I’ll be sharing much of the journey of writing Practical Machine Learning Fundamentals and associated tasks, such as digital marketing, research and so forth. Keep on eye on this blog for more. This post discusses my first attempt to gain email subscribers via Reddit.

A core activity of my pre-launch plan is to gain as many email subscribers as possible, hopefully around the 500-800 mark minimum. The more the better. The purpose is to create an email list of people who are interested in the book, and potentially, will purchase it upon release. Additionally, as I share progress it is my hope they will become more interested as content is revealed, and ideally discuss it with others as time passes.

My first attempt was to create a post on Reddit’s r/Programming subreddit. The Programming subreddit is the largest of the programming related communities, at around 1.1 million so it seemed like a good starting point. The first post consisted of a link to the books page on my personal website, a short paragraph explaining that I’m writing a book and two links to chapter one, the preface describing the books purpose and content and chapter six, a technical and visually interesting chapter on neural networks.

I measured the traffic on my personal website, email sign ups on Mail Chimp and used stats from my Reddit post to assess the effectiveness and attempt to predict how many posts it would take for me to reach my goal.

Some Numbers

During a three day period, between 5th June and 7th June the post on Reddit received approximately 6,000 views and appeared on the first page of the subreddit, approximately 10 items from the top (from memory) and maintained a front page position for a day or so. Of the 6,000, 884 clicked through to the books page on my website, a 14.37% click through rate, and of those 884, 52 decided to subscribe via the email sign up form, that’s a 5.88% conversion rate.

Success or Failure?

Initially I was disappointed by the numbers. I was hopeful, bearing in mind the shear number of people subscribed to the subreddit, that I could get over a hundred or so subscribers. However, upon stepping back to calculate and consider those percentage numbers, I was pleased. 14% is a respectable click through rate and a near 6% conversion rate is very good, conversion rates typically hover around the low single digit mark (1-2%) from what I’ve read in the past.

If these numbers hold true for future attempts it does mean I will have to create more posts to achieve the number of subscribers I would like before launch. Which may present a difficult in the creation of a reasonably large volume of unplanned high quality posts – I’m not in the habit of creating low value anything (spam), it simply harms what I’m trying to achieve when selling the book.

The experiment also gave me pause to consider my websites content at the time. It was sparse and mostly consisted of text describing each of the chapters. More compelling text, description, images and video may have increased the number of subscribers by a reasonable amount.

I will continue to write about the experience writing and marketing Practical Deep Learning Fundamentals, keep an eye out on the blog for more.