How I Increased Subscription Rate By x% Using Exclusive Content

I created Marketing Metrics as a brand new blog at the beginning of 2021. To kickstart my blog I wanted some good content that provides value to my readers. At this point, I'm not bothered much about keywords. I just wanted to create something valuable that will help me generate goodwill and find a subscriber base.

The Content

To start with content creation, I had 2 major priorities

  1. My content should be highly targeted and relevant on a single subject area on which I want to build authority
  2. The content should have immediate value for the reader so that they ask for more

My first post was about one of my favorite topics: How Successful Indie Businesses Modified Their Landing Pages To Gain More Conversions. It met both the conditions. It was relevant to the central idea of the blog "Conversion Optimization" and valuable for readers as they could immediately learn some techniques used by other bootstrapped businesses.

By this time I've also researched that there is no other authoritative and affordable optimization service in the market targeting bootstrapped creators. So if I can create well-researched posts on this subject I can gain a substantial user base and develop products related to this topic.

I wrote a long post (around 1200 words) with detailed research comparing pre and post versions of landing pages of growing bootstrapped businesses. Then I cleaned it up with Grammarly and Hemmingway - to remove mistakes and improve readability.

My goals with the blog post were:

  1. Grow my email subscribers
  2. Create a constant flow of traffic to my blog
  3. Grow my audience in different communities (like Twitter and Linkedin)
  4. Get backlinks to rank for SEO in long term (6-8 months)

Growing Email Subscribers

I created a call to action for this. I added a CTA at the end of the post asking people to subscribe to my email list if they liked my post. From my earlier experience with blogging, I know that typically websites have 1-3% conversion rates for email subscriptions.

Twitter and Linkedin

Currently, I've no plan to direct my audience to Twitter or Linkedin. Once I build my email subscribers base, I can promote my Linkedin/Twitter to people who are already subscribed to my mailing list. There are 2 reasons for that.

  1. On Twitter, I can't make sure all my Tweets reach my audience. Unless people switch on the notification on Twitter, over which I have no control, I can't reach out to people with every single message.
  2. If I plan to deliver exclusive content to my audience that's not possible in Twitter. So offering to give away something valuable for a follow will not work for Twitter.
  3. I don't want to bet everything on a single community. If for some reason, Twitter is no longer my preferred platform to grow an audience in a year or two I should still be able to retain my subscribers base.

The beauty of an email subscription is many folds but below are the 3 reasons I prefer email over anything else:

  1. I can ensure that there is a high level of intent from the person subscribing to my email list. I'll not subscribe to someone's emails list unless I'm really interested in their content. But following someone in social media doesn't require that level of commitment.
  2. It ensures discipline. I promise my email subscribers that I'll send them quality content at least once a week. That will make me more committed to producing content at regular intervals. In my experience, having a similar level of commitment is very difficult on social platforms.
  3. I can measure the success of my email content by tracking open rates and click-through rates that comes from a specific group of people. So I can measure my email contents apple-to-apple. Even though social platforms have some indicators like impressions and engagements, we don't know for sure why a particular post got more impressions- was it because of its timing, content, or something else. Many times good posts don't get traction and many times casual comments go viral. We are too much dependent on the algorithm.

Distribution

If I just post the article on my blog and wait for it to magically get traffic that''s never going to happen. Those days on the internet are over unless maybe you are The New York Times or something similar.

So when the content was ready along with an email capture form and homepage, my next step was to distribute it in various channels to attract traffic.

I started with IndieHackers, on a Friday. Not the best day to share content, I got only 2 upvotes, 9 comments, and around 40 views in the first few days. But what encouraged me was comments like this (Thank you thearslankhalid, you made my day!):

social1.png

I received several such comments but the post never made it to IH front page. So I decided to take it to Reddit and this time on a weekday for more eyeballs.

I targeted a few subreddits in the following order:

  1. A small sub with 6k members where good contents are appreciated- it received a decent response and 10-12 visitors
  2. The next target was the copywriting community. Although my post was for conversion optimization, it had a decent focus on copy. So I tried this community to check the response. I was posting on this sub for the first time- so was a bit cautious and repurposed the write-up for the audience. Again lots of appreciative comments but limited traffic.
  3. Finally, I targeted bigger subs like EntrepreneurRideAlong and Entrepreneur and received 60+ upvotes in one of them, 20+ in the other, and received 600 visitors and 5 subscribers to my email list.

Lessons So Far

  1. Be mindful of the days on which you post on a certain social media. Usually, Fridays- Sundays are not very good to get attention.
  2. In Reddit, customize your heading for each sub, and make sure it's suitable for that particular audience.
  3. Test in smaller subs and incorporate the comments/improvements if any before posting in bigger subs
  4. The posts might not get the kind of virality you expect purely because of luck. I've learnt from different sources that even most popular influencers experienced only a 10% strike rate with virality with their initial posts. So even if the post gets a lukewarm response, don't get disheartened and start working on your next project.

As I'm trying to start using HackerNews I also posted the link of my post to HN with the title: "How to Use Reddit as an IndieHacker". It got no upvotes, I just watched the post drawing in the "New" section and disappear :/

I thought: "ok, my post wasn't that good, I'll write a new one and try again".

Retry!

A few days later, I read a tweet from someone explaining that you should re-post your content on HN. That can make some results and the community is ok with that.

So I tried. I just made a small modification in the title: instead of

"How to Use Reddit as an IndieHacker"

I did

"How to use Reddit to get your first users"

I know that getting the first users is a real pain (that's why I created SpreadTheWorld), so I figured that, maybe, it will catch more attention.

I checked an hour later and the post got a massive spike on my analytics tool!

hackernews spike analytics

The post just exploded! At this time I got 36 upvotes and was #5 on the homepage!

Homepage of Hacker News

That day was crazy! My blog post stayed on the homepage for almost 8hrs, brought me, 6000 visitors - sometimes more than 100 concurrent users!

I also got 100+ comments on the HN post, I spent the day answering them and trying to keep the momentum going!

I also monitored Twitter to thank every shout-out and try to create some momentum there as well.

Here is the live Tweet

Final Stats

A week after the post, here are the stats:

7.2k visits on my blog

25 new followers on Twitter

350 visitors on SpreadTheWorld homepage

A few sales only (during the first 8hrs), a few more afterward

The conversion wasn't good!

I told you earlier that I had some CTA on the blog + on the bottom of my post to convert the audience.

They didn't work! A very few people clicked on them, the bottom of my post was too muddled and the text was too vague:

muddled footer cta

I updated it to:

improved footer cta

And it worked! The conversion rate jumped from 0,6% to 2,3%:

And I also added a CTA in the header (the day after) - a lot of visitors wasn't going to the end of the post:

cleaned header with CTA

The conversion is now way higher, almost 10% of the blog visitors go on the product page!

I did all these experiments during the rush, so I kind of miss this wave of visitors, but I'm ready for the next one!

Takeaways

Distribution is super important, more than anything else. Create a good product/content and post it to every (big) community. You never know if it's going to work so just share it!

Retry, if it does not work on a platform try to submit it to another one. If it still doesn't work update the content/title and re-post it!

CTA is crucial. Understand before posting what your goals are and monitor the conversion (I didn't do it, I regret it…)

You need months to leverage good content!

Do you need help to grow your audience or distribute your content? DM me on Twitter I'm always happy to help!

Next Steps

I wanted to start some SEO efforts that will generate traffic to my product. I know SEO is a long term game, I thought that maybe I can leverage the content through distribution.