How do you grow a niche, B2B newsletter?
Aleyda Solis had a problem.
Like so many of the best newsletter creators, Aleyda started the #SEOFOMO newsletter in early 2020 to create the weekly email that she — an SEO professional — wanted to receive herself.
A newsletter to keep herself in the loop of all the important changes and updates happening in the world of SEO.
With more than a decade of SEO experience under her belt and 80,000+ Twitter followers, Aleyda was able to see strong initial traction. This even led to her getting inbound sponsorship and advertising opportunities for the newsletter.
Fast forward to August 2020 though, and subscriber growth had completely stalled.
Aleyda had set herself the goal of reaching 10k subscribers by the end of the year… but she was nowhere close.
Results were underwhelming and growth was stalling. She knew something had to change.
At just a few thousand subscribers, she wasn’t making enough revenue from the newsletter yet to justify spending a lot of money or time on growth. But what she had been trying so far just wasn’t working any more.
Eager for a way to get back on track, Aleyda saw how well referral programs were working for other newsletters. So she decided to try adding one to the #SEOFOMO newsletter.
After three wasted months struggling and failing to see even mediocre results with a whole range of generic referral tools, Aleyda found SparkLoop in November 2020.
“I had terrible previous experiences with other tools. I had to do forms from scratch and deal with a clunky integration. It was a massive pain just to run one giveaway.”
What rewards would work well?
Like so many creators, Aleyda wasn’t sure a newsletter referral program would work for her audience.
She had seen larger newsletters like Morning Brew and The Hustle using referrals to grow like gangbusters. But #SEOFOMO is a newsletter for professionals, not college students.
Her subscribers wouldn’t be motivated to share by Morning Brew-style rewards — free swag like stickers and tshirts. And besides, that kind of reward would be way too expensive and time-consuming for Aleyda to provide.
So Aleyda turned to our free Referral University course for inspiration.
“The guide from SparkLoop made it so easy to think of great reward ideas. I followed the advice that it’s really important to have a reward for 1-3 referrals that costs me nothing so that every subscriber knows they’ll get something in return for sharing.”
And — within a few minutes — she had come up with a whole range of rewards that fit the main criteria for an effective referral program...
- … affordable
- … easy to automate
- … quick to create
- … something your audience would actually want
Most newsletters using SparkLoop only have 1-2 referral rewards. And they see a 35% growth boost from referrals on average.
After getting feedback from some of her most engaged subscribers though, Aleyda settled on a multi-reward milestone referral program…
Why is this a great reward strategy?
Aleyda recognised that she has two kinds of subscriber...
Firstly, she has a lot of subscribers who love the newsletter, but probably only know a few friends who would be interested in such a niche topic.
So — to incentivise as many of these subscribers to share as possible — she created three rewards which are community-based, require only a few referrals to win, and don’t cost her anything to produce.
In fact, they actually help her spread her newsletter more. Every time she gives a shout-out on Twitter and in her newsletter, many of the folks who receive a shout-out share it with their network again too.
Secondly, Aleyda also has subscribers with large industry followings of their own. The kind of people who could refer 50, 100, or even 1000 new subscribers with just one click if they wanted to.
So Aleyda also created more expensive and time-consuming rewards to incentivise these “influencer” subscribers to share too.
Over thousands of successful newsletter referral programs at SparkLoop, this combination of rewards usually works really well — and is definitely something to copy for your own referral program...
- ... a (free to fulfil) reward for 1-3 referrals, incentivising everyone to share
- ... a more exclusive, valuable reward for 15+ referrals, incentivising subscribers with their own audience to share too