2,872 Word Playbook to My Next Project

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I’m sharing all of the details of my new project today. Yes, it’s similar to what many others are doing with their sites. But you should take note of that… If you have an HCU-hit site, I hope this gives you a little bit of inspiration.

I started this project 7 weeks ago. If you want a step-by-step playbook, here it is. Buckle up 👇

The Concept

Here’s my new project in a nutshell:

  • Take a website that already has content on it
  • Build an email newsletter from that content
  • Use Facebook Ads to generate email subscribers
  • Use an email autoresponder to consistently drive those subscribers to the website
  • Use the Facebook Page to generate organic traffic to the website
  • Monetize those multiple traffic sources with ads via ​Raptive​

No, it’s not the long-term, evergreen style traffic from SEO. But, with Facebook Ads, you can get FAST growth and almost-instant results. And I’ve known for years about the power of email newsletters as a long-term traffic generator.

HCU Hit

It’s a tale as old as time. Well, as old as the past year. I picked a site of mine that was hit by the HCU.

Let me just say this… we’ve ALL seen too many charts like this…

Click report of a sample website

A few highlights about THIS particular site:

  • 200 articles or so
  • DR in the low 40’s
  • Decent content
  • Really good backlinks from a bunch of big sites
Organic search data for a website

Sheesh. Downright depressing. But, it is what it is.

So, why did I pick this site in particular to reboot with a social media and email marketing strategy?

  • The site is already ​approved for Raptive​, so I can earn from premium ads right away.
  • The content solves a real need for people. It’s not in a “curiosity” niche, but more of a “I have a problem and need a solution” niche.
  • In some basic testing, ​AI combined with Cuppa​ can produce really valuable ongoing content for this particular niche.

The plan? Use 20 years of email marketing experience to drive traffic to a site monetized with premium ads. Use Facebook ads to drive leads to the newsletter, and grow the Facebook page in order to drive organic traffic to the website.

Rebooting the Email Newsletter

Ironically, the site already had an email list from a while back. Unfortunately, for a plethora of reasons, the list was shut down by the email provider (nothing spammy, we failed to migrate apparently).

For a brand new email list, we used to ​recommend MailerLite​. And that’s what we used for this email newsletter.

But now, with ConvertKit’s recent price adjustment, we say to go with them out of the gate. They now offer ​ConvertKit for FREE up to 10k subscribers​. Yes, there are some restrictions on what you can do, but for these purposes, I don’t find it too overly restrictive.

By the way, there isn’t anything wrong with MailerLite, to be fair. I just LOVE a few of the ConvertKit features, like Creator Network, that make it a no-brainer. You’ll want that down the road 🙂

And, it saves a migration later, when we would normally switch from MailerLite to ConvertKit. So, win-win. But, feel free to read our ​in depth comparison between these two platforms AND beehiiv​. Kaitlin did a killer job and recently updated it for 2024.

My agency can set up your email newsletter, create the lead generation piece, and build out the first set of emails. And, in honor of this new project, the first 5 people can get 25% off with code “june2024”. Click HERE for more details.

Here are the first 7 weeks of email subscriber growth:

Email subscriber data graph report

Email Content

In order to get the project going, I went the easy route. We already had 200 articles live on the site. Here’s a quick way to organize this into a helpful email sequence:

Step 1: Get a list of all of the articles on your site and their corresponding main keyword

Step 2: Boot up ChatGPT

Step 3: Give it this prompt:

Sample of a ChatGPT script

When I did it, here’s what I started getting back:

ChatGPT script result

Now, this needed some back and forth to get it closer, but not much. I could already see some I was going to throw out. For example, since I’m not going to be targeting college students OR healthcare professionals in future Facebook ads, those don’t make sense for the autoresponder.

Next, transfer it over to a spreadsheet, and glance through all of the results. Get rid of some that don’t make much sense, but that’s about it.

Autoresponder Sequence

Next, I needed to create the autoresponder sequence for the new email subscribers. I have a list of articles that are already written, but the emails that direct to them still need writing.

Here is where you’ll want to experiment with different types of emails. At least I do. Why?

Because you don’t know what type of email is going to drive the most amount of traffic to your site. Listicles, long form, short form with a CTA. Speaking of CTA’s, is a button better or a text link?

For this, I found two options worked:

  • Gemini was pretty good out of the box with basic prompting. It sounded the most “human”.
  • I created a custom GPT for my email style, and this did a bit better than Gemini in the end. But only marginally, and it was a bit more work.

