How To Grow Your Email Subscription By 400%

Businessman Touching a Chart Indicating Growth

Ever wonder?

How you can increase your subscription rate by over 400% with a few quick changes?

Well, you probably didn’t in those exact words but..

At this point you probably know about the importance of subscribers.

It’s the one thing that matters to bloggers more than anything else, because it is the one thing that no one can take away from you. You can spend all your time gaining more Twitter followers or more engagement on Twitter but if Twitter shuts down your account, you’re in a bit of hot water. The same goes for Facebook, your search rankings or anything you don’t own.

But an email list belongs to you.

No matter what happens you will always have that list. It’s a list of people you’ve developed a relationship with. It’s your direct way of getting in touch with your loyal readers.

So, how do you increase your subscription rate by at least 400% (roughly)?

1. Let Your Comment Section Double As The Form Field

When people want to comment on your blog, they are already filling in their name and email address into the fields. Place a little check box underneath the submit button that asks them to subscribe to your blog. Here’s how it’d look like:

subscribe to blog from comment3

With WordPress you can do this with a simple plugin. If you’re using Aweber, install the Aweber Comment Optin plugin and you’re good to go. Mailchimp? Constant Contact? Sales Force? Use the Wp-Leads Plugin.

2. Get All Your Commentators To Subscribe

I see this around all the time. Bloggers get commentators to subscribe to particular post for follow up comments. You have probably seen that little check box under the comment box that says something like this:

subscribe-to-comment3

This is great and all but why stop there? Your goal isn’t to get them to subscribe to the comment so that they will come back, although that is much better than them not coming back at all, your goal is to get them to your subscribe to your blog.

When they check that box and sign up to receive an email about follow up comments, they probably already receive a thank you email. You should instead send them a simple thank you email that also asks them if they want to subscribe to blog. All they would have to do is click on the confirmation button and they would be subscribed. If you generally use an incentive to get subscribers, here’s what Pat Flynn says this email should look like:

“Thank you so much for your comment. I would like to offer you my eBook, (ebook name here) as a free gift. To receive your free eBook, simply subscribe to my newsletter by clicking the link below…”

The advantage of this method is that all they would have to do is click to subscribe. You already have their email address and this email just really serves as the confirmation. There is no need for anyone to fill out any form or take any extra steps. The simplicity makes this powerful.

My only issue is that the only way (that I know of how) to set this up is through subscribers magnet. I have no problem with this Plugin, but I don’t know how justifiable it is to buy the plugin for this one benefit.

3. Your Current Email Opt-In Placement Is Only Getting You 18% Of The Potential Subscribers.

The most common Opt-In form placement I see is the one in the sidebar. A look at the breakdown of subscriptions for Social Mouths showed that only 18% of the total Opt-Ins are coming from the sidebar.

signup_form_performance

This should give you a good idea of what you are missing out on depending on which placements you are or are not taking advantage of.

Your goal is to use as many of these sign up forms as possible without annoying the your reader (too much). Let’s take a look at the not so common placements in more detail:

Placement 1. The Feature Box – This is the subscription box that you see on top of the page as almost the first thing. Here’s how it looks like:

Feature Box

Ever since Derek Halpern made this famous, it’s been popping up all over the place, and rightfully so. For DIY Themes it increased their subscription rate by a solid 51.7% by just adding this one box. It’s a bit a hard to argue with results like that. Place the Feature Box in your homepage only. You can place it in all your pages, but it’ll get annoying really fast.

Placement 2. Slide In Optin Boxes – These forms are the ones that slide in at some point on a post. They look a little like this:

Slide in
Credit: picture from ImImpact.com

The advantage of these forms is that they draw almost as much attention to the Opt-In as popups do without being as annoying as the popups.These work best as reminders that it’s possible to sign up.

So, set them to slide in when your reader finishes reading the post, when they are fully appreciating the insightful-ness of your article and are looking for the next action to take. Set up your slide in Opt-In boxes so that they only show up to the reader once every month (maybe even two months). You don’t want to annoy your readers away.

