August 2015 Business Update

We are officially through our first six months of our business launch, and July was an amazing month. In addition to launching our site focused on travel planning, we saw a dramatic uptick in the Wing-T site. For reference, you might want to check out the update I gave back in May.

Note – Finally moved my blog over to WordPress from SquareSpace earlier this week. This was an easy decision as our hosting plan gives us plenty of WP sites for no additional fee, while SquareSpace was going to cost around $200 for another year. I did my best to maintain permalinks but it wasn’t perfect. Some links may break from time to time.

Our Travel Planning Site Launched

While we officially launched it in May with Julie’s articles on her trip to Siesta Key, we didn’t go public with it until July 3. There’s nothing to buy there now as we are focused on updates for family and friends as well as building an audience. We might publish a book on our trekking experience in Ireland.

Wing-T Coaching Site Business Optimization Plan

It is nice when you invest in very specific improvements on a business and you see immediate returns. There were a few problems we were trying to solve:

  1. How can we get more valuable traffic to the site, i.e. football coaches with a genuine interest in what I have to offer (both for free and for sale)?
  2. How can we convert this traffic to buying customers in an automated fashion?

I focused on #2 first with a small project back in May. From the initial launch of the site back in December I’ve offered a free trimmed down version of my playbook. This is known as an opt-in magnet – a free resource that is of genuine value to the reader, but requires a small exchange to get it: they give me their email address. It was working pretty well going into May as I had about 140 folks that had given me their email address in exchange for this free PDF.

After doing some research in May, I determined that I was being too passive in selling my full book to this audience. I was inviting them to web clinics I ran as well as encouraged them to join my weekly newsletter, but other than a few “P.S.” comments in emails I wasn’t engaging them on the value of the full book. In early May I purchased the Invisible Selling Machine by Ryan Deiss. The guy comes across as a bit too slick for my tastes, but the book is inexpensive and worth it if you are looking into building an automated email campaign to sell a digital product. I used his methodology to build a six email autoresponder campaign in Aweber for folks that download my free playbook. The campaign is looking for one of three different outcomes:

  1. Convert them into a purchaser
  2. Convert them into a newsletter subscriber so that maybe eventually they will see enough value in my writing to buy the book, or maybe they will buy a future offer
  3. Get them off my list

I’m not selling in every email. In fact, I don’t even ask for the sale until the 4th email, with the first three only providing new value to the reader. I provide links to useful articles related to the book they downloaded as well as a replay of a web clinic that I ran on the Belly Series. These 6 emails are spread out over the next week, so about 1 per day.

From the start this new process worked well - I converted a few sales almost a week to the day after I launched the campaign. The problem, however, is that I didn’t have enough traffic signing up to get the free playbook in the first place.

This is where Julie’s magic with Facebook ads stepped in. We first experimented with Facebook ads back in February to promote a web clinic and we had decent success. The Facebook advertising platform, though clumsily built and hard to use at times, is simply amazing. After seeing the power of how you can target potential customers using Facebook, I have a much better appreciation for why that company is so successful.

We ran a small test campaign to drive traffic to the free playbook back in May. In early July I modified the ad a bit, broaden the targeting to not just focus on youth coaches but all football coaches, and turned on the ad and left it running indefinitely. My thinking is that July through August is prime season for youth coaches preparing for the coming season.

The Results of the Project

Let’s start with what Facebook is reporting. I’ve been running this ad campaign for about 1 month (it started on July 7, 2015). Facebook says that:

  • 19,824 people were reached (had the ad show up in their feed)
  • 1,012 conversions (clicked through and signed up for the book)
  • For a total spend of $145.33. That’s about 14 cents per conversion!

I could be spending more, but I limit the advertising spend to $5 per day.

OK, so that’s what Facebook says is happening. Do the business results line up? Let’s look at key business metrics:

Wing-T Business Metrics - Month to Month Comparison
Month to Month
Metric Jul 1 2015 Aug 1 2015
Free eBook Subscribers 271 671
Books sold 48 80

That’s significant growth – we sold more books in July than we had in January through May combined.

Note that I’m not limiting my Facebook audience to just Wing-T coaches (I don’t even know if I could), so not every coach is going to be interested in the material. I’m still amazed at the dramatic increase in traffic that this campaign brought. I did a similar short running campaign in Twitter and it flopped terribly. Twitter has work to do and I think they realize that.

So, I think I have the traffic issue understood and manageable. I’m sure I can optimize my sales conversion funnel (the autoresponder campaign), and I should probably consider split testing some different subject lines and email. I doubt I will this year – I think the sales will likely dry up as September hits and we can look at a relaunch in January.

The best part about this uptick in business is that we did the work in May through early July to set this up, and the rest has been completely automated. Other than helping some customers get their download to work (it is always user error) this is passive income. As the business grows we could even hire a virtual assistant to help us out with support issues like that.

This is exactly the sort of learning we wanted to achieve in this smaller niche as we prepare for offerings that will have much broader appeal than just football coaches.