How to Gain More Subscribers (Even with Low Website Traffic)

Last updated: May 25, 2021

What if I told you you could get 2 new subscribers for every 50 website visitors without an extra effort?

You’ll go about your day doing client work, writing, taking a nap. But your list will grow, adding at least several new email addresses from people who want to hear from you every day.

No popups, welcome mats or slide ups.

Wouldn’t it be a dream come true?

“Yeah, right…”

You think I’m making this up? Here are my stats.

I get about 100 visitors from search every day (and about 150 overall).

Daily organic visitors (July 16-21, 2018)

Stats: Traffic last week

But before you laugh at this number, I’d like to tell you that about 6 of them subscribe, getting me around 40 juicy subscribers just from search every week.

Number of new subscribers a day (July 16-21, 2018)

Stats: Subscribers last week

Raise your hand if you want 40 subscribers a week!

But ok, maybe you don’t have 100 daily visitors, which is fine because – did you know? – most of the freelancers get about 20 daily visitors and are struggling to get traffic and gain subscribers for years.

I, too, used to have fewer website visitors. For example, in October 2017, it was just 50 a day. Yet, I would still get 2 subscribers a week, and while my organic traffic grew, so did my list.

Growth of subscribers (October 2017 – July 2018)

Subscribers growth

Want to gain more subscribers on autopilot like this? Here’s how you can replicate this strategy for your business website.

Icon Secret Billionaire

The Secret Billionaire’s* method of gaining more subscribers

* – “Billionaire” because you’ll have a ton of subscribers; “secret” because no one will suspect that looking at your website traffic.

Main idea:

With a usual lead magnet, you’re trying to persuade your website visitors (who, mind you, came to your website to just read an article or check you out) that they need “this awesome ebook”.

But your visitors weren’t planning to download anything. So, no wonder this tactic isn’t very effective!

What if you showed your lead magnet to someone who’s already looking for something to download?

Using the Secret Billionaire’s method:

  • you create a page that targets people who are already looking for a download
  • include your lead magnet into it
  • and make it rank in search to attract those download hunters.

They need it. You have it. And to get it, they’ll happilly give you their email address.

Here’s how to make this magic happen.

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Phase #1: Plan

– Planning is boooring!
– Not as boring as your non-existent subscriber numbers.

Uncover keywords with potential

Do keyword research to find out keyword(s) in your niche that indicate that people are searching for something to dowload.

Examples: [keyword] + PDF, template, checklist, worksheet, mind map, roadmap, blueprint etc.

If you’ve never done keyword research before, I’d recommend this great article by Andy Crestodina that will tell you all you need to know in plain language.

The main idea for your lead magnet depends on your target audience.

But if they normally don’t have time to read blog posts or to download things (for example, middle size business owners or agency managers),

…then target people one level lower in this food chain – someone who may get your content in front of your target audience (for example, on social, because they are colleagues or friends with your ideal clients).

Don’t shy away from the keywords with low volume

You need to be realistic regarding what keywords you have a chance to rank for. I love this cheat sheet that gives you an idea what you can aim for depending on your Domain Authority*:

How to decide if you have a chance to rank for a keyword
How to decide if you have a chance to rank for a keyword with a certain search volume (Source)

* – Domain Authority is a ranking score from 1 to 100 developed by Moz. It predicts how well a website will rank in search. To find out your DA, install Moz Bar Chrome extension and navigate to your website.

It’s ok if your keyword has as few as 50 searches a month. You’ll also rank for a bunch of relative keywords that you may not have uncovered in your research because of their low individual search volume.

My main lead magnet is a website checklist. The main keyword I targeted with it has 50 searchers per month. But as my DA grows, the page start ranking for the closely related keywords with higher volume. In June, I already got 604 visitors from search for it.

Make sure you can “outcreate” the top runners

After you have some keyword candidates, do a Google search, check out the top 3 results, and decide if you can create something much better.

This is important, because this strategy only works if you can provide an impressive resource that either doesn’t exist yet or is much better than what’s currently there.

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Phase #2: Create your lead magnet

Offer a ton of value without an opt-in

– Huh? How am I going to get email addresses without an opt-in?
– It’s magic!

Create an impressive post where you offer a ton of value around your lead magnet and make this information freely accessible without an opt-in. Then, make your freebie a cherry on top of the cake – something that makes the information the post provides easier to use or offers a bonus on top of it.

Why not just put everything behind an opt-in?

Because you need your page to rank in search. And for this, you need it to have a lot of relevant text.

My ultimate website checklist is so long that it’s difficult to use it to actually review your website. So, as my lead magnet, I offer a handy PDF download that contains the same information but in a compact printable format and with check boxes.

