Researching methods to improve subscriber numbers I have found lots of ideas that could help, and a lot of them that just stunk. Here is a quick what not to do, and three great ways to get more. Read to the end on this one, the third and last tip could be one of your best bits of advice.
I Know How To Subscribe
Some of the first bits of information I found suggested that you have a dedicated page to explain how to subscribe to your site. I have a few arguments against that. To clarify something here, there are two commonly suggested methods. A how to subscribe (as if you don’t what an RSS feed is), and a how to specifically subscribe to the feed (as in where is the url or form). This is about the how to subscribe page as if the user does not know how.
My first point against having a how to page is the simple fact that your users already know how, and if they don’t you are not going to win them over anyhow. Assuming you are reckless enough to offer only a RSS subscription, and not support email subscribers, then you are assuming that these RSS subscribers know where or how to read their subscriptions. Are you targeting a large “never subscribed to a RSS feed” audience? Don’t waste your time. Subscribers subscribe to a site because they already know how, and they like the content. You don’t need to explain it. Leave that to sites that explain RSS feeds.
The second point I have against this is for those of you that support email subscriptions. Do you really need to have a page to explain how to subscribe to your site? Make your form do the work, and explain things during the process. You can see how I did my form on the top of the left sidebar of this site. I quickly explain what to type in the box, and the button tells the user what they are doing. I use Feedburners email subscribing form, and explanation and validation is all easily handled by them. Looking at the screenshot I took below, you can see how they validate the email after the user hits the Subscribe button, and how it gives instructions on what to do next.
What about email subscribers that don’t validate after they complete the first part of the subscription? You could try reminding them with a personal email, but I say they simply didn’t subscribe. I have chased those half way subscribers before. The numbers are dismal, and hardly worth your time. I know they are not worth my time anyhow.
The third point I have against this is the simple fact that you could be confusing the user in an attempt to clarify things for the user. What I am suggesting is that an extra link is required someplace, and that the link/page is designed to explain the subscription process. Isn’t the point to get subscribers? Don’t waste your visitors clicks, attention, or time.
They know how to subscribe already.
Three Winning Methods that Will Get Subscribers
There are three winning methods to get subscribers in my book.
The first is offering something for subscribing. Whether it be a freebie of some sort, or inside information, most anything will work. The trick to this though is creating a specific landing page just for it. You will still get more subscribers without a landing page, but if your goal is to bump those numbers up in a hurry you are going to have to sell it.
The second method is more obvious, an that is to not hide it. I have a few spots where I remind visitor to subscribe. I ask them to subscribe in the left sidebar which is located on every page of this site. I ask them again in the footer of all my static pages, and I also ask them in the light blue box below every post I make. Basically, I ask them at least twice.
The third method could be your best, and is a little bit of a secret. Use Google Analytics or some other platform to see where your subscribers are coming from. On this site, I have set a goal on Google Analytics to see where my subscribers are coming from. Since I know where my subscribers are coming from, I know where to chase and get more of them. A good referring site that is getting you a lot of subscribers could also be an excellent place to advertise. Highly targeted visitors that obviously like your content.
Do you know where your subscribers are coming from? Let me know if not, and I will do a quick tutorial post on how to set up the goal on Google Analytics.