The long-term goal of any blog is to attract a loyal following. People who subscribe to your updates are constantly tuned to get the latest content. The nature of tracking websites has changed greatly in the past few years with the introduction of social media. At one time RSS feeds used to be the de facto standard for receiving site updates and it’s still important to offer the facility. The best tool for RSS has always been Feedburner which is owned by Google, but with the company constantly killing off products that haven’t been updated for a while, there’s no guarantee that this is a stable solution to rely upon. Instead, let’s look at the functionality offered by the WordPress team itself via the Jetpack plug-in. Here’s how to track your followers and see who’s subscribing both your site as well as your comments.
Enabling Site Subscription
I’ve had occasion to recommend the Jetpack plug-in to WordPress users before. It has so many useful modules that I find it hard to imagine any modern WordPress blog running without it. One of the features is a “Subscription” section allowing users to subscribe to your blog in three ways:
Subscribing to posts from a sidebar widget
Subscribing to follow-up comments from the comments section
Subscribing to posts from the comment section
In order to enable this functionality after downloading and installing the Jetpack plug-in, head over to the Jetpack options from the WordPress administration dashboard. Scrolling down, you will see the blog subscription feature that you need to activate as shown in the screenshot below.
Enabling this feature will do two things. First, it will place a couple of check boxes below every comment box that people write in allowing them to quickly and easily follow your blog and have updates delivered to their e-mail ID.
This is convenient because users are encouraged to leave their e-mail ID while writing a comment and so this is the perfect workflow sequence.
Second, it will add a subscription widget which you can insert into your sidebars from the “Widgets” section in the “Appearance” menu item from the WordPress dashboard as shown below.
The widget will give people the option to enter their e-mail ID and subscribe to your blog in a highly visible manner. Here’s what it looks like in the twentyfourteen theme:
Viewing the Subscribers
After you’ve enabled the system and have allowed it to run for a while, it’s time to look back and check out your subscriber stats! In order to do this, we need to enable yet another option in Jetpack called “WordPress.com Stats” as shown below.
The site stats are available in the Jetpack menu from the administration dashboard as seen here:
When you reach the statistics page, scroll all the way down till you see the two options for displaying the comment statistics as well as the blog statistics. Each link will take you to a new page showing you how many people have subscribed to which post comments as well as the e-mail IDs of those who are receiving your posts via e-mail.
Keep in mind that tracking your e-mail subscribers is only one part of the overall plan to build up a loyal reader base. Having a social networking presence for your blog and constantly monitoring your followers on the various social sites is also an important marketing practice. Combine this with tracking your RSS feed subscribers, and you will get a pretty good idea of how “sticky” your website is.