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Convert Visitors To Subscribers

3 Ways To Convert Visitors To Subscribers And Reduce Your Blog’s Bounce Rate

A lot of blogs (especially early on) will have a high “bounce rate”, or many of their visitors will click somewhere else after they have visited the blog. This mostly, in my opinion, is due to:

  • A) The short attention span of most people.
  • B) The use of “sharing” sites that link a lot of visitors to a page (think Facebook, Twitter, Stumbleupon, etc.)

But did you know that there are things you can do to better convert these passersby?

Before you read on, you should also know that the rest of your visitors will probably come “organically”, that is, they will find you via a search engine looking for search terms related to your content.

“Okay then, tell me something I don’t know!” Chances are, if you monitor any stastics about your blog or are familiar with blogging in general, you may know this already.

So how can you go above and beyond the average blogger and be sure your site has a high “visitors to subscribers” conversion rate? Besides an eye appealing general site design, be sure to follow these 3 key points.

1. Make sure subscription/follow option stands out, and is above the fold

I have visited and enjoyed a lot of great blogs – but one disappointing thing that I notice far too often is that quite a few of the bloggers don’t make it simple and easy for readers (and me!) to subscribe, simply because they ‘hide’ their subscription methods way down the page (or an even worse scenario, they don’t show them at all!).

If one of your goals as a blogger is to grow your readership then one great way to capture first time readers is to get them to subscribe (whether that be to an RSS feed, an RSS to Email service or a newsletter). If you hide or obscure these options you’re not likely to get the conversions.

The best approach that you can use to converting these new readers into subscribers is to place your subscription options prominently in a sidebar, and for additional conversion success, under posts on single post pages (usually below the fold). This means that whether a new reader is above or below the fold they are invited to subscribe.

2. Have some way for readers to get in contact with you

A lot of blogs can leave a reader feeling like they know a little bit about the blogger; and if you are posting about a topic in depth, or are just posting about yourself, this should be true.

So another key way to invoke a community within your blog and a closer relationship with your readers that will turn into ‘reader loyalty’ and increase the chances that your readers will share their blog with their friends, is to have some sort of options letting readers contact you, outside of just leaving a comment.

I understand some bloggers desires to have privacy or to cut down the admin of their blogs by keeping themselves difficult to contact, but by doing so you not only filter the potential weirdos but also legitimate opportunities, potential partnerships etc.

Contact options don’t necessarily have to be giving out your email address – you could have a contact form, give Twitter details, have an IM option or give other social networking profiles (social networking, when done right, has served as a great resource for staying in contact without revealing sensitive info like an email address).

3. Let readers know what your blog is ‘about’ the moment they enter

This point is closely tied to the use of sharing and social networking sites, especially sites like StumbleUpon: people surfing the internet (while they may be ‘killing time’ as they do it) do not want their time to be wasted on content that they have no interest in.

The drawback for you is that most people who happen upon your blog are not going to snoop around to find out what it is about. If you want to have any chance of them hanging around, it needs to be obvious from the get go.

Some great ways to do this are through the use of a logo, or small description at the very top of the page that lets readers know exactly what your are about.

Mostly this point needs to be heeded because you may be letting potentially interested readers slip through your fingers by not making your blog’s topic apparent: they may have had every intention to subscribe if they knew your blog was about “Piano Playing”, but since you didn’t make it obvious, they clicked away and were lost forever.

Gregory Ciotti is a content strategist who is obsessed with behavioral psychology. He's the marketing guy at Help Scout, the invisible email support software for solopreneurs & small business owners.

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{ 28 comments… add one }

  • Lorenzo March 29, 2013, 9:53 am

    Also take a look at related post plugins like nRelate, LinkWithin, and Outbrain. They will show related content right after your post to keep your visitors engaged.

