For our next blog monetization case study, we’re going to be taking a look at a nutrition blog called The Nourished Caveman. The site is run by Vivica.
When she applied to be the subject of this case study about two months ago, she told me her monthly traffic was sitting at around 60,000, her email list size was around 2,200, and the monthly revenue was only around $300.
… and therein lies why it got my attention. 🙂 That is a pretty nice email list and traffic volume – and it sits in a pretty profitable niche. So, a monthly revenue of $300 is practically a crime! 🙂
Fortunately, in the last two months before I got to this case study, Vivica has made great strides in her business through the process of working with my good friend, Tony Teegarden.
Tony is a specialist in implementing the high-end coaching – often without even bothering with a front-end sales funnel. And Vivica was likely close to an ideal client for Tony, seeing as she came in with grossly under-utilized assets that were just asking for somebody like Tony to help her take advantage of. Vivica tells me she’s averaging about $3,000/month now, which is a 10X improvement.
Very nice. 🙂
So, I’m glad Vivica worked with Tony. Tony is almost like my business counterpart (its funny, we’ve talked about this a few times). While I’m a specialist at the blog itself and the front-end sales funnels, Tony is the specialist when it comes to implementing the high ticket stuff. Between the two of us, we’ve pretty much got this stuff covered. 🙂
So, this month, I’m going to come in and talk about the front-end blog… because while a lot of work has been done on the backend sales funnel, the blog still has some things we could work on.
The Video Run-Through
Every blog audit I do starts off with a video walk-through of the site. And during that video, I simply “talk out” what I find and what I’d do differently.
So, here we go…
Improving The Blog’s Design and Layout
The first thing that struck me about the blog was that it is making great use of color photography on the blog posts and thumbnails, but that the core structure of the blog is cluttery and incongruent. If I had to guess, I’d say this blog was set up this way from the outset and then it hasn’t been touched again. 🙂
Some specific things I would update:
- Give the site a new logo which is brandable. I like the “Nourished Caveman” brand, however the logo is extremely plain. I would introduce some color to the logo so that the brand is recognizable.
- Simplify the top navigation. There are too many options and I don’t believe it does a good job of funneling the reader into the right things.
- Make the top nav stand out. Again, compared to all the photography, the actual blog elements are too understated. I would place the top nav into a colored row, full width.
- Remove the affiliate link notice from the footer. Instead, put it onto a Terms of Service page and link to it in the footer. No need to take up real estate on the footer of every page.
Also, the blog sidebar is overloaded. I would remove EVERYTHING from the sidebar except the following (in this order)
- Your opt-in (although you need a real lead magnet)
- Your photo and short bio (but link it to your about page!)
- Popular Posts (although you want it to be hand-picked to go to your “money posts”)
Improving The Opt-In Funnel
Vivica is making two classic lead magnet mistakes at the same time.
The first one is this in her sidebar:
“Subscribe to my newsletter” isn’t a lead magnet. In today’s world, it is nothing. I would most definitely place a strong, primary lead magnet into this location.
The good news is that she has a real lead magnet in other places… BUT she is making another mistake with it. Here’s the pop-up I got when I came to her site:
The second mistake being made is that this isn’t really a lead magnet, either. True, she IS giving something away to get onto her list, but that doesn’t make it a true lead magnet.
A lead magnet isn’t simply any free thing to incentivize people to get onto your list. A lead magnet is a specific thing which has TWO main purposes:
- Get them onto the list as a qualified prospect, so that…
- You can make them an offer.
In other words, the lead magnet is designed to attract a particular person so that you can immediately make them an offer. You want to turn them into a customer. In order to accomplish that mission, the lead magnet has to be specific and short. It needs to be something they can consume quickly. In this case, giving away a 4 week meal plan might be valuable, but I don’t believe it sets the person up for a followup sale.
Not to mention, the message is clouded by phrases like “Just join my newsletter” and “Subscribe Now!”. Joining the list should be a transaction where they are “paying” for a very specific thing with their email. Not a newsletter.
If I were running this blog, I’d aim toward a strategy like this:
- Create a few different lead magnets, each one very specific and meant at a different kind of prospect.
- Set up a squeeze page for each one. Run some paid traffic to each of them.
- Have your opt-in form “tag” people based on which lead magnet they got. It will determine how best to followup with that person in regards to a front-end offer, but even into the high-ticket coaching.
- Couple each lead magnet with a relevant front-end offer. The purpose here is to turn prospects into customers.
A 4-week meal plan will tend to delay further action for 4 weeks. Instead, you want to give people something immediate that they can do and leave them looking for more. This is what sets them up for the offer which should be coming right after they opt-in.
Speaking of which…
The Monetization Strategy
The primary business of The Nourished Caveman lies in what Vivica is calling The Healing Foods Method. And when I saw how she had it set up, it has Tony written all over it. 🙂
Essentially, people will sign up for a strategy call with Vivica by filling out an application for her coaching program. From there, Vivica will talk to them, see if they’re a good fit, then either invite them into the program or not. This is a very direct pathway into the high-end sales from this blog – and it does work. As mentioned earlier, this strategy has 10X’d her revenue from this blog – which is fantastic.
