There’s nothing like winning a shiny new trophy (or in this case a bright orange one) to make you feel like you’re doing something right. Since I joined Intronis in December 2014, we’ve been focused on making the Intronis blog a true resource for managed service providers and have grown our subscriber base as a result. That hard work paid off last week when we won the 2016 Content Marketing Award for Highest Subscriber Growth. (We’d like to thank all of our blog subscribers for helping us earn this award. We couldn’t have won without your support!)
We had some attention-grabbing numbers that helped us get the win, but the strategy that was driving that growth is what really helped us pass some of the big name finalists and bring home the award. There are a few important takeaways that I think will help you find success in your own marketing efforts, whether you’re trying to get more subscribers for your own blog or for your email newsletter.
1. Understand Your Why
When it comes to content marketing, you can’t just throw posts up on a blog haphazardly and expect to see results. You have to know why you’re writing what you’re writing and, more importantly, understand why your audience will care. You need to have a mission statement.
Here are the Intronis blog our mission statement is: To become a trusted partner by providing valuable information that empowers MSPs to improve and grow their businesses. This mission statement, which we put in place in 2015, guides all the choices we make about the content we produce. We’re always asking how each post can help MSPs. Writing a mission statement might seem an unnecessary extra step, but it really helps give your content more impact.
Comedian Michael Jr., one of the keynote speakers at Content Marketing World 2016 last week, spoke about the power of knowing your why and shared a powerful example from his Breaktime series on YouTube.
2. Stay Regular
Another important change we made to the blog in the past year was launching a few regular features, such as our Ask Intronis advice column, the Cloud 5 news roundup, and The MSP’s Bookshelf, a monthly book review. Recurring features like this are designed to keep people coming back to read more. If they know when they can expect something new, they’re more likely to check back. We also asked a number of IT channel experts to contribute regular guest posts for the same reason.
Even if you don’t take the approach of setting up regular features like we did, it’s still important to establish a regular cadence on your blog or with your newsletter and stick to it. If your blog is rarely updated with new content, your audience is only going to visit it once or twice before they give up and never look at it again. You don’t have to update your blog every single day. Just create a steady pace and make a commitment to stick to it, whether that means adding a new blog post every Wednesday or sending out your email newsletter on the first Saturday of the month.
3. Try New Things
We tested a number of different approaches when we started trying to increase our blog subscribers. This included redesigning the subscription box to make it more noticeable and user-friendly, incorporating more visual calls to action about subscribing, trying out pop-up CTAS, and adding a “Subscribe Now” bar that stays at the top of the window as readers scrolled down the post. We also ran a few email campaigns designed to encourage MSPs to subscribe to the blog and asking current subscribers to recommend the blog to a colleague.
4. Make It Easy
We had some success with a few of these approaches, but we experienced a big shift in the fall of 2015 when we added a simple checkbox to our webinar forms, letting people opt-in to a blog subscription when they register for a webinar. That’s when subscription rates started to spike, going up 121 percent between the third and fourth quarters of 2015. Our blog subscribers have been growing steadily ever since, ultimately reaching the 532-percent growth that helped us win a Content Marketing Award.
I believe this approach worked so well for us because it makes subscribing to the blog easy. Instead of needing to take a break from reading a blog post to fill out another form, all someone has to do is check a box. Plus, by targeting people who are registering for a webinar, we’re aligning with their interests. They want to attend that webinar because they want to learn more about how to improve their business, so it makes sense that a good portion of registrants are also interested subscribing to the blog. Then we back it all up by providing valuable information that empowers MSPs to improve and grow their business. (Remember that mission statement?)
There is no secret formula to increasing subscriber growth, but if you follow these four principles, it will put you well on your way to figuring out the best approach for your MSP business.