How to Get 6,312 Subscribers to Your Business Blog in One Day

Rocket Launch

Remember the ecommerce commercial that showed a small group hovering around a computer as they launched their new website? They cheered when the first order notification came through, and again with the second… and then freaked out as the order blips became a relentless torrent.

That’s what Adam Schwartz, CEO of Articulate, said it felt like last Wednesday when we launched their new Rapid E-Learning Blog. The blog attracted 6,312 subscribers in the 24-hour period following the launch promotion, and now has over 8,500 and counting less than a week later.

Existing businesses have incredibly valuable assets that others do not—customer and prospect lists. That being said, telling your existing customers about your new blog full of press release content and expecting them to come running is a recipe for mediocrity. If you don’t have an existing list, you can create an offer that is attractive to social media news site users and your results will be similar.

Articulate is one of the few companies I’ve continued to work with outside of my own projects in the last year, and Adam gave the green light to share the strategy we implemented. Here’s what we did, step-by-step.

  1. Positioning: Articulate sells software that allows users to develop flash-based e-learning and training courses based on PowerPoint, which has become known as rapid e-learning due to the ease of use of the tools. The goal for the blog is to provide valuable content related to rapid e-learning development (outside of the software) and to establish 15-year e-learning veteran and Articulate VP of Community Tom Kuhlmann as an authority in the field.

    In other words, the blog is designed not to sell software directly, but to offer value to existing and prospective customers of Articulate. The halo effect of Tom’s tips over time can do nothing but enhance the Articulate brand as the definitive leader in the rapid e-learning space.

  2. Cornerstone Content: Before the blog was made public, Tom developed some great foundational content in the form of a 7-part series called Rapid E-Learning 101 and a 5-part series called 5 Myths About Rapid E-Learning. A first-time visitor to the blog has plenty of well-organized and targeted content to dive into, which also acts as a motivator to get on board as a subscriber.
  3. Incentive: The next step was a free ebook that became the focus of the launch promotion. Tom put together the Insider’s Guide to Becoming a Rapid E-Learning Pro, which focused on the business end of e-learning, and I added a bit of editorial input. This content is unique and valuable to corporate instructional designers because it helps them see what the true role of e-learning and training is within the larger business context. The strategies in the book allow training staff to create courses that provide a true return on investment, and are also perceived as valuable to upper management and the learners themselves.
  4. Launch Email: I wrote a brief email formatted in HTML with a nice graphical representation of the ebook. This 72-word email was not designed to sell the subscription, but to sell the click through to the landing page, and was sent to a house list of both customers and people who had downloaded a free trial of Articulate software. The initial response briefly crashed the dedicated server that houses only the new blog.
  5. Landing Page: The landing page consists of an ebook graphic positioned just as in the email, a brief intro, 8 bullet points related to the content of the ebook, a statement that lets the reader know they are subscribing to the blog, a call to action, an email form, and a “no spam” statement.
  6. Delivery: The email subscription is powered by Feedburner’s email service, so new blog posts are automatically sent to subscribers. The ebook is delivered via the WP RSS Sticky plugin that Chris Garrett also uses. This means that people who subscribe via feed reader will also receive the free ebook.
  7. Start Blogging: The launch went very well, and Tom is now perfectly positioned to become the preeminent voice in the growing rapid e-learning space. Mission accomplished, but now the real work begins. Once you’re perceived as an authority, you have a responsibility to continue to deliver, and I have no doubts that Tom is up for it.

No Customer or Prospect List?

The above is an excellent game plan for any existing business to enhance their market position with valuable content delivered via blog. But if you don’t have an existing customer or prospect email list, substitute in a social media site like Digg, Reddit, Sphinn, Netscape or some of the other small niche sites as your launch pad. The key is to offer something that people really want, surround it with other valuable, targeted content, and then continue to deliver over time to maintain and grow your subscriber base.

