How can UK universities utilise digital experience to combat the impact of the demographic dip and falling student numbers?

How can University of Sydney improve the performance of their course details page?

The Global Reviews European team recently attended the Higher Education Marketing Conference in London, and with most of the major universities in attendance it was a thoroughly interesting day filled with plenty of engaging presentations covering a broad range of topics. Many of the speakers discussed, from a variety of perspectives, the falling numbers of students applying to universities in the UK. This blog post does not endeavour to further analyse or discuss the reasons for or the impact of this but will rather discuss (on a very small scale, this is only a blog post after all) how universities can use digital experience in order to convince students to apply, and to choose them as their firm choice.

A recent study conducted by Global Reviews, which benchmarked 10 UK university websites, showed us that the university website is the most important touchpoint for prospective students in their research journey, but for many the digital experience doesn’t deliver. Prospective students are more likely to use the university site than any other site when looking for answers to specific questions, starting to research courses, researching university life, and developing a shortlist of universities to consider. However, across the 10 sites measured in the study, on average more than one in three deemed the effort required of them to complete tasks on the site was more than they had expected. So, prospective students are looking to university sites to help them make this huge decision but in many cases the sites are making things unnecessarily complicated and/ or difficult for them. What can they do to improve the digital experience?

channel used higher learning

One key consideration for universities is understanding what information is most important in terms of decision making, what are the things that they should be prioritising in order to convince prospective students to choose them? Apart from the obvious ‘reputation’, ‘having the best course for my needs’ is the leading reason to choose a university, followed closely by ‘courses that are easy to understand’. There are many facets to reputation, most of which are difficult to manipulate outside of the usual content on awards, accolades and student satisfaction statistics, and solid marketing and PR campaigns over time (see the University of Bradford, whose most recent marketing campaign as presented at the conference by their Director of External Affairs, has seen an increase in applications for this diverse university!). However, making courses engaging and easy to understand is something that University websites absolutely can control, and can change reasonably easily!

One in three prospective students in our study said they didn’t know exactly what course they wanted to study, but had a broad idea of interest areas, and one in ten didn’t even know that much by the time they started researching. Most UK university websites allow users to search by interest area, using keywords. However, the majority do not offer any more than the most basic filter options to aid prospective students in navigating the search results or tailoring what they are seeing to narrow down their options. So those 40% or more of prospective students must trawl through multiple courses looking for key information on the course details page in order to help them understand what might be best for them. From there, unfortunately for tech-savvy Gen-Z, it’s back to basics with a notepad and pen as most UK university websites don’t allow users to save courses to a list of favourites to revisit later. This experience is a laborious one, and in order to capture the attention of a generation that is used to having easily accessible information at their fingertips this needs to change.

This starts with the search functionality itself, for most prospective students this will be the very first thing they interact with on any university website. Existing functionality is basic across most UK university sites, allowing users to input keywords relating only to course study areas in order to bring up reams of results, or requires them to know the specific title of a course. But when we asked prospective students how they would prefer to begin a search for courses, four very different options are chosen in almost equal proportions; by specific course, by interest area, by study level (undergrad or postgrad), and by career interest. If I am a prospective student, and I want to be an archaeologist, but I don’t know what I need to study in order to achieve that, I may want to be able to search on the university’s course search to find this out. Having tested this on the top 5 universities in the UK, not one returns any course search results to help me with my query, some don’t even use predictive search, and more shockingly a couple don’t prioritise course search as an option. Based on a similar study we run in Australia, which features over 30 universities, we have seen the positive effect that more sophisticated search functionality can have on conversion. For example, the University of South Australia utilise a multitude of search functionality to help their prospective students locate relevant courses in whichever way works best for them.

At UniSA prospective students can search by career, course or study area:

unisa search

Or if they need a helping hand getting started in their search, they can select from study area tiles:

unisa explore

And once they’ve got their search results, UniSA offer tonnes of helpful filters to help them navigate through all the available options:

unisa filters

Open Universities Australia provide a specialised tool on their website to help prospective students match a course to their needs:

oua help

Once a prospective student chooses a course that seems to meet their needs, the next most important factor is whether it is easy to understand information about the course. Based on the recent UK study conducted by Global Reviews, the most important information prospective students want to see on the course detail page is an overview of the course and what it entails, the degree structure including electives, available courses based on entry requirements, study hours and assessments, and learning outcomes. Our higher education Client Advisory experts have also conducted specific studies around the presentation of information on course detail pages, information architecture, and labelling. Many UK university websites do provide all of the desired information on the course detail pages, but fail to communicate it in a way that prospective students with no experience of university will understand, use so much block text that it is impossible to scan the page to find the relevant information they are looking for, and often use labelling that does not clearly indicate what information might be hidden within a collapsed section.

