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``The reason most people never reach their goals is that they don`t define them, or ever seriously consider them as believable or achievable. Winners can tell you where they are going, what they plan to do along the way, and who will be sharing the adventure with them.``
In my experience in web hosting, the companies that have made the strongest gains year over year have one thing in common – they set strong but achievable goals going into each New Year. Therefore, I suggest that you take this time of year to establish your web hosting business goals for 2008.
Think of your goals as milestones that will take your business in the direction that you want it to go. The closer you get to reaching your annual goals, the closer you are to moving your overall business in the right direction as well.
Here are a few of the metrics you may want to track and make goals for:
Top Line Sales – This is the most oft noted metric of success. It’s easy to measure and is typically not subject to changes wrought by other lines on the balance sheet. Plus, it is hard to substantially grow a business if your top line sales aren’t healthy. You can only save so much money in business – at some point you’ve got to see sales driving upwards.
Net Profits – Another heavily used metric. This measure can be manipulated by keeping expenses low in addition to increasing overall sales. If done correctly, this is roughly the amount of money you can put in your pocket at the end of the year.
Number of Website Visitors – As a marketer, I really like to set an aggressive goal for this metric. The health of an online business can be distilled down into visitors. Plus, as an acquisition target, an online business with tons of visitors is much more attractive.
Conversion Rate of Visitors to Sales – If you sell something directly on your website, you should set an annual goal regarding conversion rates. All else being equal, if you increase your conversion rates, you’ll make more money.
Number of New Products Launched – One measure that is not usually included in annual goal setting is the number of new products that you launch. While this may not seem like a big deal in terms of growing a business financially, in web hosting you have to keep up with the times. If you fall behind in your feature set or let the current versions of software and applications age too much, your customers will leave for a more up-to-date host. On the other hand, having a robust product pipeline ensures excitement around your hosting brand.
Return on Marketing Investment – If you can become more efficient in your marketing and advertising spend, your business will grow year over year – even if your marketing budget doesn’t appreciably grow. The key to success in marketing ROI is to measure everything that you can (for example clicks, length of visit, page views) and make certain that these measures are constantly being improved over time.
One other note on goals – you should consider stretch goals. These are goals that are much more aggressive than your typical goals. In fact, stretch goals may even seem somewhat like “longshot” goals. That is, goals that would be a total dream if you were to achieve them. The reason for formulating stretch goals is simply to articulate what would be incredible for your business to achieve. There is a magic power in stating your goals: this gives you a target to shoot for, and a target that can be measured and achieved!
Good luck with your business pursuits in the New Year. I wish you the very best for continued prosperity in 2008.
Derek Vaughan is Vice President of Marketing at HostMySite.com a leader in VPS web hosting.