How I Increased My Email Subscribers By 500% In One Week

How I Increased My Email Subscribers By 500% In One Week Every blogger knows it, the most important counter is the one that’s not publicly disclosed, the number of email subscribers.

Email subscribers is the highest form of engagement in inbound marketing, it also represents more commitment than a Like, a Tweet and even an RSS subscription.

Your reader is basically giving you permission to enter the only method of online communications that’s still private.

And this, my friends, is one of the reasons SocialMouths has been completely redesigned.

Today I’m sharing with you how, with a few changes, I was able to increase my email subscription rate by 500%.

Daily Email Subscribers

Let’s start by saying that my previous approach was very healthy, a decent amount of subscribers every month with an unsubscription rate that was nearly non-existent. These changes were made with the objective to improve my conversion rate and to change my entire approach to email marketing to deliver a better service for my subscribers.

So here goes…

Switched from MailChimp to Aweber

Step one was to switch providers from MailChimp to Aweber. This is the point were you’re expecting me to trash MailChimp, not gonna happen. I still think MailChimp is a great service, I really love the beautiful interface, the reports, the social integration and the kick-ass iPhone app to check your campaigns on the move. I’ll miss that for sure.

The problem is not the platform. The problem is that we, as clients, sometimes go for the wrong solution for our needs. In this case, Aweber is a much better solution for bloggers for many reasons.

Free Mini-Course

For the first time in almost 3 years of blogging, SocialMouths created a free product. Now when you subscribe to receive email updates you get full access to the DIY Mini-Course for Building Facebook Custom Tabs, a massive 28-page online tutorial that covers the entire process.

More importantly, I chose this particular topic by listening to my readers in order to deliver exactly what they wanted from me. I did not have to figure out what the reader wanted or run any crowdsourcing campaigns to figure this out. My most popular content (by far) has been related to this topic with more than 100k pageviews and thousands of shares and likes, as well as an average of 20 weekly emails with Facebook Tab-related questions.

It doesn’t matter how prominent your offer is if you’re not fulfilling a need. Identify what your reader wants from you before you spend time and energy building the wrong product.

Multiple Signup Forms

One of the main reasons for switching providers was the ability to handle multiple signup forms in a single page. This is key for a blog and MailChimp makes it very difficult. Even when I tried using the same code snippet for 2 different forms, one on the sidebar and one on the  footer, it created several conflicts.

Aweber not only allows you to create multiple signup forms, they also provide you with the necessary data to see which forms are performing better.

Signup Form Performance

Feature Box

The “Feature Box” is a design option from the Thesis framework, probably not used enough considering the benefits. Here are three reasons why after all this time, I decided to use it:

Thesis Feature Box


Your offer must be positioned on prime real estate on the site, there is no way around it.


The Feature Box is really a blank canvas since it’s only a space for you to insert code. This is more important than it sounds, it gives you full creative control. One of the problems I see with Signup Pop-up plugins is that it makes every site looks the same.

When you are serious about business and marketing, looking like a template is not on your roadmap.

Not Intrusive

There is a huge difference between using the Thesis Feature Box and using a Pop-up. To me this is defined in one single element: If I put something in your face and you need to take action to remove it, just to be able to see what you came here to see, I’ll consider that intrusive.

With the Feature Box, you do not have to take any actions, if you don’t care about the offer you simply continue on to the content.

Related Content

I published a post called Facebook Tabs Are Not Dead, They’re More Alive Than Ever to support the launch of the free product. I included a standalone signup form inside the post to be able to track the response.

This post alone was responsible for 30% of the week’s total subscribers.

This is a technique you can’t use every single week so, make sure your post is rock solid to drive enough subscribers.

More “Opens” and “Clicks”

As I said before, one of the reasons for changing my entire email marketing was to deliver a better user experience. This has nothing to do with improving your signup conversion rate and for that reason, success can’t really be measured with subscriber numbers.

The success of your campaigns is measured by “Opens” and “Clicks”.

To improve this, I implemented 2 changes that resulted in an increase of almost 1,000% in Opens and 450% in the Click-through rate.


A very delicate matter since it’s hard to visualize what the right amount of content and frequency is. If you are just broadcasting your blog content to your email subscribers, this is specially tricky.