Edith Cowan University (ECU) in Australia allows users to jump to different sections of the course details page using a main horizontal navigation, and clear labelling. Clear CTAs for applying and enquiring also feature in this navigation bar, and the bar is sticky so scrolls down the page with the user. Further down the page a more detailed vertical navigation also exists to help users navigate within the main body of the page. ECU are also trialling compare and save functionality from the course detail page, and many other Australian universities provide this already, including Deakin and UniSA, enabling prospective students to compile a shortlist on their site (no old school notebook and a pen required here!). Language is straightforward and accessible, and content delivers against all the most important information prospective students have said they want on the page.

ecu degree

ECU provides in depth information about learning outcomes, course structure (including a table showing each unit of the course across all four years and the credit points for each), detailed information about work placements (including specific attendance requirements), and also gives a long list of potential careers that a prospective student might achieve as a result of studying this course. This comprehensive content is presented in ‘chunked up’ sections, making good use of font size, colour, bolding, shading, tables and more to ensure that the page is easily scannable, and the information is clearly displayed. Despite the language on the page being very user friendly and accessible, ECU recognise that there may still be some terms that need further explanation in order to help prospective students understand the course and what it can offer them, so they provide a ‘Quick guide to uni-speak’ that provides further detail.

ecu guide

ECU have put their prospective students at the centre of this experience, by understanding at each point what it is that the user might want to do next and then delivering tools and/ or content to help them do that. Any prospective student reading this course detail page would likely come away with an in depth understanding of the course, but also of why they should choose ECU, as there are multiple ‘reasons to choose’ presented within the content and a dedicated link-through section to the ‘why choose us’ page. For any prospective students who find that, even with all this easily consumed content, they still need more information, the CTA to enquire is present throughout their digital journey on the page. ECU really get it right!

Conversely, many UK university course detail pages feature one thing only, lots and lots of block text. Many don’t use a single table, image, or call out box, and much of the content includes jargon that prospective students may not understand, with no offer of explanation. Any prospective student visiting these pages is going to have to work much harder to understand the course options than they would at ECU or any number of other Australian universities. Why is the UK so far behind in terms of digital experience? Why are UK universities not prioritising this as something to develop, and fast, when they are trying to attract the most tech-savvy generation of school leavers in history, at a time when student numbers are falling? This absolutely needs to change.

 

If you’d like to find out more about how your university’s digital experience can be optimised to improve conversion, contact us by phone or email:

Neil WhiteAlex Hughes
Commercial DirectorCommercial Director
neil.white@globalreviews.comalexander.hughes@globalreviews.com
+44 (0) 203 405 9331 +44 (0) 203 405 9332
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Impact of third party websites on consumers’ journey and purchase decisions

Impact of third party websites on consumers’ journey and purchase decisions

For any brand targeting their prospects, it is important to understand how their brand is found or rather, how their potential customers search for brands within their industry. In several of our research studies it was found that consumers rely heavily on third party and aggregator sites when making a brand choice within an industry.

Our research studies found that even though most consumers have a brand in mind before they begin their research, most prefer to use a search engine when researching products or services to then take them through to brand or aggregator sites.preferred brand search journey

So, how can you use search to better your chance of being a preferred brand within an industry?

  1. Aim to meet the broader needs of consumers by tailoring the search creative to the search keywords. Consider paid search for keywords where third party sites are getting featured snippet listings to ensure your brand stays in the mindset.
  2. Tailor search ad creative to the search keyword entered like Budget Direct and Australian Super.
  3. Endeavor to attain a high position on search engines. As seen in the heat map below, most clicks are for the top listings.

best super fund search results compare car insurance search results

search results heat map

Why are consumers going from search through to aggregator sites?

