The influential role of aggregators in converting online energy customers


In our latest wave of research into the energy market, we have seen some interesting trends in how ‘in-market’ customers are researching and choosing their energy supplier. To begin with, let’s look at what is driving final preference. When UK consumers are choosing a preferred energy brand, what exactly are they driven by?

Drivers of final preference

Figure 1: Drivers of final preference Nov ’15 – Jan ’16 

Energy consumers in the UK, similar to those in Ireland, are primarily driven by price with 41% of UK consumers looking for the best value. In the Irish market, a higher majority of consumers choose the energy provider that has the ‘best plan to suit my needs’ at 42% versus 20% in the UK, demonstrating the gap between the two markets. Consumers are looking for the right deals and prices however energy provider websites need to communicate and demonstrate their value proposition clearly. Perhaps a brand that offers more in terms of rewarding loyalty will be best placed in the market? A ‘non-price’ value proposition could indeed offer something new and different. Energy providers will stay ahead by ‘adding value’ beyond just offering the cheapest energy in the market, through rewards schemes and loyalty incentives. Aside from price, other elements such as ‘trust’ (30%) and plans that are easy to understand (23%) are also drivers of final preference for UK consumers.

The role of aggregator websites

Relevant price messaging is important as consumers who are looking for a new energy provider actively research and use a number of means in order to weed out the best deal online and aggregators play a key role here.

Consumers are using aggregators to filter and create a shortlist but then go to the brand website to purchase. The implication here is that if your brand does not feature on an aggregator, it will not be considered. Aggregator websites capture consumer interest through key messaging at the search phase of the online journey, more so than the brands! A stark reminder then to established brands and even new entrants, that the role of aggregators in the online journey should not be underestimated. These lesser known brands are actively increasing market share due to search engine results pushing consumers toward the aggregator site where they are able to easily compare prices across a variety of brands but ultimately consumers will opt to purchase through the brand website as they believe it is more trustworthy.

What terms are energy consumers searching for in the UK?

Over 95% of consumers start their journey on a search engine when looking for the best energy deal or a new energy provider. Aggregator websites such as uSwitch, Compare the Market and Money Supermarket dominate visits from search engines, primarily Google.

Search terms

Figure 2: Search terms – UK consumers Nov ’15 – Jan ’16 

If we look at the most used search terms in the UK, the top 4 are brands, namely, British Gas, E.ON, EDF Energy and nPower, followed closely by comparison site uSwitch. In fact, the most visited domain from a search engine is uSwitch at 37% of visits; this is worth noting given that only 6% of consumers searched for uSwitch as an actual search term. Clearly at some point on the online journey there is a diversion to aggregators even though consumers set out in search of a brand name.

Just over a third of UK consumers only visit aggregators

Search to Aggregators

Figure 3: The role of search Nov ’15 – Jan ’16 

A third of consumers in this research only visited aggregator websites when considering what brands to put on their shortlist. A fifth only go to a brand’s website and make a decision from there.

Our research shows that consumers go back and forth between

Search –> aggregator –> brand

Search –> brand –> aggregator

Aggregator sites are used to find the best deal but application forms are normally completed on the brand’s website due to a higher perceived trust with the brands website.

Global Reviews excels at solving the critical problems digital leaders face in customer acquisition.

  • WHY are we losing potential online customers who are actively considering buying from us (taking out a quote and shortlisting us) but then buy from another company?
  • WHAT can we learn from other companies around the world that will enable us to stop losing customers that we should and could be winning?
  • HOW do we independently validate, in such a fast-moving and disruptive digital environment, that the development decisions we are making are the right ones?

To find out how we can help you, please contact: 

Hannah Rose Farrington – Commercial Director

T: +44 (0) 203725 8263

M: +353 871263043



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3 ways banks can learn from other countries, other industries and themselves

Banking industries

As a whole, Australian banking websites offer customers a strong online experience, however, there are a few areas where they tend to fall short or at the very least could afford to push themselves further to deliver a stronger experience. Following on from our recent webinar on the same topic, we now give you 3 ways in which banks can learn from other countries, other industries and themselves.


When completing tasks on banking websites, the amount of perceived effort required is far higher on desktop websites in both Australia and the UK than expected on Australian mobile banking websites.

