Where to use reviews to drive more subscribers

Five places to leverage social proof to get free readers into paid subscriptions

Word of mouth feels like magic marketing.

It’s so much better when your readers spread the word so you don’t have to promote everything all the time.

While it might seem like word of mouth is out of your control, it’s not. You can prompt your readers to share, forward, boost, bring a friend and more.

Even better when you can build those prompts in so they happen automatically.

There’s moments where it makes sense to do that like:

  • Did you read to the bottom of this article? Share it on social media!

  • Did you RSVP for an event? Send it to a friend!

  • Did you just upgrade to a subscription? Tell us why!

Is it annoying? Maybe. You have to decide to make it natural and integrated for your readers.

It’s also effective. The default action is no action and sometimes, you’ve got to make the ask clear.

That’s why last week, we looked at how to ask for reviews and I shared that reviews were driving up online sales as much as 270%.

This week, we’re going to look at where to put those reviews so they crank behind the scenes to get more readers upgrading to paid.

📣 Want to grow your paid readership? Join us for our Scaling Paid Subs mind meld. Next session is Monday, June 3 at 1pm Pacific/4pm Eastern and it’s free. RSVP here.

Where to plug in your reader reviews

Spot 1: Prompt subscribers to shout you out

Once a reader upgrades to a subscription, ask them to share why on social media to create awareness for new readers or motivation for those considering subscribing too.

👀 How to do it: On your subscription confirmation page (after you thank them for subscribing) ask them to share this moment on social media. Better if you can add a button or widget that helps get them there but even just making this ask via text can work too.

Example from Australian Ethical

Spot 2: Automate an email sequence

Welcome emails are great but it’s even better if you can add a couple more emails that gets people familiar with why they should read more and subscribe faster. Build the habit and stack up the carrots.

A sequence allows you to hit multiple motivations (benefits of subscription, the mission behind your work, why others subscribe). It also allows you to spotlight your subscriptions outside of your normal newsletter sends.

👀 How to do it: Most newsletter tools allow you to create a welcome sequence and delay email sends by X days. Recommend letting them read a few issues before sending these. An example recipe might be 6 weeks after they join your list, you’d send 3 different emails working angles on why they should subscribe, 3-4 days apart.

Example from Jay Clouse where he used screenshots of reviews in a sales sequence

Spot 3: Article call to action block

Articles on your website or blog are important places to prompt action. Reading should be the primary experience, but well placed, well designed action blocks can be effective without being annoying.

👀 How to do it: My easiest recommendation here is to try adding a simple horizontal rule at top or midway down your articles with some plain text and a link to become a subscriber.

I also love this example from McSweeney’s below because the sidebar blocks are both integrated into the design and they stand out.

Example from McSweeney’s

Spot 4: Subscription upgrade page

Using reviews on the upgrade page can encourage someone who’s on the fence to subscribe!

As I shared in the last issue, we’ve seen plenty of evidence of this in e-commerce contexts. You’re working the angles of “others are doing this too” and “you want to be part of this” while also showing off how much trust you have with your readership.

👀 How to do it: Try adding a couple quotes to the top of your page like Defector did here. Or make a custom sales page for your subscriptions and add in reviews! Senja (pictured below) makes their review widgets copy/paste so they work on most websites.

Example from Senja

Spot 5: Standalone wall of love

There’s something powerful about seeing a whole lot of people sing your praises at once and that’s why the Wall of Love design is worth considering. You can use a Wall of Love on a website page or it can standalone and you can use it as a quick stop on the way to subscribe.

How to do it: Use Senja.io (affiliate link) to make a wall of love and link to it from your newsletter to drive subscriptions.

Example Wall of Love I created for Hell Gate (not actively in use)

Our takeaway

Your subscribers are motivated to pay by a range of factors and hearing from a variety of other subscribers can help tap into those motivations.

Choose one of these surface areas to add your reviews and make sure there’s a call to action towards your subscriptions there too. When you use word of mouth in your own systems, you get more word of mouth!

Next week, we’ll talk about how to get your current subscribers referring new readers your way.

—Lex (@betonlex)

P.S. How many reviews have you collected so far? Hit reply and let me know.

🎁 Bonus example: a testimonial how to from KCBX

Public radio station KCBX made this thoughtful “how to leave a good testimonial” page for their members.

One of the toughest things about testimonials is getting really good soundbites or written snippets that pack a punch. KCBX sets the stage for why they need testimonials and they include easy prompts to follow. Check out the page.