  1. The ease of comparing options and seeing a range of companies in one place are the main reasons consumers want to use an aggregator site.
  2. Almost half of consumers incorrectly think that all companies are shown on aggregator sites and they’ll get the best deals there. This is a risk for brands, if you are not present on the aggregator site – you may lose a chance to join the consumers’ consideration set.

why consumers compare brands

When looking at specific industries, the graphs below show the impact that aggregator sites have on final preferences when it comes to consumers choosing a preferred brand. For example in superannuation, overall 20% of consumers preferred AustralianSuper. However, when we just look at those who visited Canstar as part of their research, 30% of those consumers went on to prefer AustralianSuper.

Interestingly, when we look at energy the two biggest players, AGL and Origin, get a far lower final preference rate from those who used an aggregator site.

Final preference superannuation

final preference home insurance

final preference car insurance

final preference energy

Whilst we acknowledge that aggregator sites are not always the preferred strategy for some brands, there is no doubt that third party sites such as search and aggregators have an impact on which brands consumers ultimately choose as their preferred provider, and there is ample opportunity for brands to take advantage of the popularity of third party websites and increase the likelihood of being chosen as a final preference.

To summarise our findings from our research studies, here are a few key insights and opportunities for brands:

INSIGHTSOPPORTUNITIES
During the consumers' discovery journey, third party sites often gain the most visits- Ensure your brand has a presence on third party sites relevant to your industry
Third party sites are attracting visits through search engine results pages (SERPs)- Tailor search ad creative to key words to ensure more relevance against the third party offering
- Consider paid search for some specific targeted search terms to ensure your brand stays top of mind
Consumer behaviour and display of information on third party sites will affect how competitive your product looks against other brands- Consider tailored products for promotion on third party sites
- Look at ways to gain more exposure on third party sites
Many consumers arriving at your website will already have completed a lot of research at a third party site - they will not want to 'start again'- Offer multiple pathways to products based on the different stages of decision making

To learn more on what you, as a brand can do, see what we revealed during our webinar on this topic or contact us today:

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Prospective students don’t know what they don’t know

university website

Our recent UK higher learning study revealed that 1/3 of UK prospective students don’t know what specific course they want to research, but rather, they have a broad idea of an area of interest.  Until students know more about the university and area of interest, they’re not going to know what courses are on offer let alone which course to specifically search for.

While browsing behaviour dominates when it comes to locating a range of courses, leading universities are providing multiple pathways to cater to different needs of students, for example those that know the specific course they want to study verses those that don’t know but may have an interest area in mind.

Our recent webinar explored some of the ways Australian universities are helping prospective students to find the right course to match their needs and area of interest. For example, search capabilities within the site provides the opportunity to not only help prospective students find specific courses and subject areas, but also to serendipitously discover other courses that might be suitable for them through the use of additional filters.

For more insights into the student mindset when researching universities and courses online, watch our webinar or contact us for more information. We will also be featured at the upcoming Higher Education Marketing Conference in London, so be sure so come say hello!

Presented by: Geri McGann – Principal Client Advisor

Let is know what you thought about the webinar and have your say as to what we deliver next!

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How can University of Sydney improve the performance of their course details page?

How can University of Sydney improve the performance of their course details page?

In September 2018, Global Reviews conducted an industry study that benchmarked 19 universities. Each study included a full site audit, as well as conducting research and task analysis of 675 study participants. This enabled us to analyse the online customer journey against industry top performers and provide data-driven recommendations for our clients.

In this article, we will extract the outcomes of one task from a segment of the customer journey of one specific university, the University of Sydney. It is important to note that it is not an analysis of the overall customer journey. Specifically, it reviews only the ‘matching to needs’ segment within the ‘CONSIDER’ phase of the customer journey.

digital sales effectiveness journey

Looking at University of Sydney’s performance within the ‘matching to needs’ segment we can see they are performing below the industry average of 51% and are 27% percentage points below the top performer, University of Queensland.

Match to needs segment performance

Uni Syd Match to Needs

75% of their site users successfully performed a task to find specific entry requirements on a course details page.  On initial reflection, this may appear to be a good result but in today’s digital world, it’s not great if 1 out of 4 users can’t find important information such as entry requirements on the page. Meanwhile, only 1 in 10 users failed the University of Queensland’s task.

Usability task results

Matching to needs task results

Digging deeper into the data, a number of insights emerge, primarily from an efficiency and evaluation perspective. It took users almost twice as long to find the information and on average visit 3 different pages (even though the task commenced on the page that the answer should have been found on). Our industry-tailored content audit also reveals a poor performance, only scoring 30% in comparison to a 69% performance from University of Queensland.

