Project 10K: Getting More Website Traffic

Project 10KWe’re a week in to Project 10K, my public quest to get 10,000 engaged email subscribers by the end of the year. My focus so far has been on identifying how I’m going to get more of the right sort of website visitors to hit my 10K target.

Here’s the way I’ve looked at things: you may find it helpful yourself:

Firstly, let’s think about how we’re going to get more email subscribers (optins). Clearly the number of optins is dependent on the number of website visitors we get and the percentage that opt in to our emails.

Subscribers = traffic x optin%

In this post we’re going to look primarily at ways of increasing the first of those variables: traffic. We’ll cover increasing conversions in the next post.

Before we dive in to details though, we should remember that the two variables aren’t completely independent.

Some sources of traffic are more likely to result in subscribers than others. When we’re looking at traffic sources we’ve not only got to find the ones that we’ll be able to use to get more website visitors, but also the ones that are more likely to get us optins.

We can analyse our website and email statistics to identify which sources have been the most effective for us historically. And for traffic sources we’ve not used ourselves, we can use what data we can find from others as clues to what might work.

But we’ve got to take the word of others with a pinch of salt. If we can see their data, great. But often people telling you about a great traffic source have an axe to grind themselves (most likely a product to sell about using that great traffic source).

So make sure there’s data to back up any recommendations you follow. And most importantly, test any recommendations before fully adopting them.

My recommended plan of action is simple:

  • Step 1: Brainstorm different sources of traffic
  • Step 2: Review current effectiveness of each source – both for traffic and optins
  • Step 3: Decide what to: Do more of, Do less of, Test

Let’s have a look how that worked out for me.

Firstly, I used a mindmap to do my brainstorming (I normally just draw mindmaps on a large sheet of paper with coloured pens – but in this case I used iMindmapHD on the iPad).

Here’s an excerpt of the mindmap focusing on the traffic sources section:

Traffic Mindmap

My mindmap isn’t completely comprehensive, but it does include the main sources of traffic for blogs like mine:

  • Search Engine Traffic/SEO – still my #1 source of traffic, though I used to get a lot more. SEO is much trickier and potentially risky these days after recent google changes. For this project I’ve decided not to do a lot of SEO but instead to see it as a side benefit of other work I do.
  • Pay Per Click – I’ve used Google Adwords search ads before primarily to test landing pages and offers. But optin rates have been decent (up to 20%) and so it’s an option. I’ve not tried Adwords display ads but know others who’ve has success with them. Linkedin and Facebook pay per click have never been super effective for me – with costs per optin usually double or more the cost on adwords.
  • Banner Ads – private ads on targeted website that my potential clients visit, or “solo ads” – inclusions in newsletters that my potential clients are subscribed to. Not something I’ve done much of but worth investigating if I can find relevant sites/newsletters willing to allow ads.
  • Social Media – a mixed bag for me. I get a decent amount of traffic from Twitter via automated tweeting of my old blog posts randomly. But I only get a little traffic from Linkedin and Facebook. When I tried being active on Linkedin groups to generate traffic it had limited effect. Nor did being active on my Facebook page work. “Low cost” traffic that comes from people sharing my blog posts themselves via social media buttons seem to have decent optin rates (see later) but being active on social media isn’t a big winner for me optin-wise.
  • Direct Traffic – varies a lot. I get good (5%+) optin rates from traffic to my blog posts from other sites that mention me or where I’ve done a guest blog post. But I get very little traffic from article sites like Ezinearticles these days. I also get very little traffic from “traditional” stuff like commenting on other people’s blogs or from social bookmarking sites like Digg.
  • Webinars – a big winner for me. I’ve always found that webinars have got a decent number of optins – even when I just promoted them myself via my blog and social media. For some reason some people who don’t want to opt in to get a free report will do so to register for a webinar. In December last year I ran two “joint venture” webinars where my webinar was promoted to the email list of a couple of partners in related fields. The two webinars combined got me over 1,100 new subscribers. In both cases the webinars also promoted one of my products and I shared the revenues with the webinar promoters. I’ll be doing more this year for sure.

Using Google Analytics to identify the best sources of traffic.

As I’ve described each traffic source above I’ve talked about which ones have led to more traffic and optins for me. But how do you figure this out?

The easiest method is to set goals on Google Analytics for optins. You can do this by setting a goal to be achieved whenever one of your “thank you for subscribing” pages is visited. In other words when a website visitor ends up on the page that they get sent to after subscribing by your email system. You can get detailed instructions on how to do this here.

Then you can get reports from Google Analytics showing you the conversion rates for different traffic sources, landing pages, etc.

Here’s a look at the conversion rates for my top traffic sources over the last month.

Conversion Rates

You can see that my biggest single traffic source is google – and that in terms of optins, the conversion rate from google traffic is 2.32%.

Conversion from Twitter is 3.38% vs 8.14% for Linkedin and 5.72% for Facebook – but I get 10x the traffic from twitter, and so more optins overall.

Optin rates from other sites vary significantly. From www.valuablecontent.co.uk it’s 40% (so chances are I’ll see if I can do a guest blog post for them to get more of the same) whereas for other sites like aceofsales.com its 0% – probably not worth doing anything with them.