P.S. For those scoring at home, the promotional email drew a 10% click through ratio, which was fairly strong given that the prospect portion of the opt-in list did not require email validation to download the free software trial (in other words, there was likely a lot of junk on the list). The conversion rate on the landing page opt-in was right at 54%.

About the Author: Brian Clark is founder of Copyblogger and CEO of Copyblogger Media. Get more from Brian on Google+.

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Reader Comments (183)

  1. says

    Personally, I would have changed the overall subscriber count to an odd number…

    Then again, I’m an attentive Copyblogger reader.

    • Raptor Jesus says

      Oh man, that brings back memories of the time I was an active Digger…. bitersweet times, they were. (-;

  2. says

    This is a great post. I’ve never heard of so many subscribers, so quickly. That is truly amazing and definitely an inspiration.

    I see how many of the techniques listed above could be very useful. Feedburner’s email service, seems especially interesting to me – Thanks!

  3. says

    Hi Michael, as I explained in the post (see #4), it was Articulate’s customer list combined with prospects who had opted-in to download a free trial of the software. I don’t know exactly the size of the list, and like I said, some of the list was a bit tenuous on the prospect side.

    I think you can work backwards with the numbers… it was a fairly sizable list. Your mileage may vary. :)

  4. says

    Phenominal results in such a short period of time. Your advice about having a customer/prospect list and converting them to readers is spot on… now I need to brainstorm ways to take action on this :)

  5. says

    This was a really exciting launch for us (and I can attest to the accuracy of all the numbers). Great work on your role in helping to make this so successful, Brian!

    I was involved mostly behind the scenes on the technology infrastructure side. A few other tidbits about the launch:

    * All our lead & customer data reside in our CRM, salesforce.com, which is how we capture new leads from our site and all customer details from orders.

    * For the promo mailing, we used VerticalResponse, which has great salesforce.com integration (we’ve used it for years) – from right within salesforce.com we can even track who’s received, opened, clicked on, or unsubscribed from the mailing.

    * As we watched our server buckle under pressure, I was observing more than 100 new email subscribers per minute (according to Feedburner).

    And we’re now up to a whopping 8,662 email subscribers!

    -Gabe (Articulate Director of Customer Support)

  6. says

    Very cool. Sometimes when I get to feeling accomplished, an article like this reminds me what a small little sandbox I’m playing in. 😉

  7. Naomi Dunford says

    Chuck, I was going to say that I love playing in your little sandbox but then I realized how wrong that would sound.

    I guess I’ve said it anyway now. :)

  8. says

    Chuck, your comment makes me feel like the 3-year old looking at the first graders with envy. “Oooh, some day I’ll be a big boy and wear underpants.”

    (If only I could resist the urge to write the word “underpants,” I could be so cool . . . )

    Anyway, you do have a cool sandbox.

  9. says

    I guess there’s always bigger and better territory to which to aspire. I bet someone could write a funny post comparing bloggers to toddlers.

  10. says

    I guess I’m not there yet…having followed a lot of the copyblogger method of value-driven, incentive based content, I’ll admit that it floods me with insecurity when I see someone being so successful…

    I guess it makes me feel like I cannot do that same thing- but at the same time I am putting steps together to do the very same thing- to provide quality content that people need and are clamoring for. Thanks for the encouragement, I truly appreciate it Brian- you are a voice in the copy wilderness that sometimes is my life :)

    Sometimes the view clears though, and it’s awesome.

  11. says

    It has been one of my to-do list to boost the traffic of my site. Thanks for your advice, and I will try that out. Most importantly, I still believe in quality content. Hopefully things will work out eventually.

    Cheers!

  12. says

    We are doing just that in French on our site, and it works fine too. In the end, what matters the most is to have really good content.

    Nous faisons exactement ca en francais sur notre site, et ca marche tres bien aussi. Finalement, ce qui compte le plus c’est d’avoir du vraiment bon contenu.

    Thanks :)

  13. says

    While reading the post, i have a habit of select the text which I’m reading. But I noticed that you have prevented users from selecting the text. Is it to stop users from copying your content? If so, simple technique of Ctrl+A and Ctrl + C is allowing to copy.