Placement 3. Lightbox/Popup Form – You have all seen this around. It’s the annoying popup that asks for your email when you are trying to go read a post.

Popups can be very useful and every marketing guru swears on their effectiveness. I originally stayed away from using these using the popup Opt-Ins because I was afraid I would annoy my readers into leaving or reading less of my blog.

Darren Rowse of ProBlogger tested this out. When he implemented the popup form his daily subscriber numbers changed for the better:

newsletter-subsriber-numbers

But surprisingly the page views stayed the same. No one seemed leave the blog after the popup:

pages-viewed-per-visitor

My guess is that even though people are annoyed by the popup, they almost expect it because they have seen it around so much and don’t get offended enough to leave. So, what’s still keeping you from using the popup?

Here are a few rules to follow to make sure you keep that annoyance to a minimum.

  • Frequency – Set up your popup so that it doesn’t show up every time someone visits your blog. This will annoy people into leaving. Set it up so it only shows up every once a month as a simple reminder, that they can sign up.
  • Timing – Asking people to subscribe to your blog before they even get a chance to read your content doesn’t make too much sense. Set up your popup timer so that it shows up at least 60 seconds after they show up on your post. This way they get an idea of whether or not they want to sign up. You can also set it up so that it only shows up when they visit a second page on your blog.

Placement 4. The Usual Suspects – Here are the most common and effective placements for Opt-In Forms, that you should consider also using:

  • Sidebar – Be sure that the Opt-In form is the first thing in your sidebar. Even placing it second is going to make sure you lose a few subscribers.
  • End of the post – People who make it this far really like your content and are more likely to sign up.

The trick to making these effective is making sure they don’t look like the sidebar and end of the post Opt-In Forms of every other blog in your niche. Your readers develop banner blindness to these forms. When is the last time you even noticed a sidebar Opt-In form? Probably not in a while and even then you only noticed it because something about it stuck out, whether it’s the wording, design or call to action.

Spend a little research time looking at how these forms look on the rest of the sites in your niche and figuring out how yours can look different from the rest.

The How – Ok. So you know what you have to do. But how do you go about doing this? Well, I sat down for a few days and just coded everything the first week when I was started ZenSpill. But in hindsight, that is probably the most Ineffective way I could’ve accomplished this. Not only was this a huge time waster, in the end the code won’t be as good or fast as of one that is professionally made, like Hybrid Connect:

Hybridconnect

I am currently in the process of switching over to Hybrid Connect by Shane Melaugh. The building of the Opt-In forms is relatively intuitive and fast. For those of you who don’t want to code, no coding is required. This isn’t even an affiliate link. I just think it’s a great product and a huge time saver. (Although, I probably should make this an affiliate link at some point.)

The only problem I have with Hybrid Connect is that it seems to be messing with both Sharebar and Digg Digg plugins. But this is a more of a problem that WordPress plugins have in general in that they always seem to clash with each other. I’ll update this when I figure out a way around this problem.

4. Thank Those Who Comment And Get More Subscriptions

When people comment on your blog, chances are you are redirecting them to a thank you page. Aside, from a sentence thanking them for their comment, this page should really be a landing page for commentators trying to convert them into subscribers.

You can accomplish this on WordPress in a few simple steps:

  • Step 1 – First create a landing page where you thank them with a simple “Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment.” Then place your general pitch and your Optin form.
  • Step 2 – Install the Comment Redirect Plugin By Yoast. Set the redirect page to the one you just created in step one.

That’s it. You’re done. If you need a more in depth look at this process, I suggest you take a look at this awesome post by Ehsan at Guide and News.

