Quick Sprout has been around for three and a half years. Since its conception, 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, 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 two blog posts a week, and during slow periods, I was publishing only one blog post every two months.
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 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, who specialized in conversion optimization. He had been a reader of Quick Sprout for years.
To make a long story short, James invited me to dinner, where we had a conversion about how we could grow Quick Sprout. Between the two of us, we started brainstorming and coming up with ideas how to increase Quick Sprout’s RSS feed count.
Among the multitude of concepts we discussed, we chose four that we ended up testing. Here they are:
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? It only makes sense. 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. What everyone does use 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 had no choice but to enter your name and email address. Once we collected your name and email address, we then automatically added 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. The truth is they still work. I already wrote a white paper, so why not create a nice looking pop-up that asked you whether you wanted to download it?
Whether you happened to put in your information or click on “no thanks,” you would never see the pop-up again. Similarly to Idea #3, we then passed your information to Feedburner (it hosts my RSS feed) through Aweber.
Drum roll, please…
Instead of having my RSS feed count grow at the usual pace of 3,522 new subscribers each year, it is now growing at a pace of 1,007 new subscribers a month or 12,084 new subscribers each year. This translates into a growth rate of 243%.
But what was really interesting to see was which RSS subscription method you preferred. I would have thought that your most preferred method of subscription would have been the call to action that faded in right at the bottom of each post. But according to the image above:
- 63 of you entered 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 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 ideas #3 and #4, but ever since James implemented them, you can see how my RSS count started to skyrocket.
On October 28th, Idea #3 was implemented, and my new daily RSS subscription growth went from roughly 9 to 53 new subscribers a day. 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 #4 was implemented, and my new daily RSS subscription growth went from 21 to 110. 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 #3 and #4:
- 186 of you entered your name and email into the sidebar white paper call to action (Idea #3).
- 467 of you entered your name and email into the pop-up (Idea #4).
Emails cause higher engagement
The best piece of information that I discovered 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 via Aweber. If you compare that with the data in 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 will help create higher engagement levels.