Sign Up Here! — The Value of Content Subscription

October 8, 2012

This week, I’m continuing my series on how to distribute your content (see my previous post on content sharing sites) by focusing on content subscription.

One of the most important aspects of content distribution is content subscription. You want to give your audience opportunities to subscribe to your content so that they receive it automatically, without having to go looking for it. Doing so will help ensure that more of your content — whether you’re creating videos or blog posts, white papers or case studies — gets consumed by more people more often. For anyone looking for a good content distribution plan, it’s a no brainer.

Before you can start developing a content subscription strategy, however, you’ve got to answer two questions: 1) What are the best types of content that you can create that people can easily subscribe to? and 2) How do you actually get people to subscribe? This post addresses both of those points.

Content Subscription Options

Here are a few examples of what marketers should consider getting their target audience to subscribe to:

  • Newsletters — A newsletter is a catch all that allows you to share just about any type of content on a regular basis. For example, you might choose to share your best blog posts and curated content each week or a new report or eBook. A good newsletter will generally provide teasers of that content, encouraging readers to click through to your site to access it in full.
  • E-mails — Whereas newsletters are regularly distributed allowing you to share content frequently, you can use e-mails to opportunistically share bigger pieces of content. The advantage of using e-mails (that people opt in to receive) is that you can customize each one based on the content you’re sharing or the audience you’re sharing it with. You also can create e-mails on an as needed basis rather than committing to a more rigid schedule as you would with a newsletter.
  • Videos / Podcasts — Both of these types of content are easy to subscribe to using YouTube and iTunes, respectively. When your audience subscribes to your YouTube channel, for example, they’ll be notified every time you post a new video. If they subscribe to your podcast, new episodes will automatically be downloaded every time they connect their device to iTunes.
  • RSS Feeds — Although not a type of content, RSS feeds are one of the most important ways of making it easy for your audience to subscribe to your content. Often referred to as really simple syndication, RSS actually stands for rich site summary. Simply put, RSS is a Web format that allows you to syndicate frequently updated content like what you would find on a news site or blog. People who subscribe to your RSS feed are able to see your content using a news aggregator such as Google Reader without having to go to your site to get it.

Now that you’ve got a few ideas of what your audience can subscribe to, here are a few tips on how to actually get them to subscribe.

Getting them to Sign Up

The thing about content subscription is that you’ve got to give your audience a reason to subscribe in the first place. Here are a couple of ways of doing so:

  • Give Your Audience Something In Return — If you have a great piece of content that you think people will really find valuable, consider gating it. That way your audience will only able to access it after they sign up to be on  your newsletter or e-mail distribution list. Not everyone likes this approach, so as an alternative, consider making part of the content available online (the first 10 pages of the book, the first view minutes of the video or podcast), asking your audience to subscribe only after they’ve had the chance to interact with it. If someone has already taken the time to read 10 pages or watch five minutes of video, they probably find it useful and will be willing to subscribe to get access to the rest.
  • Make it So Easy They Can’t Say No — If signing up for your content is a hassle, no one is ever going to do it. Make sure that the subscription process is easy by asking for as little information as possible (ideally, just an e-mail address). Also get any of your outbound facing colleagues — whether sales reps, recruiters, or customer service professionals — to encourage the contacts they interact with to sign up, or better yet to sign those people up themselves with their permission.

What it really comes down to is creating high-quality content. If your content is good, people will want it delivered to them so that they don’t miss anything. Focus on making the best possible content and the subscribers will follow. Over time, you’ll find that this is a key part of content distribution and creating a true content factory.

Stay tuned for my next post in this series, where I’ll be talking about how to leverage events for content distribution.




Content Marketing Director

<strong>Kevin Cain</strong> is the Content Marketing Director for <a href="">BlueChip Communication</a>, Australia's leading financial services communication firm. Before joining BlueChip, Kevin was the Director of Content Strategy for OpenView.