  • Govind Choudhary February 8, 2012, 12:42 pm

    Great Tips to convert visitors to subscribers..Gonna try a plugin that will show my subscription box just after the posts..Thanks :)
    Govind Choudhary recently posted..Facebook Going To Start Showing Ads on Mobile PhonesMy Profile

  • J Campos January 22, 2012, 5:27 pm

    Hi Gregory,
    I’ve realized that commenting is also a excellent way to reduce bounce rate. Each time someone post a comment, the page’s refresh, so it doesn’t count as bounce even if the visitor leave it right away. If you really promote commenting, you will work to reduce the bounce rate.

    Regards,
    JC
    J Campos recently posted..Bounce Rate, a medida da qualidade do seu blog ou siteMy Profile

  • Mohd Akbar December 3, 2011, 6:47 am

    These tips are very helpful to me. I am glad i found this post. This Blog is very informative. I will surely come back to visit new post sooner or later.
    Mohd Akbar recently posted..Facebook Smartphone – Does It Make Sense?My Profile

  • Mike November 27, 2011, 12:58 am

    These are some good tips!
    I particularly like the tip about letting readers contact you easily. This is definitely overlooked by a lot of bloggers. I think it’s also very beneficial to add a photo and at least one video on the blog to build a connection with readers.
    I feel like I personally know some of my favorite bloggers that use videos and photos.

    P.S – I’m starting to check out Sparring Mind. It has some great content :)
    Mike recently posted..How to Keep Returning Visitors on Your BlogMy Profile

  • Abi September 23, 2011, 12:54 pm

    Totally agree! It’s annoying when you can’t find the subscribe buttons when you want to connect with a blog!

  • Isha Singh September 21, 2011, 2:43 pm

    Hi Gregory,

    Appreciate your post. but following all point still i am lacking somewhere. should i use pop-up email subscriber box or it would be annoying for readers?
    Isha Singh recently posted..[How-To] Use WordPress Conditional TagsMy Profile

    • Gregory C. September 21, 2011, 8:21 pm

      Hey there,

      Pop-ups can annoy people, so my favorite option is to do a “Feature Box” like they have on the DIYThemes blog, it’s a large box at the top of your site on the homepage that offers people reasons to subscribe.

      It’s gets as much attention as a pop-up, but is far less annoying, at least in my opinion.

      I’m going to be adding this to SparringMind.com after I switch over to Thesis.
      Gregory C. recently posted..The Top 10 Best Web Analytic Tools: If It’s Not Worth Measuring, It’s Not Worth DoingMy Profile

  • Steve September 20, 2011, 12:44 pm

    Solid Tips here. These all certainly help.

    I think in this day and age you need more, though. People have begun to expect something for nothing so some form of giveaway helps a lot too. Hopefully you have some piece of valuable content that you can give away as a sign up bonus to help drive those numbers in addition to these other three (essential) steps.
    Steve recently posted..I Need $1000! THE 30-Day Plan for Making Fast Internet IncomeMy Profile

  • Morgan September 20, 2011, 12:19 pm

    Hey Gregory,

    I go to sites on a daily basis that have absolutely NO contact information on their site. Sometimes they’ll have an ‘about page’ but again, no twitter, no facebook, no email, no nothing. I gotta wonder how they plan to run their blog/business without an easy way for people to get a hold of them.

    Hiding your email is never a good idea. It irritates people enough to make them leave, rather than stay and stick around to see what you have to offer.

    Thanks for the tips!!
    Morgan recently posted..The Growing Trend of People NOT Saying ThanksMy Profile

  • Grady Pruitt September 20, 2011, 11:43 am

    Having recently changed my site over to a blog, these are some great tips! I’ve already set up many of them prior to seeing this post, and I saw my bounce rate significantly improve.

    Thanks for sharing!
    Grady Pruitt recently posted..How To Start Achieving Your Goals In LifeMy Profile

  • Jamie Northrup September 20, 2011, 9:14 am

    I think I do well for all three, however my subscription widget / form is quite boring and ugly at the moment, I’m working on it, but am so uninspired and have tried dozens of options in the past week and still haven’t found the one, but I’m still working on it.
    Jamie Northrup recently posted..Blogging Challenge Accepted: 21 Quick Actions for Your BlogMy Profile

    • Gregory C. September 20, 2011, 11:40 am

      Hey Jamie,

      That can be a problem, finding a good looking opt-in.

