Joel Sanders and Angelika Ilina discussing marketing in the conference room
Case Studies

How We Grew Leads by 74% in One Year from Organic Traffic Alone

Learn how we teamed up with a marketing team that was handed a near-impossible task and delivered in spades.


The Challenge

An education company in a competitive space was seeking to aggressively grow organic lead generation in order to grow enrollments.

The Outcome

Organic traffic grew by 29%, and leads grew by more than 74% in one year, far exceeding budgeted expectations.

The Impact

The client became the largest education provider in its space over a 2-year period and continues to grow at an aggressive pace.

In this case study, we show you how we increased organic website traffic by 29% and conversions by 74% in a single year for a national education provider.

Since producing the very best content that beats the competition is fundamental to TELL ME MORE® strategy, we began by aggressively targeting the most-desirable keywords in our client’s niche.

As a result, keywords appearing on page one grew from 2,932 in early 2020 to 4,997 in 2022, with 1,858 of those keywords in one of the coveted top 3 positions.

Notice how leads grew at nearly 3 times the pace of traffic. That’s because not only did we bring more organic traffic, we brought better organic traffic—and put an aggressive CRO plan in place to turn that traffic into leads that included analysis, split tests, and creative lead magnets.

The massive increase in leads generated kept surpassing our client’s own aggressive internal goals. All of this was achieved without resorting to spammy “black hat” link building tactics.

Read on to learn what we did, step-by-step.

Simply repackaging parts of your website into a “special report,” “blue print,” “roadmap,” or “complete guide” can create immense perceived value that people will opt in to receive.

Strategy: Sell the Next Step, Not the Program

A big mistake we see in the education industry is that colleges, universities, and vocational schools try to sell “the whole enchilada” in one fell swoop.

The problem is that education is a major investment, both in terms of time and money. Even when financial aid is available, investing $20,000 to $30,000 or more and setting aside a few years of your life to study is a lot to ask a prospective student to consider.

Add to that the fact that most people have deep self-doubts about:

  1. Their own ability to be a successful student
  2. What their peers or family will think of their decision
  3. How they will balance life responsibilities and school
  4. “Starting over” at [insert age]

All of this creates overwhelm and confusion, which is kryptonite for marketers.

The answer? Since prospective students generally don’t know how to consider such a major decision, we give them an exact process for how they should think about it, literally broken down step-by-step. It’s that simple.

Then, all we have to do is sell the next step, NOT the program itself. And that’s exactly what we did, with fantastic results.

But it gets even better. We were “blessed” with so many mistakes from the client’s previous marketing agency, we made huge gains just by cleaning up the basics.

Rushed work is sloppy work. There are no shortcuts to success: it requires deep thought, long periods of uninterrupted focus, and a team of experts.

So Many Things to Fix, So Little Time

At TELL ME MORE, we LOVE finding mistakes. Because every mistake is a huge opportunity to grow leads for the client.

These are just a few of the problems we encountered:

  • Poorly-built website on an outdated WordPress theme
  • Generic content that attracted the wrong kind of traffic
  • Poor navigation and under-optimized user flows
  • Incorrect or confusing meta descriptions
  • Missing important keywords
  • Missing CTA opportunities
  • Under-optimized opt-in forms

→ When you’re facing a wall of challenges, you only have to get a one or two things right to show huge results. And that’s exactly what we did.

Our Plan to Massively Increase Lead Generation for an Education Provider

Here’s the plan we followed to flood our client with high-quality leads:

  1. Audit website technical architecture and backlink profile
  2. Rebuild website user flow and navigation
  3. Focus content plan on education and career questions
  4. Craft an SEO and CRO plan with specific steps
  5. Build lead magnets of highly-coveted content
  6. Implement and track results on a scorecard

By just getting the basics right, we knew that we would massively increase results.

1. Audit Website Technical Architecture & Backlink Profile

Getting the technical infrastructure of a website sound upfront pays off huge dividends over time.

