Nine Years of Abort73
Each year around this time, I put together a “State of the Union” for Abort73.com. Not surprisingly, it focuses on web traffic. Virtually everything we do is predicated on getting as many people to visit Abort73.com as we possibly can. In our ongoing effort to combat abortion through education, it’s our most objective way of measuring success. Generally speaking, the results are encouraging. Though growth is never as fast as I’d like, our year-to-date numbers have always exceeded the year before. Until now. Through October, there have been .18% fewer visits to Abort73 this year than there were in 2012. Though that’s a statistically insignificant decrease, the last few months make the problem more apparent. From January through July, 2013 web traffic was 10% ahead of 2012. But from August through October, 2013 web traffic fell behind 2012 by 28%.
The end result of my analysis is a 14-page document that looks under the hood at all sorts of visitor metrics. It is admittedly esoteric, but if you take a deep interest in the work of Abort73 (or in web analytics in general), it should be of interest to you. As always, it is available online for your perusal. I share it for the same reason that I post our giving and spending each month, along with our shirt sales and visitor numbers—because I believe in transparency. And because churches and charities don’t always have a great track record when it comes to full-disclosure.
Though it’s hard to pinpoint a single culprit for the sudden drop in visitors, our biggest losses owe to Google and Facebook. Facebook referrals are down 53% in 2012—which amounts to a loss of about 25,000 visits. Google referrals are only down 1.6% for the year but are down 26% since August. That amounts to somewhere between 38,000 and 52,000 lost visits. Since Google regularly accounts for about 60% of Abort73’s traffic, it’s understandable why our drop in Google traffic (26%) would so closely approximate our drop in total traffic (28%). Some experts estimate that overall Google search volume has decreased by about 30% since 2012, along with a 20% drop in all web searches. They speculate that people are relying less on traditional search and more on social share. At the same time, with social share competition vastly increasing on Facebook (with more pages and more paid ads), it’s harder to get shared posts in front of fans.
Abort73’s August-October Yahoo referrals are down 27% from 2012. Over the same period, direct traffic was down 16%, and email campaign traffic was down 20%. On the sales end, visits to Abort73’s “Gear” pages are down 33% in 2013. They dropped even further, to 42%, from August to October. Online shirt sales are down 42% in 2013, but were only down 19% from August to October. Connecting shirt sales with web traffic, it is unclear to me whether direct traffic is down because shirt sales are down or if shirt sales are down because direct traffic is down. Their symbiotic relationship makes it hard to assign clear statements of cause and effect.
Though I was hoping there would be a “silver bullet” takeaway from this year’s research, there really isn’t. It’s easy to grumble about changes made at Google or Facebook, but the fact remains that they have combined to push more than a half million visits to Abort73.com this year—and we haven’t paid a single dime for their services. Beggars can’t be choosers! The primary takeaway for me is a renewed sense of urgency to complete the rollout of Abort73 4.0. The third manifestation of Abort73 has been in place for a few years now. It has served us well but has overstayed its welcome. It’s time to go. And one of the the things it will do better—among a myriad of others—is to more effectively serve mobile and tablet content. Abort73’s 2013 mobile use is up 37% (accounting for 23% of all visits), and tablet use is up 84% (accounting for 7% of all visits).
The other takeaway is largely beyond my ability to employ, but all the web marketing experts advise supplementing organic results with paid content advertising. This is precisely what Abort73 cannot afford to do. For three years running, donations have failed to cover our fixed costs. Some timely grants and shirt sales have allowed us to make ends meet, but nothing is left for paid marketing. By contrast, Planned Parenthood has a $42 million education budget. They spend $51 million apiece on fundraising on lobbying, and they devote $136 million each year to salaries and marketing. That’s what we’re up against. So, I’m hoping that the takeaway from all this for you will be a commitment to financially support Abort73’s efforts to rescue abortion-vulnerable children by awakening the world to their plight. Though it’s true that we can maintain the website on a meagre budget, it is not true that we can broadly market the website on a meagre budget.
Despite our losses in recent months, I am hopeful for the future. All new, 12-page Abort73 promo booklets were recently completed and are already going out the door. They do a much better job casting the vision of Abort73, and I believe they will motivate and engage all sorts of new supporters in the coming year. More than 4,000 copies of my self-published book, Love the Least, have been downloaded so far in 2013. I believe that these too will have a multiplying influence. Finally, I believe the overhauled website will further increase our credibility and further increase our ability to expose the injustice of abortion. The road ahead will undoubtedly be a grind, but nothing worth doing is ever easy!
Michael Spielman is the founder and director of Abort73.com. His book, Love the Least (A Lot), is available as a free download. You can also find him on Facebook and Google+. Abort73 is part of Loxafamosity Ministries, a 501c3, Christian education corporation. If you have been helped by the information available at Abort73.com, please consider making a donation.