The content here at SocialMouths can be 1 or 2 pieces a week but it can sometimes go up to 3. For some people getting 3 emails in a week is way too much. I noticed open and click-through rates were decreasing and the low amount of unsubscribers were usually happening on the third email of the week.

I’m now mailing only one piece per week.

Original Content

I also stopped broadcasting blog posts. Email subscribers now receive an email I’ve written manually.

By crafting each email you send out, you have the possibility to:

  • Write a kick-ass subject for your email. You know how important a headline is, specially when that’s the only piece of content you see on media like Tweets. Your email subject is your headline in this case and it will increase the chances of that email being opened
  • Write a compelling call-to-action to click through. Give your subscriber a reason to click s/he can’t resist. When you’re just broadcasting blog posts, your click-through is depending on a boring “Read More” link

How About You?

As you can see, the changes I implemented are not really rocket science but the results I was able to get are significant.

What is your strategy for email subscriptions? Have you identified how it can perform better? Share your experiences with email marketing or feel free to ask any questions if you want.

Happy Emailing!

Image Credit: Dry Icons

  • Hey Francisco, 

    Great post and lots of really important concepts. The Aweber mailchimp debate seems to come up quite a bit.  One of the thing you mentioned was the code snippets. I actually use mailchimp combined with the Optin SKin plugin so that allows for multiple forms.

    I love that you brought up forgetting about the crowdsourcing and seeing what resonates. I’ve done this quite well with The Skool of Life newsletter.  But I’ve been guessing a bit with BlogcastFM.  So figuring what that free offer should be is something I need to spend more time on. 

    But I’ll share a few things I did helped my open rates

    1) Original Content: Once I started doing this rather than just sharing our recent interviews our open rates definitely went up. I make it a point to write the newsletter myself. On SKool of Life for the auto responder I took my old posts and repurposed them and that shot up the open rates big time. 

    2) Subject lines: In the past my subject line used to be “xyz newsletter” depending on which blog it was. But now I make it topic specific and that helps big time. 

    3) Custom landing pages for guest posts: This was a huge one., I made the mistake of sending people to my home page on 100’s of guest posts and lost potentially 1000’s of subscribers in the early days of my blog. One tip i’d say is setup a separate landing page for each guest posts soy ou can see which blogs convert better for guest posts.

    Lots to learn from this post. I’ll be referring back to it. 

  • Awesome overview Srinivas, I agree 100% on it all but especially on landing pages for guest posts.

  • Francisco,

    Thanks for this post, I’ve already spent far too long on the whole mailchimp vs Aweber  argument. And, considering I came to the same conclusion only a week ago, I really wish I had read this last year… :~)

    I’m bookmarking this page simply because it’s so full of information there’s no way I can digest & apply it all in one go.

    Thanks for sharing,


  • Hey Srini,

    Thanks for sharing your experience. I agree about the Mailchimp – Aweber debate, I found a lot of content regarding this but I think it comes down to what is the best solution for you. I will still be using MC for other projects.

    I never tried using a plugin in the middle to solve the multiple form issue but it’s good advice. 

  • Thank you Scott, it’s good to have you here and participate. I also spent quite a long time trying to get to a conclusion in this matter but, like I said, in this case Aweber was the best bet.

  • Excellent post! Just out of curiosity,  did introducing the free course to persuade people to sign up for the newsletter have any impact on the unsubscribe rate? I always wonder wether giving out freebies has an impact on loyalty.

  • Hi Martijn,

    Of course, everything has an impact. In this case a freebie can help you improve your conversion rate but you also have a higher potential for churn, I expect that.Then you have to work on the actual email content and retention strategies. It’s too early to judge, but I’ll be happy to share that kind of results as they become clear.Thanks for your comment.

  • Francisco, this is such a great post.  I’m currently on MailChimp but I verrry quickly came across the multiple-forms-per-page thing you did.

    I love how you clarified some of the not-so-understood moves we can make to increase our e-mail subscriptions.

    I especially like how some weren’t ‘measured by subscriber count’.

    Rock on, man!

  •  100% totally agree with Srini on point 3, custom landing pages for guest posts. I did the same thing, but straightened it out pretty fast, and it makes a huge difference.

