Ideas & musings about consumer behaviour

Low brand awareness puts real pressure on website experience

Facts-About-Sunflowers

As published on SmartCompany, Tuesday 29 March 2011.

There are few things more important in your cross-channel marketing efforts than to get your online customer experience right.

At Global Reviews we are regularly asked to conduct studies on how customers search for different products and services online. When we observe hundreds of customers at once we can draw strong conclusions about the winners and losers, or put another way, who gets the traffic and who doesn’t, and importantly why.

Let’s consider the ‘physical world’ briefly. A new brand with limited market awareness and penetration is going to take awhile to build sales momentum and achieve market penetration. In a retail environment, it generally means lots of hard work from the in-store team, an enticing store design and a contemporary product range. With good street or mall positioning it’s often down to the in-store experience you provide the customer as to whether they buy, return and speak to their friends. We all know how long new shops last if they don’t get the basics right.

Now jump back online. All of a sudden there is no mall or prime street position. You can’t rely on foot traffic wandering by. A recently study we completed in the insurance industry indicated that 36% of people had a brand in mind before they started their search online, and of these prospects only 65% chose a product from their preferred brand ‘shortlist’. If you were a senior marketing/brand manager I am sure you’d want to understand what caused that 35% leakage.

In the same study we observed a large spread in the conversion rate (visit site to consider product). Conversion varied from 22% to 67% when we removed the best and worst results. Let me explain. What this means is that when a ‘qualified’ customer comes to your website looking for a specific product/service, our research is telling us most sites perform really poorly in converting customers.

Some key lessons here:

  1. Strong brand awareness can get people to your website, but a better customer experience from a lesser known brand can often win out.
  2. Understand your conversion rate – it’s difficult to know if the changes you’re making are working if you don’t measure key KPIs.
  3. Identify the factors that drive people to consider a product on your site.
  4. For those who have low traffic volumes to their website, it’s critical to make sure your ‘visit to consideration’ conversion rate is as high as it can be to protect your traffic.
  5. For those with larger volumes, small improvement increments in conversion can deliver meaningful returns. Don’t lose these important small gains in pursuit of larger website change initiatives.

By Greg Muller, Chief Executive Officer

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