“I have hundreds of readers coming to my blog every day – but nobody ever subscribes to my newsletter. Help!?!”
This request came in via email today and I thought I’d share my reply with the 3 suggestions I offered.
Thanks for the question – I suspect you’re not alone with this problem. While a lot can probably be written on the topic, let me suggest 3 things I’ve found helpful increasing subscriber numbers.
Note: the #1 thing I did to building subscriber numbers on Digital Photography School was introduce a lightbox subscriber box. I spoke about this in my 10 Things I Wish I Knew About Blogging webinar so I won’t rehash it here.
1. Ask People to Subscribe
This sounds a little too simple to be effective but I’m amazed how many people do subscribe once you mention you’ve got a newsletter. I’m also amazed how many of our regular and loyal readers don’t know we even have a newsletter, despite it being promoted around the blog.
Some semi-regular calls to subscribe can be very effective.
You can do this in a number of ways, including:
- Writing a dedicated blog post, every now and again, explaining you have a newsletter and the benefits of subscribing.
- Mentioning your newsletter in passing in your blog posts. I don’t mean every single post, but a mention now and then will work wonders.
- Promoting your newsletter across social media. I regularly mention our newsletters on Twitter, when I’m writing a newsletter and when it goes out.
The key to remember, when mentioning your newsletter regularly, is to find fresh ways to talk about it. Don’t just have the same tweet to subscribe every 2nd day.
- Mention something that is in the next newsletter, that you won’t get anywhere else.
- Mention that you’ve just hit a milestone number of subscribers to build social proof.
- Mention that it’s a milestone newsletter. We recently sent out 250th on dPS and made a bit of a big deal about it.
2. Start a Series
Announce that you’re going to be doing a series of posts, on your blog, on a topic that you know will really be useful to your readers.
I remember the first time I announced that I was going to run the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog series (the series that later became the eBook by the same name) I was amazed at how many people subscribed to my blog over the next 24 hours.
I was signalling to readers that I was going to do something that would serve them and in doing so, created anticipation among my readers. This anticipation (as I’ve written about in the past) is a key reason people will subscribe to your blog.
3. Place Calls to Subscribe in ‘Hot Zones’
One last tip is to identify some ‘hot zones’ on your blog, to place calls to subscribe. These zones are either places that your readers will be looking or pages that they’ll be visiting.
Let me suggest a couple:
1. Under Posts
I’m not currently doing this on my blogs, as I use the space under my blog posts for other things, but I’ve found over the years that the area under your blog post (and directly above comments) is a ‘hot zone’ where readers often look for what to do next.
Put yourself in the position of a reader. You’ve read the post and have found it useful. This is the perfect time to ask readers to subscribe because they’re hopefully feeling satisfied, stimulated and helped in some way.
A bold call to subscribe can work wonders here.
2. On Hot Posts
Dig into your blogs analytics package and identify which posts are the most read posts on your blog.
You’ll probably find that these posts are receiving traffic from search engines and are likely being read by first time readers to your blog – people that are often quick to leave again once they’ve got what they’re searching for.
These posts are a real opportunity to make your blog a little more sticky and to hopefully call some of those first time readers to subscribe.
You can do this either by adding a call to subscribe directly to the posts – or you might like to link from these posts to a ‘sneeze page’ (see below).
3. Sneeze Pages
Let me show you a page on dPS, which is a page that generates a large number of subscribers. It is our Photography Tips for Beginners page.
This page is a page in which I link to 33 of the best articles in our archives for beginner photographers. It is a page that ‘sneezes’ readers deep into our archives to good quality content.
It is a great page for driving traffic and getting readers deep into the site but you’ll also note we have a couple of strong calls to subscribe on that page. People click those calls to action like crazy because they can see on the page that we’ve created a heap of useful content.
We link to this sneeze page prominently in the navigation areas all around the site to drive traffic to it and regularly promote the page on social media (as I write this it has received over 90,000 ‘pins’ on Pinterest for example).
Take home lesson – create a sneeze page with a strong call to action to subscribe and drive as much traffic to it as you can!
Note: Sneeze pages are written about on day 18 of 31 Days to Build a Better Blog.
How Have You Increases Subscribers to Your Blog?
I have barely scratched the surface here on how to increase subscribers to a blog and would love to hear your suggestions and experiences on the topic in comments below.
What has worked for you?
I got the best results using a poup-up with a subscribe form and a nice message. :)
Pop ups are not always good. I have also used pop-ups for some period but, many readers get annoyed and bounce rate increased significantly. So, i finally removed it!!
@Gjivan: I do agree with @Diana that Pop-ups with subscribe form and a strong call to action message can yield really good result. My friends have got good result using that technique. And so far the annoying is concerned, you have to learn how to set your pop-up to perform effectively without annoying others and facing increasing bounce rate.
Generally the bloggers have a tendency of setting the Pop-ups to get display on each and every post of their blog, that is really annoying when someone has already seen it once and clicked the “X” button to ignore it.