Perceived effort required to complete basic tasks on banking websites

Effort banking

The reason for this variance in perceived effort is in part due to the fact that mobile websites are essentially forced into offering a simpler and more condensed experience as the main website is adapted for a handheld device.

Learning from mobile: Both Westpac and St George utilise drop-down accordions and concise customer needs headings to create responsive site sections for personal loan content. This gives the customer the option to browse more in-depth product information at their own leisure, rather than bombarding them with bulky text. Applying a similar approach to the desktop website could help to improve the visual appeal of a page as well as lessen the feeling of being overwhelmed by too much information – especially in the early stages of research.

Westpac puts a priority on shortening the customer journey to their loan application page through the use of priority buttons. There are also options for both online and phone applications, to cater for a wider portion of customers depending on their preferred application methods.

St George includes related needs images and overviews for loan products, giving customers a quick comparison of products with an option to view more information on an individual product.

Westpac St George mobileTakeaway tip: A lot of brands are focussing their efforts on their mobile site, which in turn means the main desktop site is getting neglected. It is important to schedule time into your development plan so that once the mobile site has been set, the corresponding desktop site can be reviewed to see which shortcuts or condensed content from the mobile site can be applied to the main site.


Understanding fees and charges is the most important element consumers are wanting on a banking website. Whist Australian banks do perform quite well in this area, there are some international banks that go one step further.

Top customer needs on Australian banking websites

Important elements

Learning from international banks: Santander received a 99% effectiveness score for the process of locating interest rate information. This success is helped along by Santander’s fees being easily accessible and transparent on their credit card landing page via use of a highlight red box around the ‘Representative example’ content. This provides the customer with immediate information on fees and rates, including their annual fee.

Additionally, contextual tools and help are displayed within the main navigation which feeds into easy navigation and delivers a sense of security and trust within the brand.

Santandar credit cards

Ally Bank in the US makes their rate for their savings account the hero, boldly presenting it as the starting point for account information, just below a clearly defined customer rating to immediately build trust through transparency and customer advocacy.

Ally also shortens click paths to account rates and fees by keeping a fixed tab menu above the fold on the product page.

Ally bank

Takeaway tip: In addition to observing best practice amongst direct competitors, keeping an eye on the international market can keep you ahead of the game locally.


Arguably one of the main reasons that a consumer visits a website is to learn more about the product range on offer. For banking brands this is the range of accounts, for sports betting brands this is the sports and for universities this is the courses on offer.

Across all of the Australian websites benchmarked by Global Reviews in 2015, it was the sports betting industry that achieved the highest customer experience score. Banking and travel came in at number two, closely followed by tertiary education. Whilst the product may differ from industry to industry, the customer journey essentially remains the same which means there’s no reason why banks cannot learn from other industries as well as their own.

2015 customer effort scores by industry

Industry scores

Learning from other industries: Crownbet clearly defines their main navigation menu through leveraging familiar icons. They also create a quick list navigation menu to the left of the page, to further cut down click paths for customers.


Deakin University achieved a 90% success rate for the behavioural task of finding course information through having clearly defined and prioritised course call-to-action areas on their landing page. DeakinTakeaway tip: It doesn’t matter if you’re a bank, betting agency or university – each of these industries are fundamentally doing the same thing in that they are selling a product/service to customers. So whilst looking at what other banks are doing is important, it is equally important to see what other industries are doing to get a better understanding of the online experiences your prospective customers are getting elsewhere.

As we can see, there’s always someone else Australian banks – or any brand for that matter – can learn from; whether that be themselves, international counterparts or even other industries. Global Reviews is the only place where brands can get a comprehensive view of how they’re performing with best practice insights pulled from all of these areas. Contact us to get these types of insights across your brand so that you can get ahead of the game.

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Motor Insurance: What is driving the change in brand preferences?

Sales funnel

Getting onto a consumer’s consideration list is one thing…staying there is another! Most brands know how many people are reaching their website following a Google search, but how many know where these prospective customers go once they’ve left the site? Then there’s the question of why did these consumers leave and why aren’t they coming back?

Throughout November, January and March we asked Australian consumers who were in the market for a new motor insurance provider to conduct their initial research online and tell us which brand(s) they considered vs. which brand they would finally prefer after initial research.