With search engine traffic we can drill deeper into which keywords generate the most optins, and do more work optimising for those keywords by perhaps writing more articles on those topics. but that analysis is for another day.

All I’m looking for at this stage is a broad brush view of:

  • What I’m going to do more of (webinars, guest blog posts, passive social media)
  • What I’m going to do less of (activity on Facebook/Linkedin)
  • What I’m going to test out (pay-per-click)

If you do a similar round of brainstorming and analysis, you should be able to come up with a similar plan for yourself.

Your numbers will be different, of course. You may get a much higher optin %, or a lower one. Your traffic sources will be different. It’s all dependent on the sort of business you’re in and how you’ve configured it. But by doing the analysis for yourself you’ll absolutely be able to find ways of improving.

Next post: getting more optins.

Enjoyed This Blog Post? Get Free Updates And More...

Get my very best tips and strategies to help you attract and win more clients. Sign up below. Get Free Instant Access »
   

Comments

  1. says

    Hi Ian,

    Very good post. Just a thought about Facebook ads. If you are trying to get people to optin directly off Facebook then that may explain your poor optin rate. A better approach is to use your ads to get them to LIKE your page in Facebook. Then you can use Facebook ads to target just the people who like your page and drive those to optin. You will find optins to LIKE will be better in the first instance and the price of clicks for advertising to your own page followers is really cheap (I even buy it on CPM rather than CPC basis). Works for me!

    Cheers
    Mike

    • jenny says

      I’ve just finished Amy Porterfield’s intensive Facebook 4 week course, and she is recommending a link direct to a signup box to collect emails.

      Jenny

      • says

        Hi Jenny,

        If you can get it to work then it makes sense as it’s a single step. Ian’s already tried and isn’t happy with the results so that’s why I suggested an alternative approach. Optins on Facebook pages are usually double that for optins outside Facebook.

        Does Amy recommend putting the email sign up into the Facebook page itself? That’s what I do and works quite well. I’ve not heard of Amy so will have to go check her out. Thanks!

        Mike

      • says

        My experience with Facebook is that what works for one person doesn’t necessarily work for another. That’s true of marketing generally but it’s especially true of Facebook.

        Generally speaking, my “crowd” are more Linkedin users than Facebook users. It’s also easier to target the “right” people for me based on job titles and sectors than it is to target based on their likes.

        So I may experiment more with Facebook in future, after all it’s a big audience, but it’s not a priority for me.

        I’ve generally found that the people pushing “get tons of cheap traffic and make a fortune on Facebook” courses have markets (like the make money online market) where it works for them, but often their techniques don’t work nearly so well for other markets – sadly often the ones that the people that buy their coures are in.

  2. Josef says

    Ian, thank you for these advanced blogs that help readers take immediate focused actions based on sharing your practical experience. The benefits in saving time and costs are obvious and highly appreciated. Another leap in providing strategic and practical value in advance.

    • says

      Hi Alis

      By “passive social media” I mean stuff that doesn’t take hours a week to do.

      So I use the Digg Digg plugin to allow people to tweet/like/share my blog posts. I’ll buffer up a few tweets for new blog posts, and I use the Tweet Old Post plugin to randomly tweet out my old blog posts.

      On Twitter I spend 5-10 minutes a day responding to people who’ve @messaged me – thanking them, answering questions etc.

      But what I won’t be doing is active participation in LinkedIn discussion forums Facebook groups, or extended discussions on Twitter.

      Not that these strategies don’t work for some people. But in terms of getting email subscribers, they’re a low ROI for me. I think they work better for building deeper relationships with targeted people if done right (or wasting time if done wrong). But in terms of my goals for this project they’re not a priority.

      In terms of where the 10K came from it’s not very scientific. I noticed that my number of active subscribers – those who’d opened an email, clicked a link, etc. in the last 30 days – had hit 2.5K. So I figured that 10K would be a good stretch goal.

      It’s going to be tough – it’s taken me about 3 years to get to that level (4.5K subscribers – 2.5K active in last 30 days). But I added 1K subscribers through some strategic joint venture Webinars in December so it’s not an impossible target.

      Ian

  3. Janet Rae says

    Awesome project and thanks for sharing your strategies and insights! It’s interesting…and slightly scary…to learn that organic seo is too risky to be a driver of your efforts.

    You provide much to think about. Thanks for the inspiration!

    • says

      Hi Janet – to be fair, my guest post strategy is also an SEO strategy, as is regular blogging – but safe ones. Both will get me links – but without doing any artificial “link building”.

      In the past I’ve submitted articles en-masse to directories etc. I wouldn’t recommend that now. But blogging regularly on your own and other people’s sites will get you traffic and links.

      Also – I show up on the first page for very many search phrases – so my SEO is already reasonable. Had I got less traffic from search I’d have been tempted to investigate and test more.

      Ian

  4. says

    Hi Ian, You said : “SEO is much trickier and potentially risky these days after recent google changes.” Yep! And it extends beyond algorithms – the increase in secure searches is affecting the worth of SEO.

    • says

      Good point – especially from an analytics perspective – the majority of most people’s search terms in analytics are now unknown. It’s a bit of a stab in the dark – especially if you don’t have big search volumes as it makes the remaining results unreliable.

      Ian

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>