Bonus Material: Free Proactive Metrics Spreadsheet
Today I'm going to show you how I increased blog traffic by 100,000 visitors in one month:
How do I increase blog traffic without waiting 4-24 months for Google organic traffic to kick-in?
I focus on the proactive metrics I can control.
Grab my proactive metrics spreadsheet below to see what proactive metrics I used to get 100,000 visitors in one month.
Then read on to fill it out and drive massive traffic to your blog.
First, here’s a quick backstory behind why I had such an aggressive traffic goal:
Noah Kagan (8-figure tech entrepreneur) from AppSumo hired me to manage his new software startups content marketing operation.
Traffic had been slowly declining over the past year from ~150,000 visitors in January to ~100,000 visitors in July.
With traffic declining, Noah wanted a content strategy to quickly increase blog traffic past the blog's previous high of ~170,000 visitors.
So I brought in my best people, and Noah brought in his best.
Then in August (one month later), we hit the highest blog traffic month Sumo’s ever had.
Here are the seven lessons I learned (and steps you can follow) to take your blog traffic to the next-level:
1. Get Weekly Accountability.
I was given a goal in the first month to go from 100,000 uniques to 160,000 unique pageviews a month to blog content.
Every week I met with Noah and I was behind my goal:
By week #3 I was 30,000 uniques behind.
Every week in a one-on-one with Noah he’d ask me:
“Are you ahead or behind on your goal?”
Then the followup question would always be:
“So you’re behind dawg, what are you going to do this week to get on track?”
The weekly accountability forced me to think up new ideas every week to hit my goal.
It’s something you may want to apply with your employees/contractors.
(Or if you’re a one man band schedule time to check-in with yourself once a week for 20 minutes and ask yourself those same questions).
2. Make Mistakes, But Track Them.
I made more marketing mistakes than I’ve ever made in my life this month.I was testing new content promotion tactics weekly and then I’d track it all in a Proactive Metrics Dashboard:
Notice that these are all “proactive” metrics (aka metrics I can directly control).
You CAN’T control the amount of blog traffic you get… but...
You CAN control the # of articles you publish and promotion items you do.
Green means I hit the goal. Red means I didn’t.
I’d show this dashboard to Noah and make recommendations of activities we need to cut and activities we need to double down on.
You can download a copy of the proactive metrics spreadsheet I used below.
The takeaway: Use a proactive metrics spreadsheet to track what you’re doing every week, then track all that activity against one metric. I was tracking against unique pageviews every week.
3. SEO Won’t Save You In The Short Term.
To go from 100k to 200k I couldn’t just rely on SEO traffic.
It takes time to get SEO traffic and the outcomes are too variable for Sumo.
Instead I had to do a mix.
I had to add some “SEO articles” mixed in with articles that I knew would spread quickly on social media to my content calendar:
How did I find the content topics?
- Sumo and Noah’s top traffic articles.
- Sumo’s customer persona.
- The most shared articles in the industry.
The takeaway: Combine your customer personas’ biggest day-to-day challenges with the most shared content in your industry to come up with unique content topics that spread.
4. Teamwork Makes The Dreamwork.
It was the first time I had to manage a team of eight people. And it was hard.
One person had been at the company 1.5 years and had a lot of existing ideas about how things should work.
It was great having that person because I could ask them what worked and didn’t work in the past.
But there was tension when I’d ask for feedback.
Comments like “you’re the content consultant, shouldn’t you know what to do?”
I’m good, but I don’t know everything.
I resolved this by sitting down with the person 1:1 and explaining that I don’t know everything, but I’ve come to Sumo to hit a goal and I can only do that with everyone's help on the team.
Another person quit two weeks in because it was too hard. I found the best way to manage people was to make them OWN things.
I literally have a column in my spreadsheet called “OWNER” with the person's name, the content they are responsible for and their deadline.
The takeaway: Make people "Owners" of specific tasks and just be there for them if they need your help.
5. Writers Write. Promoters Promote.
Writing is a skill, as is promotion. They are two very different skills.
I give the first one to the writers and the second one to the promoters. These two simple checklists make my content marketing repeatable and scalable.
Here is a sneak peek inside my content writing checklist:
The takeaway: Make sure you have documented checklists for any important tasks in your business.
6. SEO Is Not The Content Marketing Holy Grail. Paid Traffic Is.
SEO traffic is magical and should be part of your overall content marketing strategy, but advanced content marketers know how to run ads to a piece of content.
You get qualified prospects to click on your ad using layered ad targeting, then the retargeting pixel on your blog article builds up your retargeting list so you can retarget people into your offer at a profit.
That is the content marketing holy grail.
Here is an example of one of the ads I’m running for Sumo:
Paid advertising to content is going to be “the future” of digital marketing.
The organic content marketing world is growing fierce competition. There are so many high quality content producers today, producing so much content.
How will you win? Through distribution, that's how.
When you can learn how to use paid to promote your organic, big shift!
At Sumo I’m using strategic media buys to get our content in front of the right people. Then the Sumo team retargets into a Sumo signup:
The takeaway: Put paid advertising behind your content. Do it. It works. I'm taking Sumo from $5 million to $10 million by doing it.
7. My #1 Content Promotion Tactic.
Every man, woman and dog wants to know it. So here it is…
Ask your Mom to share it. #thanksMom
The trick is to ask your Mom nicely and have your emoji game on point (I went with the smooch emoji), otherwise your Mom won’t share it.
Just kidding, that’s not actually my #1.
I can’t give away ALL my content marketing secrets but what I can tell you is this… you need to build your lists.
- Email list
- Push notification list
- Facebook chatbot list
- Retargeting list
The money is in the lists.
The bigger and more targeted your distribution lists are, the more people will read and share your content, so your content spreads and gets more unique traffic.
Your retargeting list won’t get you unique traffic, but it will get you sales (aka the reason you’re doing this whole content marketing thing in the first place).
The best way I’ve found to build all those lists is to use Sumo’s suite of website traffic tools.
Here are a few of the ways I’m using the tools to build our lists:
- “Bonus Material” link at the top of every article.
- Scroll box for Sumo Growth Studies after someone has scrolled 10%. I set it to only show to people who haven’t seen a scroll box in one day and if the referrer domain is facebook.com
- Push notifications for new Sumo articles. I set it to only show after 4 seconds on Sumo’s main blog page at sumo.com/stories. The rest of the time it just chills over there on the right side of the page.
- Time-triggered popups for bonus content. I run an a/b test across Sumo’s whole blog with the popup set to show after 45 seconds if a visitor hasn’t seen a popup in 14 days.
I’m sneaky and use Sumo’s top blog content as the bonus content on the popups. I look inside Sumo’s Google Analytics over the past year and find the highest traffic articles with an above average time on page to test against each other.
After 7 days I switch out the loser and test a new piece of bonus content against the winner.
- Post-specific content upgrades in the body of every article.
Those are five of the ways I’m building our lists at Sumo.
The takeaway: Focus on building lists because they’re a long term asset of the business that you can also use to promote content and drive more traffic to your blog every month.
Your Turn: First Create Your Proactive Metrics Dashboard, Then Scale Your Blog Traffic
If you want to increase your blog traffic, you need to focus on the “proactive” metrics you can control (not your Google Analytics dashboard).
Want an example of the proactive metrics I use?
Grab my proactive metrics spreadsheet below.
Then fill it out with your own proactive metrics (based on the team and resources you have) to stay on track and hit your blog traffic goal.
TL;DR I hit Sumo’s all-time highest blog traffic month ever, beat the 160,000 unique traffic goal Noah set by over 20k and doubled the overall blog traffic from 100k to 200k in one month.
Noah has a big cheeky "taco" grin on his face everyday now 😉