3x faster growth by switching to SparkLoop

Learn how Aleyda Solis uses a SparkLoop referral program to grow the #SEOFOMO newsletter 3x faster for less than $0.10 per new subscriber!

“The first month after adding SparkLoop, I went from averaging 300 subscribers per month to more than 1000 subscribers per month. And I love how easy it was to set up.”

Aleyda Solis

SEO Expert & Owner, #SEOFOMO newsletter

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...

  1. ... a (free to fulfil) reward for 1-3 referrals, incentivising everyone to share
  2. ... a more exclusive, valuable reward for 15+ referrals, incentivising subscribers with their own audience to share too

The best media brands and newsletter publishers use a SparkLoop referral program to grow 20-200% faster.

You can too.

Learn how to come up with a reward strategy that's perfect for your audience in our free Referral University course...

Putting it all together

Like most newsletter creators, Aleyda is a busy person. So she was worried about how complicated and time consuming it would be to set up her referral program and automate the reward fulfilment.

Especially after the nightmare experience she had with generic referral tools before SparkLoop.

Turns out she needn’t have worried…

“I ended up setting it up on a Sunday afternoon, literally. It was perfect. Super easy. I didn’t need a developer unlike other tools. And you could tell [SparkLoop] was made perfectly for newsletters. The Mailchimp integration, the reward automations… it all just worked with just a few clicks.”

the referral section in Aleyda's newsletter

What were the results?

Aleyda officially launched her newsletter referral program on December 21, 2020.

A month later, the results looked like this...

Aleyda easily smashed through her 10k subscriber goal. And it’s safe to say her referral program has been a game changer for growing #SEOFOMO.

Here are some of the highlights…

  • 3x faster subscriber growth
  • An acquisition cost of just $0.07 per referred subscriber
  • Higher engagement from referred subscribers, leading to thousands of dollars in future revenue

Most importantly, the entire referral program only takes a few minutes to run each week, and has turned into a powerful, sustainable growth flywheel.

So Aleyda has more time to focus on creating amazing content, engaging with her subscribers, and continuing to share her newsletter’s story on her website, Twitter and Clubhouse.

The final verdict?

With SparkLoop now powering seven of the world’s ten largest newsletter referral programs, there’s no doubt it’s the obvious choice for large, consumer-focussed newsletters.

But — if you run a smaller newsletter in a niche or B2B space – you might not be so confident a referral program would deliver meaningful growth results for you too.

So we asked Aleyda what she thinks...

Is a SparkLoop referral program a no-brainer for any newsletter creator with at least a few thousand subscribers, no matter the audience?

“I would say yes, do it. I know this is the sort of thing where you think 'oh this will take so much effort to set up' — but it’s so smooth with SparkLoop. Not like other tools I tried before. I literally couldn’t believe the results.”

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Key lessons for your own referral program...

Here at SparkLoop HQ, we help thousands of newsletter creators and digital media companies grow their email-lists faster.

When we talked to Aleyda about her referral program’s success, we noticed some key takeaways you can adopt to boost your own newsletter growth too:

1. Play to your strengths.

Aleyda tested the waters with free, digital rewards that were easy-to-implement and didn’t require a lot of time or money to get started.

More importantly, she identified and created community-based rewards that her subscribers actually cared about, like a Twitter shoutout to her large audience.

As a newsletter creator, you’re guaranteed to already have several perfect, free rewards for your audience ready to go. You just need to work out what they are!

2. Make your subscribers want you to succeed

Going back to her strengths as a master storyteller, Aleyda was able to close the loop in the process by sharing her newsletter’s journey and her recent successes in public.

This means many more people became invested in her story, were cheering her on, and then shared it with their followers too. So for every referral on Twitter, she generates more likes, replies, and retweets.  

The result - the growth loop continues every time a newsletter subscriber refers a friend, and it builds more momentum — and faster — for her newsletter.

3. Use the right tools

It’s no coincidence that Aleyda’s first few attempts at running a giveaway and referral program failed before she switched to SparkLoop.

Choosing great rewards is much more important than your choice of referral software. But the amount of work involved in setting up a generic referral tool to work with newsletters — even when they claim it’s easy on their websites — will still lead to wasted time, money, and bad results.

That’s why the best newsletters use SparkLoop, and why newsletter creators who switch to SparkLoop from other tools see a 2.3x referral boost (and pay 3.7x less per referral).

4. Engage with your subscribers

Aleyda has embraced Twitter and Clubhouse as a way to turn her one-way newsletter into a two-way conversation.

This has led to better subscriber engagement, more referrals and growth, and several sponsorship opportunities.

If you run a newsletter, how can you get your subscribers more involved and foster a sense of community?

(other than referrals of course!)

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