Email marketing best practices, social, & blogging for web traffic

I've blogged about website traffic developmentcustomer churn and acquisition rates, responsive, content-rich websites, and inbound digital marketing. I promised a future post to dive into the numbers behind direct email marketing, social media, and blogging. I promised to explain how an effective, consistent campaign has the potential to generate traffic volumes necessary to help achieve planned revenue growth from $650,000 to $950,000 within a four-year time frame. This is that post!

The goal - 200,000 website visitors over a four-year period.

We start month-one with 200 and our goal for month 48 is 8,000

The Summary Data Table - Business Development Objectives
Description   +0 Months    +24 Months +48 Months
Sales per Month$55,000$58,719$90,492
# of Customers150299743
Avg. Sales per Customer/Year$4,371$2,191$1,288
Annual Churn %10%7%3%
Annual Customer Acquisition %4%41%34%
Life Time Value (LTV)$14,917$15,000$22,901
Cost of Acquisition$28,767$1,654$939
Web Traffic per Month2064,1998,125
Email Contacts8505,65011,050
Social Media Audience9476,66614,778
Blog Subscription Audience03251,700


Our data table shows the key performance indicators required for achieving our 4-year revenue growth plan. The number of customers will be increased by around 600, the average sales per customer will be 70% lower than the historical average, the churn will be reduced from 10% to 3%, the customer acquisition rate will improve from 4% to 34%, the lifetime value of each customer will improve from $15,000 to nearly $23,000, the cost of acquiring new customers will drop from over $28,000 to less than $1,000 and web traffic will increase from 200 visitors per month to over 8,000.

To achieve these goals, the "opted-in" email contact database must be increased from 850 to 11,000+, the social audience must be raised from less than 1,000 to around 15,000, and blog subscribers must be developed from zero to 1,700.

Look at the 24-month threshold in the table above - overall monthly sales have not increased significantly since the start. Churn rates are coming down; customer acquisition is up, but, most notably, for future growth, the email, social, and blogging audiences have substantially increased. This is the foundation upon which the 50% sales growth planned for years 3-4 will be built.

Our goal is to develop relevant local web traffic from less than 10 unique daily visitors (UDV) to 250+ 

Web_Traffic__Sales_Growth_Chart.pngOrganic site traffic - although not a significant component of the total traffic, it's still essential to the overall traffic strategy. By optimizing our site for local SEO, taking advantage of increasing domain authority, and ensuring our business is listed consistently and proficiently across the 100+ online directories such as Yellow Pages, Yext, Google, Bing, etc., then we plan for around 4,000 organic sites visits over the four years.

Web traffic from direct email - the concept is quite simple. Remember, our business has a fully responsive, content-rich website. The content is well-written, relevant, and valuable to our target audience. We aim to send regular emails, say twice weekly, to our existing 850 contacts. Most emails we send will not be a direct solicitation for selling our products. Instead, we'll distribute information that we think will be interesting and relevant to our contacts. Each email will include at least one "call-to-action" (CTA), and our objective is; firstly to have enough "zip" in the subject line to get our audience to open the email, secondly for them to read it and, finally, to have them click on a CTA. Achieving pre-set goals for each metric will help us maximize our email ROI.

The "click" is what we're working for because that's the vehicle that will bring contact to our website for more information. Once at our website, then we have a visitor we can nurture toward our goal of eventually converting to become a customer. 

We aim to send out 850 emails twice per week, for 6,800 emails, in the first month of our campaign. Over the four years, if we successfully expand our email contact database to 11,000+, using the same blast frequency over four years, we will launch over 2.2 million emails. We're counting about 110,000 website visitors (55% of the total we need) from our 2.2 million emails.

We need an average of 25% open rate and an average click-through of 20% on the opened emails to achieve this goal. These are aggressive goals; they will only be completed by distributing valuable, relevant content to an engaged audience alongside email marketing best practices.

Website traffic from direct email over 48 months
Total emails launched2,220,800
Open Rate25%
Quantity Opened555,200
Click Rate20%
Website Visits111,040

The quality of our email content & our audience is of paramount importance!

Website traffic from blogging - we will start publishing our blog at a frequency of once per week. We will notify all our blog subscribers as we publish automatically, and we will generate click activity from those blogs that lead back to our website.

In our example, we start with no subscribers, so an essential element of our strategy must be signing subscribers to our blog. Our model assumes we build a subscription base of 1,700 over four years.

We're counting on bringing around 42,000 visitors to our site due to our blogging and content activity over the four years. To achieve this traffic volume from our blog audience alone, we would need 420,000 blog views over 4-years and a 10% click-through rate on various CTAs back to our site.

We plan to publish one blog per week for the entire 4-year period and ramp up our subscription base from zero to 1,700 over the same period. Based on these targets, the maximum number of impressions we can get from our blogging activity is the sum product of the number of blogs published multiplied by the subscription base for each of the 48 periods, which only totals 95,000.
Website Traffic from our Blog Audience
Total Blog Audience (48 Mos.)95,200
Open & Read Rate50%
Total Read's47,600
Click Rate on Various CTAs10%
Total Expected Site Visits4,760
We cannot generate 430,000 views from a total viewing audience of 95,000. As shown in the table above, the best we can expect is around 5,000 visits.

