Back when I started this blog, I intended to write a lot more posts about things I was trying, what worked, what didn’t work, etc. One of the main ways I did that was through a monthly Traffic & Income report. Each month was a bit of struggle psychologically (because sharing income – shudder). Eventually, I missed a month and never got back on the horse.
I’ve decided to bring these reports back in a different format. For now, I’m not going to include income and expenses. I really want to focus on my non-financial goals and the strategies I’m implementing to meet those goals. I want to document the successes, opportunities, and especially the lessons learned.
So buckle up and let’s look at the January traffic & goal report.
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I have three main “number” goals that I’m tracking this year.
1) Revenue – which I’m not going to address.
2) Email list – I started the year with 427. My annual goal is to reach 2,500.
3) Total Social followers – this is all my social channels combined. I started the year with 5,248 and my annual goal is double that to 10,500.
I also have several sub-targets. These are not true goals, as I’m not holding myself accountable for them. They are numbers that I want to track since they provide useful information, but my focus is on the above 3 goals.
|Email list subscribers||2,500||495||558|
|Total social followers||10,500||5,560||5,879|
This is a traffic & goal report, so I do want to address various aspects of blog traffic. All the following information comes from Google Analytics.
As you can see, monthly pageviews were 3,984. My target for January was 3,234, so this was a solid win. And, for comparison’s sake, December 2016 pageviews were 2,919, so that’s a 36% increase month-over-month.
What contributed to this? I’ll talk about various promotional strategies in a later section, but one contributing factor is a post that I published at the end of December. It was my first “guest-expert post,” and featured 11 top bloggers sharing their tips for planning a super-successful year.
I also had an older post take off on Pinterest. 7 Tips for Super-Organized Small Biz Finances was published in April 2016, but it was my 2nd most popular post in January (this illustrates the power of evergreen content on Pinterest!).
Top 3 Posts
Click image to view the post.
As expected, social is the largest driver of traffic. It consistently runs between 60% and 70% and was 67.1% in January.
Pinterest is hands-down the largest driver of traffic. At 1,519 pageviews for January, 38% of my total traffic came from Pinterest. Pinterest is a major part of my marketing strategy, so this is to be expected.
Twitter comes in second in the social-traffic race with 559 pageviews. I always think it’s interesting that session duration and pages/session are so much higher from Twitter, compared to the other channels.
Facebook is in 3rd place with 268 pageviews. Session duration and pages/session are comparable to Pinterest. I would like to see more traffic coming from Facebook and I have some things up my sleeve to make that happen.
January Goals & Strategies: What Worked? What Didn’t Work?
1. Goal: grow email list to 495. Result: 558 (Woo hoo!)
Run Build Your Business Blueprint Challenge
This was a big win. I had wanted to do a challenge for quite a while and I’m so pleased with how this turned out. A total of 102 people subscribed – some of those were existing subscribers, because I promoted the challenge to my list. I also started promoting the challenge in December, because it started on Jan 2, so a good portion of the subscribers came in before January. Nevertheless, 36 people joined the challenge in January.
I used several different tactics to promote the challenge:
- Created a landing page.
- Wrote a blog post.
- Promoted it to my existing list.
- Put a graphic leading to the landing page above the fold on my home page.
- Added a ribbon using Thrive Leads. (A ribbon is a notification bar that appears at the top of every page.)
- Changed Facebook & Twitter cover images to a graphic promoting BBB.
- Changed the link in all my social profiles to lead to the BBB landing page.
- Promoted the challenge in Facebook group promo threads in December and the first week of January.
- During the challenge (Jan 1-11) I:
- tweeted about that day’s challenge topic daily and pinned the tweet to my profile.
- posted on Instagram daily with an invitation to join.
- pinned a daily graphic with an invitation to join. The pins were added to my Solopreneur Diaries board and to all the group boards I contribute to.
Promoted Jumpstart Your Productivity
After the BBB challenge ended, I started promoting my free 5-day e-course. I gained 22 new subscribers, bringing the total participants in that course to 136.
How I promoted JYP
- When I took down the BBB graphic on the home page, I put JYP back in that spot:
- Added a one-step opt-in form at the end of all posts in the Productivity category (except for posts that include a content upgrade)
- Added a ribbon that shows up on all other posts.
- Changed Facebook & Twitter cover images to JYP.
- Changed the link in all social profiles to lead the JYP landing page.
- Promoted 3 times in Facebook group promo threads.
