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Growing Your RSS Subscribers Series – 2. Show the number of Subscribers

10 August 2010 3 Comments

33. Use social proof. Ever entered into a restaurant because the place was packed with people, or didn’t enter one because it was empty? That is social proof in action. If you have a good number of RSS subscribers already (I would say over 500), you could display it on your site using the Feedburner feed count widget. This might motivate people to give your RSS feed a shot.

You may of noticed that I didn’t write up my first RSS experiment the following day from my original post in this series. Well there is a very good reason for that, I was unable to reveal the details of my experiment as this would make the void my first RSS experiment. So what exactly was my experiment?

Does having a high subscription count effect the number of new subscribers?

Essentially I wanted to test the theory that by having a large number of subscribers, and displaying this figure on the site, that this will encourage new visitors to subscribe because of the herd mentalitly, “if XXXX amount of people like this site, then I probably will as well”. Ths was suggessted by Daniel in the original post as tip number 33, which I posted above.

To test this I swapped out my feedburner stats with a static image of my feedburner subscribers with an extra 80,000 or so subscribers. Then I left the site for a week and reported my subscribers as you can see in the image below. Other than the feedburner stats and a different weekly post everything else remained constant with the site (at least on my side of the equation).


Well the results are inconclusive. It was on par with previous weeks and no discenible changes were recorded. In addition there are quite a few variables that I would prefer not to exist. They include:

  • The number of subscribers I post. Perhaps 80,000 is too high on the scale and people tune out.
  • The site has a relatively low number of visitors and subscribers which causes difficulty in determining accuracy of changes. Nothing I can do about this one.
  • Testing over 1 week throws a lot of additional variables within the test, particularly the number of type of visitors I get for the week.

Week 2

So to try and get more accurate results I have repeated the test for another week, with a few minor changes. Mainly:

  • A new weekly post
  • Changed subscriber count from 80,000+ to 800. Daniel mentioned over 500 so it may be more accurate with Daniel’s suggestion.

Here are the results:


Again nothing much to conclude other than it doesn’t make much difference at all. It seems there must be other factors at play that are far more important in getting people to subscribe to the site, at the very least this site. However its more important to conclude that it does not negatively effect your subscriber count, but in my logical opinion, a high number of subscribers adds credibility to you and your blog.

Let me know if you have had a similar or completely diferent experience by posting your feedburner stats, by leaving a comment below.

<< Part 1 – Growing Your RSS Subscribers


  • Growing Your RSS Subscribers Series – 1. The options | Scribble Scratch said:

    […] Growing Your RSS Subscribers Series – 2. Show the number of Subscribers | Scribble Scratch said: […]

  • referencement said:

    Interesting experiment, very hard to test and quantify indeed! However my own tests have showed that changing the position and/or design of the “subscribe” button potentially has a much bigger impact. I will definitely try inflating the number of subscribers on one of my blogs, however I don’t have enough traffic on the site to claim it will have any sort of direct impact 😀


  • noaforce said:

    i dont think to try this before, interesting, i will try ur method, thaks for share


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