Taking my ordered list, I started creating the emails and subject lines one by one. You could do this at scale via their API, but as it was my first go at this, I did it one by one. It didn’t take long to build out the first 50 emails.

Getting New Leads

With email content fully built out, I still didn’t have anyone on my email list. And, remember that it’s been a ghost town for website traffic since the HCU. So, I needed to get consistent leads to my email list, and Facebook ads seemed the best.

Building a Facebook Page

Turns out we didn’t even have a Facebook page yet for this website! Whoops!

Good news is that it’s super simple to set up a page nowadays. I took our logo, made a cover image, added some bio details, and had the page set up in 5 minutes.

Screencap of a Likes and Followers number from a sample social media profile account

Next, I needed followers. Now, you could argue that you don’t actually need followers to execute this strategy. And, if email subs was your only play, then you could go that route. But I ALSO want to get some organic Facebook traffic from posting, so I need some followers!

For this, I turned to a Page Like campaign in Facebook. It’s super simple to set up. 7 weeks in, I have 3,700+ followers. I’m averaging under $0.05/like.

Page Like campaign in Facebook report

I could spend more than $4/day, but as you increase your daily ad spend in a campaign, the cost per action usually increases as well. Since this isn’t the primary strategy, I’m content to go slowly with Facebook Page followers.

At this rate, I’ll get to 10k followers and re-evaluate. That should cost me under $500.

Building Facebook Ads

This is where ​Scott Delong’s Email Newsletter course​ came in handy. He has successfully used FB ads to grow multiple 7 figure newsletters, and so I followed his methodology: Lead Ads

With Lead Ads, the form fill and conversion happens inside of Facebook rather than forcing the user over to your site. From a conversion standpoint, this is better for all parties. Facebook is happier because you aren’t forcing people off of their platform. And you get higher conversions because there are less clicks required for the user.

Now, you need something to move those leads from Facebook over to your email provider. We ​chose Make​ for this. It’s cheaper than Zapier and other options. It’s a bit of a bummer to set up, but they all are.

Just like with emails, you HAVE to test different ad copy, ad formats, colors, CTA’s, etc. It’s ridiculous how little things can have big effects.

I started by offering a free in-depth guide to people in exchange for their first name and email address.

Here is a screenshot of my Facebook Ad Manager. You can see that I have many active Campaigns, and many that I have shut down. Keep the high performers live and shut the poor performers down!

Sample of a Campaign Ad history report

My total spend on Facebook Ads is currently just over $2k. Removing my Page Likes campaigns, I’ve actually spent just over $1,800, and we have just over 3,200 email subscribers. That means I’m paying about $0.55/lead, which I’m very happy with.

Even with over a decade of experience running Facebook Ads, I’m still always shocked at how well some ads do over others. Some of my ads are getting under $0.25/lead while others are costing over $1/lead.

I shared a few weeks ago in my post that I got a tip from the ​Niche Pursuits Community​ for a type of ad that was working really well. That’s the one that is performing at $0.25/lead… crazy. The power of doing this in the community.

Note: It looks like the $1 trial for your first month in the Niche Pursuits Community is still live! Just use code “weekendgrowth” HERE to get your first month for $1. Spencer is sharing his Facebook URL for his 30 day, $1k challenge!

Posting Regular Content

Your Facebook page will look very empty without content being published. Plus, you won’t get any organic traffic from Facebook without content.

I just did an interview with Andy Skraga for the ​Niche Pursuits Podcast​ (releasing soon), and let me just put it this way…. DON’T sleep on organic Facebook traffic these days.

Only after that interview did I start posting regularly to my Facebook page, so it’s still early days. Traction is very light, but I’m also focusing only on engaging-style content (memes, quote graphics, etc).

One game changer for me was ​Post Planner​. I can quickly upload an entire week’s worth of content in about 20 minutes. It’s a pretty amazing software. A few of the reasons I love it:

  • I can quickly create posts that have text on top of colored backgrounds, which do very well on Facebook
  • I can see what works well in my niche by seeing the top posts for keyword and category
  • I can source popular posts, memes, and articles to share

They ​have a free 7 day trial​, so it’s worth testing out.

Once I start earning money from organic Facebook, I’m going to look into ​Strevio​. I’ve heard so many good things about it, most notably from Jon with Fat Stacks when we recently hung out. He’s having great success with it, but I’ll wait to evaluate it as it costs more per month.

Measuring and Testing

This is a constant game of evolution. You have to be constantly measuring and making tweaks. This suits my personality well – I basically majored in data science in college, so spreadsheets and A/B tests are like giving a wanderlust a one-way plane ticket.