5. Take Advantage Of Your Most Viewed Pages.

  • About Me Page – When people land on your blog for the first time, chances are they are going to your About page to find out more about you and why they should bother listening to you. This is the page where you are doing everything you can to convince them that you are worth following. If you do a good job of that most of those people will probably want to follow you. Why not give them a way to do that right then and there? Place at least one optin form in your About page.
  • Resources or Tools Page – Who doesn’t like free tools? Like the About Me page, your resources page gets a lot of traffic. Convert these readers into subscribers. A good way to do this is to place an Opt-In at the end of the page that will give them access to your favorite 3 tools. If they liked the rest of the tools on the page, chances are they will want know what your 3 favorite tools are.

6. Increase Subscription Rate By 50% By Just Removing One Field

Research by Dan Zarrella at Hubspot with over 40,000 contact forms (not email Opt-In forms) showed that the conversion rate improved by 50% when just one of the fields were removed.

textareas-resized-600

Think about it. What are you more likely to fill out? A form asking for 5 things or a form just asking for your email?

Ask yourself if every single piece of information you are asking them is necessary. If you have a separate field for last name and first name, don’t. Make that just one field. Simply looking at a form that has one more field to fill out even if it is asking for the exact same information is going to make sure you lose quite a few subscribers.

7. Give Your Readers Social Proof

We are social creatures by nature. No one wants to feel like they are the only subscriber of your blog. Having some social proof in your optin form or near it will give your readers the feeling that they are making the right choice by subscribing. Here are the most effective ways to create social proof.

  • Authority figures – This includes both people and companies. Pretty much anything that people trust or think of as an authority in your niche. Derek Halpern has a simple quote from Chris Brogan in or near his Opt-Ins that says “I’m totally loving Social Triggers”. You can also have logos of companies that you’ve worked with.
  • Subscriber count – Simply stating “Join over 10,000 subscribers” goes a long way. Just don’t broadcast how many subscribers you have if you only have a few. This will end up hurting you by giving your readers a reason not to follow your blog.
  • Social Media – Over 10,000 people follow you on Twitter? Let them know about it. I’d do this more subtly by simply placing the follow buttons nearby and allowing them to show how many followers you have.

Going to have to give credit where credit is due – This is from Neil’s post at Kissmetrics.

8. Let Your Guest Posts Do More For You

You write guest posts for a few reasons. You are either doing it for SEO, to become a recognizable and influential person in your niche, or so people will click on your links and follow through to your website. Either way the end goal is to get more subscribers. Why not make this easier for the people who click through?

According to Neil Patel at Kiss Metrics, your byline on guest posts should say exactly three things.

  • Who you are 
  • What you do
  • Call to action

This would look a little something like this:

This guest post is by Mark Trueman, who blogs about effective marketing for bloggers at ZenSpill.com Click here to get his free E-book on blah blah.

When they click on your call to action, send them directly to a landing page. This way they can skip the step of going to your blog and choosing to sign up.

9. Create An Incentive

Giving your reader a solid and immediate benefit can be powerful. This is why so many bloggers out there offer you something in return for subscribing. It’s because it works so well.

Giving your readers something immediate takes advantage of a psychological principle called temporal discounting. This the tendency of people to overestimate the importance of something when it’s immediate and underestimate the value of something when it is far away. Here’s how ASAP Science explains it (52 sec video) :

So maybe signing up for your newsletter is the smart choice for your reader in the long term, but they won’t feel the importance of it because it’s benefit is somewhere off in the far future. But giving them the possibility of gaining something in the next few seconds greatly increases its value, and gives them a compelling reason to sign up.

The trick is to find something that your readers actually want. If they don’t care at all about what you are offering them then temporal discounting isn’t going to help you out much.

Have you ever done anything that increased your blog’s subscription rate? Oh and are there any other ways to set up #2 without the subscribers magnet?

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48 Responses to “How To Grow Your Email Subscription By 400%”

  • This is absolutely killer information all at once!

    My blog is far from traditional, and I’m incorporating the feature box, post footer box, and pop up. I also have a form that’s only presented to first time commenters that works really well, and subscribe forms on all my blog pages.