You may be asking, given the poor performance, why is user satisfaction so high?

It’s a fair question and one that comes up regularly within our client sessions. Nielsen Norman Group, world leaders in research-based user experience, would attest that people bend the truth to be closer to what they think you want to hear. To design the best experience, pay attention to what users do, not what they say. We find when asked if they were satisfied with the website to help them perform tasks, participants can be generous in how they score. Dig a little deeper and they report the problems that they experienced. In the case of the University of Sydney, the problems emerge within the poor evaluation score of 30%, revealing issues with the initial signposting and visual hierarchy of the page, resulting in general confusion and poor navigation.

Problems encountered when finding course information

Uni of Sydney had most problems

This information is crucial in guiding our review of the site. Combining this with our click-stream data from the task, as well as the page heat-maps (where users clicked on the page) we can reveal very specific problems encountered and suggest improvements.

Prospective students struggled to navigate to the information

Uni Syd click path

Looking at University of Sydney, we can reveal that relevant content cues are not present above the fold. There’s a distinct lack of information associated with the content of the page. All primary and secondary calls-to-action (CTAs) drive customers away from the page, having not revealed anything in relation to course details, which is of course, supposed to be the primary purpose of the page. Users are required to scroll to find relevant information, yet 20% of users still use the ‘above the fold’ CTAs – 50% of which go on to fail the task.

Where do I start? Relevant content cues & hierarchy are not present above the fold

uni sydney cta

Even when users scroll, there is no navigation or quick links to help guide them to the information. Then, as users stumble onto relevant content, they are presented with incomplete, text-heavy content and inappropriate links. For example, in ‘Your admission criteria’, 30% of users clicked on the ‘undergraduate admission criteria’ link, resulting in 50% failing the task. They missed the text direction above to check the ‘Admission Criteria’ section on the page.

Incomplete segments are not guiding users to find information

uni syd admission criteria

This is poor execution for a number of reasons:

  • Users don’t read direction, they follow it. The link brings them to the wrong page, a more generic admissions page.
  • The incorrect link uses the same terminology (admission criteria) within the same paragraph of text.
  • Is the user not already on the ‘admission criteria’ section as it’s called ‘your admission criteria’? This is confusing.
  • There’s a lot of text and links related to less important information. Priority is not given to the relevant detail. For example, Is ‘GaoKao International student scores by province’ more important than the course prerequisites detailed outside the admission criteria.

Looking at the implementation of the top performers, we can clearly see where improvements can be made.

University of Queensland getting good results from clear IA & signposting

uni qld nursing prereq

On the University of Queensland’s site, there is clear information architecture and signposting above the fold that guides users to the correct information. Analysing the heatmap, we can see strong engagement in the ‘Program details’ section. All of these users completed the task successfully, primarily because the prerequisite information is clearly presented as a priority within the ‘Admissions criteria’ section. There’s a dual (top and right) sticky navigation frame that focuses the user on the content and enables them to easily scan and navigate to the sections available.

Griffith University’s content hierarchy above the fold

Griffith uni

Griffith University have added a comprehensive course summary above the fold. The information is presented with appropriate visual hierarchy and carefully considered details that links the user directly to more details such as ‘Additional requirements’.

To summarise, we recommend that the University of Sydney make the following changes to their course details page;

  1. Consider developing page navigation that helps communicate the breath of information that can be found and directs the user to it.
  2. Prioritise the most important page content above the fold so users are not guided off page before understanding what information is available.
  3. Organise and simplify ‘Your admission criteria’ content with the most important information and more appropriate links (if required).
  4. Create a course details summary above the fold, for users to glance through the important course details and criteria
  5. Consider decluttering the content and providing appropriate spacing between content sections

Whilst internal review would be required, some are considered to be ‘Quick wins’. Based on research, the ‘matching to needs’ scores are heavily weighted within the overall Universities Study.  Implementing some of these design improvements could dramatically improve the university’s overall score. More importantly, they could help potential students find the right information and build trust in their brand.


This is just a taste of the types of insights and recommendations we provide. For more insights, join our webinar on Tuesday 9th April where we will be looking at:

  • The prospective student’s mindset when researching university options
  • What the top performing universities are doing differently
  • How a few tweaks to key pages can improve the user experience

We will also be appearing at London’s Higher Education Marketing Conference on Tuesday 30th April so be sure to come along and say hello!

