the site’s layout, removing/reducing advertisements, targeting niche-relevant audiences, ensuring server stability and speed, having a mobile-compatible version of your site and avoiding walls of text. Aim for immediate engagement over content quantity.
- Use Tactful Pop-Ups
Even though obtrusive pop-ups can increase one’s bounce rate, which opposes the tip above, tactful pop-ups that are relevant to the blog at hand can actually be used very effectively to grow your subscriber base. While visitors may be turned off by seeing an annoying pop-up advertising a mainstream product or something entirely unrelated to the website’s topic, a pop-up related to the website – whether it’s a Subscribe Now or specific focus ad – can do wonders in reducing bounce rates, according to research compiled by Dan Zarrella.
As shown above, CJ Pony Parts successfully uses a tactful pop-up in self-promoting its brand, informing visitors rather than annoying them. When you visit the website, it has a pop-up to subscribe for a chance to win $250 – a very appealing prospect (refer back to tip 1). Specifically, if one is visiting CJ Pony Parts they are likely interested in the service to begin with. The added incentive of winning $250 for merely signing up will be hard for many to pass up.
Whether offering a chance for a gift card, exclusive content or simply a friendly plea to subscribe, unobtrusive pop-ups that are self-promotional do significantly better than the typical pop-up ads that have a well-deserved stigma across the Web. Actually offering visitors something – or the chance at something – is much more appealing than a third-party company attempting to sell a product, so the difference between self-serving ads and third-party ones are night-and-day for visitors.
- Make Subscription Boxes Frequent
There are plenty of places on your blog to place a subscription box. The aforementioned tactful pop-up is one way to do this, but there are other areas to consider as well. One of the first places to prioritize is your blog’s sidebar, which is easy to modify for WordPress users via the Widgets section of the administration panel. The sidebar is often visible site-wide and in proximity to site content, so a box that visibly instructs users to enter their email in to subscribe is sensible.
A clever and less-known strategy is to place the subscribe box at the end of posts. Ideally the blog post will have a call-to-action at the end, like “Subscribe below to receive weekly updates on [blog topic],” but even if it doesn’t, satisfied readers may opt to enter their email at the conclusion of reading. This location is typically contingent on quality content, but your blog should already have that to begin with.
The above, from WordPress tip site Nosegraze, is a great example of embedding the subscriber box directly following a helpful blog post. The article may have satiated the reader, but the subscriber box allows them to explore the author’s insights even more, beyond what’s already offered. Combined with other visible elements surrounding it – like social media links and the author’s information – the platform exudes passion and experience, which makes the likelihood of those interested in subscribing very high.
- Keep Fields to a Minimum
The more fields a visitor has to fill out – first name, last name, location, etc. – the more of a nuisance it feels to subscribe. That means less subscribers. Really, you only need a visitor’s email to get them hooked onto being a subscriber. It’s great to be on a first-name basis for email send-outs – and asking for a first name isn’t entirely a deal-breaker – but to be safe, one field is recommended for a newsletter subscription box: just the email address.
As additional Dan Zarrella research shows above, the more text areas a subscriber box has, the lower its conversion rate is.
- Guest Blog and Maintain Niche Relevance
Sure, it may feel like the energy you devote to writing for your own blog is more than enough, but many bloggers overlook the power of guest blogging. Although it may feel like you’re providing other bloggers with your insight and writing completely for free, the power to endorse your brand on a blog on a different platform can open up the doors for new subscribers significantly.
Guest blogging has numerous benefits, including building relationships that can extend into lucrative business opportunities with mutual promotional benefits. A respected blog asserts its respect for you by publishing a guest post under your name, which not only provides a way to attract new visitors, but also strengthens your reputation in the niche.
In the spirit of guest blogging, keeping active in your blog’s niche community is advised as well, to maintain current subscribers and bring in new ones. Actively post in forums as a meaningful contributor, not just a spam-bot, to enforce your expertise in the subject. A signature including your blog, or an occasional mention, will do.
Additionally, starting a podcast is an idea to hook niche-relevant audiences, especially as podcasting has seen leaps in popularity in recent years. Anything that gets your word out there even beyond your blog can bring in new visitors and consequently new subscribers that appeal to the aforementioned tips.
- Exude Passion in Diverse Ways
Exuding passion, making your original high-quality content as accessible as possible and making subscribing easy are the three key factors when striving to seriously grow your subscribers. Exuding passion should come across naturally for your niche, though aspects like exclusive content, guest blogging, podcasting and forum contributions can hammer that home to an interested niche that’s curious about your credentials or enthusiasm.
High-quality content can be further facilitated by a reduced bounce rate, which can be attained by improving site speed, reducing pop-ups and making content generally accessible. Accessibility matters with subscription boxes too. Make sure the text fields are limited to just one or two, as opposed to asking them to fill out multiple forms to simply subscribe – engagement would be down if this were the case.
In addition to welcoming self-promotional techniques, like using subtle pop-ups involving your site, these factors will combine to result in a very healthy subscriber base that grows rather than dwindles. Of course, the results are contingent on consistency. Audiences come to expect fresh content almost daily, so be prepared to deliver.
Overall, your precise niche isn’t nearly as relevant as showing that you’re one of the most passionate and informed experts on the topic, at least in terms of people blogging about it. Great content, subscription accessibility and showcasing passion and commitment can go a long way in ensuring an impressive subscriber base that keeps on growing.