Welcome to my inaugural traffic and leads report on eLifeTools for the month of July 2014!
Many agents have asked what I do on a continuous basis to maintain my websites and promote them.
If you’re wondering the same thing, then you’re in luck, because I’m going to be sharing all my tricks and strategies with you in this new, monthly report.
What I’ll Reveal
Like the report name sounds, I’ll be sharing my key metrics such as traffic, numbers of leads, as well as other key figures such as bounce rate, time on site, and conversion numbers. I’ll also be sharing key wins and losses and my analysis of why my site is trending up or down, as well as my plans for the future.
I have many sites, but the traffic and leads report will only be dealing with www.InsuranceBlogByChris.com.
Why Share my Traffic and Lead Numbers?
These are exciting times for me in my business. I’ve recently co-founded a new company, JRC Insurance Group, where I’m the Director of Marketing. (2016 edit – I am not longer with JRC). I’ve also recently hired a couple contractors on oDesk to help with my various projects, and am in the midst of coordinating a task list for all my contractors. I’m very busy, to say the least.
With all my other sites and projects, sometimes I’ve found that my baby… my life’s blood… Insurance Blog by Chris, gets pushed to the sideline. For example, at the time of this writing 8/4/14, I’ve published exactly 2 posts for the year 2014. No joke!
Secondly, I truly want to help people grow their online insurance businesses. Online marketing has literally turned my life around, and I know there’s plenty of traffic to go around for us small guys. I feel like sharing my numbers will provide credibility and transparency to my statements, as well as inspiration to those of you reading.
Brief overview of 2008 to 2014
I’ve written extensively on the topic of how I grew IBBC from 0 to 15,000 visitors per month. No need to rehash that here.
You can read about the early years in these posts:
- How I got Started in Online Marketing / About Me
- First article I wrote circa 2011 about “Getting to the Top in Google”
- Article I wrote for the Patch in 2011 About How Ranking in Google will Help Your Small Business
- Blogging to Success – Interview on the SellTermLife Podcast with Jeff Root
The only thing to add here is I got hit by a Google Algorithm update in May 2013 that brought my average visitors per month from around 15,000 down to 10,000 on average, and it stayed that way for about a year.
I’ll have to write more about this in the future, but it entailed getting rid of a bunch of low quality backlinks.
Important Updates for July 2014
In this, my inaugural traffic and leads report, I’ll have to take you back a bit further than just July to tell you the most important issues I’m currently dealing with.
The biggest problems I’m having right now have actually been problems the past few years. I’ve already alluded to how busy I am with my other projects. I also have been seeing a steady decline in my site conversions over the past couple years. I’ll highlight both of these below.
Problem #1 – Neglecting My Site
The past few years, I haven’t spent much time on:
- Article writing
- Resource creation
- Article Improvement or AB Testing
… I’ve done some of each of these, but not as much as I would like, and certainly not as much as I did the first 3-4 years as I was building the site traffic. However, in the past few months, I do have some very big wins to tell you about below as I’ve started to refocus my attention.
Problem #2 – Decreasing Conversion due to Mobile Traffic
I’ve been tracking goal conversions in Google Analytics for several years. On average, 5.08% of visitors to IBBC fill out the quote request form. That’s my #1 goal for the site.
However, I’ve noticed this number decreasing over the past few years. It used to be closer to 6% site wide.
It may seem inconsequential to worry about a 1% decline, but when you get 19,000 visitors in a month, as I did in July, if an extra 1% of all people who come get a quote request, that’s 190 extra quote requests I feel like I’m now missing out on!
The big problem is that my conversion stinks for mobile traffic.
Here’s a picture of what my site looks like on my iphone:
Site Conversion by Device Type
Site wide, here are my conversion totals from the past few years over each type of major device (again, conversion on IBBC means they requested a quote):
- Desktop – 6.25%
- Mobile – 2.3%
- Tablet – 4.6%
See the problem? Well, you’ll really get the picture when you see the trajectory of my site traffic over the past 3 years.
I’ve charted below my total sessions that originated from Desktop, Mobile, and Tablet devices since July 2011, as well as shown you the what % of my traffic has come from Desktop over the past few years.
Notice how desktop traffic accounted for 84.9% of my traffic just two years ago and in the past year that # has fallen to 64.2%. This is a clear trend I have to deal with quickly. You’ll see in my upcoming plans what I plan to do about it.
Visitor Totals and Insights for July 2014
July has been a record setting month for IBBC, both in terms of traffic and lead totals!