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Does a high SEO ranking guarantee motor insurers a larger market share?

Digital marketers often wonder what is it that pushes their brand higher than that of their competitors in the online space. With every brand scrambling for any ounce of online space they can get to gain more visibility, is there a formula with which digital marketers can strike gold for their brands?

Maybe not in entirety, but our research studies have unveiled that online consumer behaviour patterns could be the key to helping you achieve your brand’s goal.

In a recently conducted series of research studies, we evaluated 70 motor insurance sites on desktop and mobile in Australia, Canada, Ireland and UK to analyse in depth consumer purchase behaviors.

It is generally observed that when consumers research brands in an industry, they undertake three major steps when making a purchase.

  • Discover –finding, shortlisting and selecting a preferred brand.
  • Consider –considering brand and product options.
  • Act–purchasing the product.

Starting with an initial brand preference in mind, consumers begin researching for motor insurers. So, does that mean a high initial brand preference is a good sign for a brand? Surprisingly, that might not always be the case. Our research study revealed that some brands with low initial preference could end up having a higher rate of traffic visiting their site.

Here are two reasons for such behavior patterns:

  1. 24% of consumers see a motor insurance brand when using a search engine (e.g. Google).
  2. 17% of consumers discover a motor insurance brand on a comparison or an aggregator website.

In Australia, Canada and Ireland the second most used site for consumer research behind search engines is brand websites. While for UK, aggregator sites tend to be more commonly used. In the case of those on the desktop, aggregators were even used more than search engines!

Understanding such patterns will help brands unlock areas that they need to focus on.

But how can such data help fuel your SEO ignition?

A great example of this is Australia’s Budget Direct. On desktop, Budget Direct went from a 3% initial preference rate up to a 12% final preference rate thanks to an impressive 24% visitation rate. Similarly, on mobile they had an initial preference of 7%, final preference of 13% and a visitation rate of 17%.

Within the search results, Budget Direct is tailoring their SEM ad creative to the search terms entered, appearing more relevant and maximising the top listing opportunity. They’re even leveraging off competitor search terms.

For example, when a consumer searches for AAMI car insurance, Budget Direct not only delivers up an ad encouraging consumers to compare insurance options, but they also take them to a tailored landing page that specifically mentions switching from AAMI. With an average of 50% of consumers initially preferring a brand because they’re a current customer, this is a smart move from Budget Direct.

These are just some examples of the insights that we provide our clients with. If you want more detailed insights on the motor insurance industry, click here to access our Motor Insurance industry report.

We recently ran a motor insurance webinar that was packed with insights from the Australian, Canadian, Irish and UK markets. Click here for more- http://bit.ly/Motor-Insurance-Webinar-2019

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Is the information on university websites enough to cater to the needs of current students?

University websites are often the starting point for every student when planning their future course of study. More so, when they apply as an international student. The university website continues to remain the main source of information once a student gets admitted into the university. Is this a notion that universities share? Do they believe their website is as important for providing information to current students ?

A quick look at some of the top Australian university websites will give you a sense of how heavily the information provided is tailored to cater to prospective students. The language used in the content delivered, the images supporting the content and the emphasis placed on aspects such as ‘life on campus when you’re a student at our university’, further echoes the importance universities place on curating website content for prospective students.

The results from a recent research study we conducted on the Higher Learning industry, in Q4 2018, highlights ‘information overload’ to be a major issue for university websites. Prospective students found it difficult when locating course information on university websites. Comments like “the navigation is hard to follow”, “information is not where I expected it to be” were common themes of issues faced by prospective students, according to our research study.

Being an international student who applied to several universities in Australia, I vividly remember how arduous the task of finding the right course was.

Further, on being admitted into the course of my choice, I was given access to a different platform- the intranet of the university. However, the issue of finding the right information, continued to persist. The seamless flow of information from the main web page of the university to their intranet was lost in the amount of information provided. So, while universities do attempt to cater to current students via a different platform, their efforts are not entirely fruitful.

As a current student, I was often confused about avenues that were available to me during and after the completion of my course and would often feel the need to reach out to a university representative for answers to my queries. Questions relating to a possible switch in my course path or different avenues of enhancing the degree I enrolled into, were aspects I could never find answers to. I would often have to go back and forth between the main website and the intranet to figure where the answers to my questions lied.

