At PurpleFire our work involves working with SMEs(Small and Medium-sized Enterprises) all the way through to blue chip brands. With usability, or making websites more affective at generating leads and sales, at the heart of what we do, this is no surprise.
What is interesting is to look at the key differentiators between our SME clients and our other much larger, well known clients.
- Budgets – of course budgets vary significantly, from a few thousand pounds to ten thousand pounds and upwards
- Expectations – SME clients tend to feel like online can’t always play an integral role in their sales and marketing activities, but bigger brands expect much more from the online channel
- Traffic versus conversions – SMEs will rely mainly on traffic generation techniques to increase enquiries and sales, where bigger brands look at both traffic generation and visitor conversion (to varying degrees I must add!)
- Are all visitors potential customers? – SMEs will tend to treat all site visitors as ‘potential customers’, especially when viewing web analytics, whereas bigger brands focus on segmenting their traffic information to identify which visitors are more likely to convert into an enquiry or sale
Table of contents:
What usability doesn’t mean for SMEs
There are a wide variety of services within the ‘usability’ field which, realistically, aren’t going to be used often by SMEs due to budget constraints. These services include:
- user testing in labs
- field studies
- focus groups
- expert evaluations
- card sorting
- in-house usability consultancy
- full user-centered design processes
- information architecture planning and development
What usability does mean for SMEs
This isn’t to say that SMEs can’t benefit from the principles of ‘good usability’ to help them improve the effectiveness of their website and online marketing activities.
Primary ways for SMEs to embrace and benefit from usability include:
- using the free web analytics tool Google Analytics to track and monitor visitor activity
- carrying out guerilla style usability testing (more on this explained in this presentation on improving online performance)
- consider how your website currently caters for your key target customer (messages, information, services, useful tools, easy contact methods)
- use another free tool Google Website Optimiser to test a different version of your primary action page on your site
- calculating the potential sales and profit improvement you can expect to get using a ROI calculator (either for lead generation websites or for e-commerce websites)
- treating your website not just as a complimentary promotion of your business but with the potential to become an intregal part of your sales and marketing activities
Masterclasses for SMEs and micro businesses
I am delighted to not only be taking part in the first official LEAD programme (a leadership and business development programme) delivered by TMI with 17 other managing directors of micro businesses, but I am also delivering a masterclass to these business owners on ways in which they can start to improve their websites to generate more business. The first masterclass I am delivering is on Monday 15th March 2023, and it is open to non-LEAD business owners by prior arrangement.
What SME’s can learn about usability to increase profits
For the masterclass which is delivered over two and a half hours, the outline of what I will speaking about is below:
- Google Analytics – how you can use this free tool quickly and efficiently to understand whether your website is performing well
- Online enquiries– how you can encourage more visitors to make an enquiry
- E-commerce – best practice advice if you are selling online to encourage more people to buy from you
- Case studies – how to improve online enquiries
- Making the move from offline to online sales/marketing strategy – myths, considerations, opportunities
Masterclass plans and objectives
My plan is certainly to make the masterclass sessions very engaging with lots of participation from the SME business owners who will attend. I would say the three main objectives for this masterclass are:
- Generate genuine awareness of what tools and techniques SMEs can use to improve their websites
- Demonstrating that ‘usability’ isn’t just for big businesses, and that any size business can benefit from better measurement and usability led improvements
- Planting the seed for business owners to consider making online a much more integral part of their sales and marketing strategy
As this article points out although there are many usability led activities which aren’t feasible for many SMEs, there is absolutely no doubt that micro businesses and SMEs can benefit from improved usability of their website and online marketing. If you are in this position or have friends and colleagues who run small businesses, feel free to give us a call to see how PurpleFire can help increase your sales and leads from the online channel.