From analytics to business growth

In a post a couple of weeks ago I said that data is everything.

Without analytics it’s impossible to grow an online business and make the right choices. Besides, it’s not possible to assess if you’re on the right track after you took a certain path.

In this post, I will show you my “day zero” data. With that I mean my analytics “BEFORE” I started this business development phase for Business Bloomer. In this way it will be easier to analyze the “AFTER” every week or so and see what’s working and what’s not (so that I can change direction should that happen).

Let’s not waste time. Here are my historical analytics for the last 10 years.

But first…

Table of Contents

    Defining Business Bloomer KPIs towards an acquisition

    Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are values / measurements that mean something to your online business, that can be tracked and used to make decisions.

    Surely you’ve noticed founders sharing their WordPress MRR/ARR on Twitter (if you haven’t here’s an example from my friend Maarten). Well, Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR) and Annual Recurring Revenue (ARR) are two KPIs, very appropriate for recurring revenue businesses such as SaaS and subscription business models (premium plugins for example).

    Bad news is that ARR and MRR do not apply to Business Bloomer. In fact, I don’t sell subscriptions (yet!). What I do sell is my time (so that would be a one-off with each client), online courses (lifetime access), Bloomer Armada memberships (valid for 12 months, renewal is manual and not required) and the occasional book on Amazon.

    On the other hand, I make recurring affiliate income by promoting products and services via content, however this revenue stream is quite unpredictable because it relies on Google, on yearly promotions (e.g. lots of sales around Black Friday in the WordPress world, and then not much in December after that) and company decisions, such as the Automattic/WooCommerce one in January 2021, frankly unfair to its affiliates:

    Effective today, 2021-01-08, you will only be paid a marketing fee when a new customer clicks on your link and makes their first paid purchase within 30 days. We will no longer pay a marketing fee when a returning customer – one that has previously purchased a product or service – clicks on your affiliate link before making a purchase

    Anyhow, it’s important to define Business Bloomer most important KPIs so that I can keep an eye on figures while I develop my business.

    In order to define KPIs related to a potential business acquisition I need to think about what data would be the most important for an acquirer even if I can’t use ARR or MRR, as I have no recurring revenue.

    Surely, I need to demonstrate traffic growth, marketing results and sales, especially once I start growing my digital assets and product offer. Affiliate income is also a good KPI – I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that:

    If Business Bloomer were acquired by a WooCommerce plugin marketplace, earning 100k USD/mo without touching anything would be a no-brainer (i.e. simply switching links to their own ones) Share on X

    If I had to pick a list of KPIs right now, I’d go for:

    • Unique Users / Month: this number says a lot about the top of the funnel efforts (posts, videos, social, emails, etc). I prefer “unique” rather than “sessions” or “page views” because a user can visit your site several times and open several pages – by choosing the unique indicator I can really count how many people come to the site
    • New Users / Month: this is the number of first-time users who land on during that given month. It’s a huge indicator that your marketing is attracting new people
    • Acquisition Channels: it’s important to keep an eye on where traffic is coming from. Was it Google, a referral, social media…? In this way it’s easy to assess results from marketing and also identify weaknesses that should be addressed. For example, in August 2021, only 2% of Business Bloomer traffic came from referrals; that means I need to up my guest posting game, go back spending some time on Quora, Stackoverflow and other forums to help out WooCommerce entrepreneurs, and so on. Also, 0% of my traffic came from Google Ads. On one hand that’s amazing, on the other I’ve missed many opportunities for sure
    • Opt-in Rate: there is no online business without landing pages and email marketing opt-in forms. This is a number which is really hard to measure as I never added specific goals into my Google Analytics account and also because I use an hybrid opt-in system: users go through a customized WooCommerce checkout, purchase a hidden product, and are eventually added to an email list inside WordPress my Metorik account as “customers who purchased a free product”. I can then follow up with Metorik Engage and target only these customers. Anyway, I need to find a better way to calculate this KPI, and I’ll explain what I’ve done in the next section
    • Sales Conversion Rate: actually, this figure is super small in my case because Business Bloomer is mainly a blog and not an ecommerce site (where a typical conversion rate would be ~ 1%). In fact, 99,99% of website visitors come to read, not to purchase. In my case, it would be much more effective to understand the Opted-in Sales Conversion Rate, which signals how good I am at nurturing email leads and turning them eventually into customers
    • Revenue Share By Product Category: while, ideally, ARR would work better, for now I have no subscriptions. I say “by product category” as in this way I can find out how much goes into 1-2-1 client work and how much goes into the other product categories (online courses, Bloomer Armada and “uncategorized” which is affiliate income). I won’t share totals for now (I don’t think that matters at this time)
    • Affiliate Income / Month: as I said, this is a very important figure in case I receive an offer from a reputable WooCommerce plugin marketplace
    • Various Email Stats: open rate, click rate, success rate (for automations e.g. recovered cart or review submitted)
    • Stuff I’m not adding (and why): no bounce rate, as over the years it’s been pretty steady. No point sharing that. Same for coupon usage and search stats – they don’t mean much to an investor. Abandoned carts is not vital for now, but wait till I make 333k a year and in that case it could make a huge difference. Site speed and demographics don’t really matter to me as I want to serve the whole world. Don’t care if India does more hits than Germany, to me you’re all the same: WooCommerce entrepreneurs and developers!