The glaring issue lies with the emphasis that universities place on catering to the needs of prospective students and not as much on the needs of current students. Apart from that, I also felt there was:

  1. Information overload on both these platforms- website and the intranet and
  2. No clear signposting of where to find what information and for which student.

When international students enroll into a course, they do so with the expectation that the university will cater to all their needs.

A seamless website experience may be a way of showing both sets of students what the university has to offer – right from when they are deciding on a course to when they get admitted into the course of their choice and beyond.

It would be interesting to uncover what expectations current students have from your university and how the website architecture influences their perception and behavior through research studies. While we don’t have exact data on what your current students look for, we are capable of tailoring our research study to meet your needs.

The data from your website can reveal more than just what your students need. It can also help you understand the factors influencing the decision making of students and why they choose other brands over yours. It can also unravel aspects on your website that work for you and those that go against you. Get in touch with us to see how data from our ‘Bespoke’ research study can benefit your brand’s needs.

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Global Reviews announces headline sponsorship of the London Higher Education Marketing Conference 2019

higher education marketing conference

Global Reviews brings its world renowned research programme to London’s Higher Education Marketing Conference.

“The Higher Education Marketing Conference 2019 will offer leading professional development in supporting innovation and maximising impact in the delivery of effective higher education marketing campaigns. Those attending will gain the latest insights from higher education marketing experts and leading practitioners in understanding the evolving trends in student recruitment, assessing how to enhance engagement and communication with prospective students and developing marketing strategies which support outstanding outcomes within higher education.”

Regent’s Park, London – Tuesday 30th April 2019

Global Reviews, a company dedicated to empowering businesses with data driven insights and recommendations, is proud to announce it will be the headline sponsor of Inside Government’s Higher Education Marketing Conference for 2019 (https://highereducationmarketing.co.uk). The conference will be held Tuesday 30th April at the Royal College of Physicians in Regent Park, London and will be chaired by Martyn Spence, Director of Marketing and Communication, Heriot-Watt University.

Keynote speaker

Gerard Farrell, Head of Product at Global Reviews, will be a keynote speaker on the day, unveiling recent UK higher learning research and bringing best practice examples to bear on how the UK higher learning industry can improve its digital acquisition, retention and communicate channels.

  • Revealing new Global Reviews research and insights detailing how UK universities can perform better in meeting the online marketing and sales needs of their prospective students.
  • Understanding trends across university websites and highlighting common pain points prospective students face when researching course and university options.
  • Delivering best practice examples of the online consumer journey from both the UK and Australia.

Bringing our celebrated Higher Learning research programme to the UK

With nearly 20 years of experience in measuring and benchmarking customer journeys through multiple online channels and having worked with 15 universities in Australia, Global Reviews is bringing its higher learning benchmark to the UK.

Utilising real world scientific methodologies, Global Reviews not only provides the most sophisticated online journey benchmarking programme in the world but also provides the ability to respond to competitive market dynamics through a whole market view. Our insights consistently drive higher conversion rates and reduce abandonment.

Our methodologies consist of a unique blend of active and passive methodologies, subjective onsite behavior and objective best practice feature and function audits. Across the end to end online buying journey, segmented into two phases and six buying stages, our products benchmark and forensically analyse the elements of the online experience which are causing the greatest loss in sales. Our expert client advisory team deep dives into the thousands of behavioural data points generated in one study alone and provide evidence led insights to turn lost opportunities into conversions.

Five ways we can help your digital team:

  1. Prioritisation of customer experience development based on proportional market conversion increases
  2. Reduce reliance on site centric single data sources and provide whole market visibility. (The 80% you don’t currently see)
  3. Access to a leading team of digital conversion specialists and best practice intelligence
  4. Benchmark the performance of your online customer journey against local competitors and worldwide leaders.
  5. Reduce subjective debate within your team and gain independent validation on the decisions and choices you are making for your online sales and marketing strategy.

For more information about Global Reviews or to register your interest in a demo at the conference, contact Suzy Sliwczynski (suzy.sliwczynski@globalreviews.com).

 

Additional Conference Information:

 

About Global Reviews

The Global Reviews story began in 2000 out of a passion to present companies with the most accurate and actionable measure of website customer experience.