My interest is the front-end strategy. While a select few of the right clients will work with Vivica individually, having a developed sales funnel in place on the blog will allow her to increase her reach, bring on customers who are at different points in their process, as well as ultimately graduate some of them into her full coaching.
As far as I could tell, the only front-end offer on the blog is the Healing Foods Method Meal Plan for $39. A few things jump out at me about this offer:
- I like the name “Healing Foods Method Meal Plan” for the product, however it isn’t congruent with the cover image. The text that jumps out at me is “One Week Meal Plan”… yet I was just promised FOUR weeks of meals as a free newsletter subscriber. So, if anything, there’s some confusion with the words behind all this and it makes me not want to buy this.
- At $39, I believe it is priced out of “impulse buy” territory. The function of a front-end offer is to get them to spend some money. It doesn’t matter how much it is, but it helps if the price is in “impulse buy” territory so they don’t have to think about it much. $39 is probably a bit high unless the prospect already has a lot of familiarity with Vivica. If you want to convert cold traffic into customers and get them into the sales funnel, I believe the price needs to be lower.
- This product only seems to show up in the sidebar – and that’s it. It may be built into the email followup series (it should be).
- Get rid of the “discount code”. That’s likely killing your conversions further. If you have a specific offer in your emails offering a discount on this, then direct them to a separate page for it.
I would develop a few different front-end offers – all at lower price points than $39. It isn’t about lowering prices in general. It is specifically to bring more buyers onto the email list.
In terms of what to sell, I would look at the high-ticket coaching that’s already being done. Surely there is material there which could be splintered out into short-form front-end offers.
In the future, perhaps there would be room for a flagship online training course as a core offer. And, of course, the high-ticket coaching should remain in place.
By implementing all of this, I believe this blog will have a wider and more effective sales funnel which doesn’t drop off anybody who is unwilling to invest in the coaching program (or may require a little more hand-holding before doing so).
Also, by having low-ticket front-end offers in place, it will allow you to:
- Pay for your paid traffic. The front-end is essentially a liquidation offer. The whole idea is to convert well enough so that you can run paid leads into your funnels and do it at break-even or better. With only one product, mentioned in the sidebar only, and priced at $39… this product isn’t set up well to break even on paid traffic.
- Not depend on discounts. One of the classic signs of a sales funnel which isn’t set up correctly is that the only way to make sales is to run discounts to your list – often manually.
Lastly, from what I can tell, Vivica isn’t “pixeling” her blog visitors. In other words, she isn’t building a retargeting audience from her visitors. Retargeting combined with a blog is very powerful because it allows you to run paid ads in a much more targeted fashion. Rather than depending on interest-based targeting on Facebook, you can specifically run ads to people who’ve visited your blog (or even visited specific pages).
I would set up the retargeting code on The Nourished Caveman with:
- Facebook. So, you can build a website custom audience and advertise to your past traffic on Facebook.
- Perfect Audience. So you can set up banner ads to bring people into your lead magnets or front-end offers after they’ve left your site. Perfect Audience can also retarget on Facebook, although I prefer to do that directly rather than through a third party.
This will increase the efficiency of her blog as a marketing platform quite a bit.
The Content Strategy
It seems as if the core content is made up of recipes. That’s fine, however I personally believe that recipes fail to do two things:
- They don’t establish Vivica as an expert.
- They don’t necessarily attract the ideal prospect, which is somebody who is looking to solve the specific issues which the Healing Foods Method addresses.
I think the best kind of content for gaining prospects will be the kind which gives them “aha moments” and motivates them to DO something about it. You want to make them think, “OMG, THAT’S why I’m feeling this way, and this makes total sense!” You’ve then educated them, shown them that a solution is possible, and positioned yourself as the person to guide them to it.
A recipe doesn’t do that. What will do that are explanatory articles. Tear down common symptoms that your customers have and show them the science behind it. Make a special point to make it approachable and “plain English”. Point to a solution (which, of course, you can provide).
In this way, you are accomplishing content marketing, not just content for the sake of content.
Recipes can do well for traffic. People love it on Pinterest. 🙂 But, you need to be looking for every angle to relate that recipe to the actual transformation that you deliver. Don’t just give them a recipe. You need to tie it into what you deliver. The LAST thing you want to do is brand yourself as a cook because that’s not fully in alignment with the transformation you deliver.
Let’s Wrap This Up
A blog and the business machine which sits behind it work together very closely. As Forrest Gump would put it, they go together like “peas and carrots”. 🙂
… and when they’re matched together well, very profitable things can happen.
This blog monetization case study primarily concentrates on the blog and the front-end of the sales funnel – because that’s where I see the most room for improvement. Tony has already worked with Vivica to perfect the high-end chunk of things, with great results.
The problem with going straight into high-end with no front-end sales funnel and content marketing strategy is that it makes getting new leads difficult. It can be done, but I look at it as an incomplete model. Almost like trying to get a car moving while skipping first and second gears.
So, for anybody else who wants to put these strategies to use for THEIR blog…
- Hop into the Blog Monetization Lab to work on the blog and your monetization. This is my area of specialty.
- Check out my friend, Tony Teegarden, to perfect your high-ticket strategy. That is his area of specialty.
Combine us, and we’re deadly. 😉