Ratio Analysis for Bloggers 1: Subscriber Conversion Ratio

By Daniel Scocco

I have a degree in Internal Economics, but the course aimed to be very broad, so we ended up having lessons on finance and business administration as well. I was not a fan of the finance classes, but I remember that one topic interested me a lot: financial ratios.

Financial ratios are basically a quick system to examine the financial conditions of a business or project. They express the relation of one factor to some other. I am sure you are familiar with the ROI (Return on Investment) ratio, which basically illustrates the relation of the money you will gain on a project, relative to the amount you had previously invested.

Sometimes the ratio per se has no meaning, but it becomes immensely useful when you are able to compare different ratios of the same company over time, or when you need to compare two different companies or projects.

At this point you might be asking yourself: are you changing the topic of this blog to Finance 101 or what?

Not at all. In the past I had already mentioned that blogs can be seen as business entities. They have managers (authors), inputs (ideas and information), outputs (posts and articles), clients (readers), competitors (bloggers or other websites on the same niche), partners (blog networks, friends), performance indicators (traffic, RSS subscribers, incoming links) and so on.

The idea that came to my mind, therefore, was to apply ratio analysis to blogs. The objective is to create a set of tools that bloggers can use to examine the performance of their own blogs, or to compare different blogs. Below you will find the first ratio of the series.

Subscriber Conversion Ratio (SCR)

Gaining RSS and email subscribers is a priority for any blogger. Those readers are the most loyal ones, and they represent a guaranteed audience and source of traffic for your blog.

Now most blogs will gain subscribers from their articles and posts. That is: someone comes to your site from a search engine or from an organic link, reads one or more of your posts, like it, and decide to subscribe to stay updated with future content. Sure some blogs will have competitions and prizes for boosting those numbers, but that is the exception and not the rule.

If that is the case, one analysis that we can make is how well your articles and design are working towards the goal of gaining new RSS or email subscribers.

Notice that I said “how well your articles and design” because both of those factors will contribute to the conversion rate. You need to have both quality and engaging content, and a design that supports your goals. A blog that has outstanding content but where the RSS icon is hidden at the footer will have a low conversion rate. Similarly, a blog with several big RSS icons all over the place might not convert at all if the quality of the content is poor.

Back to the central question, you can examine how well you are converting visitors into subscribers with the Subscriber Conversion Ratio (SCR), which is simply the total number of subscribers that you have (as reported by Feedburner, for example) divided by the total number of posts on your blog.

Applying the numbers

Let’s apply the ratio to some real cases now.

DailyBlogTips.com has 13855 subscribers as of today, and 822 posts. The SCR therefore is 13855 divided by 822, which is equal to 16,9. On average, therefore, every post that I wrote here brought in 16,9 new subscribers.

DailyWritingTips.com has 10976 subscribers and 460 posts. The SCR there is 23,9. As you can see on Daily Writing Tips every new post brought in more subscribers than on Daily Blog Tips.

DailyBits.com has 1122 subscribers and 196 posts. The SCR is very low at 5,7.

There are 5 main factors that will affect the SCR:

1. Quality of the content: the higher the quality of the content, the higher the SCR should be. Several parameters will affect the quality though, including the writing skills of the author, the originality of its ideas, the value of the information for the readers and so on.
2. Design: the design of the blog will also affect the SCR. The overall look will help to get first time visitors interested. The right positioning of RSS icons and email subscription forms will then affect the conversion rate of visitors into subscribers.
3. Niche. The niche of the blog will strongly affect its SCR as well. Blogs on tech-savvy niches will tend to have a higher SCR than blogs on other niches.
4. Growth phase. Blogs that are new or starting to grow might present a lower SCR than established ones. That is because most successful blogs or websites present an exponential growth pattern. There is a tipping point where the traffic and subscriber levels suddenly jump out of the normal line.
5. Content format: blogs that publish small and frequent posts will obviously have a lower SCR when compared to blogs that publish longer, how-to like articles.

Considering that all my three sites have the same design, therefore, I would attribute the low SCR of DailyBits.com to the quality of the content and to the content format. Its audience is as tech-savvy as on the other bloggers, so that should not be influencing either. Sure we have good content over there, but it is not as focused and as consistent as on the other two sites, and the posts tend to be shorter and news based.

Conclusion

While there are different factors that will affect the SCR, I think you could still use it to examine your blog’s performance. Compare the SCR of your blog with those on the same niche. If the number you get is significantly lower, perhaps you should work on the design, on the content format or try to improve the overall quality of your articles.

Suppose you have 4 different blogs, and you want to focus on one. The SCR could be a factor used to decide which one you should focus on.

Over to the readers

It is difficult to estimate what is a good SCR and what is a bad. We would need to have more data points, so if you want to help this out please share your SCR and niche on the comments below.