About 15 visitors out of 100 are happy to leave me their email addresses for it. BUT!

But for this to happen, your page needs to blow the socks off your website visitors.

5 must-have features of a highly effective lead magnet

5 features of a highly effective lead magnet

Make sure your lead magnet is:

  1. Targeted, so that your new subscribers will also be interested in the rest of your content.
  2. Ultra-helpful, to demonstrate your expertise in solving the problems of your audience.
  3. Easy to consume, so that your audience doesn’t feel overwhelmed.
  4. Actionable, to make sure they implement it and see real results your free advice brought them.
  5. Impressive, to make sure your new subscribers will recognize your name next time it pops up in their inbox.

Take your time

Spend as much time as you need to create something outstanding. This method won’t work with an XYZ ebook or a meh PDF with the info one can freely find on Google.

For my three main lead magnets, I spent on average 10 weeks per freebie.

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Phase #3: Make it rank in search

– Something tells me that’s even more work!
– Haven’t you heard that it’s not work if you love what you do?

Your lead magnet is ready. Now it’s time to show it to your future subscribers.

But even if you’re targeting perfect keywords, ranking for them won’t be a piece of cake, especially if your website has a low domain authority.

That’s why you need to direct a lot of things you do on your website and outside it towards helping your lead magnet pages rank.

Show Google your authority on this topic

  • Write more blog posts around the topic of your lead magnet(s) and link from those posts to your lead magnet page(s).
  • Find pages that already have a high page authority and add an internal link from them to your lead magnets.
  • Write guest posts on a closely related topic.

Get other websites to link to you directly

When you publish a guest post, don’t link to your homepage from your author byline. Link to your lead magnet page.

Link to one and the same lead magnet from your guest posts till you get it to rank on position #1.

Get more eyeballs on your lead magnet

Put it in front of more people to increase the chances for someone to link to it on their own:

  • Feature your main lead magnet on your homepage
  • Share it on social
  • Make it your pinned post
  • Create a resources page on your website that features your main lead magnets and link to that resources page from the navigation
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Phase #4: Make your new subscribers remember your name

– Wait… Why do I have to still do stuff after they gave me their email address?
– Because their email address alone isn’t what you want.

You may feel tempted to put your feet up when your page(s) start to rank. Yay, you’re getting subscribers on the daily basis!

But do you want more subscribers? Or do you want more subscribers who’re genuinely interested in what you have to say?

Your newsletters may drown in the flood of other emails in their inboxes. Or they may fail to remember who you are and why they subscribed in the first place, and just delete your email.

That’s why you need to deepen the connection with a new subscriber so that they’ll remember your name and look forward to your emails.

Create a “thank you” page

When they confirm their email address to download your lead magnet, redirect them to a “thank you” page that has your photo on it and ask them to do one more thing. For example, connect with you on Twitter, fill out a one-question survey, check out your most popular post, etc.

Thank you page example
Create a “thank you” page asking your new subscribers to do one more thing

Link to a freebie within a freebie

On the last page of the PDF you send them, feature another resource or an ultra-useful post that is related to the PDF they downloaded.

“Now, why would I do that? You already got their email addresses!”

Because you’d like to impress them even more so that they remember your name.

“Seriously, I can barely get people to download one freebie. You think they want to download two?”

Believe it or not, 12.8% of my subscribers have downloaded more than one freebie. Those subscribers are also much more engaged than the ones that downloaded none or only one freebie.

Share and newsletter engagement of subscribers based on the number of downloaded lead magnets

Subscribers engagement rates depending on the number of downloaded lead magnets

Side note: Notice how many subscribed without any “bribe” – 14%! And no, I’ve never used a pop-up on my website. They subscribed using a static footer opt-in just because they liked my content.

Create a welcome email sequence

Next week when you send your usual newsletter to your existing subscribers, don’t send your new subscribers the same email as to everyone.

Instead, create a welcome email sequence that is tailored to show the new folks your most helpful side.

Important: Reintroduce yourself in email #1 including your photo as your new subscribers may have forgotten who your are but they may remember your face because they saw it on your “thank you” page or on social. Use your photo in every newsletter you send out (because people forget stuff).


Phase #5: Enjoy steady flow of engaged subscribers

– Finally!
– Yay! You totally deserve it!

Ok, now when your lead magnet page is ranking higher and higher and you have workflows in place to make your subscribers remember you, you can put your feet up.

Dog sleeping on a beach
Put your feet up and enjoy a steady flow of engaged subscribers (Source: Giphy)
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