How To Grow Your Email Subscription By 400%

Want to increase your subscription rate by 400% with a few quick changes?

At this point, you probably understand the importance of getting 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:

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:

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.

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:

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.

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:

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

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:

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 opt-in 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 to 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.

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 opt-in 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 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?

Jill Caren
Jill Caren is the owner of ZenSpill, and is a part-time blogger who also works full time as an SEO Manager for Stratabeat, a digital marketing agency. Jill has been an SEO professional for over 15 years and has successfully built, sold, and flipped many websites over the years. Her passion is in making SEO easy to understand and showcasing different SEO tools to make SEO more manageable. Connect with her on LinkedIn!