The Art of Converting Blog Commenters to Subscribers

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    A guest post by Jamie Harrop of Blogging Zest

    For most bloggers, building a base of active, engaging subscribers is what blogging is about. Sure, we may (eventually) want to make money from our blogs. Or we may just like to write. But at the core, what most of us want is subscribers. People who regularly read our content. People who want to engage and interact with us. And people who share our work. That’s what good subscribers are. Readers. Engagers. Conversationalists. Sharers.

    People who comment on your blog posts tick the first three of those four boxes. They read. They engage. And they start conversation in the comments. It’s worrying, then, that 60% of commenters on my blogs are not subscribers.

    Convert All Commenters to Subscribers

    To try and improve this figure, to increase or maintain the number of comments but increase the percentage of commenters who are subscribers, I’ve decided to set out and try to convert every single commenter in to a subscriber.

    The key to convincing people to subscribe, I believe, is in relationships. For a reader to become a subscriber, they must feel there is a relationship. It doesn’t matter whether that relationship is developed via ‘personal’ conversations in and outside your blog, or whether it is a formal relationship built on the expectation of future value (much like a relationship between a business owner and a customer). However the relationship is developed, it must exist for readers to subscribe.

    Here are two WordPress plugins that have been valuable in my effort to get more commenters to subscribe.

    Comment Redirect

    This excellent plugin allows you to pitch your argument for subscription to every first time commenter. Rather than having WordPress refresh the page where your blog post is located after they have sent the comment, this plugin sends first time commenters to a custom WordPress page (of your choice). Here, you can thank them for their comment, and then remind them to subscribe.

    subscribeline

    After two weeks of using this plugin, I’ve seen a 35% conversion rate. That is, for every ten new commenters, almost four subscribe using the subscribe links on my “Thank You” page.

    The feedback from users has also been positive. I initially had reservations as to whether or not users would be inconvenienced by the plugin, but many people have contacted me to say they were impressed with the plugin and asking how they could use it on their own blog. Download ‘Comment Redirect’

    Meet Your Commenters

    While it’s possible to build a relationship with your commenters via blog comments alone, it’s far easier (and far more beneficial) to extend the relationship outside the blog. Twitter, Facebook and email are all great ways to keep the conversation flowing with your potential subscribers.

    I’ve lost count of the amount of hours I’ve spent reading comments from new commenters, then manually searching for their Twitter, Facebook and other social media accounts. So when I came across the ‘Meet Your Commenters‘ plugin last week, I was amazed how much time it could potentially save me.

    meetcommenters

    The plugin automatically displays a list of all the Web sites and social media profiles that it can find for your new commenters. Now there’s no need to spend five or ten minutes manually searching Twitter or Facebook. With this plugin, the task is reduced to checking the ‘Meet Your Commenters’ page in your WordPress admin panel and then clicking the links to your commenters social media profiles. Download ‘Meet Your Commenters’

    Twitter as a Relationship Builder

    I’m a huge fan of Twitter, both from a personal point of view and as a blogger. As a blogger, it’s recently brought me 700 visitors and 85 subscribers in nine days. But that’s only the start. The relationships I’ve been able to build with my subscribers and prospective subscribers are invaluable.

    How many of your commenters are subscribers? Do you make any attempt to build relationships with your subscribers outside of your blog?

    Enjoy more stuff by Jamie Harrop at Blogging Zest. With four years experience, Jamie recently took one blog from 0 to 100 subscribers in 11 days. Today, with posts such as How to Stand Out in a Blogging Crowd, he writes about blogging, social media and online communities.

    Photo by James Justin

    About the author

      Jamie Harrop

    • Jayme Lamm says:

      Is this comment redirect available for blogger? I’m still a little new to this whole blog/technology way of life and would love to have it. Great article!

    • Really useful post. Thank you! Guess I’m a dinosaur, too, since I have this page bookmarked…

    • Erm… and I was redirected to a blank page after submitting my comment here.

      ?!

      A

    • So if I wasn’t sure about converting from WP.com to WP.org, I am now.

      Very useful article.

      Strangely, I won’t be subscribing as I am swamped by my Google Reader.

      Don’t know what to do about that..

      Will bookmark the site though (so old-fashioned!).

      Thanks again.

