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CASE STUDY: Growth Hacking Brought Me A 2400% Traffic Increase Overnight

About a month back I started a website based on selling smelling salts. If you’re not familiar with smelling salts, they are basically chemical compounds that release ammonia when used which is extremely useful for waking up people who have passed out  (Or improving sports performance, which is that angle I’ve taken). After a month, I’ve just breached the first page of Google and am resting smoothly at number 5 or so on Yahoo/Bing (All this for terms that combine around 6000 searches per month). The point of this post, however, won’t be focused on the SEO portions of my strategy.

I want to tell you exactly what I did to go from around 30 daily visits to over 600.

On top of that, I want to tell you what I will do different in the future. And believe me, there is still plenty I would have done differently.

Day 1: Sunday, December 15

Sunday night I got home around 7pm. As I’m sure many of you have done in the past, I wanted to check and see how my sites’ traffic was going, so I logged in to Google Analytics. What I saw was what I thought was a pretty dramatic increase in traffic (around 70 visits that day vs an average of 20-30).

Looking into it revealed the basis of this entire post. Apparently on Saturday night there was a fight between boxers Marcos Maidana and Adrien Broner. The clincher here is that Sunday night someone posted a video clip from the fight and claimed that one of the fighters had been slipped some smelling salts near the end of the match. Considering that smelling salts are illegal in boxing, this was big news (very untrue news, but easy to jump on board for some growth hacking).

My first reaction to seeing this news was to start putting together a blog post on the subject. Less than an hour later, I published a post with some good info on how smelling salts are banned from boxing and showing some videos comparing other athletes using smelling salts.

After publishing the article, I jumped online and found some places to draw traffic from:

Facebook

Facebook was an obvious choice although it didn’t end up bring in as much traffic as I’d expected. I’d never touched Facebook much more than the fact that I’ve always built a page “because I know I should.” I didn’t want to spend any money pushing my article considering I wasn’t sure of the returns, so ads were out of the question.

The basis of my Facebook strategy was focusing on pushing links to my article onto FB groups related to boxing. Especially those groups that were already discussing this particular fight and the smelling salts controversy.

One thing I hadn’t counted on was the wait time to be accepted to the different groups I had targeted. That kept me from posting in all but one group until Monday.  That accounts for the single facebook referral on Sunday :).

Twitter

My strategy when it came to Twitter was a bit more shotgun approach. As I said, this is a bit of a new site so I haven’t put a lot of work into the social presence. That means I didn’t have any previous relationships built. I do have a decent following, but definitely not targeted to the particular audience of boxing (more hockey actually). All this didn’t stop me from trying. I picked the the top 20 or so people posting about the fight or the controversy and followed them as well as favorited their tweets on the fight. After that I picked the top 5 and tweeted at them about my article. Only one tweeted back, but it seems that was all I needed. As you can see, 15 visits from Twitter can be accounted for in here.

Blog Comments

Here is where the real results came from in my mind. I simply searched Google for terms related to the fight and mentioning smelling salts. Picking basically the top 2 pages in results I went and left comments on each of them. USEFUL comments, let  me be clear. None of this naked url or “great post” crap. I made sure that I was providing value. I became part of the conversations. Or at least I tried to :). I had to educate myself on boxing pretty quickly. You can see that the 37 visits from blog commenting were valuable at this point in the experiment. What you won’t see is that the average time on site was actually higher than my organic visitors. They were actually reading my article.

Stats on Sunday

Total Traffic: 120 visits

From Facebook: 1 visit

From Twitter: 15 visits

From Blog Comments: 37 visits

Organic Visits: 44 visits

Day 2: Monday, December 16th

Come Monday there was not too much more for me to do but continue what I’d already done:

  • I made the comments in the FB groups I had been planning (and then some)
  • I did more following and favoriting on Twitter
  • I made some updates to my blog post according to recent new updates
  • I made some new and followup blog comments

But, look at the fruits of my labor:

Stats on Monday – Boom Baby!

Total Traffic: 596 visits

From Facebook: 21 visit

From Twitter: 39 visits

From Blog Comments: 287 visits

Organic Visits: 165 visits

DailyVisitsUp

Gotta Love That Jump!!

Obviously, this isn’t the kind of traffic I plan on seeing going forward, but this is the type of scenario I hope to replicate in the future. And this brings us to what I would do differently.

What Will I Do Next Time?

Prepared Not UnpreparedThe biggest change I will make is preparation. As I said, I wasn’t expecting this. If I could go back, I would start by setting up accounts at relevant forums and requesting membership in relevant FB groups before the necessity arose. That requires research ahead of time into what audience I want to target. That targeting applies to your site’s content as well as where you’ll be propagating that content.

Other than preparing a bit more, monetization was another definite problem in my case. Even with all those visitors to the site, I’ve only managed a few sales. Going forward I’ve already looked into several options that will be better and easier to optimize for conversions.

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Jeff Kingston

Jeff is currently a business management student at Brigham Young University in Utah. Aside from his study of marketing, Jeff does some consulting in the subject of internet marketing and SEO at the small business and start-up level.

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