Digital intelligence: How do prospective Australian credit card customers compare providers and how can your brand gain an advantage?

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With 84 cards offered by the top 12 providers, Global Reviews data shows the credit cards industry in Australia are driving up aggregator usage as in-market consumers struggle to find the best solution that meets their needs.

Our recent Q3 2020 Australian Credit Cards Conversion Optimisation (mobile) benchmark shows that the number of credit card providers, coupled with the number of individual product options provided by each, is causing huge market fragmentation. More recent brand initiatives are also compounding this problem with new cards being introduced to the market without older ones being removed.The majority of brands are missing out on key opportunities to tailor a prospects search journey to enable cross brand comparison and avoid the aggregator snake pit. With so much choice, brands are pushing consumers to aggregators where they can make sense of all the cards on offer. From Q3 2019 to Q3 2020 our data shows a 35% increase in the number of in-market credit card prospects using an aggregator when looking for a provider. The challenge this presents is that those who visit an aggregator are 24% more likely to choose a card provider based on low fees than those who do not visit an aggregator at all. Brand fate in this hugely competitive marketplace is being decided by the aggregator.

But the brands can provide more tailored journeys directly from the search engine result which will drive higher numbers back to brand websites and help prospects make choices.

The Global Reviews Q3 2020 Credit Cards (mobile) study shows, that 57% of in-market credit card prospects, who have a provider in mind prior to conducting research online, go on to change their mind and switch to a different provider once doing research and being exposed to further online offerings. 33% of in-market credit card prospects have no brand in mind prior to completing online research. This is a huge opportunity in this market.

If we follow the pathway from the search engine based on Q3 2020 data, we can plot out some key opportunities for brands. Our upcoming credit cards webinar on the 26th of November will go into much further depth than this blog.

At the search engine, the top keywords used for search are Credit card at 10%, Best credit card 6% and Credit card comparison 3%.  Once a search result has returned, the mouse chase begins and the journeys that providers are offering from SEM to onsite experience are leaving many daunted.

With so many products available in the market key tools which help prospects find information quickly include bullet pointing information and providing tools which can bypass long scrolling pages and help prospects get to information quickly. Santander have used this approach to drive conversions in the UK current account market. Most credit card providers are too reliant on match to needs and comparison tools which sit deeper within their onsite sales experience to provide a tailored experience.In an advert competing for top spot on the popular key word “credit card” NAB offer credit card deals and offer comparison. To explore all of the options visitors must scroll the page. With few friction points within the text, visitors must also read full body text to understand the differences between the options. Are NAB asking too much of visitors?

Well-known brands like Westpac and NAB cut through the market with high brand awareness but, providing 14 cards between them inhibits conversions and undoes early top of mind leadership. The experience provided here is replicated on many sites and lead to comments from customers like:

It was difficult to look for a card and I needed multiple clicks. Wish there was a comparison table”

“The choices are overwhelming”

“There’s so much info that it’s daunting.  In the end it all reads the same to me.  Very cluttered and too many options.”

“There are a lot of credit cards out there! Even a single provider has many to choose from. This can get a bit overwhelming unless you really know what it is that you are looking for”

By comparison Coles and HSBC who together offer 7 cards yet achieve higher final conversion rates – combined total of 14%- , compared to Nab and Westpac. – combined total of 12%. Even more alarming for Nab is that fewer choose them for a credit card after completing research online than those who would choose them beforehand.

HSBC’s top promoted SEM result in Google promotes just one product the “HSBC Platinum Credit Card” with a quick pathway to signing up as well as features and benefits bullet pointed. But more can be done.So what can the credit card providers do to provide a better comparison experience to prospective customers while also driving their own conversions. 

Credit card providers in Australia can learn from approaches being taken by brands like Budget Direct to provide hyper targeted comparison experiences from the very beginning of the research journey, the search engine. Credit card providers are too reliant on comparison tools which sit deeper within their onsite sales journeys to provide a comparison experience.

In a recent motor insurance study, Budget Direct achieved significant uplift in conversion figures surpassing the majority of their competitors. Budget Direct’s brand recall was 43% points lower than market leader AAMI. However they manage to become the #1 visited website during the task, and #2 shortlisted and #2 finally preferred.

