Improving the Design of My Blog to Increase Email Newsletter Subscriptions

  • The email newsletter subscriptions in my blog don’t meet my goals consistently.
  • So far, I focused on improving my writing to optimize these results.
  • The next step will be to improve the design of my blog.

How I Measure the Performance of My Blog

I’m tracking two stats to measure the performance of my blog. These are the growth rate of my Medium followers and email newsletter subscribers. My goal is to grow both figures by 10% every week.

I succeed at the newsletter goal one week and fail the next week. This one on, one off pattern has been going on for a month now.

So far, I tried to optimize my blog post writing skills. I did that by analyzing my Medium stats. I learned a lot of lessons on blogging and I shared them in a series of posts.

Focus on Blog Design

Sure, there is still room for improvement in my writing, but I want to focus on my blog at the moment. There’s even greater room for improvement in my blog.

My traffic numbers aren’t that bad, but I have a difficult time converting that traffic into email newsletter subscriptions. I’ll focus on this conversion for a month or so.

My Knee Jerk Reaction

I started using Google Analytics to accomplish my goal. That wasn’t a good idea. I warned my readers not to jump on to a tool without having a plan first. I made that mistake. I didn’t think whether Google Analytics was the right tool for this job.

Google Analytics is a fantastic tool. When I get into a tool like that, I can spend weeks, months, and even years working on it. I could still learn something after a year of using it. However, that’s not my goal.

My goal is to improve the conversion rate of my blog, not to become a Google Analytics expert.

I warned against this type of tech abuse in the post Use Tech as an Accelerator, not as an End. I even wrote a post yesterday called Data Is the Gold If You Know How to Use It. Yet, I still spent hours on Google Analytics without any results.

Start with Pen and Paper

After hours of unfruitful work, I went away from my computer. I sat down with pen and paper. I brainstormed and wrote the first draft of this post.

Search Queries by Readers

An interesting insight from Google Analytics was the search queries people used on my website. Those search queries gave me some ideas for blog posts.

One of those search queries was “how write every day.” I think my visitor was curious about how I publish a post every day. Actually, that would be easy if I didn’t have a full time job. But it’s hard on top of a full time job.

Improving My Productivity to Keep Up with the Daily Publication Schedule

I’m still improving my productivity and workflow. I plan to report my writing routine once it reaches a certain point.

There’s some inner game that goes into this as well. I find it interesting how my psychology plays tricks on me. Then I play tricks on my psychology in return to keep up with my daily publication schedule.

If you want to read more about how I keep up with my daily schedule, stay in touch by subscribing to my email newsletter. I plan to write about this in the upcoming days.

Start with Quality Questions

After using Google Analytics for a few hours, I realized that I didn’t need to spend all of those hours. I could get what I needed in ten minutes.

Before you start to use a tool like Google Analytics, write down what you want to get out of it. Moreover, write down what you’re going to do with the answers you get.

If you don’t know the answer to those questions, you’ll end up wasting your time. At the end, you might end up knowing a lot about Google Analytics without adding any value to your business.

My Goal and How I Plan to Accomplish It

My goal is simple: to improve the conversion rate of my blog traffic to newsletter subscriptions. In order to do that, I need to improve the design of my blog.

I already worked on my writing. If the design of my blog isn’t good, I won’t be able to reach my goals no matter how good I write. The effects of both components are like factors in a multiplication.

Determine the Factor that Has the Biggest Room for Improvement

If my writing is at 80% and the design of my blog is at 20%, my conversion rate will be at 16%. After a certain threshold, improving one factor will only add marginal value.

According to the 80% – 20% figures above, there’s 25% improvement left in my writing. If I focus on my writing, I can improve my results by 25% at max.

Based on the same assumption, there’s 500% improvement potential in my website design. I can improve my results up to 500%, if I focus on the design of my website.

The Challenge of Infinite Possibilities

When I start a project such as updating the design of my website, the possibilities are virtually endless. Even though that sounds good, it is overwhelming at the same time. That’s why I wrote the post, How to Deal with the Challenge of Infinite Possibilities when Starting a Business.

Where to Start?

If it was up to me, I’d start with the about page and the homepage. But when I look at Google Analytics, I see a different picture.

If you look at the top ten pages in Fig. 1, you might think that the homepage is the most important page. It accounts for 10% of the page views. That means if I improve the homepage, I improve only 10% of my website design.

Fig. 1. Pages with top 10 views

There are eight pages that refer to blog posts in the top ten list. When I look at the complete list, more than 80% of the page views are blog post views. If I improve the design of the blog posts, I’ll improve 80% of the website.

Improving the design of the blog posts is relatively easy in WordPress. All I have to do is to update a few files in the theme that I use.

Measuring the Effects

Once I make that update, I’ll wait for a few weeks to see its effects. I can hardly think that those changes would result in a worse conversion rate than the current design.

I haven’t thought about the current design. I just used the standard theme and added a subscription box at the bottom.

Improvement Ideas

There are already some improvement ideas in my mind. These ideas are inspired by Medium and the Startup publication.

A Link to the Email Newsletter at the Top. There’s no information above the fold that indicates that I have an email newsletter. The only exception to that is the email newsletter subscription page.

I like the way the Startup Publication named their link. They called it “Get Smarter at Building Startups.” In my case, even calling this “Newsletter” would be better than what I have now.

The Position of the Subscription Box. The subscription box is under the post, social share buttons, related posts list, and the category and tags list. The subscription box could be between the social share buttons and the related posts list.

Author Information Bar. I’ll include an author information bar at the top, including my picture, my name, and a short bio. I was procrastinating on writing my Medium bio. Once I have a short bio, I’m going to use it on my blog and on Medium.

A Short Pitch in the Posts. This is not a design update, but it can increase the newsletter subscriptions. I included a pitch in this post. I gave a hint about a post that I’m going to publish in the upcoming days. I can do that in future posts as well.

Conclusion

When updating a project, focus on the component that has the biggest room for improvement. In my case, that is the design of my blog post pages.

Technology can be a pitfall at work. Don’t use a piece of technology just because it’s a good tool. Use it only if it serves your goals. Use it as a means to your ends. Don’t use it just to use it, no matter how fun it is.

Your Turn

I’d appreciate it if you could give me some tips to improve my email newsletter subscription numbers. Let me know in the comments if you have any ideas how I can improve this stat.

Burak Bilgin
Software developer with a Ph.D. and 15 years of experience. I write daily on personal development and life lessons. Sign up to my email newsletter to receive a weekly overview of my latest content on personal development and life lessons.