    Now that KPIs are defined (did I miss any? Leave a comment below) it’s time to view some data.

    1. Inbound traffic data

    In this section I’ll cover some info about Business Bloomer users and acquisition channels.

    Unique Users / Month

    This is what happened in the last 10 years – well, actually 6 years, because that’s when I started sharing WooCommerce tutorials:

    If you start from the right, you can notice a decent drop in 2021, but that’s mainly because I became a dad and stopped working completely! Totally worth it. Besides (see next paragraph), many competitors started to rank high (and higher than Business Bloomer in certain cases) on Google.

    The 2019 and 2020 peaks were due to… covid. WooCommerce had amazing growth because of that and website hits were consistently over the average.

    Also it’s noticeable that “new users” are pretty constant, so I’ll remove that from the list of KPIs as it makes no sense to waste time on that.

    Overall, this is the Unique Users / Month average for each year (because we’re in September, I’m considering the September-August time range as my “year”. Also that’s good as I’m starting biz dev in September 2021, so I can see how much a year of working on my business can bring to the table):

    Sep 2015 – Aug 2016Sep 2016 – Aug 2017Sep 2017 – Aug 2018Sep 2018 – Aug 2019Sep 2019 – Aug 2020Sep 2020 – Aug 2021
    Unique Users / Month for

    I’ll need to make sure to use these figures when I speak to potential partners, as I never really calculated them before. I think 100k uniques/month is a reasonable starting point for the work I’m going to do in the next few months.

    Acquisition Channels

    In regard to user acquisition:

    Sep 2015 – Aug 2016Sep 2016 – Aug 2017Sep 2017 – Aug 2018Sep 2018 – Aug 2019Sep 2019 – Aug 2020Sep 2020 – Aug 2021
    Direct (email)10%10%20%30%29%16%
    Business Bloomer acquisition channel share for each year

    In Google Analytics, “Direct” stands for non-organic non-social non-referral traffic. At least for Business Bloomer that means email marketing, as I never categorized and logged traffic as “Email”, which I should have done in the first place. But anyway, we’ll keep an eye on that figure now that I’m about to revamp WooCommerce Weekly with a lot of additional content and a co-author.

    Overall, it’s evident in the last 12 months I didn’t do much email (because of my paternity leave) so there was a huge drop in Direct traffic (from 29-30% down to 16%). Thankfully, Google and social shares kept my website alive.

    I'll need to work on referral and direct acquisition this year, while keeping Google and email traffic consistent – that's a nice challenge for me and I'm definitely going to need some help. Share on X

    2. Opt-in rate and Sales conversion rate

    Now that I’ve analyzed my traffic, it’s time to see how effective Business Bloomer is to convert readers into email subscribers and customers.

    One thing is displaying a random ad banner to a blog reader, and another is announcing a new product launch, an irresistible offer or keep sending "value bombs" every week to an email subscriber Share on X

    My goal as a content marketer is to attract relevant visitors, give them amazing value, eventually turn them into email subscribers and hope they can become a customer one day (ever heard of the “funnel”?).

