The simplest way to increase your blog subscriptions

17 12 2010

As I’ve previously noted, Copyblogger.com is a fantastic site dedicated to copywriting and building a successful website. With over 130,000 professional writers, bloggers and content producers on the mailing list, Copyblogger clearly is a trusted authority on effective writing and content marketing.

Contributor Willy Franzen — who writes a blog about entry-level jobs for new college graduates — recently shared some valuable insights on the danger of using the words “subscription” and “subscribe” when trying to entice readers to sign up for your site’s mailing list.

Franzen writes:

“A week and a half ago, I had a sudden realization. Subscriptions generally cost money. Think about that for a second. It’s jarring, especially if you’ve spent the past few months or even years incessantly asking your readers to subscribe.”

Franzen’s point is that you need to make it completely obvious to readers that it won’t cost them a penny to have useful, valuable content delivered to them via e-mail or RSS. If not, you run the risk of turning them off. When many readers hear the word “subscription,” they think of paying a fee to have a magazine or newspaper delivered to them. You need to make it crystal clear that this is a completely different proposition.

The best way to avoid confusion over blog “subscriptions” is to not use the words “subscribe” or “subscription” at all.

Franzen continues:

“Most of my subscribers use one of the two large buttons on my site. The buttons used to include the text ‘Subscribe by E-mail’ and ‘Subscribe by RSS,’ along with appropriate graphics. After I had my epiphany, I switched the text to ‘Get Jobs by E-mail’ and ‘Get Jobs by RSS.’

Franzen instantly saw results. His subscription rate spiked, increasing by a whopping 254% following the change.

The dramatic increase speaks to the larger point of avoiding jargon in copywriting, even if it’s not jargon to you. The words “subscribe” and “subscription” aren’t jargon you say? When they mean one thing in the print world and another in the online world, they are jargon. It’s the writer’s job — in all forms of writing — to ensure that the reader doesn’t get confused. During my time as a sportswriter in newspapers, the expression “write for your mom” came up a lot. While that expression might be insulting to sports-savvy moms everywhere, the point about avoiding jargon is well taken.

It probably took Franzen less than five minutes to alter his subscription invitations. A few minutes of work for a 254% increase in regular readership is a mighty impressive return on investment.


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