The following infographic shows how many prospective customers brands are losing between consideration and final preference as well as the evolving trends in what is driving brand preferences.

Motor Insurance infographicThe Global Reviews Digital Marketing Effectiveness study is the only research programme that can truly show marketers what is happening with their prospective customers online. In addition to studying the research habits and processes of consumers, Global Reviews also assesses the usability of the individual brand websites, focusing specifically on how well the website aids the consumer when researching and opening an account online.

Contact us to find out how consumers are researching your brand and whether or not your website is helping or hindering them in the process.

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Traditional health insurance brands offer a stronger online customer experience than digital disruptors

Health Insurance

“Based on this [health insurance] website – I think I would give up before finding what I was looking for.” – research participant

The above quote was captured in 2015 when Global Reviews interviewed over 1700 ‘in market’ health insurance consumers – that being consumers actively in the market for buying health insurance within the next 90 days at the time of the research – as part of their health insurance programme, resulting in a very specific, active and robust sample for the purposes of this research.

Concentrating specifically on the desktop journey, the performance of 17 health insurance brands across 3 different countries; Ireland, UK and Australia were benchmarked. These brands were segmented into disruptor, agile and traditional brands – see infographic below for definitions.

So which type of brand within the market segments outlined best meets customer needs along the customer journey? Within the ‘Consider’ and ‘Act’ phases of our Digital Sales Effectiveness benchmark, we looked at each stage of the online customer journey for the brands within each segment. The topline results are displayed in the infographic.

  • When it comes to first impressions on a homepage, ‘Traditional’ brands had the most stable score across all areas of the radar chart, mostly outperforming agile and disruptor brands
  • Disruptor brands were found not to be doing well in terms of trust
  • Clear gap for ‘agiles’ in relation to “I would be likely to use this website” on the first impression of the website

It is clear from our research that trust needs to be built, in particular at the application form stage for the ‘disruptor’ brands with security and privacy not being communicated well at the application form stage.

It appears that while disruptor brands are potentially doing well to shake up the market, their website experiences are perhaps a bit too formulaic and are trying too hard to be different and advanced.

“It appears all marketing hype almost to the point of being bogus. At no time did I feel that the [health insurance] website was providing ‘me’ with a service. It was more focused on boxing me into its fixed formatted process.” – research participant

“The experience with the sample website was not ideal, although quite typical of modern websites.” – research participant

As a result, agile and traditional brands are generally providing a stronger online customer experience – although they each hold their own sets of weak spots that could do with some improvement.

What is the right balance for evolving without losing touch with the traditional aspects that bring a sense of trust with it? Contact us to find out where your website fits and how you can strike that balance in order to deliver the best online experience for your customers.

Health Insurance

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Life Insurance: do banks, general insurers or exclusively life insurance providers offer the best online customer experience? New benchmark coming to Australia

Life Insurance

In Q2 and Q4 of 2015, Global Reviews ran their Digital Sales Effectiveness benchmark across three banks, three general insurers and three exclusively life insurers in the UK. The benchmark looked at which brand offered the best online experience for customers when they are researching and purchasing life insurance online. The research involving a real-time audit conducted by over 500 in-market consumers, exposed just how well brands are performing throughout the key stages of the customers’ online sales journey and is designed to highlight the issues that 95% of customers will have with a brands online experience.

Online customer journey

Customer sales journey

Across all of the industries and their respective products that were benchmarked in both Australia and the UK during 2015 (over 60,000 consumers across 500 brands), banking came out on top as the best performing industry. However, a trend that was found in the research into life insurance was that of the three different industries who offer life insurance within the UK, general insurers tended to offer the best online experience.

Average overall life insurance benchmark scores (UK 2015)

Life insurance scores

Given that in the UK if a prospective life insurance customer were to encounter a problem whilst researching online, 15% stated that they would leave the website and search for another provider rather than persevering or trying to contact the company, it is vital that no matter what a company’s core industry is, it is able to offer a strong customer experience.

This is possibly even more important in Australia where not only do banks, general insurers and life insurers operate in this domain, but also health insurers and superannuation providers as well – creating an even larger competitive pool for companies.