A key reason for Budget Direct’s success is that SEM advertising is tailored to the search terms entered and thus the experience is more relevant while also maximising the top listing opportunity. In the case of “compare car insurance” for example Budget Direct appear in first place and the advert is optimised to the keyword.

Budget Direct tailor the landing page to provide tools and content to target the compare process. This search pathway which began on the search engine also compares how visitors can save more money with Budget Direct against the competitive set.

When a prospective motor insurance customer searches by brand name, Budget Direct promote a search result where the message is more relevant to the consumer’s mindset – they are specifically searching for AAMI – so using a sentence that is action based followed by a compelling proof point is more likely to gain attention than by using an alternative brand name.

Again the landing page reinforces the ad promise and focuses on convincing the consumer why they should switch to Budget Direct away from AAMI and the key word terms searched by.

If credit card providers are going to offer so much choice, how providers enable prospective customers to simply discern the differences between offerings is the key to winning in this marketplace. In our upcoming webinar, Gerard Farrell CEO of Global Reviews will detail insights from our Q3 2020 Australian credit cards study and how

  • Providers can gain an advantage at both the earlier search and on site comparison journey
  • Learn from evidence led best practice comparison experiences provided in other industries around the world
  • Gain competitive intelligence on who is doing comparison well in the Australian credit card market, and who need to improve.

Register here to take part CLICK HERE TO REGISTER

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There is a lack of prioritised digital maturity in the “member login” area of most Super brands

An email by one of Australia’s largest superannuation funds, on the 15th of April, thanked fund members for their patience and understanding as a 270% increase above normal rates of calls to the call centre had led to increased wait times for phone-based assistance. What is occurring in this business is occurring with the majority of customer facing brands around the world. For all, there is a need to continuously monitor and review service strategies and consider increasing digital maturity during these unprecedented times.

How can any brand, faced with such an unforeseen global upending of normal working practise, cope? Crippled face to face channels, depleted call centre staffing and demands for answers on the fly from a clamour of nervous customers mean digital channels and digital maturity are to the fore. How can brands respond appropriately and rapidly?

Verify which digital features to prioritise based on what target segments deem important

Take this scatter chart, which details the self-service digital features that are most important to superannuation fund members between the ages of 25 and 35. From here decisions can be made about a prioritised digital feature roadmap, digital experience and associated communication strategy based on audience requirements.What is critical with a chart like this however, is the innovation culture that would have to emanate from the leadership team all the way down to the implementers. A belief in continuous innovation would have led to a previously developed solution to deal with an increasing demand for assistance; innovation maturity would have led to the development and testing of a solution to cover this kind of customer need.

In our recent digital maturity benchmark of 15 superannuation brands across Australia, measuring performance based on the weighted desirability and importance of circa 500 self-service digital features (per brand!) we found 3 brands met this standard. A more stark result was that, 7 in 15 brands scored below an average performance – this means they are falling significantly behind their peers in offering the digital services users actually want.

Superannuation brands below average digital maturity is driving down member satisfaction and increasing churn. 

For example, our recent study uncovered that early adopters do not want the same digital features as the early majority let alone the laggards. Younger audiences want different features to older audiences. The types of features you offer have a direct impact on prospective and current customers perception of your brand and whether it is a brand for someone like them.

When we surveyed 1,000 superannuation fund members, those who regularly use the online services provided by their super fund, are less likely to agree that the online service provided meets their needs, in comparison to those who dip in and out at a maximum of once a month. With the most recent demand for service generated by COVID 19, it may be that an increase in frequency of use of digital services will drive down satisfaction of service provision as is demonstrated by those who use most frequently. Early adopters and those in the early majority are also more likely to state that the online fund management experience is more likely, than the average super member, to cause them to stay or switch fund.

The insight is that some features with significant price tags may bring publicity, but do nothing to move engagement or frequency metrics and many brands are guilty of opinion led or misguided prioritisation. Before a brand invests, they need to know their audience and what features will cause them to switch or use their current fund’s services more frequently.