While it’s early days, here are some successes, failures, and TBD:

[SUCCESS] Lowered Rate for New Leads

I was pretty comfortable paying around $1 per lead on Facebook Lead Ads, and that’s what I was getting…

But constant testing and a tip from a Niche Pursuits Community member have allowed me to get that as low as $0.25/lead.

That’s huge… like REALLY huge. That means my ad budget could stretch 4x further. It also means I need a LOT less engagement from a lead to make all of this profitable.

[TBD] Low Open Rates

Out of the gate, some of the emails in my autoresponder sequence had low open rates. Like… really low (sub 10%).

I expected some to perform worse than others, but that is terrible. Low open rates are usually attributed to unengaging subject lines, so we immediately changed those up.

Results are starting to improve, but not dramatically. More work to be done here. If they don’t open the email, they can’t click on the link and go to my website, and I don’t make any ad revenue.

[FAILED] Click Arbitrage

Click arbitrage is where you take a high RPM page on your site, and you directly drive traffic to it from Facebook (there are other ways, but that is how I am using it). Here’s what that looked like in terms of ad earnings:

Earnings overview chart within a month

I tried this by setting up multiple engaging ads to drive Facebook traffic over to several of these pages on my site. The ads performed… BUT the amount I had to spend on them was less than I was earning from my ads on those pages with Raptive.

This is a bit hard to calculate for a variety of reasons I won’t bore you with. But, ultimately, until I have more ways to make money, it wasn’t worth using my budget on this so I shut it down.

[TBD] Low Facebook Engagement

Another area I’m having challenges with is getting good organic engagement on Facebook. But I’m not concerned, because I just started posting regularly last Thursday.

I’m going to ​watch Andy Skraga’s Facebook Traffic Blueprint course​. I was impressed with his interview and feel like it could be helpful. I haven’t started it yet but I did ​download his free Facebook 101 PDF​.

Discovering ​Post Planner​ was huge because now I can quickly pre-schedule content. Before I was irregular at best. I’m hoping after several weeks of posting consistently, engagement will go up. But I am keeping my eye on it.

Results

Nothing special at this point. I’m happy with ad results and email subscriber count. I’m not happy with email engagement and overall traffic to the site. But it’s early days, and so I’m not that bothered about it.

I could show you screenshots of Raptive, GA, etc, but they all include inflated results from the arbitrage I also did. So the project would look more “successful” than it really is.

Next Steps

Well, I’ll continue to grow email subs with FB ads. I’ll continue tweaking the ads to get the cost per conversion as low as possible. I’ll continue adding emails to the autoresponder sequence, and monitor/adjust current emails to improve open rates and clicks.

But I’m also going to be adding more content to the site. Like I said above, ​Cuppa is making this incredibly easy​ to do. If this post does well enough, I might share our Cuppa process next week in my next blog post.

Others ​prefer using Koala​ for this. ​Read Kaitlin’s detailed comparison of the two tools​. Ultimately, either should be able to help you produce good content at scale. Remember, it doesn’t have to be very optimized for this strategy. It just has to be helpful, engaging content that your readers will want to come back to.

I’m also going to drive Pinterest traffic to the site. This will be my 3rd form of traffic (after email and Facebook organic). Tony Hill’s tool ​PinClicks​ really does make finding good content to create super simple. I like that it’s 100% data-driven. You can ​get a free trial HERE​ if you want to try it. I’ll also share our process in a future blog post, once we have it nailed down.

And, as I shared on the Niche Pursuits Podcast a few weeks ago, we’re working on creating a paid digital download to sell in the emails. Another revenue source past premium ads with Raptive.

Ultimately, I want to create as many scalable traffic sources for the website as possible. That is only the beginning, but we’ll call that Phase One.

Do you like hearing about my new projects? Do you have any questions? Just let me know!

As a few final notes:

  • There are a bunch of us doing this same/similar approach that share in the Niche Pursuits Community. You can still ​get your first month for $1 with code “weekendgrowth”​. See you there!
  • I know there are a bunch of affiliate links in here. Most of my posts don’t have loads of them, but this blog post took me over 4 hours to put together, so I felt that it was fine in this case. Most blog posts of mine won’t be like this. And, I personally use every one (or clarify if not), so you can rest assured about that.
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Jared Bauman

Jared Bauman is the Co-Founder of 201 Creative, and is a 20+ year entrepreneur who has started and sold several companies. He is the host of the popular Niche Pursuits podcast and a contributing author to Search Engine Land.

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