November 27, 2019

9,000 Subscribers in 9 months: 5 Key Tactics

Dan Benoni @danbe

We went from 0.5% to 12% email opt-in (24x!) for Growth.Design.

In fact, this helped my cofounder @louisxavierl and I go from 0 to 9k+ subscribers in 9 months (with zero SEO effort):

As IndieHackers we love the tactical growth stuff.

So we’ll give you our top 5 tactics 😉:

  • 1️⃣The "Feedback Loop"
  • 2️⃣ The "Sniper Links" Email Confirmation Technique
  • 3️⃣ The “Immersive” Experience
  • 4️⃣ The “Hard Stop” Prompt
  • 5️⃣ The “Cheatsheet Summary”


We just launched on ProductHunt today and we're in the #1 spot! 😸. If you have a minute, come and say hi, we read and reply to everyone!

🔥TACTIC #1: The "Feedback Loop"

From day one, our main goal was to stay as close as possible to our users.

For example, we have a Slack channel where every single signup is listed (we enrich signups with Clearbit). This makes every new subscriber feel a lot more "human" and concrete to us than a "# email subscriber" number on a dashboard:

Our first 50 emails were super hard to get (took us months). It's part of the reason why we:

  • researched people who signed up,
  • looked at their Linkedin profiles and
  • crafted a super personal email to contact them.

We have a 40% reply rate on that email because it's personal and we genuinely care to connect with people.

(The easiest way to see our best-converting email template is to sign up to our newsletter here: ).

Even today with thousands of emails per month, we look at this Slack channel religiously on a daily basis to get a good grasp of who's in our audience and WHY.

Learning why people subscribe (and what they wanted to see more of) has been eye-opening for all new initiatives. Almost everything we do today is driven by customer feedback.

📝TAKEAWAY #1: Connect with your users

It may feel time-consuming at first, but it's 100% worth it.

Extra credit if you take the time to video chat with them. One video call is typically worth the insights of 10-20 emails and 100+ survey answers.

Plus, people typically really appreciate seeing the founder of a project taking the time to chat with them.

🔥TACTIC #2: The "Sniper Links" Technique

This technique allows you to get people who sign up for your product or content to ALWAYS find your confirmation email, even if you were to land in their spam box.

Very few companies know about the "Sniper Link" technique. In short, you want to use URL parameters for your email confirmation step:

We optimized that experience and most people who signed up loved it so much they took the time to send us an email.

(Note: we recently removed it because we reverted to single opt-in for an AB test, but we'll use it again soon!)

📝TAKEAWAY #2: Minimize user distractions

A simple tweak in your onboarding can boost your email confirmation rate significantly. The "Sniper Link Technique" is a bit long to explain so it's probably simpler if you see it in context: go to slide #22 here

🔥TACTIC #3: The “Immersive” Experience

We used to have a nice blog layout with the case study on top and rich text content under it (basically a blog post).

But after a few days of research, we realized the majority of users just scrolled pass the case study, skimmed through the text and left. 😰

So we decided to force case studies in fullscreen mode by default:

No more text.
No more blog posts.
Only what mattered: the story.
Our conversions increased by 350%.

📝TAKEAWAY #3: Focus on Value

Look at the core value you're offering and remove the friction between your users and that value.

For example, if your offer is mainly blog content, optimize its reading UX (happy to provide resources around that if you're interested).

Removing clutter and widgets will likely increase your conversion. If you're offering a product, don't neglect the importance of user onboarding.

Keep things simple.

We talk about this concept of immersion and onboarding in detail in this Superhuman cases study if you're interested:

🔥TACTIC #4: The “Hard Stop” Prompt

At the end of our case studies, we have a slide with an email prompt if you want to receive future case studies.

We used to also have a couple more slides for legal stuff and special thanks.

That was hurting our conversion big time.

After we played with the order of the slides, we realized that stopping the story at the exact slide of the email prompt increased conversions by 200%.

📝TAKEAWAY #4: Highlight Your CTAs

This phenomenon can be replicated in a blog post.

In fact, you can see an example here in the footer that's already yielding HUGE conversion improvements for us:
(scroll to the bottom)

🔥TACTIC #5: The “Cheatsheet Summary”

After talking with hundreds of users, we learned that most of them were taking “screenshots” of the insights while they were watching our case study.

So we simply decided to take those screenshots ourselves and package them in a “cheatsheet summary” along with key takeaways and a nice checklist to help you in your work:

We saw a lift of ~40% in our conversions once we started to offer this.

📝TAKEAWAY #5: JTBD, not "features"

Whether it's with content (opt-in bonus) or product features, always start with the "jobs to be done" of the customer.

Focusing on their needs will help you boost your conversion (and deliver a better experience for the user).

Now your turn…

Which tactic from this post feels more relevant to you as an indie hacker?

Was it the "Feedback Loops"?
The "Sniper Links"?

Let me know by leaving a comment below!

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