Here’s the google analytics breakdown:
We also had 979 quote requests, good for a 5.0% conversion on total traffic (19,453 visitors).
Month-over-Month Changes (June 2014 – July 2014 Totals)
- Traffic – 17,898 -> 19,453
- Leads – 810 -> 979
- Pages/Session – 1.72 -> 1.74
- Ave. Session Duration: 1:30 -> 1:33
- Bounce Rate: 75.9% -> 75.8%
All five of these are excellent markers. You want to increase traffic, leads, pages/session and average session duration, and want to decrease bounce rate. 5 for 5 is a very good month!
Year-over-Year Changes (July 2013 -> July 2014)
- Traffic – 10,161 -> 19,453
- Leads – 467 -> 979
- Pages/Session – 1.8 -> 1.74
- Ave. Session Duration: 1:39 -> 1:33
- Bounce Rate: 76.0% -> 75.8%
While traffic and leads are up year-over-year, these are the only positive indicators. I believe the other numbers have suffered as well, as a direct result of my increased mobile traffic described above.
The great news is that in May, after my traffic had been hovering around 10,000 to 13,000 per month for about a year, my traffic exploded and has been on an upward trajectory since.
Explanations for my May Traffic Explosion
There are a couple possible explanations for the bounce back.
First, in early May, I set aside a couple weeks, and did some link prospecting for IBBC. I remember this well because I hadn’t done any link outreach in quite some time.
My strategy was pretty simple. A couple years back, I did guest posts on two popular blogs, Good Financial Cents by Jeff Rose, and Smart Passive Income by Pat Flynn:
- 5 Mistakes to Avoid When You Buy Life Insurance – GFC Guest Post
- What Would Happen to My Online Business If I Died? – SPI Guest Post
Basically, I just did an ahrefs search for what sites had linked to those guest posts. I read through the articles and found many had referenced my guest post and linked to it. So I contacted some of them and let them know I had authored the guest post, and asked if they’d consider linking to a resource on my site as well. I did pick up a few backlinks this way, and it was incredible because within a couple weeks, my traffic shot back up.
The other explanation would be that I either had a Google penalty lifted or an algorithm change affected me positively. You never know with google. I’m just happy my traffic is back and setting records.
Action Items for the next 1-2 Months
Moving forward, I don’t want another dip in my traffic. I’ve got lots of plans to help me surge ahead which I plan to implement soon.
I already mentioned that I hired a couple new contractors, and we’re working on organizing our tasks for all my sites using a google spreadsheet. Once we’re organized like this, I foresee getting a lot more done on IBBC.
Specifically though, here are a handful of projects I want to work on over the next couple months.
- Make the Site Responsive – The simple solution to my “mobile problem” would be to get my site to look better on Mobile devices, right? Exactly! I would first say that many of the themes you can buy these days already have a built in “responsive” feature. Responsive themes are needed when your site will be displayed on various sized devices because it will automatically show less information, and the most important information when displayed on smaller screens. My site was built on Thesis 1, which was not a “responsive” theme. So mine will be a 2 step process. First I have to get my site moved to Thesis 2 (Thesis is Responsive), and then have my designer optimize it for various screen sizes.
- Release a Series of Articles Supporting my Life Insurance Calculator – finally some new content!
- Backlinking to my Calculator – Basically, I’ll be looking at which sites link to the top life insurance calculators on the internet, and go to them with a script saying something like “hey, I see you link to that resource… ours is a bit different because it does xyz… would you consider linking to it?” It will be better written that that, but that’s the general idea.
- Remove Old Crappy Articles – Two online marketers I really respect, Brian Dean and Neil Patel, both teach to remove old articles that don’t get any traffic on your site. I certainly have plenty of those. Neil Patel says adding content to your site that no one shares can actually hurt your site.
- Redo Quote Results Page – My team is building a quote results page for our new site, www.jrcinsurancegroup.com, which will show multiple quotes instead of just the quote requested. How many 65 year olds, I’ve wondered, grab a quote for $500,000 for 20 year term and once they see it costs well more than $300 per month, immediately click away, and don’t bother to pick up the phone when we call thinking they can’t afford life insurance? Well, what if instead of displaying 30 quote results for 500K, 20 year term, we only displayed the top 3, and just below that showed quotes for 10 year term or $100,000? Maybe then they’d move forward with an application request or take our call when we call. I’ll be testing this on the JRC site and if it works, will be adding it to IBBC as well.
I plan to implement these in the coming months and will see you back here next month letting you know where we stand.