Our research approach is rooted in the knowledge that a more successful research solution will be achieved through the collaboration of three distinct groups:

  • Your team
  • Your customers
  • Our experts

Through this collaborative process we follow a design pattern which starts broadly, considering your requirements and then refines this to a single evidence led approach to achieving the project goals.

When choosing participants for our studies we choose carefully and work only with the highest quality panel partners. The majority of our studies include only in-market consumers, those who are currently looking to purchase a product or service like yours. When choosing samples, we cut out the noise and focus only on those customers who will improve your commercial performance. Once chosen our respondents complete tasks on their own devices in their own homes and we record and observe their natural behaviour. In this manner we bridge the gap between claimed behaviour and actual behaviour. With access to millions of customers worldwide and leveraging many diverse research solutions, there is no door into the digital world we have not been able to open to complete research.

For more information, visit www.globalreviews.com. You can also follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.

Media Contact:
Suzy Sliwczynski
Marketing Manager
suzy.sliwczynski@globalreviews.com

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External factors affecting the Australian Energy Industry and how they can be combated!

With increased scrutiny from the government and authorities like – Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), Victoria’s Essential Services Commission (ESC); and the independent inquiry into the Victorian energy retail market (the Thwaites Review), energy retailers have more to think about than just battling stiff competition.

With energy users becoming increasingly weary of words such as ‘special pricing’ and ‘discounts’, energy retailers need to win back the trust of their consumers, while assuring them that their brand is better than their competitors’.

In a research study run by Global Reviews in Q1 2018, for the Energy industry, it was found that:

  • Consumers continue to rank costs and rates as the most important factor when making their purchase decision. But with increased awareness of hidden costs, consumers seek transparency and upfront information on prices.

“Just give us good prices without all the extra discounts.”

“I could not find daily charges anywhere on the website.”

“I just wanted the rates clear and simple.”

“All too hard. Just give me the rates and not propaganda.”

  • However, retailers continue to display estimate costs instead of exact prices.

  • Another major aspect that consumers found hard to deal with was when evaluating their options. It was found that some energy companies don’t have a clear starting point from their homepage to their price plans or to detailed information on rates and costs.
  • To top that off, plans and rates are sometimes hidden under the fold and are presented in a way that consumers can’t understand. Owing to this, important features that consumers need to be aware of are sometimes lost amidst jargon and the complex presentation of information on the website. (Eg AGL).

What can you, as an energy retailer do, to overcome this situation?

  1. Be as transparent as possible with the information you provide to your consumers and
  2. Offer a clear starting point and a guided process to reveal pricing information.

Dodo does a great job with providing consumers with all the information about product prices:

Similarly, OVO (UK) provides consumers with the ease of locating a specific cost:

These are a few starting points to combat competition and offer your consumers exactly what they want. But not every brand has the same obstacle to overcome. As consultants offering data led solutions, we provide insights that help brands overcome obstacles and achieve their end goals.

Get in touch with us for data that can help brands like yours achieve the targets that they’ve set for themselves.

Darren Watson – Senior Commercial Director
T:         +61 3 9013 0390
M:        + 61 413 017 959
E:         darren.watson@globalreviews.com

Tony Carveth- Senior Commercial Director

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E:         tony.carveth@globalreviews.com

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Will the marketplace strategy shake up the financial services industry?

As we all head to marketplaces to pick up those last minute gifts for Christmas, it seems like a good time of year to talk about the growth and shake up of the financial services industry with market place strategies. Online marketplaces are fast-becoming the favourite destination for online shoppers, with almost 70% of Australians visiting an online marketplace or auction site like eBay or Amazon every month. Marketplaces have boomed in recent years, growing by 74.8% in 2017 alone (Roy Morgan research Jun 2018). With the increased uptake of marketplace sites like Etsy, Uber and AirBNB we have to look at the reasons why these sites are so popular with consumers. What are the benefits of creating an online marketplace?

The marketplace model is based on carriers realising you cannot be the best at everything and resources are too scarce to keep up. In the marketplace model, brands give their customers access to third parties with the best products, the most pleasant customer experience and the lowest costs.

The marketplace business model cuts both ways. Customers get continuous access to the best products and services in the market and costs can be kept at a minimum through connecting (or disconnecting) parties almost in real time to key in on new customer wishes and anticipate other market developments.

