It’s hard. You know how important a blog can be to your social media efforts so you’ve dedicated real time to building it out and making it the focal point of your social marketing strategy. You slave over it trying to make your blog a place that houses both useful content and great community discussions. But even so, your closest competitor has 2,000 more blog subscribers than you do and you feel like you’ll never catch up. How is he/she doing it and what can you do to not only match, but beat the numbers?
Here are ten reasons why your competition has double your blog subscribers and what you can do to help turn it around.
They tested their RSS icons
You grabbed the generic RSS icon and stuck it up where you thought people would be looking for it. Perhaps you were right, but maybe you weren’t. Your competition did A/B testing to see which size button attracted more clicks, where it should sit on the page and whether a traditional or more fun RSS button would be better for conversions. People barely even notice yours. No wonder they’re not subscribing. Start experimenting and use services like CrazyEgg to determine where people are really looking, not just where you think they are.
They use full feeds
You’re still using partial feeds as a way to “force” people to click through and visit your blog. Your competitor, however, is making it easy for readers to consume content on their terms. And as a result, readers engage more with the content and aren’t as inclined to unsubscribe. Your competitor is even optimizing their footer links so that if someone should scrape their full RSS feed they’re rewarded with keyword-rich links. It’s a pretty savvy ideayou should probably ‘borrow’ it.
They include different types of content
You’ve unintentionally fallen into a comfort zone of posting the same type of content each week. And while the content may be totally informative and worthwhile, your competitor is getting a bit of advantage by being more daring. They’re using video and images. They’re creating weekly blog series that encourage people to subscribe as to not miss updates. They’re handing over the blog to readers once a month to let them guest posts and incorporating audio. If you’re noticing your blog is falling a bit behind, try spicing it up a little. You may even discover its fun. [Because it is!]
They make it easy for people to subscribe
That one RSS icon you stuck on your blog home page? Yeah, that may not be enough to attract people. Your competitor knows this and has added a Google Reader button so that readers can quickly add the feed to their Google Reader. They’ve also incorporated one for Bloglines and many of the other popular feed readers. Just for good measure they’ve also added the ability to subscribe via email. If people aren’t subscribing in the numbers you’d hoped for, maybe you need to give them more options. The RSS Button Maker from Top Rank Marketing can help you chicklets for all the most popular feed aggregators.
They use run-of-site RSS icons
Your competitor really wants people to subscribe to their blog. You know this because they prominently feature an RSS icon throughout their site. It’s not banished to the blog page, it’s incorporated into the rest of the marketing. And obviously it’s working because the constant branding seems to be hitting home with readers and causing them to act. If you’ve decided to make your blog a prominent fixture in your social media marketing, then don’t hide it all the way over there on the blog home page. Make sure readers know the RSS feed exists throughout your site and give them an easy way to subscribe from wherever they are.
They use an RSS landing page
Your competitor knows that not everyone is totally comfortable with RSS. To help combat that, s/he’s created a landing page that is 100 percent dedicated to explaining what RSS is, the benefits of subscribing to the feed and how people can get the feed delivered to them every day. It takes what can be a scary process and makes it less intimidating. If you’re looking to encourage more RSS subscriptions, creating a landing page dedicated to your promoting your feed may be something that can really help you. Sometimes people just need someone to hold their hand and show them the way.
with testimonials on it
Once you explain HOW to subscribe to your RSS feed, make sure you’re giving them a compelling reason for WHY they should. A good way to do this is to use testimonials on your landing page from people who are subscribers (and perhaps active comments that they may recognize) to talk about the value they’ve received from it.
They promote their feed in social media
One area where your competition is really beating you is in self promotion. They’re plugging their feed on Twitter, on Facebook, on LinkedIn and every other network they can get their hands on. They’ve also claimed their blog on Technorati and many other local blog aggregators. If you haven’t started doing this, it’s very important that you do. People can’t subscribe to a blog they don’t know about. The more places people can discover your content, the greater the odds they’ll find it and then subscribe. Get over your fear of hawking your own stuff. It’s the content is good, then you’re doing people a service!
They take advantage of social proof
People want to hang where the party is. While your community may be full of great voices, if you’re not showing people that, you’re doing the community a disservice. If you notice that your competitor is rocking a Feedburner chicklet to show off how many subscribers he/she has, a Facebook Connect button to promote community faces, a Twitter button that displays follower counts or logos of awards the blog has won, they’re engaging in a heck of a lot of social proof. And it’s probably working. Blogs with lots of followers gain followers faster than those without followers. Even if you don’t have a huge subscriber count, show off your numbers to give people a sneak peak at who’s hanging out in your community.
If you’re blogging on a consistent basis than gaining blog subscribers often means doing a better job highlight the content you already have and making it easy for people to become members of your community. Hopefully the above tips shed some light on how you can easily do that as a SMB owner.