Sparring Mind

Behavioral Psychology Blog

How A Salsa Band Helped Me Double My Subscription Rate

I was thinking about starting this first line off with something corny, like ¡Ay, caramba!, but my better judgement decided against it ;).

But on to the post: despite it’s goofy premise, the title of this post is very much true!

I saw a doubled subscription rate over at Sophistefunk, and I want to talk about why this happened (this won’t be a giant “how-to” post like a lot of my posts here, just an update on some strategies I’m implementing, so let’s do this!)

Vamanos!

The Salsa Band Of Inspiration

So, the title of this post all started on my contact form page on my electronic music blog Sophistefunk.

As a music site, it gets a lot of social interaction, and people generally come across it via YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter.

That being said, it also gets a lot of very targeted traffic, and many artists who come across the site see that I have a contact form and want to submit to the site, to get some exposure for themselves.

Due to this interest in submitting, and due to the fact that I had a standard contact form on the page, I was getting hundreds of submissions a week, and my inbox was getting destroyed.

Worst of all, “spam” submissions were starting to make it harder for me to find the gems that I often get submitted (they weren’t ‘spam’ in that they were bot created, but they often had nothing to do with the site’s genre, and were simply marketing companies promoting their artists to me constantly).

I really enjoyed getting legitimate submissions by true independent electronic musicians, so I was pretty discouraged with all of these constant emails cluttering my inbox and distracting me from people with real interest in the site.

Then came the salsa band.

Yes, I opened up my inbox one day bright and early, and at the top of the list was an email titled “Song Submission”… from a salsa band.

I knew I had to find a way to weed people out.

Fortunately though, that annoying salsa band led me to an idea that helped me double my subscription rate of the site… AND helped reduce my submission queue and helped improve the quality of the submissions that I now get!

So really I think I owe a little something to them, mis amigos de la banda de salsa!

I had noticed that right below their email, I had just gotten a few notifications for new subscribers for my MailChimp list, and right next to one particular subscriber email I got another submission, from the same guy.

So essentially, I had gotten a notice that someone had subscribed to my list, and then he later sent in a submission too.

And his submission was awesome.

It was genuine, written with a sincere email to me, it was in the genre and exactly the type of song I like posting about, and it was quality.

These two events in tandem made me realize that the best submissions that I got were almost always from subscribers.

And it makes sense that they would be: your subscribers are the ones most engaged in your site, and even if they don’t create the content (in my site’s case, music) they will at least link you to the best content on the subject, because they are the real fans!

Adiós Formulario de Contacto

So I completely did away with the traditional contact form.

As you can see, my new contact page features two sets of instructions: one for businesses inquiries (I will get interview & new album promotion requests from established artists in the scene) and another set of instructions specifically for submissions by independent artists.

And here’s where I made the big move that improved my inbox and subscriber rate greatly.

In order to contact me about song submissions now, you have to confirm your email address as a legit email by joining my mailing list.

With this one simple change, my contact form went from being the bane of my site to a place where I weed out unnecessary submissions, and end up getting way more subscribers from people who are actually interested in the topic.

Now, I know for a fact that this is not the right way to go about your contact form for every blog, especially newer blogs, and is mostly advice aimed at blogs who allow guest posts: as you have seen from my example, it not only converts people to subscribers, but it weeds out “flakey” submissions and lets you get emails only from people who are serious about getting in touch with you.

And it’s not only for “tumblog” style sites like mine that rely on plenty of submissions, when James Clear from PassivePanda opened up guest posting for his blog, his contact page now asks you to please subscribe to his list and email him a reply from his autoresponder.

He also has a separate page for people who have navigated to his “Guest Posts” page, which has a more direct way of emailing him (his actual address).

So, if you are working on a newer blog, you might make a compromise.

Ask people to subscribe to your list on your contact page, but also give them the option of emailing you directly.

This will work much better if you have a freebie to give away, as the process would go like this for a visitor:

I want to contact this blog —> Head to contact page —> Sees your offer for a freebie, which they can then respond to in order to contact you —> They then either take the freebie (joining your list) or they see that you’ve also listed your direct email.

This allows you to ask for subscribers on your contact page without making yourself hard to get in touch with.