Do you think this could be effective to comparing blogs on the same niche?



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33 Responses to “Ratio Analysis for Bloggers 1: Subscriber Conversion Ratio”

  • Adam

    Sigh, I only have a SCR of 1.3 πŸ˜› We started our blog less than two months ago, have posted 41 articles and have 55 subscribers. That being said, we haven’t advertised at all so I guess I’m happy with that.

  • John Young | We Have Contact

    Thanks for the interesting read this morning! I’ll be sure to come back after the work day and crunch some numbers to these forumlas and SCR tips.

  • Luciano Passuello

    Finally a metric in which my site ranks well! πŸ™‚

    Litemind.com‘s SCR is 50 (around 2000 subscribers and 40 posts).

  • Todor Christov

    Daniel, my SCR is 1,7. I have 1050 post and 1800 RSS subscribers. Quite low, ah?

    But let me tell you something – we must not forget about the language in which a blog is written.

    It is one thing to blog in English and totally another thing to blog in Albanian, for example. The readership base and the potential for growth are different.

    To me, there is an even more important ratio – the conversion of subscribers to visitors of the blog. But still, the SCR is a very good way for comparison between two or more blogs in the same niche!

  • Summy

    I like the idea behind measuring this stat- as they say whatever is measured is improved.

    The issue is that it’s hard to know what are good numbers and which are bad and if there are any milestones for increasing growth.

    For example, is there a tipping point of 250 blog posts and 1 year and then you’ll suddenly get a surge of subscribers at dailybits. also maybe daily bits is right on target but the other 2 blogs are just at the high end.

    What i’m suggesting is that we put together a dataset of blog stats and see the pattern. I can do the math and report back but if someone has a statistics background and wants to handle this- that’s fine.

    OK I’ll go first
    SuccessMakingMachine.com 240 subscribers, 55 articles, 7 months old, ratio=4.5

    (Note that in the last 2 weeks i’ve increased my subscribers by over 50% so maybe there’s an acceleration point at ~50 articles)

  • Marco Merli

    Hi Daniel, here’s my situation.

    I’m editor for an italian tech blog that has 1810 post since october, but only 1200 subscribers. The ratio is very poor: ~0,66.

    The fact is that we are doing very well in terms of statistics and we experienced a solid growth in the last months. In the last 30 days we topped the half a million pageviews quota, +33% if compared to the previous month. Same thing for the unique visitors. The ratio of page viewed per user is around 2,6 in the last 30 days.

    So what’s wrong with RSS readership?

    About the content: I’m not the right person to talk about it, but my fellow writers and I are very precise and we have sources (we’re not a repeater of other blogs’ content), we made our own scoops (which were very well credited and they worked to catch up more and more visitor). We interviewed VIPS and we’ve been linked by important international sites in our niche. Our last video on youtube collected 40,000 viewers in three days (not bad for an italian video), we’re well ranked in many charts (a bad habit of the italian blogosphere) but we still struggle on RSS readers…

    So i came up with the idea that maybe this ratio can be applied only to blogs wich are written in english and could collect visitor and readers from all over the word.

    What’s your opinion about that? πŸ™‚

  • Summy

    Per tudor’s comments let’s add 2 more data points to our data collection:

    site language and topic.

    for successmakingmachine.com it is english and productivity

  • Daniel Scocco

    @Adam, I guess that is because of the growth phase factor. Your blog is very new after all.

    @Luciano, that is a terrific ratio I am sure you guys are doing something right.

    @Todd, yes the language of the blog will affect the SCR also. I would say that English blogs should have a higher number.

    Don’t worry we will have more ratios coming soon πŸ™‚ .

  • SEO Genius

    Ha thats funny mine is about 0.30 i am sure almost positive my subscription feed does not work half of the time.

    Meh nevermind πŸ˜€

  • Daniel Scocco

    @Summy, definitely the conclusions I am taking are early estimates. The more numbers we have in, the better those estimates will be.

    That is why I asked for readers to comment with their own ratio.

  • Summy

    Daniel,

    Oops. I got really excited by this ratio that I glanced over that last paragraph.

    Keep up the good work.

  • Daniel Scocco

    @Marco Merli, foreign blogs will definitely have a naturally lower SCR. That is because the total audience that you have at your disposal is lower.

    Your SCR could be normal for an Italian tech blog therefore. Another possible explanation comes from the content format. I assume you have many small and news based posts, lowering the SCR. Even TechCrunch might have an average SCR, for the same reason.

    To make a complete analysis we would need more tools and ratios. I will get busy thinking about them πŸ™‚ .

  • Daniel Scocco

    @Summy, I actually just updated the last paragraph after reading your post. Thanks for the input.