    Opt-in Rate

    My opt-in forms are embedded into landing pages – an example is this free video lesson “Where to Place WooCommerce Customization?” which is a quick and handy tutorial for wannabe developers:

    I have about 12-15 landing pages like that (a free video lesson lead magnet). After opting-in, the new subscriber is automatically redirected from the WooCommerce thank you page to the actual free lesson URL, so they never get to see the default thank you page. But a conversion/purchase is logged into Metorik, and that’s how I can calculate the landing page opt-in rate:

    CustomizeWoo FREE Online Course landing page visits (September 2020 – August 2021, Google Analytics)
    CustomizeWoo FREE Online Course sales (September 2020 – August 2021, Metorik)

    From September 2020 until August 2021, the landing pages for that specific free course collected 25637 uniques, and there were 6567 opt-ins. So, CustomizeWoo FREE Landing Pages Opt-in rate was 6567 / 25637 = 25.6%

    (This means I need to work on those landing pages as well, as that figure could be much higher)

    Here’s a full opt-in rate recap for the last years for my best lead magnet:

    Sep 2015 – Aug 2016Sep 2016 – Aug 2017Sep 2017 – Aug 2018Sep 2018 – Aug 2019Sep 2019 – Aug 2020Sep 2020 – Aug 2021
    Opt-in Rate****32.5%25.6%
    Business Bloomer opt-in rate for each year (lead magnet CustomizeWoo FREE). Before 2019 I was on different email software and wasn’t using WooCommerce checkout for opt-ins, so it’s impossible to gather data.

    Sales conversion rate

    Now comes the difficult part. As I already said Business Bloomer is popular a blog with a few products for sale (and some of them are free), so if we consider its overall sales conversion rate we’re working with very little numbers:

    Sep 2019 – Aug 2020Sep 2020 – Aug 2021
    Business Bloomer overall sales conversion rate

    That’s not something I can work with. Going from 0.02% to 0.03% is a 50% increase, which makes no sense. I need to use a better KPI.

    As I said earlier, I’d rather go for the “Opted-in Sales Conversion Rate”, which would highlight the effectiveness of my email marketing, or even the “Sales Pages Sales Conversion Rate”, to calculate how well my sales pages (e.g. are doing in regard to turning visitors into customers. Please note I don’t use a typical WooCommerce setup: I have no category, shop or single product pages. Instead, I use a fully customized checkout experience with sales pages and add to cart URLs.

    I’m not able to make a decision right now, so I’ll analyze both figures.

    Opted-in users are those who purchased one of my free lessons. They become a customer if they upgrade to PRO. So, I can simply calculate sales conversion in this way:

    Sep 2019 – Aug 2020Sep 2020 – Aug 2021
    Opted-in (FREE)104286901
    Purchased (PRO)75127
    Sales C.R.0.72%1.84%
    Business Bloomer overall sales conversion rate

    These numbers are easier to work with and gather. In Metorik I simply calculate the number of orders containing free products and those containing PRO products, and that’s it.

    Now let’s analyze the other version i.e. how effective sales pages are in converting visitors into paid customers. I’ll consider 4 sales pages:

    Sep 2019 – Aug 2020Sep 2020 – Aug 2021
    Armada uniques4500 (approx)3900 (approx)
    Armada sales6779
    Sales C.R.1.45%2.02%
    Sep 2019 – Aug 2020Sep 2020 – Aug 2021
    CustomizeWoo uniques89128664
    CustomizeWoo sales6011 + 48 bundles
    Sales C.R.0.67%0.68%
    Sep 2019 – Aug 2020Sep 2020 – Aug 2021
    ConfigureWoo uniques0777
    ConfigureWoo sales03
    Sales C.R.n/a0.38%
    Sep 2019 – Aug 2020Sep 2020 – Aug 2021
    TroubleshootWoo uniques0550
    TroubleshootWoo sales015
    Sales C.R.n/a2.72%

    Both methods are good starting points, and can help me improve my sales skills: sales pages design + email marketing upsell / upgrade.

    3. Revenue data

    I’m not willing to disclose my revenue publicly until I’m happy with how this business development stage is going. This is not because figures are low, but because I want to focus on everything and not only on a single amount.

    Before getting to 333k in ARR I must do a lot of work, and I must transform Business Bloomer completely: from a "hire me" model to a "buy this product" one. Share on X

    So, no point in sharing revenue at this stage.