In my case I wanted to be a little harder to get in touch with, in order to tone down the wasteful submissions.

But on a blog such as Sparring Mind, I’d keep my contact page similar to how I’ve described above: you can opt-in if you’d like, but feel free to email me anytime.

In reality, it’s a simple strategy that follows along the lines of “put an opt-in form on your about page”, just over on another popular page for most sites: the contact page.

What do you think about my contact page strategy?

Given my niche, is it too much to ask, or a decent way to convert more subscribers?

A New SEO Strategy For My Authority Site

As you know, beyond blogging, I also pursue the very related field of building what I refer to as authority sites, or niche sites that focus on providing almost as much content as a blog might, while still being highly focused on the niche and related keywords.

Essentially, picture an authority site as nothing more than a “super” niche site, with more work and possibly greater reward.

My current authority site project is one called I Love Tumblr, which is doing quite alright for being so new, currently sitting at about 250-300 uniques per day, mostly through the posts themselves ranking, but the homepage gets visitors from the search term “love Tumblr” [8,800 exacts a month] every day.

One things I’ve been experimenting with (not live on the blog, but sent out to the list) is the use of “badges” in order to generate more contextual backlinks.

The idea is, make a badge that people would like to embed on their site, put the embed code right below the image for people to copy, and make the anchor text exactly what you want it.

It’s nothing new, infographics do it, SEOmoz does it as well, and my SEO idol, Matthew Inman (of TheOatmeal & SEOmoz fame) ranked his dating site Mingle2 for “Free Online Dating” using them.

Yet, I don’t see many bloggers partaking in this SEO strategy, even though it seems to work.

What I’ll be doing: Getting some badges made that say “I Love Tumblr”, have them look awesome, and let people embed them on their blog, with my anchor text.

This should help my site rank better all around, and hopefully boost up my posts that are driving traffic from their #2 & 3 spots in the search rankings.

Could you do this for your site?

It depends, my site focuses on a lot of social sharing, and the site name is very ambiguous, for instance, I am not making “Sparring Mind” badges because you would have to have a huge brand to have a lot of people use them.

But “generic” badges that people can relate to might get embedded on sites way more often.

I’ve thought about making some for Sophistefunk, but instead of branding them, I would make badges that said “I Love Electronic Music”, so people would be more willing to put them on their own site.

I discussed this idea with Tom Ewer of Leaving Work Behind and one of the dangers we thought of with this is if the anchor text was never mixed up, you might start looking suspicious to Google.

So my advice would be, if you find success with embeddable badges, to switch up the anchor text (via the code used to embed them) every once in a while, maybe even linking to individual posts now and then.

That way if they should become a popular feature of your site, your rankings won’t suffer as a backfire to too many people linking to you with exact anchor text.

My Million Dollar Blog

The last update I wanted to touch upon was that I entered Sophistefunk into the ThinkTraffic Million Dollar Blog Project.

And so far, things are going well!

As you can see from the Top Blogs Page, I’m already sitting at #7 for unique visitors after only enabling my public statistics for 4 days so far!

At this rate, I should be in the top 3 by the end of this or next week, and that is with a lot of great blogs in the top 10, so I’m pleased!

A big congrats to Sarah from Common Sense Marketing on her huge visitor rate from a recently viral article on StumbleUpon, and to everybody involved in the project for taking action!

As of yet the project has been more of a motivator to keep working more than anything else, but it’s still fun nontheless!

Podcasting & Videos

As I mentioned in my story submission for SPI, and later in my guide on how to start a podcast, I am going to be getting into much more podcasting and video content soon.

I’ve been really busy this week with impending interviews for Sophistefunk, so my first podcast will probably be for that blog to keep the steam rolling.

For Sparring Mind, I’d like to start with a full podcast on a single topic, but the ideas I get seem to turn into posts instead thus far.

What I might do is write an outline of a post, and then instead of posting it, I’ll turn it into a script for a podcast.

How do you plan out your podcasts?

Por último, es el final

To conclude, I am getting the design on this blog revamped soon, with a new opt-in and Feature Box designed ASAP.

That’s a wrap for this very looooong post with nothing but updates, hopefully I’ll see you next time when I have a more informative subject matter to write ;).

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