    I don’t have a sidebar form and don’t miss it. 9 opt-ins out of 1300 impressions is nothing I’ll miss. Especially compared to my post footer box which is many, many times better. Actually, I don’t even have a sidebar lol

    Thanks for this awesome guide!
    -Gabe Johansson

    • Mark Trueman says:

      Thanks Gabe :)

      Just took a look at your blog. Its very unique and I think that’s a good thing.

      I can see how it would be hard to have a sidebar form with out a sidebar haha. But your design draws attention to the content and having forms in there like you do probably works really well.

      Your welcome :) glad you found the post useful.

      – Mark T.

  • Hi Mark,
    A very interesting and comprehensive post on email marketing. Everything you said here is very true and its obvious that email marketing is what every blogger should focus more on.

    Just like you said, social media sites might decide to shut you down one day but you’re the owner of your lists.

    The truth is that i have not really given this the desired attention, i also read that post by Ehsan and with that, together with this one, i will get to work ASAP.

    Thanks for the reminder my man.

    I also love Neil a lot.

    • Mark Trueman says:

      Hey Theodore,

      Thanks, glad you liked the post. Exactly, I think building a list is more important than any of the other things, but that doesn’t necessarily mean we should skip out on the other stuff.

      Ehsan’s post was epic as always. And no problem. I’m sure that you will build a list fast once you give it a little attention.

      – Mark T.

  • Shane says:

    Wow, that’s one thorough analysis!

    Really enjoyed this post, Mark. And thanks for recommending Hybrid! :)

  • D. Dixon says:

    Absolutely excellent post that I have just shared. I have started the subscription process and it is not easy by any stretch. Thanks for these pointers

    • Mark Trueman says:

      Hey D,

      Thanks for the share :)

      Yea, its a process with bit of a learning curve and it takes a while to get a handle on. Shoot me an email if you need help with this.

  • allison says:

    Hey Mark,

    I love how thorough this post is. Discovered a few blogs here that I’m going to need to start following.

  • Rob McNelis says:

    As always, great post Mark!

    I’m thinking about writing a post that digs deeper into the optin fields.

    Specifically, I want to test what’s more beneficial: the trust/attention you gain from having a subscribers first name vs. the extra subscribers you get by only having one field asking for an email address.

    Let me know if you have any thoughts or comments.

    Again, awesome post!

    • Mark Trueman says:

      Thanks Rob

      I was actually thinking about this. It would be a great case study. I would naturally think that there would be a benefit to using their name in each email but I’m curious to find out if that extra engagement would be worth losing a few more subscribers.

      Let me know if you end up doing a case study on this. I’d be happy to link to it :)

      – Mark T.

  • Alex says:

    Great post Mark! I wil have to add new places on my blog where to put my optins!

  • Ana Hoffman says:

    Love your writing style, Mark – I don’t read a whole lot of posts because the writers just don’t make it interesting enough for me to go into trouble, but you definitely command attention.

    What I did at TGC is this: I stripped my blog of all optin forms and started from scratch. I wanted to see which optin forms make the most difference.

    So far my lightbox one wins by far.

    Thanks so much for the mention!

    • Mark Trueman says:

      Thanks Ana. I appreciate that, especially since I’m sure that you’ve been to a lot of blogs and have seen a lot of different writing styles.

      That seems like a smart way to test things out for your particular blog and know for sure which optins are working best with your design. Seems like it generally is the lightbox that provides the best results.

      Np. Happy to link to it. It was a great post :)

      – Mark T.

  • Jennifer Cunningham says:

    Excellent tips and how to’s on building that vital email list. I’m curious. Why don’t you use comment luv for your comments?

    • Mark Trueman says:

      Thanks Jennifer. I have no problem with comment luv. I actually think its a great. The only reason I don’t use it is because I think it doesn’t flow well with my design.

  • Adrienne says:

    Hey Mark,

    Excellent post my friend and what valuable information you’ve shared.