  14. says

    Bill, there are Photoshop templates that many web designers have that make those cool covers. There are also services on the net that do nothing but ebook covers, boxes, cd jewel cases, etc.

    Do a Google search for ebook cover design.

  15. says

    Brian,

    I’m quite impressed with your results. Now, after doing the math, that was a really big list you guys had (compared to mine at least); but the results are still excellent. I think 6k subscribers in 24 hours may be a record.

    Anyhow, back to work on my cornerstone series and my e-book offer…

    – Mason

  16. says

    The click-through and opt-in rates are more impressive than the raw total of 6,312 subscribers. With a list of just ~117,000 prospects that’s a really impressive number.

    Over 5% opt-in to a mildly-targeted list means not just copy, but everything about the campaign (design, usability, payoff value, etc.) was very well done.

  17. says

    Well, this sure is impressive, and a great article. What I’d like to mention is that I was suspicious that this post was a paid advertisement. I’ve since read the comments and see that it wasn’t, but it sure had gotten me thinking. What a great way to promote an advertiser than to use them as a case study or in a story or something.

    Maybe this has all been done before, I’m fairly new at blogging.

    Anyways, thanks for the inspiration.

  18. says

    Brian, are there any other examples of effective landing pages that you could give me? Thanks!

    P.S- thank you also for the hard work that you are taking to educate beginning copywriters like myself. It’s worth it to for me b/c you are teaching me about value-added and benefit-laden content- and how the customer must come first.

    Their needs and desires are the reason I am paying my bills after all…

  19. says

    As a previous free trial user, I received the launch email. It compelled me to get the free ebook and subscribe to the blog. For me, it was the perfect validation of the content and techniques blogged here on Copyblogger.

  20. says

    Thats very enlightening and very proven. I loved the article to bits. I’m now going to try replicating the effect on a site of my friend’s who sells online software for a really popular open source cms.

    Thanks and keep up the great blogging!

  21. says

    Excellent Post Brian , It’s the second time I read it … as CopyBlogger is one of my top 10 resources for inspiration and I keep coming back for more …

    Quality Content is what Blogging is all about. I will develop a PDF magazine to send all my new subscribers with this Funky Sticky RSS plugin … oh and yes I also use FeedBurner. Who doens’t …

    SEO is fantastic but takes lots of time. SEM is great but takes a lot of money. But Google Adwords does the job perfectly for us although we all love to get Free Quality Traffic. That’s why I will keep reading your blog and keep working hard on SEO … with a burning desire and lots and lots of passion …

    I’ve read all the comments and they make this article even better !!!

    I wish you all a very nice day and lots of traffic …

    Yves Van den Meerssche CEO LiveTheLife.tv

  22. says

    Yes, no doubt, the Rapid e-Learning blog is a quite interesting, unique blog in the bloggosphere world.

    I wonder if we need marketing consultants to help us create a product from scratch and launch it with social media releases…

    If you have any other suggestions
    or comments, let me know :)

    Cheers,
    Codrut Turcanu.
    “How To Succeed Against All Odds!” Break The Ice!

  23. says

    Brian, this looks like a great game plan to gain blog subscribers. I’ll have to start planning and writing the e-book to use as the incentive. I’ll let you know how that goes.

    We have created blogs for several of our clients to help complement their main sites. It has been working very well, but, I think we should start doing something like the above to jump start them.

    Thanks,
    Fred

  24. says

    Finally something that I can apply to my business. I’ve always heard that the blog “thing” was something from the past but I think that it is just a little more focused than it was in the past. Like most business strategies it is more important to have quality before quantity.

  25. says

    What a great example of a company leveraging their marketing assets – their customer list. Many businesses never realize the value of sending an offer to past and present customers. Here there were a large group of people that had already used the software and were familiar with the company. Just let them know about the new blog and boom, there you go. Great job.

