10 New Year’s Resolutions for E-commerce Sites
You’re wrapping up the busiest time of year. You do deserve a rest, but it can only last so long.
2018’s about to start and the beginning of a New Year is the best time to sit down and figure out all the things you need to do to make your e-commerce business better in the year to come.
To get more out of 2018, here are a few good New Year’s resolutions to consider for your e-commerce business.
1. Perform a thorough analysis of last year’s results.
The best place to start with your New Year’s resolutions is by committing time to thoroughly review what you did last year and how well it worked. Bring together all the analytics you have – from Google Analytics, your e-commerce software, and your marketing software products – and analyze what the data has to tell you.
See how your results throughout the year relate to particular marketing campaigns and initiatives you tried and figure out which of your current efforts are working and which are falling short. To get better, you have to understand where you are now and where you’ve been in the past. Your data is the tool that best helps you do that so you can improve upon your past results in the year to come.
2. Revisit and update your business plan.
Now that you have a good understanding of last year’s results and what got you there, you can create an informed plan to make sure next year’s results are even better. Revisit your company’s business plan and make updates to it based on the results of your analytics review and any changes you’re interested in pursuing in the coming year. If you’re hoping to expand your product offerings or start targeting a new audience, make sure your business plan includes specifics on how and why to do that.
While the plan you create in this step won’t be set in stone, it will help shape your marketing and business practices in the coming year. Getting this right can make a big difference in how well you pull of your goals in 2018.
3. Start personalizing your customer experience.
Every person that comes to your website has distinct interests. Not all of your content or products will be relevant to every visitor and if most of what they see whenever they land on your website is of no interest, you’re likely to lose them. On the other hand, if you can use technology to deliver an experience tailored to what each visitor likes, you’re more likely to keep them around and get them to convert.
There’s data that backs up the power of web personalization. One study found that companies that provided a personalized web experience saw an 18% increase in sales. If you haven’t already starting bringing personalization into your marketing and website experience, then make 2018 the year you do so.
With the right technology and data, you can promote products that you know each visitor is most likely to be interested in based on their past visits to your site and their general browsing habits. When you make it easier for customers to learn about the products that are most relevant to their interests, their experience improves and your sales are likely improve with it.
4. Beef up your security.
Big brands keep getting unwanted attention and scrutiny because of data breaches that put their customers’ personal information at risk. Data breaches are bad for customers and brands alike and can really hurt your relationship with the people you most need to earn the trust of. Just because your business is a smaller target than Experian or Uber doesn’t mean you can let security slide. Your website collects sensitive financial information that your customers expect you to take responsibility for protecting.
You should take their trust very seriously. Go through our website security checklist to see what steps you need to take to make your e-commerce site more secure, and make a note to revisit the checklist in a few months and do it all over again. Don’t let 2018 be the year you fail your customers by letting their information slip into the hands of someone malicious.
5. Revisit your pricing.
Pricing is always a tricky subject. If you charge too much, you’ll lose customers to competitors. But when you charge too little you could be leaving money on the table. If you set your prices a while back and haven’t taken time to revisit them in a while, then let the beginning of the New Year be your chance to see if there’s room for a change.
Plan on doing some price testing so you can see if you can get away with bumping your prices up without losing customers. It can be scary making a change like this – you don’t want to alienate customers that have been with you awhile – but if you do it right, you can easily increase your profits without spending much more or having to do more work.
6. Do user testing.
Your website seems perfectly intuitive to you, of course, but this is one of those areas in life where your opinion only matters so much. You need to figure out if your website is easy to use for your customers and, just as importantly, if it successfully drives visitors to take the actions you want them to.
You can hire a UX firm to do user testing for you and help you develop an updated version of your website designed to better serve both your visitors and your goals. If the cost of hiring outside help for this is beyond your means though, put together a plan for DIY user testing. You can gain some of the same insights as a UX firm on your own and put what you’ve learned into practice moving forward.
7. Research new software solutions.
A good e-commerce business needs good software to thrive. When was the last time you really thought about how well your current software is serving you and looked into whether or not there might be something better out there for you? Evaluate all the software products you’re using now – your e-commerce software, your marketing software products, even your accounting software – and do some research to see if another product that offers additional functionality or a lower cost might be a better fit for your needs.
Making sure you have the right tools for the job and know how to use them effectively is an important part of business success. Make it one of your resolutions to confirm you’ve got that down.
8. Start a customer referral program.
If you don’t have one yet, a customer referral program can be a powerful way to bring in new customers. People always trust recommendations from friends and family members more than they trust the word of a business; so giving your current happy customers an incentive to talk up your brand to others is a smart way to bring in new business.
Use the beginning of the year to design a plan for your new customer referral program so you can launch early enough in 2018 to get some real returns from it. If you do it right, it will strengthen your relationship with the customers you already have while helping you grow your business exponentially.
9. Grow your email list.
Speaking of strengthening your relationship with your current customers, your email list is still one of the best tools you have for doing that (and starting a relationship with new prospects). You may already have strategies and campaigns devoted to growing your email list. If you do, revisit those and look for ways to make them stronger. If you don’t, now’s the time to sit down and work up a plan.
You can promote your email list on your blog, on your product pages, on social media, and on your main landing pages. Consider creating gated content or hosting webinars as additional ways to grow your list. And figure out discounts or other incentives you can offer to encourage interested followers to take that extra step. Your email subscribers are some of your most valuable prospects, the more of them you have, the better it is for your business.
10. Look into new partnerships.
While it’s easy to think of other businesses as competitors, businesses are often stronger together than apart. Use this time of year to think about the types of partnerships that could be valuable to your brand and start seeking them out. That could include affiliate partnerships that further promote your brand to relevant audiences, content exchanges with other businesses in your space to build links and reach new audiences, and partnerships with other local businesses to collaborate on events or other types of promotion.
When you collaborate with other businesses, you benefit from the work they’ve done to build up an audience and earn their trust. It’s a valuable way to extend your reach and make some important business relationships in the process.
Running an e-commerce business always feels like a lot of work, and no matter how busy you are, you know there’s always more you can be doing to make it better. It can be hard to find time to try new things, but don’t let that be an excuse.
Make the beginning of the New Year – the time most devoted to seeking out ways to be better – your opportunity to try out new things and find creative ways to improve. 2018 can be a much better year for your business than 2017 was, but only if you do the work to make it happen.
Kristen Hicks is an Austin-based freelance content writer and lifelong learner with an ongoing curiosity to learn new things. She uses that curiosity, combined with her experience as a freelance business owner, to write about subjects valuable to small business owners on the HostGator blog. You can find her on Twitter at @atxcopywriter.