    I KNOW I still have room for improvement. Now I do hot have the subscribe to all comments because I get so many that it freaks my readers out. Most of them didn’t realize what they were getting themselves into so I just disabled that plug-in altogether. I do have the plug-in under my comment section for them to opt-in and I get a LOT of subscribers through that little gem.

    I had wanted a box at the top of my blog and I actually won a contest last year. The guy was suppose to custom make me opt-in boxes for my blog to go in my sidebar, at the top of my homepage and at the bottom of my posts. He never came through and I finally just gave up on him. I would still like one but would probably have that custom made to match my sidebar which it’s about time for a new one of those too.

    I hate the pop-ups or the sliding opt-in boxes. They may convert but I find them so annoying.

    I don’t like the thank you page after the comment because when someone is sending me to one of those pages, I’m not able to share the post I just finished reading. Yeah, I do all of that after I’ve read the post and they aren’t giving me that option because they’ve already taken me off the page. Granted I understand we want more opt-ins but there is a better way.

    I actually added the phone number on my opt-in form and most people told me I was nuts. Guess what! I works beautifully and people are shocked and excited when I call them. It’s just to introduce myself and see if I can help them with anything and that’s all. They’re so happy and that one short conversation makes them feel like we’re already good friends. Trust me, it works and more people should do that instead of going the opposite direction. It’s about quality over quantity remember!

    I should put an opt-in box on some of my other pages so thanks for that tip. I never thought about my About Me page or my resource page. Great idea Mark, thanks.

    I appreciate the time you took to put this together and watch out, I’ll probably be featuring this one next month on my Thankful Thursday post. I love posts that will help my readers learn and move forward.

    Have a great weekend.

    ~Adrienne

    • Mark Trueman says:

      Hey Adrienne,

      Wow, I love how you take the time to write such thoughtful comments.

      Yea that would definitely not work on your blog, because they would get an email every few min about another comment on the post. It makes sense to disable it and just stick with the opt-in to blog check in.

      Making the box on top of the blog is actually very simple, its just very basic css and a little html. I should be relatively free next week, so I’ll see if I can code it up for you. Don’t give up on it because it’s a huge help in getting subscribers and don’t pay for it because you will get really overcharged.

      That was my original problem with pop-ups as well. Because i really hated them. But i found that showing them once every two months to my readers isn’t THAT annoying (though it still is) and it still gives me around a 400% increase in daily subscribers which I think makes it worth it.

      Hahah I actually have the same problem with redirects as well and so I don’t currently have it set up. I do want to eventually test it out though and see if it makes a noticeable difference in shares.

      That’s really interesting that the phone number works so well for you. I have never heard of it performing so well before. I can see how it can improve the engagement by giving your readers a more real/personal touch.

      Thanks Adrienne. Looking forward to it :) Glad you liked the post.

      – Mark T.

  • Hi,
    A great post! You have described everything about email marketing. I think everyone will get benefited with this informative article.
    Thanks.

  • Jane says:

    That’s fantastic information all under one roof, Mark. For me, the lightbox did no perform very well! But the feature post and the one after the post do equally well!

    It is sad to see so many blogs that only have a poor optin form at the sidebar. Thanks for shedding light on this topic :)

  • Anika Davis says:

    Great insights here Mark. Having many followers and subscribers on your own social network are great, but making sure that to convert them into qualified prospects is better.

  • Brian says:

    Awesome post, Mark!

    I’ve tried to reverse engineer some high-converting sites (like Social Triggers) at Backlinko. I’m getting a decent opt-in rate, but I think I’m going to add the subscription option to my comment area.

    I’d like to add one more strategy to get more subscribers: add an opt-in to your About page.

    This page gets A LOT of traffic. And it’s an awesome place to get a few more subscribers. Pat Flynn says that adding an opt-in form to his about page did wonders for his opt-in rate.

    Again, great stuff, Mark!

  • Mark Trueman says:

    Hey Brian,

    Thats the great thing about the internet. If you see some concept working for someone, you can easily apply that to your situation and see if it works. I find that the About pages as well as the Resources pages do well in terms of getting optins.