  • I’m glad you liked the post Jason, I’m not sure if you read the comment from @srinirao:disqus but he has a solution to deal with multiple form with MC through a plugin. I never tested it but maybe it’s worth giving a try.

    Thanks for stopping by.

  • Fantastic changes! I totally agree with all the changes, too. One thing that I feel like I must do is switch from Mailchimp to Aweber. I love Mailchimp but as you said, it may not be up to par for my needs. I’ll keep at it, though.

    I love that you use non-intrusive methods. I almost instantly leave a website now-a-days that has any popup asking me to sign up for their newsletter. Most of the time I’ve never visited the site and so I have no idea WHY I would even want to be apart of their list. 

    I have been subscribed to your mailing list for a while now and I admit, I just deleted your emails if I got it more than once a week. I quickly unsubscribe from most newsletters who send me an email a day, but I love your stuff so I didn’t unsubscribe, just deleted. I’m glad I didn’t unsubscribe, too!

    Thanks for the tips!

  •  Hah, yeah I did Francisco, thanks for the extra guidance though, Srini’s a smart guy 😀

    And now anyone else reading probably will see the solution if they need it 😀

    For me, I had such a rough time with it, that I redesigned my list flow to not require multiple forms on the same page, so I just don’t mess with it for now.

    Sounds like a job for a passionate tech assistant 😛

  • Hey Morgan, thanks for the honesty, I truly appreciate the feedback. It also means I was right on the money when I thought adjusting the frequency to send fewer pieces…

    In regards to Mailchimp, it took me a good while to finally make the decision to switch. I really think MC is a good product and I wish I could take some of the features with me. One of the things that kept me from making the switch was the transition, migrating the list was a bit scary but the folks at Aweber made it painless.

    Thanks for your comment =)

  • LeoWid

    This is one awesome post Francisco, especially love the fact that you didn’t bash Mailchimp or anything, but really focused on the needs that had to be served for you and Aweber was more suitable, makes all a ton of sense.

    Buffered for sure! 🙂 

  • Having multiple sign up forms is key.  You don’t want to go overboard, but they need to be visible.  The forms also shouldn’t be too complex.  You don’t need to ask for too much information.  

  • You definitely were! And when I got your email just now, I opened it, and wow, what a difference! I love it. 🙂 

    Transferring is definitely something that would hold me back, but glad to know it was painless!Good luck with the continued success!

  • “The Transition”, scary indeed. My biggest concern, given Aweber’s stringent import guidelines. You mention they helped directly?

    What other Pro’s/Con’s could you highight? (A new article, perhaps?)

  • Thanks for sharing what worked for you! I actually use MailChimp and am struggling with how to handle different sign-up forms myself. I have one list, but two groups – blog broadcasting and a customized e-letter. I either need to rethink that or maybe look at another provider. But, I’d really hate to switch. I use MailChimp for my blog and for all of my clients. I hope I can find a way to make it work!

    Now, off to finish my free ebook that’s been gathering dust for months! Eeek!

  • I’ve been struggling with the multiple sign-up form issue myself. Thanks for sharing the plugin idea. I’ll have to check that out. I love MailChimp and don’t want to switch, but much like Francisco, I’ve been stumped on how to fix it. Hope this plugin does the trick!

  • Hey Laura, if you do test the plugin, please come back and let me know how it goes. To me that issue is important in order to consider the service for future projects.

    Thanks for your comment, great to have you stop by =)

  • Completely agree with you Nick, keep it simple but visible.

  • Hey Leo,

    Of course, no need to, MC is a great product and for many it IS the right solution. I guess we as users need to do a little more homework in determining what covers our needs, specially when it comes to something so important like email marketing.

    I’ll give you a good example, I’m a long time HootSuite user and it will take something extraordinary to get me out of there but when it comes to Twitter scheduling, I ditched it for a very cool tool called Buffer, not sure if you’re familiar with it =D

    Have a nice weekend buddy. Happy Buffering!

  • Hey Nando,

    It all comes down to the health of your list, how were your subscribers included in the list, if they went through a 2-step confirmation process, the monthly subscription rate and also how active is your list.

    I contacted them and once they were able to clearly see these things, they helped me monitoring the transition and made sure everything went smoothly. I was actually surprised how easy it was.

