Melissa Groves Azzaro, RDN, LD, is an integrative registered dietitian and owner of The Hormone Dietitian, specializing in women’s health and hormone issues, including PCOS and fertility. She uses a functional medicine, food-first approach that combines holistic lifestyle changes with evidence-based medicine. Check this post if you want help learning how to run a nutrition session.
In this episode of The Digital Lounge, we speak with Melissa Groves Azzaro, integrative registered dietitian and owner of The Hormone Dietitian (formerly Avocado Grove Nutrition & Wellness) in Portsmouth, NH which specializes in helping clients experiencing PCOS and other hormone imbalance through diet. Our conversation is centered around her multi-prong approach to grow her online presence as well as her client base. Melissa elaborates on how she niched down to help with SEO, used Instagram to drive traffic to her website (and score a cookbook deal!), how seeking professional advice helped her determine the best type of opt-in to use, the reasons behind why she ultimately selected Google over Facebook ads, and her big decision to decide to move from Wix to WordPress and upgrade her website. We also touch a bit on how Melissa keeps fresh offerings available at different price points, ensuring the furthest reach to clients, how she keeps everything organized, and why continued attention to and work on these areas is important to continue her forward momentum.
Niching Down as a Dietitian
One of Melissa’s first jobs was working with clients who were having trouble losing weight even with proper diet and exercise. Ultimately, it was almost always an underlying hormone imbalance that was the root cause of the issue, and through that work she found that hormones, specifically those related to PCOS and fertility were areas that held her interest. These specific interests and past experience in the field made niching down a natural path forward. Niching down can be intimidating to beginners as many think that you’re limiting your target audience too much; however, it has great benefits if done right. Becoming an expert for a well defined and targeted audience allows you the opportunity to focus instead of being all over the place and to experiment with different options available to increase your business. For Melissa, even though she is in a small niche, it represents 10% of reproductive age women (as of 2019, approximately 6.6 million women) so there is certainly a large enough audience to target. I love that this topic came up and allowed me to remind my listeners just how much niching down can help your SEO. For instance, if you just search “women’s dietitian” or even just “dietitian” you’re going to get millions of results and in order to turn up on the first or even second page is going to take significant work. Whereas, if you have a very specific niche, like Melissa does, and someone searches for “PCOS dietitian”, you have a higher chance of showing up in the search.
Driving Traffic with Instagram
Melissa is an advanced Instagram user and focused hard on her Instagram presence when first launching her business because it was easier to grow there as compared to other platforms. Like all tech, there are always new features, and she is continuously learning how to leverage them to maximize her presence and continue to drive her followers to the website. Recently, Melissa has been kept busy with other projects including her recently published cookbook, A Balanced Approach to PCOS: 16 Weeks of Meal Prep & Recipes for Women Managing Polycystic Ovary Syndrome and her online course offering, but she works to keep a list of the new features and functionality so she can find time to dive in, learn and apply them.
Email Opt-In Options
Melissa mentions that it was important to her that she start learning about lead magnets as a way to get her visitors’ information when they came to her page so she could continue to expand and build out her email list. She is a huge fan of and credits Amy Porterfield’s podcasts with helping her to devise a solution that lets the opt-in give a little taste and then convince people that working with her was the only solution to their problem. Melissa struggled to get the opt-in right on the first few tries. Her first opt-in took a lot of time and effort and resulted in a list of “100 Snack Ideas for PCOS”, but it really only got a couple hits here and there. Then, people started specifically asking for meal plans. This was simpler for Melissa to accommodate and it also increased her opt-ins, but as she says: “To Amy’s point, it wasn’t setting up the need for people to work with me.” She wanted to get to the point of not only getting visitors to opt-in but to come back for more. As she re-thought tactics, she hit gold with the ever popular and currently trendy quiz format. Using Interact she was able to create a quiz “What’s the Best PCOS Diet for You?” which helped to explode her opt-in counts and still continues to draw in lots of new email subscribers. The method differed from her other previous attempts because it doesn’t give the final solution but instead leads the quiz taker to personalize a plan with Melissa ultimately converting them to a client.
Instagram has been an impactful way of driving traffic to Melissa’s website, but to ensure she reaches others that may not be on the platform, she has started dabbling in Google ads. By tagging them in the tri-state area of her physical location, she has been successful in bringing in more local clients. Both my and Melissa’s take on Google Ads is that they’re better than Facebook ads. People go to Google and perform a search with specific intent vs. just happening upon it while scrolling through their Facebook feed making Google ads more impactful with a better chance of obtaining that coveted “click”. Google ads are also fairly easy to set up and track which is important for analysis and tweaking to ensure you have parameters set to maximize your exposure to click-through rate.
Moving from Wix to WordPress
As Melissa puts it “When you start a business, you’re kind of bootstrapping and you have to prioritize what you want to spend money on at that point in time.” Wix was free and simple enough for Melissa to manage on her own at the beginning while she focused on establishing a steady revenue stream, but she always knew she would need to level up. One thing that I love about Melissa is that she knew there would not only be a need to upgrade to WordPress in the future due to its superiority with SEO, but that she would need some professional help getting there. She didn’t find WordPress particularly intuitive and knew it was a better use of her time to help her clients and establish her other offerings instead of expending time learning new skills. When Melissa reached out to me to help build her new site, her timing and reasoning made perfect sense. She had taken her current website as far as it could go and it was no longer doing the things she wanted or needed it to do, and with the new cookbook coming out (and an official publicist and publisher on board) she wanted to appear professional and legit.
Structuring Offers, Staying Organized & Moving Forward
One thing I was really curious about was whether or not all of this new traffic to the site were really converting visitors to paying clients and I was really happy to learn that indeed they were! Melissa had the great foresight to structure her professional offerings at different levels of services and price points which helps reach more of her intended market resulting in better client conversion rates. She told me that she “lives and dies by her Asana list” to manage her promotions cyclically (every 10-12 days) and ensures that anyone who signed up ahead of time gets an early access email sent to them a day ahead of time. This helps to make those who gave their info to her and expressed interest in the promo feel special which can help to keep them coming back and hopefully becoming a client in the future.
It’s been so exciting to learn about the important work Melissa has been undertaking in growing her online presence, driving traffic to her site, and converting visitors to clients. Tackling the pieces on her own where her skills shine (cookbooks, course offerings, SEO content, quizzes, etc.) while enlisting the help of professionals for the highly technical areas is creating a perfect balance for her to grow her business while having the time and energy to spend on current clients and new offerings. I like to remind my own clients and listeners that Melissa is off to a fantastic start but that continuous work on your SEO and new offerings like blog posts or podcasts are crucial to continue the growth trajectory.
Melissa and The Hormone Dietitian
If you’d like to learn more about Melissa or inquire about her professional services, you can find her here: