TopRank Marketing Editor

Subscribers Are Vital For An Online Marketing Growth Strategy

TopRank Marketing Editor     Online Marketing, Social Media

growth1If you’re interested in building a flourishing online brand and web site that generates links and traffic organically as part of your internet marketing efforts, it’s important to develop an active base of subscribers and fans.

Subscribers and fans i.e. “a community” are a key ingredient of popular web sites. They are integral to increasing the reach of your communications steadily month after month. If you don’t have a passionate, interested group of people subscribed to your site now, put a plan in place to acquire them. Building an active community is a pillar of successful social media marketing.

Some of the top reasons subscribers and fans are a vital element of an online marketing growth strategy include:

The ~11% of web users who know to use RSS include the users savvy enough to be web publishers

Yes, the RSS adoption rate is only around 11%, and some speculate it may be peaking at that number. That’s actually okay and here’s why: participation inequality is also at nearly the same percentage rate. Hardly a coincidence, as those who are most savvy with information consumption are also the most savvy with information sharing and production. By reaching those fluent in technology, you’re building relationships with valuable, influential people who are at the top of the participation inequality pyramid, or the contributors of the web. Reach them with messages worth spreading and your content can resonate exponentially.

You’ll become a go-to area to link to

Links send web site traffic directly and indirectly because of the affect on SEO. Bearing you maintain a positive signal to noise ratio, in time the subscribers you attract will consider you a go-to source of content to link to. This takes time to develop, as first you need to cultivate a known reputation for quality. Once this starts happening, if you continue with the level of quality you set forth (or even increase it as time goes on) your success in terms of organic linkbuilding will become a virtuous cycle, encouraging more to link to you over time. Link bait once in awhile is a good part of an overall strategy, but if you maintain quality with everything you publish, in time visitors will become conditioned to link to you without having to create content designed to get links. It’s the reason why the same bloggers and web publications end up on everyone’s weekly link roundups.

Subscribers are your sneezers

“Sneezers” ala Seth Godin, are those who actively tell the most other people about you. Because of the nature of being a subscriber and the relationship built over time through a long-term connection, subscribers are the ones most likely to spread and share your messages. Success is self-reinforcing here, and explains why popular things just get more popular.

A base of well-connected fans could very well be the cornerstone of your social marketing strategy

If you’re publishing content to one central area, yet you have subscribers and fans who share content in places large and small, your messages will permeate the social web naturally. Many popular content-based sites have banked their entire growth strategy on leveraging the active participation of readers on the social web.

Community is what makes sites worth visiting

Ideas such as “Twitter will kill Digg” miss the point.  New social communities by themselves don’t necessarily kill others.  Rather –  flourishing and ultimately more compelling communities are what draw members away from other sites and are what cause the rise and fall of networks. The technology or platform isn’t what makes sites like Digg or Reddit interesting, it’s the community.

Subscribers will motivate you to create better content

As more people opt-in to your messages and your reach grows, your motivation to produce better, ultra-relevant content will grow along with it. This is due to the fact that inevitably, with a growing subscriber base, you’re going to get more feedback from the content you produce. That feedback only serves to help you learn more about your niche and how to serve them best.

A consolidated network presence is the most effective

A simple, effective way to have your messages make the largest impact is to build one consolidated source for distribution. Once you’ve chosen that place, focus on funneling as many people to subscribe to it as possible and make it the authoritative voice for your brand or industry.  Spawn satellite networks too, but with the purpose of feeding the main hub.  Don’t lose sight that the end goal is to create one popular area.

The fastest way to amp up the worth of your own network is to bring smaller networks together with it so they can act as one larger network and gain the total n2 value.

…Three thousand members in one network are far more powerful than one thousand members in three networks.

–Kevin Kelly

Social proofing

When coming to a new site for the first time, elements such as thousands of subscribers/community members, comments, or Tweets all act as social proofing elements to site visitors. These are cues to new visitors the content is relevant, authoritative and worth subscribing to. When web visitors read content that matches the story the social proofing is telling, you’ll convert them to new community members.

Subscribers and a fan base make you less reliant on push PR

If you have your own brand of media and the right people are reading it, you can become less reliant on certain types of traditional outbound promotions such as pitching other media or bloggers in a push PR effort. Embracing a subscriber growth strategy means seeing increasing returns for your communications over time in a publishing arena you control. There is also the growing trend of media quoting leaders of popular web destinations, communities and blogs, as ownership of an authoritative content-based site establishes credibility. Media coverage occurs unsolicited and without pitching.


Businesses who build relationships with savvy and specific audiences continue to find themselves better positioned than those who don’t. An interested and empowered audience you’ve built personally and connect with frequently is essential to the future growth of your brand on the web.  Those connections mean better relationships with current and potential customers. Isn’t that what growing a business on the social web is all about?

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  1. Great post!

    I was really surprised to learn that the RSS adoption rate is only 11% – that seems so low!

    Like the concept of social proofing – makes sense that you’d want to know where someone is online and what kind of content they’re sharing before you trust them.

    Thanks for the insights!

  2. Great article. You gave me a few things to chew on. I also can’t beleive that RSS adoption rate is only 11%.

  3. Yeah the RSS adoption rate is meaningless because it ignores who uses RSS and how they’re using it – these are the people that pass your content on and get it into the wider web.

  4. Your points are well-thought out and very insightful. I can’t believe that RSS adoption rate is only 11%. Thanks for that input.

  5. I think the Social Proofing is the most important point you make here, Adam.

    When I visit a blog for the first time either through a search query or through a link I follow on Twitter, I usually notice things like badges and subscriber statistics. I’ll then scan the article for topics I’m interested in and if the article is promising, the design is pleasing, and the social proof prominent I’ll read the article in depth and likely add it to my RSS feed.

    I like how one of the themes you touch on often is pull vs. push marketing. While it takes time to build a loyal subscriber list it ultimately works in your favor to have fans who are willing to create pull for your content.

    As you say, it’s all about connections and having a base of quality subscribers is proof to yourself that you’re succeeding in making meaningful connections on the Web.

    Thanks for writing another great article.


  6. Twitter is my RSS feed. Virtually all the bloggers I follow have a Twitter account which they use to update their follows after they’ve posted. If I don’t get that reminder to check out their blog every now and again, chances are I’ll forget about it.

  7. Avatar Devashish says

    Great post.
    11% …really ! Never thought it could be . Anyways i think that besides the subscribers ,the people who visit the site are also important,more than that retaining them.
    Have you guys heard bout ReTargeter. They are cool.. They actually retain the people who visit sites. Pretty kewl idea.

  8. “A simple, effective way to have your messages make the largest impact is to build one consolidated source for distribution.”

    If a new site does not advertise a rainbow of outlets (rss/email, Twitter, Facebook, MySpace…) does it lend a less-than-hip image? Are all of these needed to legitimize a new network?

  9. I’ll be Sneezing this article in a few.

  10. It’s really unbelievable for that RSS rate is 11%,you told a good way for connection and about the advantages of the same,one big network is better than many small networks