Wrapping up 2014 as an Internet Business Owner—What Worked? What Didn’t Work? Making Plans for a Successful 2015
Yes, we are rapidly approaching the end of another year and as usual we are looking back on the past year, both personally and professionally. The end of a year stimulates nostalgia and reflections on the passage of time. This is a universal human experience—as people, we naturally want to reflect back and remember the year that is passing. We assess the successes and, yes even the failures, in which our endeavors have resulted. We congratulate ourselves on the successes and try to learn from the failures.
Especially for internet business owners, the end of the year is the best time for us to take assessments of actions in the past year and create plans for better results in the future. As the owner of an internet-based business, you are fortunate to have many tools on the web that provide data, giving you the information you need to make assessments of your business. Be sure that you are utilizing all the tools available so you have an advantage and can be strategic to meet your goals.
At Pure-Ecommerce we would like to help you point out the areas to reflect on for 2014 and where you can plan for in the New Year in order to better your internet business. When you’re looking back on 2014, if you have had your internet business for some time and have begun making sales, there are two main results you review: 1) sales and 2) traffic. If you haven’t had your website long enough to build sales, then you primarily are studying the traffic. Ultimately, you want the traffic to translate into sales, right? Were the traffic and sales numbers what you wanted to see for 2014? If so, great job! You can celebrate and then work on your plan for an even better 2015. If the traffic and sales numbers for your internet business were not what you wanted, your next job is to analyze either what went wrong or what needs to be improved upon so that 2015 will show you better numbers.
Questions to Answer
Everything you do as the leader of an internet business points to traffic and sales. As you evaluate your site’s traffic and sales, you will begin to “peel the layers back” in order to see more details. Let’s look at some of the questions you can answer in getting to the underlying “layers.” As you find answers to these questions, you’ll evaluate and assess what worked and what may not have worked this past year.
Is your site fully optimized for the search engines?
Did you sustain engagement with your audience using social media?
Do you have the right product mix?
Is your customer service impeccable?
Do you use the Google Webmaster Tools regularly for data about your site?
Have you spent time educating yourself?
All of these questions fit into categories that are critical to gaining and maintaining traffic as well as building sales and developing relationships with your audience:
It is imperative that you continually work on optimizing your site for the search engines. As Google makes slight and not-so-slight changes in what they are focusing on, your task never ends in meeting those requirements. Be vigilant in keeping up with the updates and don’t lose your focus of refining your keywords, content, links, and blogs. We can’t emphasize enough the importance of keeping your site optimized for the search engines! Make your plan for 2015 to have a fully optimized site!
Social media is your avenue to marketing, advertising, and branding your business on the internet! You must continually have a presence using social media in order to build your audience. As the internet grows and you have more competition, there are also more and more avenues that are built to create virtual communities. Google+, Reddit, Squidoo are gaining in popularity even as the “old stand-bys” Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram only get bigger. And, guess what, as an ecommerce owner you need to know who your market is so that you reach them through the appropriate social media channels! Are you keeping a strategic, methodical presence on social media? Can you do a better job? Make your plan for 2015 to have a prominent presence in social media!
As an ecommerce owner you are always looking for the products that will set you apart from your competition, right? Evaluating your product mix and pricing continue to be a priority in distinguishing you from others in the same industry. Do you have unique descriptions that are optimized for the search engines? Are your products organized in the relevant categories? Are your product images optimized and easily identified? At the end of the day, click-throughs and sales are largely due to your site showing that it has something interesting to offer and has value to the consumer. Does your site do this with its products? Make your plan for 2015 to have an even better product area!
After the sale, and often even before the sale is made, your ability to provide top-quality customer service adds up to repeat customers. Many ecommerce businesses offer similar products and have competitive pricing, so SERVICE becomes the differentiator! What do highly successful internet businesses do in the customer service area to create raving fans? Spend some time researching and reading about companies like Zappos, Amazon, and eBay to learn how they view their service areas. Yes, these are the behemoths and you may not think your small business can relate to these large companies. But, they didn’t start big. Yes, the internet wasn’t what it is today when they started. But, part of the reason they are giants now is due to the service they provided and still provide. Make your plan for 2015 to provide even better service!
Many clues to the actions of consumers who visit your website are given in the Google Analytics and Webmaster tools. As the owner of the internet business, you need to look at this information on a regular basis. Learn as much as you can about the information you can obtain from these tools. This can be critical in pointing you to the areas of your site that need improvement. Make your plan for 2015 to better analyze traffic on your site!
An internet business owner needs to constantly educate him/herself on many topics because the internet is morphing every day and, because it is the platform your business is built on, you need to keep up. Can it be a bit overwhelming at time? Sure it can So, be realistic in what you can do to continue sharpening your saw. Each day read a new article – whether it be on SEO, social media marketing, customer service practices, the latest trends in your industry – try to educate yourself each day to stay up on the areas that are best to run your internet business. Maybe you can read one book a month. Maybe you can read 3 books a year. Whatever you can do, don’t neglect that you must stay on top of your industry and the best practices for your role as the owner of the business in order to be successful. Check out our recent posts to see our list of top 10 SEO books and Top 10 Social Media Marketing Books Pure-Ecommerce suggests to add to your New Year’s reading list. Make your plan for 2015 to stay abreast of your industry and getting better!
Hopefully, this helps you in beginning to assess 2014 and making a plan for next year. Is it hard work to be an internet business owner? You bet it is! Is it rewarding and does it provide a great lifestyle? Another resounding “Yes!” But, if you do the work, you can have the lifestyle. Here’s to a great 2015!!