We must expand our audience beyond what we can achieve from the expected blog subscription to achieve our goal.

The quality of our blogging content is of paramount importance!

There are two methods we're going to work to achieve our audience expansion.

We first leveraged the social currency of "shares" to expand our reach.

A key to our blogging strategy is delivering content that our subscriber base may consider helpful and exciting to their audience. In doing so, we hope to motivate them to share our content with their audience. If we are successful, then we will expand our reach. The more shares we get posted to Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Google+, the greater the number of eyeball impressions on our content.

Traffic from Secondary Audiences through Social Shares
Total Blog Content Distribution95,200
Primary Audience Blog Impression Rate50%
Primary Blog Audience Impressions47,600
Share Rate5.0%
Total Shares2,404
Average Audience of "Sharer"750
Total Potential Secondary Audience1,803,000
Secondary Audience Read-Rate20%
Total Secondary Audience Impressions360,600
Secondary Audience Click-Rate10%
Clicks back to the website/landing page36,060

In our example, we assumed that 50% of our subscribers read and 5% share our content. We believe each subscriber that shares have a social audience averaging 750 and that 20% of this secondary audience will read the content that's been shared. Finally, 10% of this secondary audience readership will click on one of our CTAs back to our site. This activity will increase our site visits by around 36,000 over the four years.

Secondly, leveraging our social audience will further expand our reach.

Every time we publish a blog, we automatically post it to our social media accounts - i.e., Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+.

In our business case model, our cumulative social audience over the 48 months is 340,000. We've assumed we get 20% of our primary social audience to read our content and achieve a 10% click-through by those readers. This activity resulted in an additional 7,000 site visits over the four years, summarized in the table below.

Site Visits from our Social Audience
Cumulative Social Audience (48 months)341,261
Open / Read Rate20%
Clicks back to the website/landing page6,825

It should be clear that the faster we expand our social audience, the faster we build our email contact list, blog subscriber list, and website visits.

The table below contains a summary of the traffic volume over the four-year plan we've explained so far:

Summary Table - Traffic Sources 
Traffic SourceVolumePercent of Total
Blog (primary)5,0002.5%
Blog (shares)36,00018.0%
Social (primary)7,0003.5%
Total identified162,00081.0%
Total required200,000100%

We will now focus on dealing with the shortfall as the final component for achieving our target of 200,000 site visits. There's only one place left for us to go to to get additional traffic, and that's what we'll have to pay for! Our shortfall is 38,000, so what will it cost, and what's our strategy?

Let's focus on Twitter and Facebook as sources for filling the shortfall. We know we don't have the domain authority for a Google "popular" keyword search strategy to work, and we can't afford it anyway. We could most likely do better with long-tail keyword searches, and we may have to resort to this if we can't generate the remaining traffic we need from Twitter and Facebook.

First, we have to decide on a budget, and for our business model, we've set it at $250 per month. 40% of this will be spent on design and graphics to maximize the potential of the content and its visual impact, which leaves $150 to spend on pure advertising to extend our "reach." We will pay 60% of the funds on Facebook and 40% on Twitter, with our objective being to obtain additional "impressions" or "eyeballs" on our content that we can generate organically.

Paid Advertising - The Final Traffic Source
Description of ActivityPer Mth
Total Social Media Ad Spend$250.00
Advertising for "reach."$150.00
Facebook allocation60%
Twitter allocation40%
Facebook cost per thousand impressions$0.59
Twitter cost per thousand impressions$3.50
Facebook impressions152,542
Twitter impressions17,143
Facebook click-through0.119%
Twitter click-through2.000%
Facebook paid visits182
Twitter paid visits343
Total site visits per month525
Complete site visits over 48 months25,200

This model suggests generating 525 monthly site visits from the two social platforms. Over 48 months, this totals 25,000 other site visits. Before incorporating this "paid" component of our traffic volume, our shortfall was 38,000, so even with the contribution from our paid advertising campaign, there's still a gap of 13,000 visits to be filled.

We still have options to eliminate the remaining shortfall. We can increase our blog frequency and improve our email frequency. However, we must be careful not to inundate our audience with content, risking turning them off and potentially reducing engagement. If we decide an increase in our content publication frequency is unacceptable for our audience, we have to pay for the remaining traffic we need. Another $75 per month should be sufficient.

It would be best if you understood the logic and methods for developing the traffic needed to fulfill the modeled goals. The traffic concepts explained are quantitative, but the audience engagement rates and audience-building tactics are more "artistic" and just as vital to master if the quantitative objectives we need to execute the plan are to be replicated in real life.

If the audience is either too small or not engaged, then the plan fails!

Building an engaged audience in a local market is critical to the strategy. This is where leveraging a solid local, physical presence becomes possible. Our business is not going to become a national destination site for web traffic. However, our traffic objective is exceptionally modest in the scheme of things. Amazon has nearly 50 million unique visitors, and we're just looking to build up to 250 or so a day. We know we're not going to be the next Amazon!

We'll blog soon about audience building and engagement, as these capabilities are vital for our plan to be successfully executed. Although the potential for developing traffic should be clear from this business case, we'll create the concepts and tactics for growing an audience of the scale and level of engagement we need to succeed.

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