We return for this BlogMutt customer spotlight to our favorite vacation rental in the Norway, Maine area, Dove Way.
In the first installment, we covered how the wife & husband duo of Sam and Robert Masabny signed up for BlogMutt and saw impressive results in just a few short months of actively blogging for their side business’s brand-new website:
- In the first month of blogging, Dove Way created 15.5x more traffic than the month prior
- By the second month of blogging, Dove Way had created 3.5x more traffic than the previous best month EVER in the lifetime of the website
- Since the second month of blogging, Dove Way’s conversion-to-customer rate is trending upward
- One post garnered over 268 visits to the website in a 24-hr period and 2,600 views on Facebook
Because blogging is typically a marathon, not a sprint, hitting numbers like these is bound to turn a few heads. A few physical heads, too, as Sam tells me, around their area in the small Maine town. Marketing wins know no bounds!
What’s going on over at Dove Way of late?
Sam and I caught up a few weeks back to check in and talk more about what’s been going on in Dove Way’s neck of the woods since we last spoke, a few months back. With some major life events happening (namely, a new baby on the way), Sam & Robert’s side gig has taken somewhat of a backseat and they’ve had to put several of their active marketing initiatives, including their BlogMutt account, on pause.
(A quick aside: BlogMutt totally gets that life happens, and accordingly, all our plans are flexible and can be changed or altered month over month. That’s why we don’t have our customers sign contracts or messy stuff like that. Life is messy enough without.)
But what’s especially exciting about this being Sam’s side gig and not her main form of income is that she’s more willing to experiment than a typical business or agency whose very job or livelihood depends on it.
And experiment, she has. It turned out some pretty fascinating findings. (Thanks for all the comprehensive reporting, HubSpot!)
How does your blogging/promotion strategy differ now from when we spoke last, in February? Why?
Sam: With the excitement of our first child on the way, and maintaining my focus on driving customer success at HubSpot, there has been very little time to focus on marketing strategies for Dove Way. From my personal experience of working with companies the concept of “no time, too hard” is a very common pain point with regards to the creation and development of a content strategy (which is why we signed up for BlogMutt in the first place). Not to mention, we have recently run into a capacity cap with no longer having available weekends in summer 2017 (but thankfully we do have some availability for fall & winter 2017).
What is different for us in terms of strategy is that we are now more forward thinking. We are now booking out for spring/summer 2018. And spending time reflecting on what was successful in 2017 so I can replicate for 2018. It’s crazy! So we have made the decision in the next few months to ease off the marketing pedal for lead generation as its no longer a priority for the duration of this year.
What specifically looked different for strategy in May & June, for example?
[Most notably], I wasn’t leveraging social as I had in the past. Because of this we had a huge dip in traffic in May. Late in the month I decided to lay off social to see what would happen to overall traffic for the site. I also wasn’t publishing any new blog content.
While reviewing the monthly numbers the final week of May I noticed a huge overall dip in traffic for the month due to the lack of net new content and social strategy. I thought about what I could experiment with strategically to drive traffic the last few days of the month. The strategy I implemented [that I hadn’t tried before] was to allocate $20 on a highly targeted paid ad on Facebook. The result, a huge traffic spike in traffic to my landing page (and website overall), giving us one of our best months for traffic to date (also allowing us to gain blog subscribers and an inquiry or two).
Another observation from May and June is that historically a majority of our traffic is from direct traffic, so we haven’t been able to attribute leads to content [so far], but we did close our first customer from organic search recently, so it’s exciting we’re starting to attribute closed guests from the organic channel.
What are your opportunities for direct traffic?
We get a good deal of our bookings and the majority of our pipeline from a wedding venue called Granite Ridges Estate & Barn. We are fortunate enough to be listed as one of their preferred places for guests to stay for our close proximity to their venue.
What’s your content strategy looking like when you can get it rolling again?
My next steps are thinking about how best to leverage the five posts I have in the can from BlogMutt. I’m going to take a look and fine-tune the content and figure out when to publish. For example, we have a post about Bethel, Maine that I might post looking toward the winter season to boost winter bookings, as it’s a ski town.
August, September, and most of October are our busy season for bookings for the year ahead and when I intend on ramping up content again for the winter/spring season.
October, November, and December are going to be about collecting data and analyzing 2017, conceptualizing and finalizing 2018 specials, and then I’m looking forward to completing a content audit. I’m also going to want to build on my success and experiment further with the paid ad and email marketing.
What I’m keeping top-of-mind for content pieces in the future is:
- How can we recreate the magic of certain posts?
- What specifically struck a chord with our audience?
- Why were some posts more successful than others and how?
- What topic clusters and pillar content do I have covered now, and what do I think I still need to develop?
The fun part [of all of this] is creating a story. We are working with literally just a standalone house on nine acres in Maine, so we couldn’t tell the story without the content.
There’s quite a bit to digest here, and several factors at play. Ultimately, here are the biggest takeaways that we can impart from this ‘anti-blogging’ case study of sorts.
- As a result of blogging and building an initial foundation of content to be recognized by search engines, Dove Way’s organic traffic continues to build over time to the blog due to Sam’s early, consistent push to get content published. She did express that this wouldn’t be maintained over time without more content input in the future (and we agree!).
- Across sources (i.e. organic, direct, social media), the blog’s overall composite traffic took a sizable hit without fresh content (especially when compared historically), even though the organic footprint is seemingly growing fast for the site.
- Without the critical prong of Sam’s marketing strategy of social media posting firing on all cylinders (fueled significantly by promoting fresh blog content), traffic powered by this initiative very clearly takes the hit. When you take away a main traffic driver that’s working, the overall impact hurts.
- Paid advertising can benefit a business, as it did as a stopgap for Sam, but ads cannot, and will not, serve as a long-term marketing magic bullet in isolation. We may have more insights from Sam in the future how fresh content informs her paid ad campaigns, as she continues to experiment in that realm.
We can’t thank Sam enough for her volunteering scientific nature in exploring the impacts of these experiments and graciously sharing her insights.
While we loved our stay @innbythesea.maine … but there is no place like home. #summer Wildflowers are in full #bloom . . . #backyardview #landscape #backyardgoals #lakelife #outdoorliving #outdooradventures #travel #traveltheworld #traveloften #wanderlust #mainelife #maine #visitmaine #mainething #lakepennesseewassee #wildflowers #norwaylake #mountains #natureperfection #naturelover