    So my recommendation is to contact them directly.

  • Thank you Morgan, this is priceless feedback.

    And whatever you decide to do, know I’m here to help =)

  • Tania Shirgwin

    I’ve never subscribed to your blog, until now!  Great blog as usual – I do read your work every Saturday. Great ideas and food for thought for my own small blog.  Thanks.

  • Hey Tania, you don’t know how I appreciate your words, just to know you take some of your valuable time to spend here is out of this world.

    Thanks so much!

  • These are really good tips and advice you are sharing here Francisco!  I tried out the Feature Box and I like it.  So I will be adding that to my blog real soon.  This is a great example of how sharing information on our blogs can help others and that is key it getting people to sign up or want to be on your mailing list.

  • Dale

    I know that A weber is highly rated but I think it’s rather difficult to use for those of us who aren’t tech dolts but who aren’t tech geniuses either.

  • Hi Francisco, I made some changes a few months ago and noticed a large daily subscription increase as well. I’m glad you addressed the open and click through rates as that’s my biggest challenge right now. I have shortened the email’s length by sending less content with each issue and that seems to help a little. I think I need to work on a better call to action now.

    BTW, have you checked your new design using Google Chrome? I had to open Firefox to view your post because the DiggDigg plugin is coving the content, at least on my system. Right now 41.63% of my visitors are using Chrome so it might be worth checking.

  • There is not any kind of rocket science in this, this are the tactics that many people implement. 

    Thanks for the tactics

  • Hello Ganesh,

    You are absolutely right but here is the thing, my focus is to write for people that do need this kind of advice, for example entrepreneurs that have to run their business but still need to figure out social media, email and content marketing techniques.

    The post, as the rest of the content in this blog, is clearly NOT for you. And that’s okay. I do not write for the industry.

    Thank you

  • Hey Brian, thank you. I appreciate the feedback, although I’m not sure if it’s on your end, I actually use Chrome myself and I haven’t seen anything unusual with Digg Digg, I’ll make sure to test on other computers.

    In regards to the post, I think the biggest impact right now has been in writing each email piece rather than just broadcasting the RSS. I actually received a lot of positive feedback in this matter. But you’re probably already doing this.

    The good thing is, I see you’re testing different approaches and in any kind of marketing, as you know, testing is the name of the game.

    Good to have you stop by. Have a great week!

  • Dale,

    That’s a good point. Mailchimp’s interface is a lot easier to understand and that can smooth the learning curve a bit.

    On the other hand, once you get to other things like dealing with signup forms code snippets and stuff like that, MC can really spin your head before you figure it out.

    Thanks for your comment.

  • Brook Allard

    Email subscribers is the highest form of engagement in inbound marketing

  • Donita Westmoreland

    Every blogger knows it, the most important counter is the one that’s not publicly disclosed, the number of email subscribers.

  • Francisco,

    This is a great post and I keep coming back to it again and again, so thank you!

    I’ve been considering adding the Feature Box to my site and this makes that decision a little easier. I love the new design of your site. Extremely well done and I think the way you’ve implemented the Feature Box is perfect. Very cohesive and a good model to follow.

    I’m fairly new to blogging, but have jumped over to Aweber and it is great.

    Anyway, just wanted to say thank you for the great content. Very helpful indeed.

  • Andrea Villa

    Hey! Great Post! I also made the switch from Mailchimp to Aweber and it has been a great decision so far. Im glad that it has helped you improve your database. I am still trying to get used to my change but this post was very comforting 🙂 Also thank your for adding details about the feature box.. I guess thats another change that will come in my future!

    Great post!

  • AfricanMangoMeltdown

    One of the thing you mentioned was the code snippets.

  • Share your experiences with email marketing or feel free to ask any questions if you want.

  • Satheshbm92

    Gonna try this ! 🙂

  • Heidi

    I really enjoyed this blog post, I have been reading you now for a couple of weeks and so many of your posts have at the very least given me a moment to pause and think. This was one of them.

    We used to do a hand written newsletter twice a week, but it got to be too much. Then we went to once a week, and then we stopped. We stopped for various reasons but mainly for two reasons. Time and energy is one, we are busy running a very active online community and writing multiple pieces of content in our niche daily. And because my business partner who was the email newsletter writer took up a new position. Time, when it comes down to it.