Don’t expect someone to subscribe your blog on the very 1st go. For the 1st time they will scan your blog. It may be possible that they will keep scanning your blog for few subsequent returning visits and if they will find your blog important they will definitely subscribe to your blog on their next return visit.
Even if they have ignored it accidentally on their return visit and later decided to subscribe then they will search for some subscribe button on your sidebar or somewhere.
So, set your pop-up to display once per unique visit per day or per visit and if possible just turn it off for those who has already subscribed and I am sure that bounce rate due to Pop-ups will drop significantly.
And lastly I would like to thank @Darren for suggesting so many ways of getting lots of subscribers on the blog. They are worth trying because the same process may not work for everyone.
Does anyone know a good WordPress-Plugin to setup Popus like that? Thanks to everyone!
I’m using ninja poup-up. Is a great plugin that you can find on codecanyon.
Isn’t free, but it is worth every single cent. You have a lot of templates, settings and statistics there.
Well, I don’t think so. If a visitor is looking for a information, he won’t close your page for a poup-up.
From my point of view if you have quality content, poupups aren’t a problem.
If there has to be popups, I prefer the smart ones which doesn’t show up over and over every time I visit the blog. Whether I subscribe or not! :)
Muito obrigado, Diana ;) Will take a look at Ninja Popups!
Agree on popups done wrong being annoying.
Context is important, imho. If you make an offer strongly related to the reason the person came to the site or are on a specific page, you’ll be offering them a service.
Also, experiment with types and positions of popups. I ran a footer one that did well, better than a header version of the same offer.
Offering freebies as a ‘bribe’ can also help increase sign ups.
This is exactly what I did one of my blogs. I gave away a free iPod (paid $100 for it), and got a few hundred subscribers as a result. I’ve already made a profit off of the new subscribers through affiliate sales and such through the emails! It was definitely worth it.
To increase subscribers I offer something of value in return. When someone subscribes, I offer them weekly tips. These tips and further emails always provide valuable information. I also place subscription links as a call to action at the end of my blog posts. It’s also a good idea to have a subscription button located at the top half of your website.
I created two different free ebooks for one of my sites. Each one took about 10 hours to do, but they were worth the effort. People are more likely to subscribe when you offer them an incentive to do so :)
I like the idea of putting a subscribe call-to-action after killer blog posts… think I’m gonna have to try that one.
Great tips! Now I need to stop dragging my ass and start a opt in list in the first place!
Adding a give-away has helped more than anything else for me. We have a fairly small readership, but in the last 20 days, we have gone from 94 email subscribers to over 135 just by offering a free eBook (that is of good length and substance) to our email subscribers.
I use a pop-up opt-in to ask people to subscribe and it’s been working well. I really like the idea of adding the call to action under the most popular posts, and I will definitely try it!
A great strategy that worked for me was to comment and answer to comments, on your blog, Darren :) Of course, I only did it with the best intention to help people when they had a question, but this in turn got a lot of people to come check out my blog and subscribe to either the blog or the newsletter!
Thanks for some interestign ideas, Darren – I’m now thinking of a theme (like your beginners example) for a sneeze page that relates to my hottest posts.
I also include a link for subscribing in my bio on the blog page and about us type pages – it may not be the most in-your-face action but it is always present for those wanting to learn about me/my blog.
Placing “Subscribe Me” Button in hot spots as mentioned is the best way for this CALL TO ACTION. Some offer freebies like e-books, whitepapers, reports etc which is also attractive. Whatever , the bottomline is to deliver value to readers, if they are impressed by our content, its obvious for them to subscribe, bookmark or return back to our blogs in future.
I was having the same problem with readers. They were not subscribing. I have a plugin that shows up ‘To Subscribe’ to my newsletter below every post. But, that doesn’t work too. But, I am sure these tips will work.
Thanks, I am collecting tips about how to get more subscribers. Networking and commenting on other blogs regularly has helped my traffic. Still looking to break that barrier from loyal readers to loyal commenters
The idea of placing the subscribe request on hot zone is really awesome but newbies must decided which one is their hot zone; if they don’t have awesome contents they first have to develop one and then expect subscription from your readers; mind it people subscribe value not the shining stars
Very honest tips, thank you so much!
I recently had an experience where I think I may have broke the record for ranking on first page on google in just 6 days for a very competitive keyword and I got many email subscribers by asking the visitors to return the favor for the SEO methods that I revealed in that post by subscribing. It worked very well!
Another method that I found useful was to mention in few posts that I give premium content to my VIP list of email subscribers and this also worked really well and helped me created a more friendly relationship with my subscribers.
Social media is one of the best things to promote your blog/blog posts making it seen by friends and followers and eventually subscribe to your blog.
I recently added a subscription link below every of my blog posts. Now it is yielding positive result as my subscriber base has risen significantly in the past weeks.
I think what makes people want to subscribe to a blog is the content. If I’m reading something that I find very useful or interesting, I will search for a subscribe button or add it to my favorite site list to check out on a regular basis. You have to make your blog interesting enough so people will feel like they want to subscribe and not becuase you have bombarded them with requests to subscribe. I HATE those pop-ups with a passion!!! LOL!