In this case, we encountered all kinds of issues:

  1. Too many tags in Google Tag Manager and multiple GTM containers
  2. Unused external resources that were slowing down the site
  3. Large, unoptimized images slowing down page speed
  4. Spammy backlinks from domains that made no sense for the niche

For better or worse, backlinks from other domains are still the major component of search engine ranking. So closely monitoring our client’s profile—and their competitors’—is important.

2. Rebuild Website User Flow & Navigation

We’re surprised at how often marketers think of their website as it’s intended to be used, but rarely investigate or track how it’s actually used.

They think about people hitting their home page, and then going to a program page before checking the price page, and so on. The reality is that users interact with websites in a far more messy and chaotic manner.

It’s highly probable, for example, that the first page a large percentage of your users see is your pricing page (or tuition page, in the case of education).

By understanding the various paths users are already taking through a website, you’re better able to nudge them one way or another, based on their first, second, third, and fourth interactions.

Once you’re confident in your findings, you can move to an aggressive step like rebuilding the website’s main navigation options.

This is one of the most under-appreciated aspects of digital marketing. Since so few marketers spend the time to get it right, it makes for easy, low-hanging fruit wins for us when we see it.

3. Focus Content Plan on Education & Career Questions

Whenever we enter a new engagement, we run a complete audit of previously published blog posts to identify the quick wins. Inevitably, we come across articles that drive a lot of traffic, but do nothing for the goals of the company.

In this case, the previous agency was writing dozens of articles on topics that appealed to the masses, but had no education component at all.

Notice the two articles below for the exact same time period. One is oriented towards the general public, and the other is for a highly-targeted, very specific question regarding education. Which of these two kinds of posts would you rather have?

4. Craft Full-year SEO & CRO Plan with Specific Steps

If there’s one thing that’s true of most marketing agencies (and ex-spouses), it’s that they overpromise and underdeliver.

Truth be told, all of us are guilty of getting excited and promising that we can do more than we really can.

To counteract that tendency, at TELL ME MORE we get incredibly specific about:

  1. What’s to be done,
  2. who is to do it, and
  3. when it will be completed.

Then, we block out time on our team’s calendars and get to work.

This is why we have a policy of no last-minute requests. We’re all literally already booked, at least for the next four weeks. And every new week, it rolls forward.

This is to the benefit of all of our clients. Rushed work is sloppy work. There are no shortcuts to success: it requires deep thought, long periods of uninterrupted focus, and a team of experts.

Planning what to do…and then doing what you plan…are a huge part of that process.

5. Build Lead Magnets & Highly-Coveted Content

This part of the plan falls right in line with the “sell the next step, not the program” strategy mentioned above.

Simply repackaging parts of your website into a “special report,” “blue print,” “roadmap,” or “complete guide” can create immense perceived value that people will opt in to receive. What’s fascinating is that, usually, the content they’ll opt-in for is already readily available in obvious areas of your website.

Remember this, marketers: packaging is everything.

Follow this one tip, and your lead count will jump so high, you’ll have no reason to call us.


6. Implement & Track Results on a Scorecard

We like to make marketing and business a game, and the fact that we do so seems to give us an edge over more “serious” agencies. It’s not just what we do that makes a difference, it’s how we do it.

While it wouldn’t make sense to talk through a complete marketing scorecard here, this is a great example of the kind of thing we do: measure the specific conversion paths, program-by-program, starting with our share of traffic versus key competitors.

The key is to get really specific about the game you are playing, and especially who you are playing against. When we report at the highest level, we always compare our great results with how our top competitors are doing vying for the same traffic.

Wrapping It Up

So there you have it—that’s how you can not only grow traffic, but massively increase leads, too.

In summary:

  • Sell the next step, not the program
  • Create a detailed and specific plan
  • Measure everything to see if you’re on track

Oh, and one last thing: We would be remiss if we didn’t ask you to take the next step. Have we given you enough to have a quick chat? If so, reach out and say hello.