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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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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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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The advancing & stalling of banking mobile sites (& why Tesco Bank needs to change their site)

The advancing & stalling of banking mobile sites (& why Tesco Bank needs to change their site)

When rating the current accounts landing page on mobile banking sites, Tesco Bank is comprehensively outscored and their product pages are not performing much better. Navigation, appealing visual design and information are all considered by consumers to be lacking from the Tesco Bank site compared to what competitor sites are delivering. These key areas are all contributing to a low average score for Tesco Bank for landing page impressions.Tesco bank scores 7.14 in customer audit

 

A recent study with 170 consumers looking at user experience across UK current account mobile banking sites revealed that Tesco’s unchanging site is falling further and further behind competitors who are continually evolving their site in order to match consumer needs.

Our webinar looked at where Tesco has stalled and how competitors are advancing their sites. These insights will not only help you to avoid making these same mistakes, but also show you what the top performing brands from around the world are doing to ensure they aren’t also falling behind.

Presented by: Rebecca Jennings – Principal Client Advisor

If you enjoyed this webinar you might also be interested in our previous webinar: Why are Santander losing so many potential customers and how can you learn from their mistakes

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

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UK Banking Webinar Series: Learn from competitors’ mistakes

learn from santander mistakes

Over the past 12 months, Santander has been steadily losing prospective mortgage customers. They have gone from having a 12% preference rate amongst consumers, down to just 6%. Meanwhile, HSBC have recently increased to 16% and Nationwide is maintaining a strong lead with 23%.

Why are Santander losing so many potential customers and how can you learn from their mistakes?

A recent study with 150 consumers looking at website user experience across UK mortgage sites revealed that one of the reasons Santander is rating poorly is because their website is not working as strongly as other brands.

Our recent webinar looked at where along the online customer journey consumers are struggling to connect with Santander’s website. These insights will not only help you to avoid making these same mistakes, but also show you what the top performing brands from around the world are doing to ensure they aren’t losing prospective customers.

Presented by: Rebecca Jennings – Principal Client Advisor

If you enjoyed this webinar you might also be interested in our following webinar: The advancing & stalling of banking mobile sites (& why Tesco Bank needs to change their site)

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

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Goldman Sachs enter savings market – but can they meet UK users’ high experience demands?

Goldman Sachs Global Reviews

The announcement last week that Goldman Sachs – the institution once dubbed “a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity” by Rolling Stone magazine at the height of the financial crisis in 2010 – is entering the mainstream savings account market in the UK through their online-only brand Marcus, will send ripples through the banking sector, not least because the account offers a market-beating 1.5% interest for the first year.

The new account from Marcus (named after one of the founders of Goldman Sachs, and launched in the US in 2016) is explicitly aimed at stealing market share from the established high street banks, who are already suffering from intense competition and low profit margins as well as trying to fend off a swathe of digital first start-ups such as Monzo and Revolut.

Whilst the generous rates will no doubt cause an immediate flurry of account openings,  as an online-only provider with no ATM card (though the account can be managed by phone if required)  ease of usability of the brand’s website, mobile site and app will be vital for the long term success of the enterprise.

However, at present, the brand doesn’t actually offer an app; a notable omission in the UK market where high street behemoths such as Barclays, Nationwide and Lloyds have been offering clients useful and well-performing apps for several years. In April, Goldmans acquired personal finance app Clarity Money, but have yet to pivot it into serving Marcus customers.

Part of the account’s appeal is the freedom to deposit and withdraw funds as many times as you like with no charges, unlike most savings accounts, but a frustrating online experience in doing so will soon have investors jumping ship, if market incumbents can quickly move to match the rates on accounts that users know can be easily managed through existing apps.

In short – a headline grabbing rate from one of banking’s most well-known (if not well-loved) brands will garner deposits from savvy investors in the short term, but long term success in transaction-based accounts will require rapid investment in easy to use digital experiences.

 

Get in touch to find out more about the experience demands UK consumers have when it comes to banking and how Goldman Sachs is positioned to shake up the market.

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Why you shouldn’t tell punters you’re the world’s best

world's best sports betting

Consumers shouldn’t need to be told that your company is the “world’s best”. If it’s true, and you are the biggest or the best, wouldn’t the know that already? Shouldn’t you be showing them something a bit more compelling rather than wasting an opportunity by telling consumers something they already know?

Should a punter search for a sports betting provider in a search engine, the first place they are going to see any offers is in the copy detail of the initial search results. This key step in grabbing attention of any prospective punter places competing brands side by side. With 34% stating that they considered a brand because they saw them in search, there should be no doubt in the importance on getting your brand’s SEO and SEM right!

In a recent study Ladbrokes, who in SEO and SEM claim to be the best, were outperformed by 888 in terms of consideration and preference.

We are here to tell you why.

In looking at the brand rankings from recall through to initial preference, shortlist and then final preference, Ladbrokes takes a dive going from being the second most recalled brand and most likely to be shortlisted, dropping down to being in fifth position for final preference. Meanwhile, smaller brand 888 is going in the opposite direction. 888 starts quite low but then moves up to be the seventh most preferred brand.  Ultimately what this means is that the digital marketing strategy for 888 is working in that despite having a low initial recall rate, it is getting discovered and chosen during the research phase.

