Do Small Online Businesses need CRO? ABSOLUTELY – Here’s Why

Plenty of online startups and SMBs have a great product or service, and a website that’s just horrible. Maybe they figure they don’t get the traffic to merit using sophisticated CRO tools.

Plus, when your business runs on a tight budget and everything’s your responsibility, optimizing your website sounds like something you could do later – i.e., never.

The truth is, online small businesses – startups and SMBs alike – need CRO even more than big outfits. They can benefit more from it, and they’re in a better position to leverage it. The only businesses that really won’t benefit from CRO are where their website is really just an online brochure and they’re not actually looking for any conversions to happen on the site.

What kind of CRO do smaller businesses need?

First, it’s got to be visual, or at least really easy to understand. Anything that delivers stats or requires you to do a lot of data crunching isn’t going to cut it, access to the value of the tool has to be really simple.

Second, most small businesses aren’t going to be doing any CRO at all, which means they’re total newbies when they start. So there are huge gains to be made, just by doing simple things like:

  • Remove image sliders. You don’t need a CRO tool to tell you to do this, but the stats are clear: these are conversion killers that waste visitors’ attention. Get rid of them.
  • Slash image file size. When your file size is big your site loads slow, Google hates you and your visitors leave before they even see your homepage. Speaking of which…
  • Your homepage. Don’t try to make it all things to all people, or clutter it with clickable potential – you’re just confusing your visitors.

When a business hasn’t done any CRO before, they’re often going to be going through a website that got built by a designer and changing stuff that looks great to stuff that converts. It’s an eye opener – and if the designer’s inhouse, it can be the start of a process of getting them involved with your CRO so you’re not pulling in opposite directions.

Once they can remove stuff like sliders, the process of redesigning central site assets like the homepage according to what converts is a learning experience too – it’s going to force those business owners to identify exactly what they want visitors to do, identify which levers they have to affect that behavior, then measure whether they do it.

When I say small and midsize businesses can get big conversion changes out of CRO, I’m not kidding around. In a survey of 100 CRO case studies by KissMetrics, changing homepage imagery and copy made hundreds of percent differences to conversions.

  • NatureAir moved their CTA on their landing pages. Conversions rose 591% – nearly X6!
  • L’Axelle made their homepage copy action oriented. Result? 109% increase in conversions.
  • iCoupon removed one of the two images on their homepage. Conversions rose 400%.

All these are small changes and they’re all ‘best practice’ – but having an evidence base for them means business owners can make those decisions themselves.

I got into the tool side of this with Jackie Goldstein over at HostAdvice, and we talked about what the CrazyEgg toolset does in terms of relative beginners to CRO. In particular, whichever toolset someone new to CRO chooses, it has to tick two boxes:

  • Affordable. Even if the value is going to replay the investment many times over, no business owner can bet the budget on it, so smaller businesses won’t take the plunge.
  • Immediate. It’s got to pay off right away! People new to CRO need to be able to see at a glance what their data is telling them.

The bottom line? Smaller, newer businesses absolutely need CRO, and it has the power to dramatically accelerate their business growth.

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