  • Isaiah Coe says:

    Wow Mark this is very comprehensive post on list building, thanks :)

  • Mark,

    Thank you for the hard core recommendations on boosting subscriptions. I knew there was a reason I hadn’t done it yet, and now I know why. It’s a lot of work. Thank you for showing me the path.

    Darin L. Hammond

  • Alexander says:

    So thorough, you could make a WSO out of this post!

  • Tega says:

    Awesome, thank you very much for this post going to work now placing this on my own blog. Thanks again

  • Hey Mark I love the information here. There were a couple of ideas i just didn’t think of like putting a subscribe me to free blog updates box. I can’t count how many times I’ve seen this but yet I never thought of doing it LOL…. It’s great to have bloggers like you that give great information like this. I’m always looking to improve my blog. Thanks for sharing!

  • Hey Mark,

    Amazing information. Thank you for sharing. I agree with Alexander that you should have posted it on WSO or create a report out of this posts. I am going to implement some of the suggestions right away.

    Best regards,

    Dita

  • Dita says:

    Hi Mark,

    I wrote another comment but I don’t know if it went through. However, I just wanted to add another comment.

    I read Adrianne’s post where she mentioned your blog posts and linked to it (that is how I found your blog posts).

    You have done an amazing job in helping Adrianne place an optin box in the header of her blog. Honestly!

    I’d love if you could share your expertise on your blog. So many of us want to improve our blogs but our technical knowledge prevents us.

    Any way, thanks for sharing these great ideas.

    Regards,

    Dita

  • Dakota says:

    Hey Mark,

    I have had very little focus on gaining subscribers in the past. It is becoming a focus now.
    I am glad that you mention various ways here as I’m not really comfortable going the pop up route. They annoy me, so I don’t want to put that on my valuable readers.
    I think content has to be mentioned, as it is a key ingredient to readers wanting to get more.
    Thanks for the awesome education. I am tweeting it!

    ~Dakota

  • It was an awesome read and a very well researched article Vaibhav. I totally agree with the idea of Lighbox subscription box, like you even I was afraid of using it, however once I started using it – I noticed 2 things-

    1. Subscription rate increased by 200%
    2. It did not effect the bounce rate of my website.

    Also I agree with the fact that email list are your assets, I recently faced Google Flak on my websites, but my email lists helped me in still running my business, its the most important thing for a blogger or website owner.

  • Apollo says:

    Very nice post. Plenty of great tips that actually work. Thanks for posting this Mark.

  • Adam Dukes says:

    A great write up on how to increase email subscriptions. I recently added an ebook (also using Hybrid Connect) instead of just asking to sign up and increased my subs by 300+%.

    My pop up is my highest pulling form.

  • Hi,

    This is an AWESOME epic post. I had to print it out so that I can refer back to it.
    I use Hybrid Connect and have had an ebook as a freebie on my site almost from the beginning. I got HC about 4 months ago.

    Thanks for all the great info.
    Geri

  • Stephan says:

    Hi Mark,
    This is the first time i have visited your blog, team Blogengage brings me here.
    This article attract me a lot, I can tell you just provided very useful tip for all bloggers. i mean this can improve E mail subscriptions effectively.
    Thanks for your valuable information Mark, your blog is one of my favourite from now.

    Stephan

  • qasim says:

    Hi,

    Adding the opt-in form at the end of the post is a great way to increase subscribers also showing authoritative info can help people to take the discussion to opt-in your list. Thanks for providing these great tips.

  • Denis D. says:

    I had no idea that there was a comments redirect plugin. I always wondered how people place anything they want on the thank you comments page and now I know. A lot of useful info here on growing a list. I will definitely begin implementing some of these when I start building my own list.

  • Uche nwokolo says:

    Hi mark i love this post and your blog keep on the good work, am a new blogger but stil finding it hard to get both traffic subscriber.any help would be apperciated


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