So is this trend in scores due to general insurers having a broader experience of selling insurance policies where as banks are used to dealing with accounts and life insurers only have the experience within that one product? Is this a trend one that is mirrored in Australia?

In 2016 life insurance will be benchmarked in Australia for the first time so we are about to find out!

Contact us to find out how well your website is catering to the needs of those actively looking for life insurance.

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Getting Personal: 82% of UK & Australian financial service providers are failing to assist returning prospects

Getting personal in banking

It was revealed in our recent banking and finance webinar that of the 22 brands we assessed, no one brand is currently offering a consistently strong customer experience along the digital sales journey and only four brands were doing anything to assist prospective customers when they return to the website for further product research.

The benchmark research involving a real-time audit conducted by 510 in-market consumers, exposed just how well brands are performing throughout the key stages of the customers’ online sales journey.

The result? Not great.

On average, the benchmark scores across Australia mortgages (mobile) and UK investments (desktop) are quite low, with Australia savings accounts (desktop) performing slightly better…

Average customer journey benchmark scores

online sales journey banking

Can the banking and finance industry improve on these averages?

Data and insights from the research shows that simple improvements could make a big difference to returning users and current customers.

Savings & investments are complex products – don’t make users do the research over and over again….

Customers who have gone through the effort to view and research products are already a fair way down the purchase funnel and are entering the ‘win over’ stage, so it is important at this point to make things as easy as possible for them. This can be achieved by helping to facilitate a visitor’s previous journey on return by making it easier to access previously viewed information and presenting tailored content using the following techniques:

  • Allow customers to save favourite pages/investments/accounts to a list they can come straight back to next time and let them access that list quickly and easily from each page of the site.
  • Recognise and reward previous visits actively – “last visited pages….” , “other interesting pages…”.
  • Ask users if they are existing customers and facilitate a speedier application if so. Then let them login to continue application and encourage them to do so.
  • Allow online retrieval of application status.

And of course, keep abreast of other industries who are leading the way in personalisation and relevancy.

For more in-depth analysis and our best practice examples, view the full webinar.

Contact us for more information on our Digital Sales Effectiveness programme and to find out how your website rates.


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Home Insurance – Online providers failing to help customers

Home Ins

A recent Global Reviews webinar, Home Insurance: How Australian and UK websites compare, looks at the Digital Sales Effectiveness (DSE) of online home insurance brands in both regions. The benchmark study follows the customers’ journey online and found that easy steps can be taken in order to improve the journey and ultimately, conversion rates. However currently, no one brand succeeds in helping customers throughout each stage of the sales journey online in either region.

Looking at the overall scores relating to customer experience, it is clear that across all brands in the research, there is no clear outstanding performer but most providers in Australia are scoring slightly better than the UK.

Home Insurance Scores Q3 2015

Home Insurance Scores Q3 2015

Despite the slight variations in scores, it becomes apparent when we look at the industry averages across all stages of the customer journey that ‘Evaluating Options’ scores quite poorly and it is here that home insurance providers could make significant gains, by actively helping customers to find specific cover to suit their needs. On average, 40% of users in the UK failed to find a specific cover, with most websites making it a long and time-consuming process. Introducing quick wins such as a comparison table or calculator function could prove highly effective. In addition, the home insurance industry is weak at the ‘Facilitating Decisions’ stage. It is at this stage providers can really prove their value and stand out to customers by making it easy to communicate or indeed help users to self-serve online by offering relevant channels through which to escalate problems or ask questions. 50% of providers in the study failed customers by not offering clear phone numbers or help sections, meaning users who do have a problem will simply leave the website rather than be presented with opportunities to solve the issue.

Industry averages across the stages

Industry averages across the stages

In summary, no one brand succeeds across all the stages of the customer journey for home insurance across the UK and Australia. Home insurance providers are not maximising the simple opportunities to create an effective and satisfying buying journey for their customers.

For more in-depth analysis and our best practice examples, view the full webinar. 

Contact us for more information on our Digital Sales Effectiveness programme and to find out how your website rates.

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Mobile websites offer a better experience than desktop and tablet sites when researching and booking domestic flights

Domestic airline booking

In the latest Global Reviews Domestic Booking (Flights) Industry Digital Sales Effectiveness Report, it shows that when it comes to researching and booking a flight online, mobile websites are offering a better experience than their desktop and tablet counterparts.

