In the Spring of 2014 I was working very intensely on trying to get our analytics systems up and running ( we were finishing the mixpanel install ) at the mobile rewards app company I was at – Twoforone Go. I had been driving paid traffic to the app using among other things Facebook app installs and had been able to get the App ranked as the #1 app in the Apple app store in the UAE.
Facebook was not easy, (I researched, set the strategy and optimized the ads ) if you were doing it right, I would say that once It was delegated to the team they were running and creating hundreds of ads a week.
The Start of Something Special
I am not going to share with you today how I built an app company and how I was marketing it, I am leaving that for another blog post.. since this one is about the 1 Million Page views I got in 2 months on a different site.
The Road to 1 Million
So, back to Spring 2014… I had been seeing these stories from BuzzFeed, I am sure everyone had them on their Facebook newsfeed. I began to think about how they were driving traffic to the site and decided that I wanted to try and do the same.
It all started on a Saturday:
I bought a domain name, a wordpress template and put the site together in a few hours. I chose to target Sweden ( I speak Swedish ) since I thought the market was open enough to do it.
This is what the website looked like:
Now with the site up and running and some stories published it was time to get the traffic going, and well how better to do it than by paid traffic. I believe that what made it work so great was the fact that I was doing a combination of content marketing and paid ads.
I used facebook ads and set up about 20 or 30 ad variations and used demographics, interests etc to target. I put them on and waited… and waited.. and then… the fun stared to happen.
The traffic for the first posts was growing and growing…
But… all this was paid traffic, so while this could be great to show you – you may be wondering to yourself if I was paying a high amount of money per each click / engagement I was getting. Well you can see the results below, ( I had never seen a $0.00 CPC before)
Not only was the cost per click $0.00 but the CTR was at the top part almost 18% and just after a few days I had already gained over 100,000 page views as you can see.
Hobby, Job or New Opportunity?
I was very busy working full time in my real job and dedicating my nights and weekends on this experiment. I started to think that maybe I could make some money from all these page views, just like BuzzFeed was doing. So I applied for an AdSense Account and some other monetizing content accounts and got them up and running.
I was having fun and learning even more about digital advertising – all of which I could use for the Twoforone Go app. The ads I eventually put up on the blog were earning enough for the facebook ads I was running to get the traffic and a bit more.
The results were not bad at all and after a few months, I had one of the top blogs in Sweden and over 1 MILLION page views, not to mention so much facebook ads data to understand how to optimize for my real business.
So, back to the Title.. why you need a plan?
Well after a few months I realized that all I used to plan this was tactics! While I believe that actions and tactics are needed to execute – if you are only tactical and not strategic you have no idea where you are going and most probably you will fail.
Why did I quit the site?
- I picked too small of a country
- I was alone and while I am good a delegating, it was not so easy to find Swedish freelancers ( Swedish labor laws)
- Writing massive amounts of content on a daily basis ( even with 1 person helping is not easy )
- Running your core business as your priority and just dedicating free time to a monster of traffic site is not ideal
In the end, I just started it as an experiment to see why viral news went viral and how you could use paid ads to fuel the viral fire. But instead of stopping after a 100,000 views and a few days (you get caught up) you start earning money and you think you need no strategy to succeed.
Never believe this, because even if you get lucky and make money, all you did was ride a wave and next time you try you will really wipe out.
I am lucky to have been able quit and walk away even at 1 Million views – because I woke up and realized that I was just being tactical! Today and with everything I work with I look first at the strategy and then execute – I never let the tactics lead.
If you have any similar stories please share them with me – would enjoy to discuss. You can connect with me on Linkedin any time.