For example, when we look at the top five feature criteria across three different age groups, those between 25 to 34 years of age are more likely to place a “find my lost super” tool in their top five criteria than older age groups do. Those between 35 to 44 place priority on being able to change personal details and those between 45 and 54 want to be able to nominate beneficiaries during the application.

Rank25 to 3435 to 4445 to 54
1stWhile applying, a clear sense that my information will be kept safe and secureWhile applying, a clear sense that my information will be kept safe and secureWhile applying, a clear sense that my information will be kept safe and secure
2ndQuick information on my account balance immediately after logging in.Information about fees, charges and commissionsInformation about fees, charges and commissions
3rdRetrieval links for forgotten password or login details to the member’s areaQuick information on my account balance immediately after logging inQuick information on my account balance immediately after logging in
4thInformation about fees, charges and commissionsBeing able to change personal details online (Address, email, etc.)Retrieval links for forgotten password or login details to the member’s area
5thAbility to find my ’lost super’ during the application (Old forgotten superannuation accounts with other providers)Retrieval links for forgotten password or login details to the member’s areaAbility to nominate beneficiaries during the application

So, let’s take another look at that scatter chart. When we take a deeper look at those features which are above average importance and desirability for the 25 to 34 year old age group, we can devise a clear picture as to how to design for this cohort. Shiny toys like “communication through social media” are actually neither desirable nor important, while being able to find a lost super is more important than it is desirable.Another thing this scatter chart tells us for the 25 to 35 age group is that having quick information available on account balance immediately after logging in is a feature deemed very important and desirable to this group, but who is doing this well? Only half of brands assessed, begging the question why other brands haven’t appreciated the demand for this simple offer.

And so it is today, those brands with an eye on digital innovation within the self-service environment, be it app or web services, have a distinct advantage. The nice to have has, very quickly, become the need to have. If a customer or member cannot change their personal details in the member environment your service is in the Stone Age. If you are not thinking of ways to enable end to end product and service fulfilment entirely online, you are already behind. And businesses that looks to the future based on what users really need and not just what is easy or the current fad, will out-perform their competitors in the digital experience being offered, especially in a time of crisis.

Upcoming webinar

Our upcoming webinar on digital maturity looks at the performance of 31 super and banking brands. To register for the webinar visit 

To find out more about what the webinar will cover visit

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Finding the balance between website consistency and meeting the consumers’ needs

uk banking

There are many reasons why a consumers put a brand on their consideration shortlist, but they generally fall into three categories:

  • Previous experience/impressions of the brand
  • The range of products/deals
  • How easy the website made the research experience

Looking at the reasons why consumers shortlisted various brands for current accounts, mortgages and savings – these categories certainly come into play. However, we start to see some distinct variances in how important each area is depending on the product they are researching.

The following graph highlights some of the differences in the top reasons why consumers consider a brand depending on the product they are looking to apply for.

reasons for consumers shortlisting a brand banking uk*Source: Global Reviews Fruition UK Q4 2018 Research. Current Accounts n=151. Mortgages n=166. Savings Accounts n=151

Previous experience/impressions of the brand seems to be more important amongst those looking for a mortgage.

The range of products/deals is important across the board, but more so for those seeking a new savings account.

How easy the website made the research experience is always important, but consumers specifically think so when looking for a current account.

By understanding the primary drivers behind consumer decision making in relation to various products, brands can tailor their SEO/SEM and landing pages accordingly in order to speak directly to the mindset of the consumer.

For example: the SEO/SEM and landing pages for savings accounts should be centered around product offers and the ability to compare options. Meanwhile for mortgages, the focus should be on brand reputation, instilling a sense of trust and meeting consumer needs. For current accounts the focus should be around making the offerings easy to locate and understand.

It’s not enough to know the differences in how consumers research according to industry, it’s also important to be able to break it down by product – but at the same time ensure a sense of consistency across the site. It can be a challenge to find the right balance, but with thorough research and a broad understanding of consumer drivers, this balance can be met.


Contact us to get the full pdf report.

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It ain’t what you do it’s the way that you do it…

UX form design

…and that’s what gets results.


Here, at Global Reviews, we are always looking for ways to help our clients optimise their digital customer experience, from switching energy providers, applying for new bank account, or getting a quote for health or car insurance. The client result: insights that increase their bottom line.

