January 2014 Traffic Report

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Jan14TrafficReport

Jan14TrafficReportWelcome to my January Traffic Report. To see December’s report, click here.

As traffic generation is a challenge faced by every entrepreneur, at Bright Ideas we’ve made a habit of publishing our traffic reports as a means of giving insight into how we are doing, what is working, and what isn’t. Plus, writing the report forces me to look! If you think this is helpful, please be sure and share this post.

This month, we decided to revamp the traffic report a bit in order to answer the questions we most hope to have answered each month.

When you are doing your own analysis, be sure you start with your own list. Here’s ours:

  1. Is overall traffic up or down, and why?
  2. Are overall subscribers up or down, and why?
  3. Which traffic/referral sources are contributing the most to traffic and subscribers?
  4. How can we adjust our strategy to increase traffic and subscribers?

Here’s what I found…

Traffic

Jan2014MoOverMoTraffic

As you can see, our traffic was down significantly in January as compared with December, and was more in line with traffic levels from November. An analysis of traffic sources showed that traffic was down overall from almost all sources except those like Google organic.

The main difference is due to a large spike in traffic near December 10, which coincided with the launch of my book. This makes sense, as we did significant additional promotion at this time.

The book promotion led to a lot of new visitors, many of who may not have been very engaged with Bright Ideas. So this also helps explain why the average visit duration was 23.71% higher in January – those who were visiting the site were more engaged.

Conclusion #1: Overall traffic was down since we didn’t run a major promotion in January.

Subscribers

Jan2014MoOverMoConversions

As I’ve mentioned in the past, the conversions overview in Google Analytics does not seem accurate to me. I have found other sources online that show that while you can trust Google Analytics on data such as visits and pageviews, you can’t rely on their reports for revenues, transactions, goal conversions, or conversion rates.

I’ve come to accept that the Analytics report on conversions is something I can use for a loose metric, but I use my more reliable Infusionsoft data to make real decisions.

The main things I was able to determine from the Conversions report: conversions (opt-ins) were down in January, which makes sense since traffic was also down (again, mainly due to the spike in traffic due to promotion of the Digital Marketing Handbook).

Unfortunately, my Infusionsoft analysis also showed subscribers were down overall even based on November 2013 metrics. Upon further analysis, here’s what I determined about the lower subscriber numbers:

  • We used to add subscribers to Bright Ideas if they also opted in through another of my sites, however most of these folks were not entirely well suited for Bright Ideas. Halfway through November, we stopped adding them to our count for Bright Ideas subscribers. This resulted in a significant drop in subscriber numbers (see the December traffic report for details).
  • In December, this drop was not as noticeable because we had so many new subscribers due to the book promotion.

Conclusion #2: Overall subscribers were down since we didn’t run a major promotion in January.

Referral Sources

I already began to discuss referral sources in the Subscribers section above, but mostly in regards to what I’d seen in Infusionsoft. Here’s where Google Analytics showed my traffic coming from:

Jan2014TrafficSources

Once again, the largest portion of my traffic is from people typing in the URL directly, followed by our emails to our list and then Twitter.

For people who are typing in the URL directly, I can only guess that those people are doing so in roughly the same proportion as the referral traffic whose sources we CAN see. For instance, many of them may already be subscribers, and others will be from Twitter.

When I compared lead sources for new subscribers in Infusionsoft, the only place that I noticed a decline (besides that which we’d attribute to traffic overall being down) was that we had fewer subscribers from a handful of well-aligned partners who helped promote the book to their very engaged lists – specifically, Nathan Barry and Michael Gass.

The other thing I noticed was that the numbers directly from Google were down somewhat. In fact, per Infusionsoft, the number of new subscribers who initially found Bright Ideas from Google search have been trending steadily downwards since August or September.

However, per Google Analytics, our organic traffic has almost doubled since this time. I can only assume this is due to Google providing less data, and that it may have something to do with Google’s Hummingbird update of August 20, 2013.

Google search has not been a major source of traffic for Bright Ideas, because I’ve put little to no effort into SEO up to this point. Still, it makes sense to optimize what we’re doing for the best search results, and we’re in the process of reworking our posting strategy to take this into account (stay tuned for more on this in a future post, and see the link below in the resources section).

We have done substantial work on content promotion since last fall, particularly since October when we hired a full time VA who does a lot of content promotion for us.

When I analyzed the sources that were giving us measurable results, I found them to be:

  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook
  • Google organic

And to a lesser extent:

  • Pinterest
  • Quora
  • Google+
  • Business2Community
  • Reddit
  • Just Retweet
  • Technorati
  • YouTube
  • Stumble Upon

Sources that are giving us little/no results (and what we’re going to do about it):

  • Digg (change how we’re doing this, or quit doing it)
  • Medium (we’ll continue posting here, since for certain phrases our posts in medium rank on the first page in Google search results)

Other items to note:

  • Disqus has been a source of traffic and subscribers. I didn’t enter them above, since the traffic didn’t originally come from Disqus; it’s the plugin we use to manage comments. But it makes sense that subscribers would come from here, since people who comment will usually return to the site when we reply to their comments, and at this point may be engaged enough to subscribe. The number of new subscribers from Disqus has substantially increased since we began offering an incentive in the form of a comment contest for each post (check out the information on that at the end of this post).

Conclusion #3: Our major sources of traffic (and conversions) are the major social sites (Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook). We are getting some traffic from other sites, but as expected it’s less. Our conversions are significantly higher when we get ‘warm’ traffic from well-aligned partners helping with promotion.

Lessons Learned

It pays to take some time to periodically look at what’s working and what’s not, so that you can adjust your strategy. We will continue monthly traffic reports.

Give people a reason to come to your site, then give them a reason to continue to engage with you. Having great content is one thing, but they’re more likely to return and to be engaged if you have a way to follow up with them (this is where great landing pages and lead magnets come in).

Conclusion #4: If you really want to increase traffic, run a major promotion. Just be sure to give people a reason to maintain contact with you if they’d like, so that your traffic spike turns into leads.

Other Metrics

In addition to looking at traffic and subscribers on a monthly basis, you want to be sure you’re periodically looking at your pages viewed, landing page conversions, and SEO acquisition reports. We’ll cover these in detail in a future traffic report.

Summary

  • Our traffic and conversions were down in January, mostly because we didn’t run a big campaign like we did in December.
  • Traffic was not down significantly based on historical data for months we didn’t run major promotions.
  • There are adjustments we can continue to make to increase traffic and conversions.

Additional Resources

What Do You Think?

If you have anything you’d like to share or ask, please take a moment to do so in the comments section below. You will get a response.

In particular, I’m curious: What other questions would you like to have answered when looking at the traffic report for your own site?

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