My web site and email list recently had a pretty mind-blowing day. I had a 113% increase in visits to my web site, and I had more subscriptions to my email list on that day than for any other day in over a year. I’m going to give you a peak behind the curtain and let you know how I did it! One word: DATA.

Why do web site visits and email lists matter?

It took me a while to come around to this idea. I mean, isn’t social media interaction enough? Interactions with potential clients, customers, donors, etc. on social media (Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.) are great. If social media is something you do, you want to do it well. You want to use these platforms to get the word out about your work, elevate your thought leadership, and nurture connections. But, getting people to your web site and onto your email list is essential. When it comes to platforms like Facebook, it’s great to have followers, but you don’t own that data. The platform owns that data. Yes, you can sell products or event tickets on social media. But getting those folks to YOUR web site and onto YOUR email list means that YOU are in control of what people see, when they see it, and how those messages are delivered. Of course, you can’t control if someone opens an email! But you can’t control when someone looks at or opens a social media post, either. Getting people to your own site and onto your own list matters.

I have several products I sell on my web site, including Grant Writing Quick Tips and the Small & Mighty Membership Program. In order to effectively describe and sell those products, and in order to establish my own expertise and thought leadership, I decided a few years ago that my janky web site needed an upgrade! I had created my web site on my own, before (relatively) easy tools like Wix or Squarespace were available. Believe me, calling my former web site “janky” is a compliment. I worked with an excellent designer and back-end tech team to create a web site that I could feel proud of and that would serve as a platform for my blog posts, free and paid offerings, professional profile, etc.

I became a data geek.

After upgrading my web site, I became a bit of a data geek. The culprit? Google Analytics. I can use this tool to figure out how people are visiting the site, which pages or blog posts are most frequently visited, which days have the highest traffic, and much more. One valuable data point was the fact that I was getting more traffic from LinkedIn posts than from Facebook posts. This intuitively made sense, as I have more of a business-to-business model than a business-to-consumer model; LinkedIn is a more B-2-B focused platform. So, I still post on Facebook, but I am much more active on LinkedIn. I share interesting articles and my own blog posts (which link back to my web site) on my LinkedIn feed, as well as in numerous LinkedIn groups. I also repurpose blog posts as PowerPoint presentations and videos and repost them that way, in order to increase views and traffic. I’ve seen good results in terms of engagement and visits to my site.

I recently accessed another source of web site data, Google Search Console, and I made an amazing discovery: My top linking site (other web site that links to my web site) was not from LinkedIn, but from a site called eJewish Philanthropy. It wasn’t even a close contest. Links from eJewish Philanthropy were six times higher than for LinkedIn! Clearly, I needed to pay more attention to my eJewish Philanthropy posts!

How did I use this information?

eJewish Philanthropy is “an independent on-line publisher and a facilitator of resource mobilization serving the professional Jewish community…Striving to provide all our visitors with sustained access to external resources, we serve as an instant publishing channel highlighting the latest happenings in the world of Jewish philanthropy. We bring you original thought pieces on issues facing our community along with information on the newest digital and best practice strategies as they relate to managing and promoting a nonprofit organization.” I get an email from eJewish Philanthropy that I read every day, I’ve posted a few articles/opinion pieces on eJewish Philanthropy over the years.

Once I got this Google Search Console data, I decided that it was time to submit another article to eJewish Philanthropy! I realized that a recent blog post of mine could be relevant to their audience, so I made a few tweaks and adjustments and submitted it.

On the day that eJewish Philanthropy posted my piece, I saw a 113% increase in visits to my web site, and I had more people sign up for my email list on that one day than on any other day in over a year. WOW!

Can’t this just happen naturally… or magically?

As much as I love web data, sometimes I wish I didn’t even need it. I wish I would post something – a tweet, a blog post, a LinkedIn article – and it would just magically go viral, as if it were meant to be. Can you relate?

Now that I have seen and experienced the power that data puts in my hands, I know I need to take another look at data that could be useful to me. For example, I can ask LinkedIn to send me all sorts of data about my activity on their site, and I can use that to figure out what kinds of posts bring me the most web site traffic. Its just one more way that data can help me (and you) work smarter and get better results.

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