Participated in a giveaway event
This was a spur-of-the-moment decision for me. I heard about a giveaway event that was taking place in January. The focus was self-improvement and since one of my topics is productivity, it seemed like a good fit. I whipped up an e-book and landing page during the first weekend of the month and submitted my giveaway to the event.
This resulted in 39 net new subscribers in January, but I’m hesitant to call it a success. I didn’t like the way the event was run. It was billed as a free giveaway, but there were a lot of hoops to jump through both for contributors and non-contributors.
There was also a lot of pressure to become a “premium” contributor, meaning that you paid to have your freebie seen. I believe in paying for advertising and I know that the organizers were doing the event to make a profit, but there was big ick-factor here.
A key part of my list-growth strategy is to offer content upgrades in my blog posts. Almost all the remaining subscribers came in via 8 different content upgrades. The three most successful were in these posts:
Click image to view the post. Note: if you are already a subscriber, you can access these freebies in the Resource Library.
How I promote Content Upgrades
Since content upgrades are included in blog posts, they get promoted according to my regular blog post promotion schedule:
- Pinterest: new posts are pinned to all my applicable boards and pinned out to two group boards a day until they’ve been pinned to every group board I contribute to. Then they go into a rotation where they get pinned out approximately once a month. BoardBooster makes it easy to keep this organized and working.
- Twitter: news posts are tweeted daily for the first week. Then they go into a monthly rotation.
- Facebook page & Instagram: new posts are shared when published, then re-shared on an occasional basis.
- Facebook groups: new posts are shared in Facebook group promo threads, as allowed.
Email list referrals
One of the things I love about Thrive Leads is that I can see where new subscribers are coming from. This gives me additional insight into how my strategies are working and if the time invested is well-spent.
- Pinterest: 22 new subscribers
- Facebook: 13
- Twitter: 5
- Search traffic: 5
- Instagram: 3
Don’t rely on one source or one strategy to grow your email list. My list grew 31% in January through a combination of tactics. And you have to promote your opt-ins. You can’t just put them up on your website and expect them to convert. Lastly, trust your instincts. If a particular strategy doesn’t feel right to you, then don’t do it (I’m talking about the giveaway event here; I should have backed off when I first saw the site.)
2. Goal: grow total social followers to 5,560. Result: 5,879 (Woo hoo!)
Let’s break this section down by network.
My target for the month was to grow 16.5% and reach 175 followers. I actually hit 236 followers, which was a 57% increase. I’ll be the first to admit that Instagram is not my jam, so I’m not entirely sure how this happened.
I posted daily during the BBB challenge and posted a total of 13 times in January, compared to 9 times in December.
I follow 10 to 15 new people a day and try to “like” about 15-20 posts a day. I’m not good about commenting.
I also participated in a couple of Instagram sharing threads in Facebook groups during January.
Twitter is my largest social network and I don’t expect it to grow very much this year. My monthly target is .26% growth. In January, my Twitter followers reached 3,385, which was .7% growth.
Promotional tactics included tweeting 8 times a day (with approximately 35% my content and 65% third-party content) + retweets & engagement. I also use CoPromote & Just Retweet to promote new blog posts, which should lead to new followers.
Facebook followers went from 222 to 261 in January (target was 247). I attribute this to two factors.
1) Participating in Facebook page promo threads.
2) I boosted a post in January.
Facebook is a network that I really want to get a handle on in 2017 because my reader survey indicates that Facebook is my audience’s preferred network. More to come.
Oh, how I love Pinterest. I have a good strategy and process in place and it keeps on working. My followers grew 32% in January, reaching 1,997 by the end of the month. (Wouldn’t 2,000 have been great? It’s okay. I got there the next day).
The biggest thing behind my Pinterest growth was time of year. One of my main boards is Productivity & Planning and January is a hot time for that topic. Everyone is all excited about goals and getting shit done, so they were pinning and following that board like crazy. I bumped up the number of pins to that board to take advantage of the season.
I used to get about 50 new followers a week. Starting the last week of December, it jumped to 100+ and stayed there throughout January. I expect that this will drop off as the New Year’s rush fades, but we’ll see.
The other thing I did in January was to try out Tailwind. Now, I’m a BoardBooster girl. I love BoardBooster, but I started wondering if I might see better reach from using Tailwind, since they are an “official” Pinterest partner and BoardBooster is not.
I did see a big increase in reach and engagement, but I’m not convinced that Tailwind is the cause. The reason I say this is that I only pinned third-party content using Tailwind. I pinned all my own pins using BoardBooster, and I saw the same level of increase in reach and engagement for pins from my website, as I did overall.
