Quick Sprout has been around for 3.5 years and since that time I have built up a nice little audience of 12,329 RSS subscribers. Considering that I have only published 171 blog posts within that time, I am pretty proud of my accomplishment.
When I first started out my feed count was growing at a rapid pace, but what really started killing off my growth rate was my inability to publish new blog posts on a consistent basis. During my peak I was able to publish 2 blog posts a week, and during slow periods I was only publishing 1 blog post every 2 months.
And after I got back into the groove of publishing a blog post every week, my subscription count still remained flat.
Here is how I increased my subscription growth by 243%:
Think outside of the box
I was at a conference in Indiana a few months back and I ran into a gentleman by the name of James Paden. He has been a reader of Quick Sprout for years and he specializes in conversion optimization.
To make a long story short, James invited me out to dinner, and we had a whole conversion on how we could grow Quick Sprout. Between the two of us we started brainstorming and we came up with ideas on how we could increase Quick Sprout’s RSS feed count.
We came up with a ton of concepts, but here are the 4 we ended up testing out:
Idea #1: Hook your readers
The most logical way to get someone to subscribe to your blog, is to offer a subscription option below each blog post, right? Because if you are reading something you like, why wouldn’t you want more of it?
The idea James came up with was to have a subscription box fade in once someone finishes reading a blog post.
Idea #2: Offer email options
A lot of people don’t use RSS feed readers. Heck, even I don’t use them, but what everyone uses is email. Within the sidebar, we added an email option.
If you notice, we still left the feed reader option, but we put an “enter your email” box within the sidebar.
Idea #3: Offer a white paper
A good way to get someone to subscribe to your blog is to offer him or her an incentive. Blog content is great, but it isn’t enough.
What we decided to offer was a free white paper on the business mistakes that I have made. To receive this white paper, you have no choice but to enter in your name and email address. Once we collect your name and email address, when then automatically add you to my RSS feed count through Aweber (this allows you to get Quick Sprout blog posts delivered to your inbox).
Idea #4: Friendly pop-up
I know what you are thinking, no one likes pop-ups anymore, but they still work. I already wrote a white paper, so why not create a nice looking popup that asked to see if you want to download it?
Whether you happened to put in your information or click on “no thanks” you would never see the popup again. And similar to idea number 3, we then passed in your information to Feedburner (they host my RSS feed) through Aweber.
Drum roll please…
Instead of having my RSS feed count grow at the usual pace of 3522 new subscribers each year, it is now growing at a pace of 1007 new subscribers a month or 12084 new subscribers each year. This accounts for a growth rate of 243%.
But what’s really interesting is the RSS subscription method that you prefer. See, I would have thought that the most popular way that you would have liked to subscribe is the call to action that fades right in at the bottom of each post. But according to the image above:
- 63 of you entered in your email from the call to action below each blog post. (idea #1)
- 14 of you clicked on the RSS subscription icon from the call to action below each blog post. (idea #1)
- 161 of you subscribed by entering in your email in the sidebar. (idea #2)
- 98 of you clicked on the RSS subscription icon in the sidebar. (idea #2)
I don’t have a full 30 days of history with idea #3 and #4, but ever since James implemented them you can see how my RSS count really started to skyrocket.
On October 28th, idea number 3 was implemented and my new daily RSS subscription growth went from roughly 9 new subscribers a day to 53. Within the next day or two it died down to 20, but that isn’t bad considering it was Halloween weekend.
On November 1st, idea number 4 was implemented and my new daily RSS subscription growth went from 21 to 110. And of course, it slowed down over the next few days, but it still shows that pop-ups are effective.
Here are the stats for ideas number 3 and 4:
- 186 of you put in your name and email into the sidebar white paper call to action. (idea #3)
- 467 of you put in your name and email into the pop-up. (idea #4)
Emails cause higher engagement
The best piece of information that I found out through this test is that email subscribers engage a lot more than RSS subscribers.
If you look at the screenshot above, you’ll notice that there is well over a 60% engagement level through emails collected through Aweber. And if you compare that with the image below, you’ll notice that only 30% of the RSS subscribers who use feed readers engage.
If you really want to sky rocket your RSS subscription growth, create a free ebook or a white paper and give it away to your readers. Just make sure that you are using Aweber to give it away as it won’t just help you collect more emails, but it causes higher engagement levels.