  • Rome

    Hi Daniel, here is mine 2 300 / 31 = 74.1935484 πŸ™‚

  • Kathryn

    Keyword niche will have a huge impact.

    My main keyword is “knitting machines”. Per Google, there are 1.3 million site returns for this phrase and per WordTracker, there are 88-103 daily searches, depending if the term is singular or plural.

    I love the topic so I must accept the traffic potential realities as well as a lower post number to RSS subscriber base.

    My target audience also leans heavily to women over 40 since knitting machines have traditionally been too expensive for younger women to afford.

  • Rarst

    I think for comparison using same number of posts is required. Like what SCR this blog had at 100 posts and that blog had at 100 posts.

    Blog may have 20 SCR but if it has total of 3 articles that doesn’t exactly make it large and popular. πŸ™‚ Maybe a good start but not equal of blog that has lower SCR that actually equals to thousands of subscribers.

  • Web Success Diva

    I agree with @Rarst, you’d definitely have to compare to the same # of posts. But still, super post!

  • jeremy

    Solid post. A nice addition to the burgeoning world of Social Media ROI metrics (see here: http://www.jer979.com/igniting-the-revolution/beware-the-traditional-marketer-in-wom-social-media-clothing-hellip/

    and
    http://www.jer979.com/igniting-the-revolution/elusive-roi-metrics-on-social-media-hellip/

    Of course, maybe you shouldn’t read them since my SCR is pretty low. I’m depressed. It’s 2.2 (309 posts and 125 subscribers), but 160 comments.

    And my personal blog (since 1999) fares worse….2400 posts, 100 subscribers. Ouch!

    Anyway, you’ve given me something to focus on as a blog metric and, more importantly, how to move the dial.

    Gonna get me a bigger RSS button πŸ˜‰

  • rose

    I am very new to this blog world. I am in the second week now. I’ll try to get RSS Feed, in a hope to use your SCR ratio in the future. I know the result is useless now, but I hope to be happy with it in the future. Feel free to visit my web should you have free time. I’ll be more than happy to receive comment from an expert like you!

  • stetoscope

    Thanks, very interesting ratio.
    You should developp a widget to follow our blogs evolution.

  • Max Forlani

    Hi,

    my blog about Istanbul with tips and tricks for tourists or expats alike, has a ratio of 3! Not much of course. Yet I’m not too disappointed.

    I take comfort in what you said: a blog has to grow (mine is only six months old and still has to mature) and the fact that my niche is not RSS savvy I guess.

    Please do let me know if I’m wrong, but a blog like mine has to depend on search results rather than RSS I guess, since you’re likely to follow a tourist blog unless you’re going there any time soon. Hence the dependency on search results, no?

    Cheers,
    Max

  • Daniel Scocco

    @Rarst, I don’t think you need to compare blogs with the same number of posts, but as I mentioned on the post I do agree that the age of the blog is a factor.

    Once you are above a certain number though, say 100 posts, most blogs become comparable.

    @Max, yes if you have a tourism oriented blog search results will be the core of your traffic.

  • Arun

    The topic you have discussed in this post is quite interesting especially for a newbie blogger like me.

    http://www.simplewayoflife.net

  • Amy Warden

    This is good to know. I’ve been agonizing over my lack of subscribers, wondering if I’m wasting my time. I have a very small niche blog, but I’ve been paying attention to the posts that get the most hits and trying to write similar to those. I have 64 posts, and the number of subscribers varies around 25. I’ve only been blogging for a little over four months though, so time should help.

    Here’s my question: how do you find out the ratio for similar niche blogs? Is there a simple way to look this up? Counting posts wouldn’t be too hard, but how do you find out how many subscribers they have?

  • Rich

    Consider the traffic too. My ratio is around 2.0+, but 90% of my traffic is from people looking for a product review when they are about to make a purchase. I’d love to convert more of them, but I’m very happy that they spend money through my site. πŸ™‚ I’d rather have this than a high ratio and low income!

  • Babak

    Hi Daniel , Here’s mine:
    2241 / 148 = 15.14
    My blog is mostly about Internet and it’s about 1 year old.

    By the way , I made an online tool for calculating SCR online.
    Please take a look at it:

    http://zangoole.com/feedcalc/

  • Summy

    Here’s my update
    I’m at 62 articles and 308 subscribers upping my ratio to 5.0.

    There’s definitely been an up tick for me since the 50 article mark, but much more to go…

  • medyum

    I like the idea behind measuring this stat- as they say whatever is measured is improved.The issue is that itÒ€ℒs hard to know what are good numbers and which are bad and if there are any milestones for increasing growth.For example, is there a tipping point of 250 blog posts and 1 year and then youÒ€ℒll suddenly get a surge of subscribers at dailybits. also maybe daily bits is right on target but the other 2 blogs are just at the high end.

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