{Business Tips} 2011 – Look Back & Plan Forward

With 2011 officially in the rear view mirror, right now is a great time to take a look at your performance stats from the year and set some solid goals for your business in 2012.  Information today is abundant, allowing us to easily track sales, Facebook fans, blog followers, traffic drivers and much more.  At times, all that information can become a bit overwhelming.

In this post, I’ll provide my opinion on a five key metric areas to review from 2011, plot, and plan for 2012.  You can certainly add others to this list, but these will provide you with a strong foundation to build upon in the new year.

Financials – Inflows and Outflows

Sandwich Bag by Mamamade

While there are lots of numbers we can take a look at to better understand how our marketing is working, no numbers matter more than the inflows and outflows on your financial statement.  At the end of the year, spending an hour or two really looking at the financials, plotting what happened and making changes for the new year can really make a difference.

For the inflows, you can take a look at the different channels you have for sales – Etsy shop, events, wholesale, etc.  I would recommend a chart with the months across the bottom and each line representing a different channel of sales.  This way, you can see which channel spikes during which months and determine where focus needs to be each month this year.  You can also set goals like “a 10% increase in revenue” that tie to each month.  That way, you will take the seasonality of your sales into account.

On the outflow side, take a hard look at all your spending – from supplies, to packaging and shipping materials, to office maintenance.  Are there areas that you can pull back a bit this year?  Don’t cut corners, but ensure you are as efficient as you can be.  An example from my own business this year – I’m eliminating a phone line.  I had a line for my freelance work and a number for my jewelry business.  The voice mail will now just have my name, no business name.  This simple change will be a great savings for me.

Awareness and Reach

To support increases in sales and revenue, it is important to always increase the awareness and reach of your brand.  There are several key metrics you can check each month and year to determine if your numbers are rising.  Creating charts by month for the following metrics will allow you to see changes over time and set goals for the upcoming year:

  1. Etsy Shop Visits – Very easy to look at in your Etsy shop stats!
  2. Unique Visitors to your website or blog
  3. Number of Facebook Fans
  4. Number of Twitter Followers

Engagement

An often overlooked, but insightful set of metrics to consider are engagement levels – how are fans, followers, and buyers interacting with your brand.  There are several ways that you can take a look at interactions from 2011 and set some goals for 2012.  If you don’t have the information you need to know your 2011 performance, that’s OK – start tracking in 2012 so you can set goals next year.

  • Shop and Item Favorites – Again, tracking by month is a great way to look at the information.  How many times each month was your shop favorited?  Did that number rise or decline throughout the year?  Do you see any trends?  Are there one or two items in your shop that are appreciated more than others?  What insights can you gain from a deeper look?
  • Inclusion in Treasuries – When you are included in a treasury, your brand is put in front of a group that would not normally encounter your shop.  While you can’t control whether or not you are included in treasuries, measuring the frequency and products featured can again give you insights on the interest in your brand.
  • Facebook and Twitter – Understanding the likes, shares, and comments to your posts in Twitter and Facebook can help you understand the interest level of your followers in the content you are providing.  This detailed understanding may push your content development in new directions for the new year.

Key Word Analysis

Key Pendant by LeatherwoodDesigns

Thirteen little words.  That is what we get to communicate the essence of each piece we create.  We need to put ourselves in the minds of our customers and think about what they might type in the search bar to get our shop to pop up.  At the end of the year, it’s a great time to look back in both the Etsy stats and Google stats to really understand the key words that were used most frequently to drive traffic to your shop.  Some of the words you find might be the obvious ones -reinforcing the strategy you have in place.  Others may be a bit more hidden, but can provide some new ideas and direction for the new year.  Setting goals in this area could be one of the most important moves you make this year.

Advertising Performance – What worked, what didn’t?  Why/Why not?

This one is very important, but somewhat difficult to make suggestions in a blog post.  The metrics are very dependent on the advertising or marketing campaign that you put in place.

For those who ran search ad on Etsy in 2011, there are a number of metrics that you can pull from the shop stats.  You can understand how many views were in each campaign, how many of those views clicked through to your shop and you can calculate “click through rate” – divide number of clicks by number of total views.  The numbers will be small, but watching your campaigns over time you can begin to understand which ones worked better or worse than others.

If you did giveaways on your blog or Facebook, take a look at the number of new fans or followers you brought in.  You can also look at the interaction and engagement with your brand during that time frame.

Event performance could track new customers gained, e-mail addressees collected, or an analysis of the overall revenue / spending to participate in the event.  These metrics will help you decide if that particular event is right for you in 2012.

In some cases, there may not be numbers involved.  You can think through the observations you made across the year and determine if that observation should impact your business strategy.  For example, one of your products may have resonated with a totally new target customer.  Should you explore some marketing with that group this year?

Summary

In the end, the measurement you choose is not the most important thing.  The difference comes when you study the numbers, understand why they are moving the way they are, and make changes to your strategy to make your business stronger.  What metrics have you found the most success measuring?  Do you set aside time each year to do your own look back and look forward?