Great tips Darren. I don’t have sneeze page on my blog.Surely very soon I’ll add one. Thanks for the share.
The 3 suggestions suggested by you are the crucial key points that could help in building the subscribes list and at last generating regular traffic.
Under Post is the most effective position i found out personally, to inspire more readers to subscribe to our blog. I have implement a new technique, for example, if i am writing about a new smartphone whose price isn’t released yet, At the end of the post i ask them to subscribe to get more updates about it, pricing e.t.c. I even implemented it in my new post, Whatsapp PC, it proved out to be effective.
Hello Darren, thanks for tips to increase subscribers, but the best way to get more subscribers is Popup, i know it might irritate the visitor, but will surely help you get big amount of subscribers than ever and then after below posts also helps a lot to get subscribers.
Now I will place subscribe button on my blog so that I can increase my subscriber on my blog.
Ask people for subscriber is quite not easy and often they end up sub exchange but that’s okay. However add CTA at the end of post is the most effective way to increase subscribers.
Amazing ways to get subscribers now am gonna apply all these tips on my blog because right now i have very few subscribers and i hope this tips also working me.
I have not been much successful in getting subscribers.
I have a Tech blog and I haven’t concentrated on making an email list too. I just keep writing good articles on technology, tips tricks and stuff. A few subscribe who are really into technology.
Should I be worried about it?
I wonder if there is a plugin that will help me insert a little paragraph into the bottom of my posts asking people to subscribe to my mailing list? The newsletter plugin I use doesn’t offer such a thing.
You should try the Optin Skin plugin. It might be exactly what your looking for. You can check it out at OptinSkin.com . Hopefully that helps!
Thanks for your recommendation :-) I’ll be reviewing the Optin-Skin plugin on Problogger in the next few weeks.
I recently had one idea: Instead of giving away one good piece of content (an eBook), i’m offering a series of good content? I’m announcing a closed Facebook-Group with content exclusively for subscribers. To do so i’m not publishing all my posts to my blog, but some of them only to the Facebook-Group. This way i’m hoping not only to get more subscribers, but also to get more in touch with them. What does everyone here think of that? I apprechiate any suggestions…
Asking people to subscribe is on of the easiest ways to get them on your list. If I get a comment on my blog and they have said they liked it, I generally respond to the comment and say if you liked this one you should get on my list so you can get access to more content just like this one and then leave the link to where to subscribe. Almost works with out fail :)
Thanks, I have just added feed subscription widget to get more subscribers, and will surely follow your instructions.
I personally found 2 methods very successful in getting more subscribers.
1. A simple pop up whenever someone visits my blog
2. The viper bar plugin that display an address bar at the top of your screen and lets visitors subscribe through it
I spent some time analyzing my stats today on WordPress. Found out I get many more readers from blogging about things that make me happy. Makes sense…
I have luck with directly asking people to subscribe as well as using Promotion Forums! I think promotion forums are also a handy tool :) However, I haven’t tried your “series” suggestion. It sounds like a very good idea, so here is goes!
Wow! Very impressed with the sneeze page and having over 91k in pins … I was thinking of doing something similar with all of the articles I have written, now I know I should.
This is a great post that has giving me idea on how to increase my subscribers. Although, i have implemented some of the tips you provided already, i still find it useful especially the sneeze page. Thanks for sharing this.
We do a lot of work with blogger outreach (reviews, guest posts, etc) we found including a mention and subscribe CTA in those posts effective as they also came with a built-in testimonial/endorsement from the hosting page. We just ensure bloggers we are working with know it is a nice to have talking point (not a need to have like a link back) and many will include the recommendation to subscribe in their post. (It also opens up the opportunity for them to remind people to subscribe to their own posts or newsletters!)
The other place we include a CTA to subscribe is in our email confirmations for other things that trigger emails like downloads, purchase confirmations, invoices, etc. We don’t get crazy numbers from that but we pick up a few subscribers that otherwise might have gotten away after getting what they were looking for.
This is an interesting one. In fact the article is very informative as it gives light when it comes to looking for Blog subscribers. Thanks and will try that.
I didn’t use pop-up option for just buzzing readers to subscribe. I try to keep things simple and don’t want to just bang when a reader comes to my blog to reader.
The “On Hot Posts” idea is great, I actually go through my website analytics several times but this idea never hit me.
Starting a series of articles is also an awesome idea. I’ll surely try both of them. By the way for now I use slide up form to get subscribers which is working fine, I am also using Pop Up but to build my FaceBook fan base.
Offering free products or ebooks for subscribe members also helps to increase your subscriber list
Right now, I’m convinced you have to create a great takeaway that people will want to read. I’ve had some luck with mine, but right now I’m looking to amp up to something that people will be pleasantly surprised is free.
Good tips here, too. You can’t be too timid to mention your email in face-to-face conversation. If you’ve truly created something valuable, this is a great way to get interaction!