Recall to final preference sports betting

This data tells us that punters are willing to change their minds during their research. Just because they had a particular brand in mind when they started their research, it doesn’t necessarily mean that will be the brand they will ultimately place a bet with.

Percentage of punters each brand lost to someone else between initial and final preference:

  • Bet365 – 44%
  • William Hill – 41%
  • PaddyPower – 33%
  • SkyBet – 29%
  • Ladbrokes – 12%

Ladbrokes fans seems to be very loyal. But what this also means is that Ladbrokes isn’t achieving as well as others when it comes to acquisition in the actual digital marketplace leading to a reliance more on the loyalty of current customers.

What are the reasons for punters to consider a brand?

Brands like Ladbrokes, William Hill, Paddy Power and Bet365 are initially considered because punters are familiar with their name and they are reputable brands. Ladbrokes in particular appear to have a loyal base and those who are loyal are not changing their mind. Yet they’re not attracting new punters.

How can brands attract new punters during research and what is influencing which brands consumers are considering once they begin their research?

Outside of brand familiarity, the most common reason for shortlisting a brand is because they have good odds/offers (37%).

This brings us back to brand’s proclaiming that they are the “best”. Every business should believe that they are the best at what they do. However, the key is not to tell everyone that you are the best, but rather show everyone WHY you’re the best.

Getting the most out of SEM/SEO

In doing a search for some of the top-rated sports betting brands, the results showed multiple brands stating that they were:

  • “The world’s leading sports betting company”
  • “The world’s favourite online sports betting company”
  • “One of the world’s leading online gambling companies”
  • “The world’s biggest bookmaker”

sports betting sem world's best

Whilst these brands may well be the world’s leading/favourite/biggest, it’s ultimately subjective and difficult for consumers to differentiate brands based on these descriptions. Consumers are typically already aware of these brands, so they would generally already be aware of the standing of the brand. Search results only allow for a small area in terms of real estate so is reiterating something that people should already know about you and your brand the most valuable use of that space? What consumers are really looking for are service or proposition-based differentiators as they seek out the best odds/offers.

By instead highlighting what your brand offers in terms of odds, free bets and cash back, you can go from telling consumers that you are the best, to showing them WHY you are the best. This in turn gives consumers a reason to consider you as the best brand to place a bet through.

Following through

The effective use of SEM and SEO are vital in getting punters to your website initially, but what they see once they click through is of equal importance. If your SEM is promoting a special offer, but when punters click through to your site there’s no obvious sign of that deal, then you’re starting to create more work for the punter and potentially increasing the chance of them going elsewhere.

888 sport not only promotes their new customer offer three times within the search results, one of the first things punters see when they go to the site is the same offer. This follow-through of messaging makes the transition from the search engine to the website far smoother and shows that the brand is ready to deliver on their offer.

888 sem seo to website

 

While 888 sport may not have the legacy that Ladbrokes, William Hill, Paddy Power and Bet365 have, but they are committed to showing that they have good offers which is ultimately what punters want.

View our recent webinar for more insights into how sports betting providers are performing online and why punters are choosing one brand over another:

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Motor insurance quote forms are too long according to 31% of consumers

motor insurance

The most common issue faced by consumers when applying online for motor insurance revolves around the length of the quote form and how long it took to complete it with 31% reporting it as being a problem.

Two key questions asked by insurance providers are:

  1. How should I set the quote tool?
  2. What is the impact that the layout has on the actual and perceived length of the form?

Essentially, should it be one question per page with a longer click journey or should the form be presented on one long page in an accordion format?

In reviewing the presentation of the quote form including how many questions are asked and how many pages of questions there are – we gained some insight as to what is making consumers more satisfied and likely to complete the form and go on to purchase a policy.

Churchill and Direct Line both use the same quote tool which contains all questions within the one page.  Additionally, there are fewer questions within the quote form than any other site assessed with just 32 questions on a single page required to get a quote compared to LV= and Admiral who have 40 and 48 questions respectively presented across three pages.

Based on the quote experience, consumers were asked their likelihood to buy from a particular brand. Direct Line and Churchill had the highest proportion of consumers stating that they felt the website met their needs and they would choose the brand as their provider at 14% and 10% respectively.

Fewer questions in quote form equal more likely to buy

Despite having the shortest quote forms, consumers on Churchill’s and Direct Line’s websites still held concerns over the length of time the quote took.

View our webinar – Optimising the quote process & improving customer expectations

Covering all aspects of the quote form including the impact different question formats (radio button, drop down, text entry) have on the physical and cognitive effort to complete the form.

For more insights download our FREE industry report.

Motor Insurance quote process

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NatWest visitors are the fastest and most satisfied when looking for mortgage rates

Home loans Fruition

Finding the right home loan is as confusing and overwhelming as picking the right roof tiles to match the bricks. It is, therefore, imperative that home loan providers make the online research process as straightforward and satisfying as possible in order to minimise confusion and ensure strong conversions.