    Our traffic has suffered but not drastically but we have an awesome list if subscribers but we are doing nothing with it. It is time to change that and come up with a solution that we can start implementing. However I feel I am stuck on coming up with a right solution.

    Parts I am stuck on:
    – Since we have not sent out a newsletter in over a year how do we begin sending one and making sure our email list is current.
    – we last sent emails through a smaller local service which we have since dropped as their prices were too high and their interface was not user friendly, I have a mail chimp account and was planning on using them simply because I use it for other projects and am happy with the way they work.
    – I want to automate the process because frankly I don’t want to write emails. Customers in our niche are used to daily email newsletters because our topic is time sensitive (deals, they expire).

    What are your thoughts on sending daily emails based of rss feed ( we have advertisers interested in buying ad space in our newsletter and we want something that looks better than something like feed burner emails)

    Should we also throw in a hand written newsletter every once in a while? And if so what will readers think of getting a daily email everyday and then on one day week/every two weeks/once a month they get two emails? Or should we build a separate list for those handwritten newsletters?

    Also I am loving the idea of giving folks a freebie for signing up and already have some ideas floating around in my head on that. But had a question, do you offer the freebie to already subscribed folks too or only to new subscribers?

    I know a lot of questions but this is weighing on my mind. But it is like looking at a really messy garage and you just don’t know where to start it is so overwhelming.

    Any suggestions or thoughts?

  • Every blogger knows it, the most important counter is the one that’s not publicly disclosed, the number of email subscribers.

  • Every blogger knows it, the most important counter is the one that’s not publicly disclosed, the number of email subscribers.

  • The number of email subscribers.

  • Every blogger knows it, the most important counter is the one that’s not publicly disclosed, the number of email subscribers.

  • Lisa

    Thanks for the great article. My blog is only a few months old so information like this is very helpful as I figure out what to do.

    I also use the Thesis theme and love how you set up your Feature box. I have looked up how to use the Feature box but I don’t understand the Open Hook and how to put the code in for my sign up form and other images. Could you share how you put the code in to produce the images and text?

    Thank you for any info you can provide or websites you can direct me to.

  • my friends, is one of the reasons SocialMouths has been completely redesigned.

  • Great post Fransisco! I recently made the switch from Mailchimp to Aweber and lost about 2/3 of my MC mailing list but I was so okay with that as the list wasn’t being used in the way it is now and the subscribers I have now are highly engaged. I don’t get 20 subscribers a day… wish I did. Will definitely have to take a serious look at my offerings. Thanks for your efforts. Even for those of us in the industry (which I kinda stumbled into through being an entrepreneur), we still have stuff to learn and relearn.

  • Awesome, great ideas for increasing subscribers.  I love reading your post.  Great info.

  • Thanks. Your tips really inspired me. Thanks a lot man..

  • Great design. Luvd it.. 🙂

  • Your reader is basically giving you permission to enter the only method of online communications that’s still private.

  • Today I’m sharing with you how, with a few changes, I was able to increase my email subscription rate by 500%.

  • My entire approach to email marketing to deliver a better service for my subscribers.

  • Increasing the Email Subscribers by 500%? I wondered if it is really possible when people said about it. Its now that I realize its possible. I agree with your point, “Email subscribers is the highest form of engagement in inbound marketing,” The information that you have shared can really work wonder and I have to try them now.

  • This is more important than it sounds, it gives you full creative control. 


    Email subscribers is the highest form of engagement in inbound
    marketing, it also represents more commitment than a Like, a Tweet and
    even an RSS subscription.

  • Mailchip i also use so i know that it can increase your subscription best part is to write quality and latest article you will get good amount of visitors.

  • wow! great and useful post! email subscribers are the lifeblood of the online business

  • No one can deny your great efforts in passing this important information, I tried it also and it really helps, but I’ll share a few things I did helped my open rates too, if you don’t mind for sure.

    Attract eyes with your sign-up design: try to put your well designed sign-up
    form in obvious position,
    and with some attractive phrases which offers customers something exciting,like
    sign-up and get free updates.

    Best Regards,

    Pillar Jo