Suzy: Week 13 Goals – Growing her Subscriber List

Suzy's Goals for her travel blog, Week 13 - Subscriber List Building
13 November 2009 Post Author:
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If you’re wondering what this Case Study is all about, please read the introductory post from Week One.

Last week we discussed the reasons why Suzy needs an email subscriber list, along with several popular options for adding an opt-in (sign-up) form to your travel blog and managing your list.

This week we’re discussing various methods Suzy can use to encourage site visitors to sign up for her email subscriber list.

By regularly posting fresh, interesting content to your travel blog, you’ll attract a few subscribers as some people just prefer email to an RSS Feed reader, but if you really want to build your list and get more subscribers quickly, you need to offer them something more. Something that will convince them to give you their email address, which many people guard fiercely.

Each step in the Flow Chart links to explanations, free tools, and resources

Methods for attracting subscribers include:

  • Exclusive content – make it clear that your newsletter includes valuable information that non-subscribers don’t get;
  • Giveaways with sign-up required:
    • Freebies that cost you nothing, give them to everyone who subscribes;
    • Low cost items, have a monthly or quarterly drawing from your subscribers;
    • More expensive items, have an annual drawing from your subscribers;
  • Offering discounts on relevant products or services – ideally as your readership grows you can negotiate exclusive discounts, but at first if you can simply find and announce existing discounts and coupons to your readers, that’s a value that they’ll appreciate;

There are literally thousands of people and companies out there who will give you eBooks, Reports, and other things to give away – they’re counting on the chance that at least some of the people that you give them to will also visit their website, maybe purchase something from them, and possibly even sign up for their subscriber list too. The key is to find those items that are relevant to your travel niche and of interest to your readers.

Don’t be afraid to approach retailers or manufacturers of relevant products or services to ask them if they’d be interested in partnering with you for a giveaway. Many manufacturers have low-cost items they can give away, and are willing to offer a discount coupon for other items to your readers – for them it represents brand-building and customer acquisition, for you it builds your subscriber list.

Also, if you are able to regularly partner with related companies to offer giveaways, consider NOT requiring subscription to your list to enter, but only announce the giveaways in advance to your subscribers. If you allow anyone to enter, but give your subscribers first notice, that by itself convinces more people to sign up for your email list. I only recommend this method if you’re doing frequent giveaways.

One fact of life that everyone who sends out a newsletter has to deal with is unsubscribes. It happens. People unsubscribe for a wide variety of reasons, but if you get a high percentage of your readers unsubscribing, that tells you that you’re not offering enough value to them. By making sure that every issue contains something unique, relevant, and valuable, you’ll keep your unsubscribes low.

Tip: Most of the major online email subscriber list management providers, including those mentioned in last week’s post, offer the option to ask subscribers why they are choosing to leave your list. If you’re using a plugin instead, be sure to redirect them to a page on your site that asks them to offer a reason for leaving your list – this is valuable feedback and can help you improve your newsletter to retain more readers!

Stay tuned! It’s been a long road, but next week we’ll begin to talk about ways that Suzy can monetize her travel blog – the ultimate goal, so that she can someday slow down the crazy busy pace of her life as a travel writer!

~Trisha

What techniques do you use to increase subscribers? Share your advice!

5 Responses to “Suzy: Week 13 Goals – Growing her Subscriber List”

  1. Dave and Deb
    Twitter:
    says:

    This is amazing advice. I am going to get on working on drawings and contests for subscribers. This is something that we haven’t worked on very much in the past, but over the last few months I have realized the value of subscribers. Thanks again for the valuable information!

    • Thanks Dave and Deb!

      You two have a wonderful niche that lends itself well to contests – lots of sponsors would offer products for you to give away, and you could combine a giveaway with a review of the product, like Donna Hull from MyItchyTravelFeet.com is doing with this Balanzza Digital Luggage Scale – she reviewed it and is giving one away.

      I think you should go for it!

  2. Melissa says:

    Hi Trisha!

    I love this series, you give great advice! I was wondering what the threshold is for a good subscriber list and what isn’t in regards to selling advertising. I’ve got well over 2,500 subscribers for my monthly newsletter, yet I can’t seem to get any paying advertisers. Any advice?

    Thanks!

    • Hi Melissa

      Thanks for your kind words – I’m glad to hear you’re enjoying the series!

      I looked at your site, and it’s truly very nice. And 2500+ subscribers is a great accomplishment to be proud of.

      I believe the problem you’re having is that attracting advertisers for the type of direct advertising that we discuss in Suzy: Week 16 Goals–Direct Advertising is more challenging when you’re not focused on a specific, relatively small, travel niche.

      This is because advertisers are loathe to spend money without reaching highly targeted readers, and there are a number of giant websites out there doing a better job of attracting travelers (think Travelocity, TripAdvisor, Orbitz, etc) than most travel blogs are. They reach hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of travelers daily.

      A blog that features all types of travel to all (or many) different destinations won’t give Advertisers the results they’d want for the money they’d invest in advertising there.

      But all is not lost! This is where standard Affiliate Ads come into play – read our installment Suzy: Week 15 Goals–Affiliate Advertising for an explanation – this works well for unfocused blogs or small sites, because it costs the advertiser nothing unless they get a result (a purchase, for example), which is when you get paid.

      So my suggestion would be to sign up for an account with several Affiliate Program such as Commission Junction, Google Affiliate Network, and LinkShare, and start displaying some relevant ads in addition to the Google Adsense you already have. Seek out related products that you can try and recommend, for which you can earn some affiliate income.

      Good luck!

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