Retailers such as Catch and Myer have recently opened marketplaces, recognising the benefit of increased customer traffic and expansion into other categories.

myer market place

“It’s about enabling customers to move freely between brands, channels and product solution,” says Suncorp’s chief executive for Customer Marketplace, Pip Marlow. Suncorp Australia has recently launched a $100 million digital marketplace platform. Users can now view all banking and insurance products in the one online portal from all their brands – Suncorp, AAMI, GIO, Bingle, Shannons and Vero. “We really wanted to move to a level of aggressive transparency across the brand, making sure customers knew what was available to them – and had that choice as part of it.”

suncorp marketplaceThis marketplace model is in direct contrast with the strategy of other financial brands such as Commonwealth Bank and Westpac, which is to keep customers contained to the one brand.

Monzo, Starling, N26 (challenger banks) and TSB are all launching a marketplace offering. This banking business model is on the basis of shared value where the provider creates value for the customer. Value is passed to the customer and the provider takes a referral fee from the beneficiary. Examples include foreign exchange fees, switching energy providers and switching telco providers.

N26 has partnered with TransferWise to let customers make foreign currency transfers, and with vaamo to make investments, all from within its mobile app.

n26Starling Bank recently launched its current account, the only product it will build in-house. Through its marketplace it will give customers access to P2P loans, investments, and has partnered with TransferWise. In the longer term, it plans to offer customers a choice of multiple products in each sector, and to partner with companies in the retail and lifestyle sectors.

starling bankOther companies adopting the marketplace model are Amazon, who is looking to offer bank accounts and already offers loans, along with Google, Facebook and Apple who either have banking licenses or are looking to acquire one.

The big sell for marketplace is that the customer journey and experience is both a satisfying and convenient one allowing for easier navigation and management from a central location. This new approach offers more competition through transparency, choice and better pricing.

We see marketplaces playing an even bigger role in the future.

Who will be next to implement this strategy?

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Is neglecting the importance of 3rd party websites hurting your market share?

In two different research studies conducted by Global Reviews for the energy and superannuation industries (in Q1 2018 and Q3 2018 respectively), it was found that:

Even though consumers had an initial brand preference in mind, they often ended up going with a completely different brand when making a purchase decision:

So what is it that happens between these two preference stages that has consumers changing their mind?

Our research studies found that:

Consumers within both industries tend to search for brands on comparison and research sites just as much as on the brand’s website itself.

Energy

 Superannuation

The major reasons for consumers turning to third party websites are:

  1. The ease of comparing different brand options on one platform.
  2. The comprehensive visibility of various options by each brand.
  3. The ability to get the best possible benefit from what is being offered.

By using aggregator and research sites, consumers are being exposed to more brands and offers on one platform that makes the use search and aggregator sites far more lucrative.

Another factor that is impacting the change of brand preference is how well brands are meeting the wants and needs of consumers.

Within the energy industry it was found that:

  • Discounts and incentives, were a major driver for final brand preference within the Energy industry.

This revelation can easily be linked to the result from our research study which revealed AGL was voted as the #1 preferred energy brand. At the time of conducting the research study, AGL was found to have significantly increased their advertising spend and refocused on promoting discounts and offers​ on every platform.

Many of their campaigns highlighted discounts and also offered bonuses such as cashback, Flybuys and Amazon Echo.

Similarly, our research study found that when it came to superannuation brands:

  • Reputation, trust and familiarity are most important to consumers when they shortlist brands as their initial preference.
  • However, investment results and low fees gain importance later in the journey – potentially as they learn more during their research.

This could be a major reason for Australian Super’s increasingly high performance.

According to consumers, Australian Super’s product looked the most attractive to them when using Canstar, owing to their low cost.

          Most use the comparison tool at Canstar where Australian Super shows a significantly lower “Annual Cost”

Since majority of consumers tend to research on brands through aggregator websites, it becomes important for brands within industries like superannuation and energy, to understand :

  • How their brand can be perceived to be more appealing on research and aggregator sites?
  • Which factors are responsible for making their brands lose out in the final brand preference race among its consumers?
  • How are aggregator sites using search to attract people to visit them instead of brand sites?

Through our research studies within these different industries, it is clear that focusing on tiny details can help brands unlock big results. Once brands know that there exists an opportunity to leverage a platform, they need to dig deep to understand the factors that can contribute to their brand’s success.

In this case it would be realising the pull that third party websites have on a consumers’ final preference and leveraging that to their brand’s advantage.

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