When I was studying for my MBA, my most challenging class was statistics. And even though I managed an A- in the class, it took every one of the few analytical brain cells I had to do so.
So imagine my pleasant surprise when I sat down to analyze the statistics of my business over the last 12 months and found myself engrossed, fascinated, excited and practically dancing for joy. Armed with this critical data, now I know exactly where to spend my time and efforts going forward to receive the highest and best rate of return!
I ran a total of about 10 reports, but let me share some of what I learned specifically from my shopping cart's reports:
Shopping Cart Stats
The shopping cart system I use (1ShoppingCart) has the ability to run sales reports in a variety of ways. Below are four of the reports I ran, what my results were, and how you can apply the results to your business:
a. My Monthly Sales Totals…
…showed me how many sales I made each month, and from that information, I discovered that my best month financially was this past January, followed by March.
I reviewed my marketing and sales activities (in other words, the offers I made) for that month, and what I found was this:
In January, I launched my Platinum Coaching program, which generated $43,450 in sales.
In March, I offered my 21 Easy & Essential Steps to Online Success Take Action Group 10-week coaching program, which is one of my bestselling programs.
Both of these programs have higher price points, so if you've already developed some products or programs at the lower-priced end of your marketing and product funnel, consider adding a more comprehensive program at a higher price to your offerings to in^crease your bottom line.
b. My Sales by Ad Campaign…
… showed me which special offers were the ones you were most interested in taking advantage of. Now I know which offers to consider repeating, or offering on another product or program in the future.
This is something you can do as well. Guessing if a special campaign you ran worked well or not doesn't make good business sense. Tracking actual numbers does, however, and it's super-simple to do in 1ShoppingCart.
c. My Sales by Clients/Customers…
… showed me who my top clients/customers are, what they've bought, and how much they've invested in my offerings. And since I know that one of the most effective ways to grow a business is to make additional offers to those who have already bought from me, you can bet that not only will I do that, but I'll do it in a way that makes them feel special – because they are to me – by offering them special access or discounts or additional benefits as my way of thanking them for their continued business and loyalty.
If you track this information, you can do the same and increase your sales and your customer loyalty at the same time.
d. My "Where did you hear about us" Report…
… showed me that even though I thought that some of my online networking efforts weren't really paying off, mainly because I didn't think I was focusing enough time on them, I was wrong. It seems even the small amount I had been doing was making an impact.
So now I know the top three places to really focus those efforts going forward. If you've found online networking to be a struggle for you, tracking this information makes what can seem like an overwhelming marketing activity (some lists are SO active) into an extremely managable and once-again enjoyable one.
I gleaned all of this information from just four reports from my shopping cart. And this doesn't include the reports I ran from my email list service (Aweber) or from my web stats (Google Analytics).
Measuring the results of your business activities is critical to your success, and anyone can do it (it's really one of those "if I can, anyone can" kind of things). I really want to encourage you to take a look at where you've been over the past 6-12 months, analyze that data, and make some strategic decisions about where you want to focus your efforts going forward to get where you want to be.
Are you working too hard in your business? If you're an entrepreneur, you probably are, especially if you're in the early stages of your business building. And you're not alone.
Here's an example from my own client files:
I was recently working with a client who was a real go-getter, very serious about being in business for herself, and marketing only to a more affluent clientele. She wanted to increase her reach into that market online. And she was considering adding article marketing to her mix.
At this stage in her business, she was already doing quite well. She was close to making 6 figures and charging 5 times as much as her counterparts – and getting it easily. But she wasn't satisfied. She really wanted to break the $100k mark before the third anniversary of her business, which was coming up in just a few months.
When she asked me, "What is the quickest, most cost-effective way to regularly market articles?" and then told me she planned to do this work herself, I stopped her.
"You know, just because you can do this task, doesn't mean you should…"
She was quiet for a moment before asking me to elaborate.
"I know your writing is high quality and of high value to your market, and I definitely think you should be getting that content out there, to the appropriate places that will bring you the highest return-on-investment for your efforts. But I don't think you should be doing this yourself. It's not a good use of your time or your energy. What do you think?"
After a bit more discussion, she agreed to hire someone to do this for her.
As you read this, did you think of perhaps one task that you routinely do (or that falls by the wayside because you can never just get to it) that you know is 'below your pay grade' and yet you continue to waste time and energy on it (even if that time and energy is just thinking about how you're NOT getting it done?)?
This concept was (still is, from time to time) difficult for me to grasp when my own coach shone a light on it for me. But since I've tried to be aware of how much effort I really need to put into a task to get the result I want, it's opened up space for things to flow more effortlessly and more quickly than ever.
Here are four ways you can do less and still grow in your business:
Do you spend more time than necessary responding to emails? Do you write two paragraphs when a two-sentence response would suffice? Do you respond to emails that actually don't require a response? Do you check email every 5 minutes (come on, fess up!)? What if you didn't do any of these things and still had a handle on your inbox? You can, if you put the right system in place.
Are you writing blog posts that are long? Maybe it even feels cumbersome to try to write a post the length of an article. Don't – keep them short and pithy. Make sure your keywords are in the content and it doesn't matter how long your posts are to the search engines – and your readers will probably appreciate shorter posts as well. Better yet, turn your weekly ezine articles into blog posts to save even more time and energy.
Are you constantly updating your website? Does it really need to be revamped so often? More to the point, is this something you have to do yourself? No. Most virtual assistants can make website updates for you at a much lower cost to your time and energy than you doing it yourself.
4. Customer/Client Relations
Who responds to questions and comments from your clients and customers? Are you processing refunds, working out payment glitches, resending download links, answering the same questions about your programs over and over, or any other task that could easily be passed off to a capable assistant? You can quickly and easily train someone to respond to these inquiries in your voice by having them shadow you via blind-copying them on each email you send out. Then reverse the process and voila – another time and energy drain has been removed from your shoulders.
If you've been a client of mine, it's very likely you've heard one of my mantras, "Done is better than perfect." I usually follow that with, "And it's never going to be all done." So choose to cause yourself less stress and DO LESS. Experiment with this and see how much more productive you'll actually be. Think of just one thing that you could do the easy way instead of the hard way, or delegate to an assistant, or better yet, take off your 'must-do' list altogether.