One way of doing this is by making sure that the path to purchase is as easy as possible. In this blog I will focus specifically on form design.

In the last 18 months, Global Reviews has run over 60 studies that tested forms from over 300 brands, across a diverse range of industries such as, insurance, energy, higher education and finance, from brands in the UK, Australia, Canada and Ireland. From this research, we have found that there are four key stages to successful form design:

  1. Preparing for purchase
  2. Form features and functions
  3. Form Help and support
  4. Completing the purchase

Preparing for purchase

This is all about upfront expectation setting. Here are a few examples:


  • tell me I don’t qualify for this when I’m right in the middle of process
  • tell me it’s going to take three minutes when it’s closer to seven
  • leave me guessing as to what’s involved and what you might be asking me
  • tell me what I need to have when I need to have it


  • communicate eligibility criteria
  • be accurate with the amount of time it’s going to take
  • clearly explain the process and what will happen next
  • communicate upfront the information I need to have to complete the process

Form features and functions

This is all about the features and functions, the design patterns, that users will interact with. Firstly, we have the framework that the form components themselves reside in, for example:

  • Multiple steps
  • Single page
  • Progressive reveal
  • Conversation design

These aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive, but our tests show that some resonate better than others. Increasingly we are seeing many industries moving to a conversational design pattern in a bid to better match a product to user’s needs. This pattern was largely driven by legislative changes but increasingly business is realising it’s not about what products they have, it’s about whether I, the consumer, can get what I need with their products.

Then we have the components themselves, which interaction design pattern is better for example, when inputting the date of birth. While our studies don’t go down to testing this level of detail, we do review the forms of those who have high success, confidence and satisfaction scores, analyse what they are doing and compare them to brands who don’t perform as well.

Form help and support

This is all about how you promote self-service, provide interventions and give confidence to the user so that they continue forward. It covers areas such as error handling, security and privacy, help channels and exit strategies. It is often overlooked but can be the difference between someone competing that purchase or abandoning midway.


Completing the purchase

This is all about encouraging completion on the results page. Too often this page is overlooked and opportunities are missed to ensure that the user doesn’t abandon at this stage. There are a number of best practice approaches to increase the chances of conversion, such as:

  • Keep initial information simple but enable users to access further detail
  • Recall the benefits of applying online
  • Provide content which improves the perception of value
  • Cater to prospects who won’t buy online

From those studies there are a number of brands that stand out when it comes to designing forms. They do so because they have carefully designed their path to purchase so that it meets the criteria of those stages.  Here are some examples of how those brands are creating a better experience.

Preparing for purchase – Bank of Montreal, Canada

Bank of Montreal is a top performer, achieving 100% for features and functions for ‘Preparing to purchase’.

  1. Highlights brand differentiators
  2. Promotes reasons to choose the online channel to apply
  3. Caters to different audience needs
  4. Highlights benefits and reasons to choose the brandPreparing for purchase BMO

Form Function – Sonnet, Canada

Sonnet almost presents a one page form, the primary page captures key personal and product information, which is then prefilled into a second page with one or two extra questions. The prefilling of questions drives a quick and easy experience.

  1. Sonnet use only four free text questions in the entire journey. The majority of question types present are drop down, single select questions
  2. The second page presents 7 questions, 5 of which are prefilled based on previous answers

Form Function – Sonnet

Form Help and Support – Beagle Street, UK

Beagle Street provide integrated help and support during their quote process.

  1. Help and support content is tailored to the specific area of enquiry. Here, where users may want a detailed description of the differences in the types of cover, a video is provided is embedded into the help section
  2. A large ‘i’ icon directs users towards any help and support related to the page

Form Help and Support – Beagle Street

Completing the purchase –, Ireland are one of only two providers credited with the ability to view a summary of key information entered.

  1. call out the online savings as a separate price – interestingly, lead with the online saving price leaving the actual price further down the page
  2. provide links to detailed explanation of the product

Completing the purchase –

These are just a small sample of the insights we deliver to clients. If you’d like to know more about how you can optimise your digital experience, please get in touch with us.


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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
+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:

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-

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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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