What You Should Know About RSS Advertising on JohnChow.com

Jim Fisher runs The Lazy Owner’s Guide To Running A Business. In this post he shares the performance details of his RSS ad on John Chow dot Com. To see the ad, check out the full feed RSS.

I hate free advertising.  I would much rather invest money into campaigns that I can get instant results and that I can measure to see if they provide me a good investment.  So I’ve done several different advertising campaigns for the Lazy Owner.

  • Adwords
  • StumbleUpon
  • Text-Link-Ads

I think that they were all worth trying out as it didn’t cost much money, I got some extra subscribers, and I was able to see what worked, and what didn’t.  When I saw that John was selling advertising space in his RSS feeds, I thought that could be a good investment to experience some of the “John Chow Effect”. 

The main goal of the campaign was to get some additionial RSS subscribers and if I did at least as well as the other campaigns, I would have been happy.  Suprisingly to me, I did much better than I expected.

How I Measured the Advertising Campaign

I’m a big metrics guy.  I think that if you don’t measure it, it’s not worth doing.  I use a rudimentary way to track the success of my campaigns.  I calculate the increase in RSS subscribers during the campaign period and take out the number of subscribers I would get during that period if I didn’t run any advertising.  With that and the cost of the campaign, I have my most important metric – Cost Per Subscriber.

Shoemoney had a post recently about the value of each of his subscribers.  He put it at about $2 per subscriber, so that means that if you can get subscribers at anything less, you’d be leaving money on the table.  In a recent post, I determined that JohnChow.com’s cost per subscriber, based on the number of subscribers and total revenue earned for the blog, was $11.52 per subscriber. 

While I don’t plan to ever reach that number, I think $2 per subscriber is much more realistic.  And with this advertising campaign, I had no problem getting past that threshold.

Cost Per Subscriber

My costs per subscriber were MUCH lower than the other campaigns that I’ve done before:

  • AdWords was 158% more expensive
  • StumbleUpon was 70% more expensive
  • Combined, all other advertising was 112% more expensive

Subscribers Per Day

Not as important but if you’d like to get the most subscribers as soon as you can, I got many more subscribers per day with this form of advertising than with anything else I’d done on a similar scale.  It’s great going into Feedburner every day and seeing a jump double of what you expected:

  • 495% more subscribers per day than with AdWords
  • 294% more subscribers per day than StumbleUpo

Additional Bonuses

Like I said, my main goal was to get more RSS subscribers and based on just that, I was very happy with the campaign.  But there were other benefits that made it even more valuable.  For one, John thanked each of his sponsors and so I got some good traffic and link equity.

  • Overall Traffic (minus past PPC traffic) increased 128%.  Some due to other sources but there was still a nice impact.
  • Technorati ranking increased from 153,346 to 124,330

It Could Have Been Better

One of the mistakes I think I made was directing users right to my feed.  My thought was to induce them into signing up for the RSS feed but I think that the blog had a better presentation and could have done that just the same.  In the future, I would direct them directly to my blog and have a jump page so I can accurately track how many visitors came directly from the ad.

If you have a new blog that you want to grow in popularity, I think this is one of the best ways to spend your advertising dollars.  Or, if you have an established blog and you have pretty good value per subscriber, you should get a good return for that as well.