I used Tailwind for 30 days, starting on December 30. I’m going to watch my stats for the month of February and then review to see if reach and engagement stay at the elevated levels or drop off. Stay tuned for the results.
3. Finish 2017 Annual Plan & 90-Day Plan for Q1
I started working on my annual plan and 90-day plan in December but continued to revise & refine them up to the middle of January. I’m pleased with how these turned out. Each quarter has a theme and then the months within the quarter have a sub-theme that relates to the larger quarterly theme. For example, my theme for Q1 is Monetization & Planning, while the sub-theme for January is Coaching & Planning.
4. Launch coaching packages
The number one goal in my 90-day plan for the month of January was to launch my coaching packages . Coaching and teaching are some of my favorite things. I spent many years in the corporate world teaching others in either a formal training setting or through coaching, so I’m excited to be offering this service.
5. Follow editorial calendar
I’m great about creating an editorial calendar, but not so great about following it. This year, I’ve created monthly themes, so that my blog content and email content are related. It’s helpful because I can immerse myself in a topic for the month.
My plan for January was to write 3 blog posts and 2 emails about business planning + coaching, which I achieved. I also wrote 10 emails for the Build Your Business Blueprint Challenge, plus a guest post that got published on February 1.
January blog posts
Click image to view the post.
6. Execute monthly marketing plan
I’ve talked a good bit about various marketing strategies employed throughout this post. I kept my marketing plan light for January because I knew my focus was going to be on planning for the year and running the BBB challenge.
- Promote in Facebook groups – whether I’m promoting a lead magnet, blog post, or social channel, I try to take part in Facebook groups several times a week. I stayed on top of this in January, posting 42 times in a total of 10 groups. I have a spreadsheet (of course!) to keep track of the groups I participate in.
- Promote tweets on CoPromote & Just Retweet – this is part of my process for new blog posts.
- Be active & engage on Twitter daily – I feel like I slacked off a bit in January, but that may be because I ratcheted my Twitter activity up in December.
- Boost one Facebook post – I intend to advertise continually in 2017, but I wanted to start off slow in January. It’s been several months since I ran any Facebook ads and I need to get my bearings again. I’ll be doing promoted pins this year, as well, but I skipped that in January because of the Tailwind experiment.
7. Run the Build Your Business Blueprint challenge
I talked a lot about how I promoted the challenge above in the Email section. Running the challenge was a significant undertaking and is pretty much all I did for the first half of January. It involved writing daily emails, daily social posts, and interacting in the private Facebook group. It was big success and I’m very glad that I did it. There will certainly be more challenges in my future.
Lesson learned: Do more prep work ahead of time. If I had written the emails before the challenge started, then I wouldn’t have felt so slammed.
Bright Shiny Object
I have shiny object syndrome, so I thought I would share whatever attracted my attention during the month. In January, it was Active Campaign. I use ConvertKit for my email services (and love it), but I started hearing more and more about Active Campaign, so I decided to check it out.
Active Campaign will do everything ConvertKit does at a lower price point for the number of subscribers that I have. What really attracted me, though, is their Small Business Plan, which has some super-cool features, namely Contact & Lead Scoring.
With Contact & Lead Scoring, you can assign points to users for taking certain actions. For example, you might give 1 point for opening an email, 2 points for a click, 3 points for visiting a sales page on your website, etc. Doing this would let you figure out who your most engaged subscribers are. I geek out on this kind of thing, so I was already planning in my head how to use it.
Active Campaign has a 30-day free trial, so I signed up and played around for about two weeks. I used my email course Jumpstart Your Productivity as practice. This was a lot harder to set up than I anticipated. I realized that the lingo is so different from ConvertKit that I couldn’t figure out the right search terms to use in order to look up help topics.
In addition to migrating my existing subscribers, I would have had to redo all my opt-in forms to point to Active Campaign. I came to the conclusion that this would not be the highest and best use of my time.
I’m sticking with ConvertKit.
What’s Next: February Goals
- Grow email list to 573
- Grow total social followers to 5,891
- Turn BBB Challenge content into an e-book for sale
- Follow editorial calendar: 4 blog posts + 4 emails about Time Management + Coaching
- Execute monthly marketing plan
- Complete & implement strategies from 4 modules of an e-course that I’m taking
That’s a wrap on January 2017! Now, over to you.
It was helpful to me to reflect on the month and write this post. I want the information shared to be helpful to you, as well.
What would you like to hear more (or less) about in future traffic & goal report posts? Share in the comments below.
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