    What really matters is, in the first place, how much revenue goes into each category: client work – online courses – Bloomer Armada memberships – affiliate income. In this way I can tell if I’m moving towards the right objective i.e. selling more products than services.

    Revenue Share By Product Category

    I already mentioned some figures in this post. I want to go a little deeper now and see the annual trend, so that I can take a look at how Business Bloomer evolved without any sort of active business development. I’ll use Metorik once again, thanks to their “Product Categories Sales” report:

    Sep 2016 – Aug 2017Sep 2017 – Aug 2018Sep 2018 – Aug 2019Sep 2019 – Aug 2020Sep 2020 – Aug 2021
    Client Work67.5%85.2%72.1%64.2%36.4%
    Online Courses26.9%8.1%17.7%23.1%24.4%
    Bloomer Armada5.6%6.7%5.4%3.5%3.4%
    Affiliate Income005.3%9.1%35.8% **
    Business Bloomer revenue share for each year
    ** = I withdrew a 3-year-long affiliate income from one affiliate

    It’s evident my goal is keeping client work for now, while also increasing and boosting product sales. There will be a wider offer, better marketing, more affiliates, and so on.

    Planning is much easier when you know the data, right?

    Affiliate Income / Month

    Despite I said this is important from an investor / acquirer point of view, I’ll keep this hidden for now. If I decided to keep revenue private for now, then this affects affiliate income as well.

    Soon I’ll reveal all figures, for now I’ll concentrate on working.

    4. Email data

    Open & click rates

    I’ve switched several email marketing software over the years. At some stage I used to be on ConvertKit, an awesome product, although it was getting too expensive to manage as the number of subscribers kept growing (we’re approx 15,000 now).

    Then, I moved to “The Newsletter Plugin” for WordPress, and it really did the job for me up until last week.

    But recently, Bryce from Metorik announced the launch of “broadcasts” within the Metorik Engage subscription, and because I’m already a customer I did the switch a couple of weeks ago, with “broadcasts” still in beta.

    Right now, Business Bloomer email marketing is completely powered by Metorik (which also allows for customer/product/order advanced tracking, as you’ve seen in this page):

    • welcome emails
    • email sequences and lead nurturing emails
    • cart abandonment / failed order recovery emails
    • offer emails
    • …and now also broadcasts (newsletters)

    This is cool as I have all the stats in one place.

    Unfortunately, I lost all ConvertKit analytics once I canceled my subscription. I should have saved it somewhere before doing that.

    I still have The Newsletter Plugin stats though, so before I uninstall it and lose it all I’m going to save them here, especially sents, opens and click rates of the last 20 WooWeekly newsletters:

    From May 2021 until August 2021, WooWeekly open rates were 26-30% (avg 28.15%) and click rates 0-5% (avg 2.43%). These last 20 newsletters reached 126,204 people, with an average of 6310 sends/issue.

    In regard to Metorik, since I switched to Engage for broadcasts, these are the newsletter stats for September 2021 so far:

    WooWeekly #355WooWeekly #356
    Open Rate25%24.1%
    Click Rate3.9%2.4%
    Bounces11.51% **2.58%
    WooWeekly newsletter stats for September 2021
    ** = I switched email marketing and did my best to import subscribers and unsubscribes from previous software, but didn’t do a good job apparently. Those bounces have now been removed, hence the lower sent for #356

    Issue #356 featured a new co-author, a new logo, a new site, a new sign-up form and more content. Let’s hope to keep doing a great job with WooWeekly, which is a very powerful tool that allows me to keep in touch with every lead / customer / contact.

    Wrapping Up

    It took me ages to put together this post, so I hope it was useful (at least for me it is).

    Now I can kick off my business development season officially. I’ve got the numbers, I’ve got a to-do list, I’ve got the tracking in place, and I can now work away and achieve the achievable.

    Got any value off this post? Let me know in the comments!

    Categorized as Business

    By Rodolfo Melogli

    Author, WooCommerce expert and WordCamp speaker, Rodolfo has worked as an independent WooCommerce freelancer since 2011. His goal is to help entrepreneurs and developers overcome their WooCommerce nightmares. Rodolfo loves travelling, chasing tennis & soccer balls and, of course, wood fired oven pizza.

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