      Andrew

    • Damien says:

      Thank you for those tips

    • Well this certainly opens up a new idea to me. I havn’t thought about actually asking for my commenters to subscribe. Okay, so I don’t have many comments yet. But that will change over time and I might as well get used to asking for favors right?

      Now I’m off to investigate how to get more subscribers 🙂

      (and in the line of that quest, feel free to visit my blog @ mindthebeginner.wordpress.com)

    • Julie M says:

      Thanks for this post! Will this work if you have a Blogger format? I use Comment Luv right now, but I do not get many comments for whatever reason… I LOVE the Meet your Commenters too…

    • Patricia says:

      Thanks for this useful post

    • Great post, Jamie! Janice, who commented above, told me about the plug-in that sends a thank you message to the first time commenter. Since you are the source of that info, thank you so much! It is always great to know more about what is available out there for us bloggers. 🙂

    • Thanks for this. I’ve been thinking about how to do everything you’ve described and you’ve done my research for me. It’ll really help. Matthew

    • Thanks for this article – it highlighted some of the link building aspects I thought were important. In as much as quality link is relevant, content is still king.

    • Ruth says:

      I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don’t know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.

      Ruth

      http://besttoddler.com

    • David Cain says:

      I love the comment redirect plugin, I will have to get the Meet Your Commenters one. Thanks Jamie!

    • Yes I definitely need to work on converting my commenters to subscribers. I like the tip of offering a call to action to subscribe after writing a comment. I believe this is a useful post to my readers and I mentioned this post as a reference. You should receive a trackback soon!

    • Two other related plugins:

      1. CommentLuv, which displays the latest RSS feed of the commenter.
      2. ActionComments: helps build your email subscriber list every time you get a new commenter. It’s a paid plugin but worth it.

      These are also very helpful, thanks.

    • Good information, thanks for sharing. I’m going to have to take a look at this plugin.

      I should really try to connect with all my commentors in any way I can. After all – I really do appreciate everyone who takes the time to comment on my blog.

    • DJ says:

      Wow, there is a lot of potential with that comment plugin. Thanks for sharing Jamie!

    • Thanks for the advice

      -Nate

    • I gotta try these plugins, thank you!

    • Writer Dad says:

      WOW, Jamie. Those plugins are off the hook. Thanks for the tip. Definitely will download. Awesome.

    • Sheamus says:

      Excellent advice Jamie. I’ll definitely be trying both of these plugins out. Cheers! 🙂

    • Darren says:

      Great – I’ve just been looking for a good way of doing exactly this. Thanks very much 🙂

    • Well, I’m IMMEDIATELY going to download those plugins! Thank you so much for an insanely useful post, Jamie.

    • There are some subscribers like me, who don’t comment that often but posting about converting blog commenters to subscribers encourages people like me to comment. Strange old blogosphere & Love your blog 🙂

    • janice says:

      Great to see you here reaching an even bigger audience, Jamie. You deserve it! (I was one of those folk who commented on an amazingly useful post of Jamie’s, then commented again two minutes later to say how impressed I was with the “Thank you for leaving your first comment!” message I got. Jamie generously shared the plugin details right there and then.)

    • Tess says:

      I, too, love the look of the second plugin especially. I’m about to make an effort to increase my subscribers so this is very timely.
      However, I have what may be a stupid question: I have no email subscribers, they’re all via RSS feed, so how do I know whether a new commenter is already a subscriber? I don’t want to irritate someone who’s been subscribed for a while and has just delurked to contribute a comment.

    • Sid Savara says:

      The plugins you mention are great. I don’t know if I’ll use the redirect (I also don’t know if I *can* – I use disqus for comments).

      The commenter bio plugin though is ridiculous. I love it. I never knew something like that existed, and I can definitely see that being useful!

    • Mike CJ says:

      Thanks for sharing those Jamie. Just have to go and see if something similar is available for Drupal!
      I am struggling with converting traffic (which is beyond fantastic) into subscribers (which are just scraping to my objectives) so open to any other ideas or suggestions.

    • Hey Mary,

      I just wanted to thank you for publishing this guest post. Since I wrote this post, the value I’ve got out of those two WordPress plugins has continued to be substantial.

      I’m looking forward to the comments from others!

      Thanks!

      Jamie


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