Growth is a funny thing. You can follow all the steps to build your subscriber list, but success can never really be ensured—despite what the author of those steps tells you.
There are simply too many variables and angles. That may sound like a problem, but it’s actually an opportunity. How can you leverage the various behaviors of your audience to create a robust subscriber list?
Simple Things Aren’t Always Simple
Researchers say that having a plant in your home improves your emotional health. But have those researchers actually tried keeping a plant alive? The instructions are often simple: sunshine plus water equals a happy plant.
Except, that’s not how it happens (at least on the first try). As your new potted companion begins to wilt, you think, it must need more water. You give it more water, but it continues to wilt. Then you get on Google and discover that you might be over-watering it. Or that the plant gets too much sunlight. Or too little. Suddenly, that simple addition to your home is a pitiful reminder that you have a lot to learn about plants.
Of course, keeping a plant alive isn’t rocket science. You simply have to learn the variables and the specific needs of each type of plant.
Real Growth Isn’t Simple, But It Isn’t Hard
Building your platform is a similar process. You go to Google, search for advice, and find a blog post (maybe this blog post). The author spells out a simple “trick” to boost engagement. A + B = growth. But one type of action can only do so much for you before your content loses traction.
To achieve real growth, you need to approach your goals from different angles. Earlier this week, we talked about how a viral loop can accelerate the growth of your email subscriber list. And this is true. We’ve seen successful platforms do it again and again. But at some point, that growth may stall, the tactic will become familiar, and you will realize that you need a more holistic approach to growing your email list to sustain growth for the long haul.
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Be Like Mike
This is what happened to Michael Hyatt, founder of Platform University. A few years into his blog, Michael had around 150,000 monthly site visitors but only 2,700 subscribers. He tackled the discrepancy with a diverse set of approaches. Within nine months, he added 28,000 new subscribers to his list.
It wasn’t magic. In fact, his steps are shockingly practical. Here are the seven strategies Michael used—and you can use too—to exponentially grow his subscriber list:
- Generate content worth reading. This is basic, but we can’t emphasize it enough. No one will subscribe to something they don’t want to read. You have to write quality content—and leave them wanting more.
- Use a dedicated list subscription system. Google offers the free Feedburner service for RSS, but paid services like ConvertKit or AWeber offer more control.
- Make your signup form highly visible. Keep this “above the fold,” where no scrolling is required to find it. Place the signup in your sidebar or try a pop-up window.
- Offer an incentive for subscribing. This is huge. In Michael’s case, he wrote an ebook called “Creating Your Personal Life Plan” and offered it free to anyone who would signup. If you think an ebook is beyond you, try compiling past blog posts together into an ebook format.
- Design a branded email template. Quality is key. Michael hired a developer to design an email template in MailChimp. This insured his emails matched his branding and included built-in social media buttons so people could share posts with their friends and followers.
- Follow-up with your subscribers. Use auto-responder emails to send out a welcome message after readers confirm their subscription. Thank them, set expectations, and after three weeks, send out another message, again thanking them and inviting them to share my posts with their friends. This gives readers time to find value in your work.
- Remind your readers to signup. Michael used a pop-up form that disappeared after the first three times a reader visits (to not be annoying). As a result, he added a sign-up form at the bottom of each post. This serves as a constant, low-pressure reminder as it may take some people several posts before they get comfortable subscribing.
Your tactics may vary, depending on what stage you’re at in the process, but the principles Michael employed are applicable at every level. With a little focused effort—and perhaps a modest investment of time and money—you can dramatically increase the number of people who subscribe to your blog.