January 14, 2009

A Twitter Survey, RSS Feeds and Jethro Bodine: How to Use All Three to Increase Subscribers

published this at 10:17 am

A Guest Post by Duane Lester

I wanted more subscribers.

All over the Internet, I see Feedburner chicklets with more subscribers than my blog. I wonder what exactly makes a reader pull the trigger on a subscription? So I turned to a great resource, my tweeps.

Using Tweetlater I scheduled a Twitter survey — the same question day and night. For 24 hours, I asked what it took for them to subscribe to a blog.

Here’s what they told me:

In order for a reader to subscribe:

“a website must offer lots of new, consistently good content, something I can’t get elsewhere.”

Really not a blockbuster surprise. We all know that content is king. The intriguing part of the survey came from the following responses:

These responses reminded me of two things. The first a lesson I learned in military journalism school. The second was was an article at Copyblogger.

Write for Jethro

In military journalism school, we were taught to write our news stories for Jethro Bodine. (For those who don’t know who Jethro Bodine is — he was a character on a TV show, the Beverly Hillbillies who couldn’t add past 10.) If we wrote so Jethro could understand it, we were confident anyone could.

Pay attention. I am not saying that Twitterers are as dense as Jethro. I’m agreeing with Willy Franzen.

In this article from Copyblogger on how to increase subscribers. Willy Franzen at Copyblogger asks:

Are you being completely clear with your word choice? When you ask your readers to subscribe, are you asking them to do the virtual version of writing their name underneath? Or are you asking them to agree to pay you a sum of money?

In other words, are you writing for Jethro?

It’s a valid question.

I checked my site. I wasn’t. I had the square orange RSS logo in the top right corner. Savvy Internet users know this symbol for the blog’s RSS subscription. Would Jethro? No. Neither did some of my readers. Some who did, didn’t know
what to do with it.

To fix this, I added

Now when a person has a question about RSS or subscribing in general, this will lead them to the answer. And along the top are links to all our feeds so they can start right away with us.

Two small additions that could result in an increase in RSS and e-mail subscriptions. Are you inviting readers to subscribe assuming they understand what you mean, or are you writing for Jethro, ensuring you get maximum subscriptions?

Duane Lester writes for All American Blogger. He’s a friend, an SOB, and a Navy journalist who finds the answer to what he wants to know.

Thanks, Duane.

–ME “Liz” Strauss
Work with Liz!!

Get your best voice in the conversation. and Register for SOBCon09 NOW!!

Filed under Marketing /Sales / Social Media, Successful Blog | 12 Comments »


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12 Comments to “A Twitter Survey, RSS Feeds and Jethro Bodine: How to Use All Three to Increase Subscribers”

  1. January 14th, 2009 at 10:37 am
    Ming said

    i’d say ‘nice’ but that will be a waste of everyone’s time, so let me add:

    everyone has their own reason to subscribe, but i think the best way to ‘get’ a subscriber is to give jethro the reason.

    all the best blogs I read do that, no surprise I’m subscribed =)

  2. January 14th, 2009 at 11:25 am
    HowToMakeMyBlog.com said

    Good point!

    Sometimes we do analyze too much and go too advanced in our writing… it is always good to go back to basics and keep it simple for completely new users…

    Maybe subscribe to RSS is not the correct wording to use as some people do think it as subscribe for a paper and pay money etc…

    Marko
    http://www.howtomakemyblog.com

  3. January 14th, 2009 at 11:32 am
    Todd Smith said

    I hadn’t thought of spelling out what RSS is… that’s a great idea. After all, it might be my 70 year old dad looking at it! (who actually has a blog, btw! but I don’t think he knows how to use RSS yet) :)

    I subscribe to blogs because I am inspired by the posts, it won’t take long to read every day, I want to get to know the author, it gives me useful info.

  4. January 14th, 2009 at 11:40 am
    Jannie Funster said

    I hadn’t thought of Jethro Bodine in years! Him and the “see-ment pond” and the “fancy eatin’ table.”

    Okay, Twitter is now officially on my Must-Do list, thanks.

  5. January 14th, 2009 at 11:42 am
    My First Guest Post at Liz Strauss’s Place | All American Blogger said

    [...] Check it out here.  Let me know what you think below.  And drop a comment at Liz’s place also. [...]

  6. January 14th, 2009 at 12:08 pm
    Christian Messer said

    Great insight – so true – you cannot afford to “assume” anyone knows anything – especially when it comes to the web an tech – How many people do we know that have no idea what Twitter is or RSS? I know a lot of them.

    Subscribing to a blog is a signal that the user has seen something of value, as you pointed out very well – I subscribe because that is one of the ways I keep tabs on many aspects of tech, my business and things that interest me.

    Now – the kicker question would be – once subscribed – how do you get them to actually come to your site again – RSS Feed readers are aiding in traffic not getting to your blog.

    I’m probably a rarity – I do go to the site, once I see something of interest.

    Great post – and again, great value as always!

  7. January 14th, 2009 at 12:15 pm
    Duane Lester said

    Ming, the idea at first was to see why people subscribe, and I agree with what you wrote.

    The point of the article is that some readers don’t understand the whole “subscribe” thing.

    Let me give you an example. I work with people who spend a lot of time on the Internet. By a lot, I mean hours a day, just surfing.

    I asked some of them one day if they understood what RSS meant. They didn’t have a clue. I asked them if they knew how to subscribe to a website. Again, they didn’t.

    There are readers that visit your blog that really like what you write, but don’;t understand the idea of subscribing to a blog. As bloggers, we need to ensure that we make it as easy as possible to get that subscription.

    Adding a page like this provides a service to your less savvy readers, one they will appreciate and return because of.

    Big thanks to Liz for publishing this post. It’s an honor to be here.

  8. January 14th, 2009 at 1:11 pm
    Andrew Riley said

    I like the idea of writing for Jethro, and from a web design point of view, making things so simple even Jethro would understand how to use them.

    Of course, I generally use the Mom rule. If my mom can figure it out without me giving her instructions, it’s a go!

    (Love you Mom)

  9. January 14th, 2009 at 2:10 pm
    Mother Earth aka Karen Hanrahan said

    i forget how powerful invitations can be…all we have to do is aask

  10. January 14th, 2009 at 2:29 pm
    Sheila Glazov said

    I’ve been blogging for almost a year, thanks to “Mother Earth.” My Blogging Goals for 2009 were to looking at the blogging experience from a new “learning” perspective and set aside a specific time to visit more blogs.I found many of comments insightful and helpful! Thank you!

  11. January 14th, 2009 at 10:30 pm
    Tiffany said

    Newsworthy content that sparks my interest is the primary reason I subscribe to blogs.

    Tiffany
    http://www.womenmakingmoves.org
    Twitter: @TiffanyPR

  12. January 15th, 2009 at 9:18 am
    ppmartin said

    Thanks for quoting me, Liz ;)

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