The benchmark tracks the customers’ journey, across key brands in the travel sector, from their initial engagement with the website, when they are locating and considering the flights, through to completing the booking form.

On a combined average Qantas was seen to offer the best online experience with a score of 59.8%. However, when splitting the results across each of the devices Qantas only led on desktop while Swiss was number one on mobile with Jetstar and Virgin Australia sharing the lead on tablet.

As part of the benchmarking study, consumers are asked about their propensity to recommend a website to a friend or colleague, this forms the Web Promoter Score (WPS) metric.

The industry average WPS was -19%.

airline wps scoreThe mobile sites fared the best with -6%.

Despite mobile sites providing the better experience across devices, there are still areas where it falls behind and therefore is not yet offering a consistently strong performance which shows in this negative WPS score.

Most important website elements as stated by prospective customers
When asked to rate on a scale of 1-10 how important particular features would be on a website when researching and booking a domestic flight, the most important elements were:

Top needs airline websites

As a whole the industry is performing well to meet these needs, however they are lacking some points along the way. The mixed results across brands, with no sole brand dominating all stages of the research and booking process, means that there is a lot of potential for the industry to learn from each other to lift the industry up even further.

Click here to download the full report.

For more information on the research or to find out how your website rates, please contact:
Mark McCathrion
Commercial Director
T: +61 3 9982 3417

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Energy Retail: Comparing provider preferences across Australia, Ireland and the UK.

Energy infographic

Throughout November and December we asked Australian, Irish and English consumers who were in the market for a new energy provider to conduct their initial research online and tell us which brand(s) they initially preferred vs. which brand they are currently with and which brand they would finally prefer after initial research.

The following infographic shows some of the key differences between the three markets and what elements are driving brand preference.

Energy AU IE UKIn addition to studying the research habits and processes of consumers, Global Reviews also assesses the usability of the individual brand websites, focusing specifically on how well the website aids the consumer when researching and opening an account online.

Contact us to find out how consumers are researching your brand and whether or not your website is helping or hindering them in the process.

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First impressions dropping when researching motor insurance providers

motor insurance

At the end of 2015, Global Reviews conducted two different research studies to assess how Australian’s are researching motor insurance online. The first study looked at how consumers were using the internet to browse for and research insurance, whilst the second study was a multi-faceted benchmarking audit that focused in on how specific insurance websites perform when it comes to enabling consumers to find and apply for a policy to best suit their needs.

When initially researching a motor insurance provider the following website types were used:

90% search
60% brand
46% aggregator

In addition it was found that the bulk of consumers would typically spend time researching 3-6 providers, but would go so far as getting a quote from just three providers, creating tight competition among the industry – especially when it comes to the policy evaluation and decision making phases of the research and sales journey.

Findings from the benchmark study showed that overall the motor insurance industry scored an average of 58% in the first stage of a customer’s journey whereby they initially engage with the brand and its website. This is three points lower than both the previous study run in April 2015, and the home insurance study from June 2015.

Feeding into the benchmark to achieve this score was a mix of best practice audits, consumer audits and consumer behavioural inputs. Among these data inputs it was found that:

  • The motor insurance industry averaged 57% for assisting the needs of customers.
  • Whist the industry averages 70% for whether or not customers can locate general information about home insurance, it scores just 18% for how efficiently that information can be found.
  • RACV had the most efficient path of finding information at 28%. Budget Direct, GIO and Suncorp were the next best performers, each scoring 21% for efficiency.
  • Detail in the information about motor insurance is, for the most part, lacking with the industry averaging 47%. Real Insurance was the top performer with 67%, just slightly ahead of their 64% in the home insurance study. Allianz and GIO were next with 60% followed by Suncorp with 53%.

With the limited opportunity to get on the consideration list, if a brand is unable to hold onto the consumer by creating engagement within moments of landing on their homepage, and ensuring important information is easy to access, then they are at risk of losing the customer before they’ve even begun researching – especially given that 18% of consumers stated that if they encountered any problems on a website while researching a new policy then they would leave the website and look for another provider.

Download the industry report for more insights from this research and contact us to ensure your brand is captured in our upcoming studies.

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