  26. says

    This post reminds me of the fact that most brick and mortar businesses are seeing a potential gold mine walk in and out of their business premises every day.

    And they’re completely oblivious.

    Think of the number of highly targeted prospects and customers who walk into the average retail store every day…

    Your average retail business will get 200 to 1,000 people walking into their store every day.

    That’s 6,000 to 30,000 people every month. And even if half of those are repeat clients that’s still 3,000 to 15,000 new highly targeted prospects a month.

    Imagine doing some low key list building in the store…maybe by having a free prize draw.

    Visitors to the store have to enter their name, email address, mailing address and phone number so they can be notified if they win the highly targeted prize on offer.

    And imagine just 10% of those people walking into the store in a month enter the prize draw and join your list.

    That would build your list by 600 to 3,000 email subscribers every month. Or 7,200 to 36,000 email subscribers a year.

    Now you might be thinking “Wow! those retail businesses sure are dumb letting all those potential email subscribers walk out of their business every day without doing anything to capture their contact details.”

    But you know you walk past these same brick and mortar businesses every day that could be a gold mine to you.

    As a copywriter with some online marketing skills YOU have the expertise to set up a lead capture system in a store, capture a boatload of email subscribers and follow up with highly targeted offers from the store that convert to real sales.

    There is genuine gold in this combination of offline and online marketing.

    Kindest regards,
    Andrew Cavanagh

  27. says

    Great post about an interesting case study, but don’t underestimate the element of beautiful design. That landing page is stunning! If the content suited me as well, it would be hard for the average person NOT to want to sign up. Well done!

  28. says

    Oh.. is this true? hehe 6,312 visitors in just a day? wow! That’s amazing. I’ve recently made a blog, actually it’s my first blog. It is entitles Online Auction Website and it is about sports and auctions.

    I hope I can be a successful blogger… having a thousands visitors a day. That’s great!

  29. says

    I see the theme here is offering people what they want. Again market research is important before starting out to create some offer. Great tips.

  30. says

    This is a great case study of how the execution of a thorough marketing strategy (research, method, design, content/offer) created phenomenal results.

  31. says

    Damn if i ever get that number i would have been in the sky. Btw, that tips no. 4 – Launch Email, is the most effective ways. I recommend that tips for every novice who wants to take advantage from your feedburner

  32. says

    I got EXACTLY 6,312 subscribers after reading that ! :D:D
    Seriously another great post and i really love watching you create those marvellous headlines that capture the eye :) It’s a great practise for me to even see what headlines you select :)

  33. says

    One of the biggest mistakes I have made in creating lists is trusting outsourcing companies or independent contractors with my accounts. They will rob and steal your email lsist in a heart beat. So be careful and thanks for the post, I need some new subcribers.

    Moe

  34. says

    I guess there’s always bigger and better territory to which to aspire. I bet someone could write a funny post comparing bloggers to toddlers.

  35. says

    Oh.. is this true? hehe 6,312 visitors in just a day? wow! That’s amazing. I’ve recently made a blog, actually it’s my first blog. It is entitles Online Auction Website and it is about sports and auctions.

    I hope I can be a successful blogger… having a thousands visitors a day. That’s great!

  36. says

    I guess there’s always bigger and better territory to which to aspire. I bet someone could write a funny post comparing bloggers to toddlers.

  37. says

    This is one of the best post s about effectively getting attention. One that I keep coming back to read, review and gleam something new from comments too.

  38. says

    This is one of the best post s about effectively getting attention. One that I keep coming back to read, review and gleam something new from comments too.

  39. says

    Thanks for all this information. I’ve accidentally gotten a book deal, that book became a major motion picture, and I’ve been a contributing writer for several books and a Boston newspaper. But damned if I can figure out how to drive people to my humorist website. Seems I’m only effective when I’m not trying.

    Your information is empowering. Thanks

  40. says

    Excellent and nice post! Thanks for this important data. I am also trying to make business blog,I have got good Idea and knowledge from here .