In November 2017, Global Reviews tracked 350 consumers as they searched online for a home loan provider. Consumers were split across desktop (n=200) and mobile (n=150). After conducting their own searches, they were directed to one of eight provider websites to complete further research.

Once consumers had looked around the homepage, we asked them to find all the available mortgage rate options for first time buyers (new customers). In doing this, it was found that those who completed the task quicker typically had a higher satisfaction rate with the process of completing the task. As can be seen in the chart below, NatWest visitors are the fastest and most satisfied when looking for mortgage rates for first time buyers. Potential customers are getting hugely different experiences across different sites with a 1:28 difference between Lloyds Bank and NatWest.

Time vs Satisfaction home loans

NatWest had the fastest average task completion time with 2:14 minutes and a satisfaction rating of 81%. On the other end of the scale was Lloyds Bank with an average time of 3:24 minutes and a satisfaction rating of 73%.

Whilst a shorter task completion time generally means higher satisfaction, a longer task completion time isn’t necessarily driving dissatisfaction but rather an inability to find the right answer. This indicates underlying usability issues supported by 20% claiming starting where to look was not easy.

The following chart highlights some of the most common issues consumers faced when trying to locate the product range. From a navigation point of view, the harder it is to find where to start looking as well as the inability to find what they’re looking for is bringing down satisfaction levels amongst customers. There is a strong negative correlation of -0.93 between problems encountered and satisfaction.

The most common issues consumers faced when trying to locate the product range

By comparing key landing pages for home loans we can see that allowing visitors to easily find what they are looking for with minimal effort and scrolling is key. Successful sites focus on key calls to action within the hero images and top navigation. Having a clearly laid out site with multiple entry points allows for the different preferences consumers have. Some consumers will naturally gravitate to the top navigation, others will look to the hero image and some will look down the page to find where they want to go next.

NatWest directs traffic through a comprehensive menu catering to both new and existing NatWest customers as well as delivering multiple entry points depending on customer research preferences. The menu is split into product, customer type and application stage, as well as grouping in relevant tools such as calculators to help in the research process.

NatWest directs traffic through a comprehensive menu catering to both new and existing NatWest customersLike NatWest, Lloyds Bank also uses the main header menu to direct consumers. However, they also provide additional entry points throughout the homepage. Within the hero image there are quick links to popular pages. Sitting just below the hero image are more links to key product pages. Having three navigation areas caters for different types of browsers and therefore aids in creating a user-friendly site.

Lloyds bank has three navigation areas catering for different types of browsers By giving consumers clear options and starting points can mean a huge difference between keeping them on site or losing them to a competitor.

To learn more download our FREE industry report and view our latest webinar covering off more ways to understand and improve your conversion rates using our Fruition methodology.

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Aggregators: Helping or Hindering your Credit Card brand?

Desktop users looking for a new credit card increasingly make use of aggregator websites, we noticed while following each step of their discover phase during our study on 201 in-market UK consumers in the second quarter of 2017.

Being able to compare products and offers of several brands on a third-party website, is visibly impacting the decisions of your potential customers when choosing a credit card.

However, mobile users are visiting aggregators a lot less and aggregators don’t hold as much power on their final preferences.

Our research shows that some brands benefit from aggregators and some are actually hindered by them. Have a look at our findings and see why these comparison websites should not be ignored.

On desktop, aggregator visits help Sainsbury’s and Barclays significantly – perhaps as much in awareness as anything else – but hinder American Express in shortlisting. As the graphic shows, around 38% of those who visited aggregators shortlisted Sainbury’s, compared to 19% of those who did not visit them.

Credit Card Aggregators1As for the final preference, aggregators continue to help Sainsbury’s but hinder Halifax and American Express.

Credit Card Aggregators2Even though aggregator visits help Sainsbury’s on mobile too, their lost opportunity is much higher than on desktop, because aggregators have less influence and – perhaps more importantly – Sainsbury’s mobile site doesn’t perform as well as their desktop site.

Marks & Spencer didn’t benefit from aggregators in the shortlisting phase on either mobile or desktop.

Credit Card Aggregators3In the end, aggregators are most beneficial to Sainsbury’s and Santander, while American Express and Tesco lose the most mobile users who visited an aggregator.

Credit Card Aggregators4What can we learn from this?
Having a website – both on desktop and mobile – that carries on the same messaging from the aggregators is vital. When users click, they expect to see the same offer on your site as on the aggregators. Aggregators are less popular on mobile at present, but as ease of use increases, expect their popularity (and power) to grow.

Global Reviews specialises in helping top brands worldwide convert more of their ideal customers online, through the use of the most advanced research methodologies. To find out more about how we can help you and your digital teams, or if your brand would like to be included in our next round of FRUITION research, please contact: 

Hannah-Rose Farrington – Senior Commercial Director
T:         +44 (0) 203725 8260
M:        +353 (87) 1263043
E:         hannah.farrington@globalreviews.com

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