      I would recommend either Opt-In Domination (from the makers of Pop-Up Domination) or I would hire someone from eLance to make you one, they usually run aroun $60 from my experience.
      Gregory C. recently posted..The Ultimate Guide To Marketing Your Brand On Google+My Profile

  • Ryan Biddulph September 20, 2011, 2:26 am

    Hi Gregory,

    Solid tips here.

    Be clear, so readers understand immediately what you have to offer. Write a descriptive, specific tag line. Of course, make sure your title is spot on. As for the forms, I use a pop up and side-bad opt in above the fold. 2 chances to subscribe, to build a long term relationship with my readers.

    Another tip to lower bounce rate: don’t give readers too many choices. Keep decision making to a minimum so decisions are made. Too many ads, too many options, widgets, pages, all clutter the mind. A cluttered mind is a confused mind, and rarely makes any decision at all. This person just bounces the moment overwhelm takes over.

    SIMPLE might be the most important buzzword. Make your decision clear and focused. Point readers to your opt in box by reducing all distractions or choices around the box. My form is as simple as pie, but my opt-ins jumped up five fold the day after I made the change. Clarity.

    Thanks for sharing your insight!

    RB
    Ryan Biddulph recently posted..How to Be a Cash Gifting LeaderMy Profile

    • Gregory C. September 20, 2011, 8:34 am

      Very, very good points on the importance of simplicity and excess choice for readers Ryan.

      I’m actually preparing a post on my own blog on marketing (SparringMind.com) about the importance of the navigation of your blog in terms of where it takes people.

      I’m going to focus on the fact that nearly ALL of your pages should be taking readers to either content (ie a blog post) or a place where they can find out more about your site with the option to subscribe right on the page.

      In all honestly, nearly all other widgets and gadgets are unnecessary, I like having a “resources” section, an about me page, and a popular posts widget, and plenty of opt-in forms!

      Thanks for your comment.
      Gregory C. recently posted..The Ultimate Guide To Marketing Your Brand On Google+My Profile

  • Mitt Ray September 19, 2011, 8:32 pm

    Hi Gregory – Great Post. Thank you for sharing it with us. One more point I would add is to give a free gift in the form of a white paper, guide or video to anybody who signs up. – Mitt
    Mitt Ray recently posted..Should You Focus on a White Paper Writing Niche?My Profile

    • Gregory C. September 20, 2011, 8:32 am

      Thanks for the comment Mitt!

      And you are definitely right, a freebie attached to any sort of sign up is guaranteed to increase conversions.

      I like to use the PDF styles that I’ve found on GraphicRiver.net to make my e-Books look more professional.
      Gregory C. recently posted..The Ultimate Guide To Marketing Your Brand On Google+My Profile

  • Alan Tay September 19, 2011, 6:48 pm

    I even tried before not able to find any RSS subscription link where I have to manually type and guess the feed link. It is important we make the subscription button big enough so that it is easy to let our readers subscribe. And I agree as well on the About and Contact Form. Sometimes I just need to directly reach the owner of the blog and I personally feel that is the best way to keep some privacy in between
    Alan Tay recently posted..Kaspersky 2012 Hybrid Protection with Cloud ProtectionMy Profile

  • Kevin Martineau September 19, 2011, 5:17 pm

    Hi Gregory:

    Your first point really stood out to me because I had this experience today on a new blog I was checking out. I liked the blog and I wanted to subscribe to it but I had to work really hard to find out how. It was definitely frustrating! I don’t want to create this experience for my readers.. :)

    Kevin
    Kevin Martineau recently posted..Do fewer things in order to make a greater impactMy Profile

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