  41. says

    I just completed my first two article on my blog. This initial step in my business blog. I enjoyed reading the article here. I hope my blog can immediately jump. Thank you.

  42. says

    Copyblogger has helped me with my writing style. I had a problem with not pulling people in right at the beginning of my posts and my posts are much more engaging now. I cant get enough of the content here.

  43. says

    I can’t believe how much good content is on this article and site! I just stumbled across it. Thanks for the great article. This site is going to keep me busy reading for quite some time!

  44. says

    I was just introduced to your site from a friend a couple of weeks ago and i can’t get over the FREE content and how simple the concepts are. I have already started implementing them into my mortgage broker business. Keep it up

  45. says

    It looks like I’ve got my work cut out for me. It’s one thing to create a cool blog, but this might sound dumb, what is the best way to get people to find the blog?

  46. says

    Unfortunately I’m already well past launch – wish I had read this earlier! Still, there are good points here that I can carry over to my existing site. And who knows, maybe one day I’ll launch again.

    And to Chris Radant – how do you ACCIDENTALLY get a book deal? Most people I know work like dogs to even try to get one!

    • chris radant says

      That book and movie are each 15 years old now, and I’ve done lots of other work since then.

      I know, it’s miraculous how it happened.. I gave some copies of HFTH out to my friends to read. One copy was on the kitchen table in the morning when his girlfriend, Caroline Knapp, Boston Phoenix Editor read it over her coffee. She asked up publish it as a feature. That happened and I’m forever very appreciative that she liked my work and got it in ink for readers to see.

      A big league screenwriter’s wife then read it in the Phoenix, perhaps over coffee, laughed out loud and showed it to her husband. Rick Richeter located me and made me an offer for an option. I had no idea what an option was, but agreed to the idea of selling something to him.

      Caroline Knapp went on to become a best-selling author and died too young. Her work is still beloved. She was a lovely person. I can’t say enough about Rick Richter and his wife either. Well beyond helping me on my way, they were just good eggs. I was just damned lucky. I never tried to even sell anything. I wish you outrageous luck too.

      Chris

  47. says

    Great idea – I’ve looked for the WP RSS Sticky plugin on Chris Garrets page; seems to be unavailable or renamed as ‘rssinjection’. Can’t find clear instructions on how to use feedburner with this plugin in order to give the ebook away to subscribers. Followup post would be great.

  48. says

    The true test with good content is that there are visitors who want to read it. I watched a TV program today where people pitch to investors for funding money (Dragon’s Den is the name of the Canadian show; Shark Tank is the equivalent attempt in the U.S.). One participant kept lamenting how great his site was in having garnered $30K advertising revenue in 2 years; the dragons said that is not much traffic or revenue at all! No matter how good the author thinks her content is, it is the judgment of the reader that really counts.

  49. says

    Very great and helpful post on increasing readers. Thank you! I will be creating a free ebook soon. I love all your ideas and tips. I even book marked it so I can read it again later.

  50. says

    Great news! I’m making notes right away on what to implement in my own situation. I run a business consulting firm and were looking to start a business blog to widen our outreach.

    Copyblogger is really loaded with information for practical use. Thanks for the post

  51. says

    Hey Brian,
    Great article with a clear direction of launching a blog.
    I have had a many blogs over the years, but have really focused in
    on my personal blog this past few months. And I am studying
    everything I can to generate more traffic, so these are great pointers

    Thank you for your contribution,
    Jeff Faldalen

  52. Joseph Dabon says

    I hate to bust your bubble. But I wish you can get real for new bloggers.

    It impossible to get these many subscribers in one day using the tips outlined herein which, for a newbie will take weeks to learn, master and execute.

    anything good that comes online always require the same old way, blood, sweat and tears. besides, that’s the only way to get really meaningful results; results that last and not just by a fluke of chance.

    • says

      This post is intended for businesses with an existing customer list, of which there are millions. Not a solo “make money online” type, to which you seem to be referring. We have hundreds of other posts to help that type of aspiring blogger.


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