Ideas & musings about consumer behaviour

Mobile phone providers and initial engagement online

Author: Marie Sheehan

Which mobile phone provider is best at meeting customer needs at the initial engagement stage online? – Comparing the top performer Optus (Australia) with Tesco Mobile (UK)

In Q4 2014 Global Reviews ran a multi country study into the Digital Sales Effectiveness (DSE)* of mobile phone providers. Our study included sixteen providers from across the UK, USA, Australia and New Zealand.

Looking at Five Key Providers within the Industry
Optus (Australia), Tesco Mobile (UK), Verizon (New Zealand), Vodafone UK and Three (UK)

These five mobile phone providers (Fig 1) include top performers, providers who perform stronger in a particular area and providers who are under performing.

Optus is the strongest performer in the early part of the customer’s pathway to purchase, scoring 74% and 69% in the ‘initial engagement’ and ‘introducing options’ stages respectively.

Tesco Mobile spikes at the ‘evaluating options’ stage (62%) which a noteworthy improvement on how they perform in the earlier stages.

Verizon comes up strongly at the ‘online purchase’ stage (67%), where Three scores just 26%

Which Mobile Phone Provider is best at Meeting Customer Needs at the Initial Engagement stage online

Fig 1: Optus (Australia), Tesco Mobile (UK), Verizon (New Zealand), Vodafone UK and Three (UK)

What is driving Tesco Mobile’s ‘Initial Engagement’ score down?
The initial engagement stage is the consumer’s first encounter of a provider’s website. We measure how effective that website is at helping consumers to locate what they are looking for, while considering their first impressions of the website, how fundamental site elements like navigation and privacy perform, as well as if the website build trust.

Optus performs best in the initial engagement stage with 74%, Lebara are the weakest with 28% while the industry averages at 62% The underlying parts of this stage are ‘meeting expectations and building trust’ and ‘assisting the needs of the customer’. Optus performs exceptionally well in the latter part achieving 83% which drives up their high score for the ‘initial engagement’ stage.

If customers can’t find what they are looking for in the first ten seconds of being on a website they are very likely to abandon and leave the site. We completed a behavioural audit as part of the study, and from this we know that Tesco Mobile’s website falls well behind the top performer particularly in the areas of first impression, its visual appeal, its layout, how easy to use it looks, and whether or not it displays all the impression a customer would expect to see.

Voice of Customer
“The visual design was almost too bland and basic. It gave the impression of not wanting to make too much effort for the person looking. It needs to retain the basic layout, but put a little more ’home’ into the design, to make it feel less sterile”

Tesco Mobile's homepage (December 2014)

Tesco Mobile’s homepage (December 2014)

Does this customer have a point? Is Tesco Mobile’s site bland?
When consumers visit a website for the first time, they don’t read a website, they scan it. The human eye is very good at picking up on colours and indeed shapes, so when you want a consumer to slow down and actually read a website, colours and shapes help to group relevant information together. While the Tesco Mobile site is simple, a lot of the colour is the same. The website design does not deliver any friction to prompt visitors to stop and read, so the visitor is more likely to abandon and leave the site.

The homepage is also missing a value proposition, a contact phone number, FAQs, a comparison table and information on why consumers should choose Tesco Mobile as their provider. These are some of the elements that would help Tesco Mobile to improve in this area, by building trust and showing customers that they actually want to engage with them.


Looking at Optus, the Top Performer
The value proposition is very strong and obvious on Optus’ homepage – both above and below the fold. The information, layout and visuals above the fold encourage scrolling. For example the headings on the fold ‘Popular Phones’, ‘Latest Phones’, ‘Hot Offers’ and ‘Prepaid Phones’ indicate that there’s more information further down the page worth looking at.

Optus' homepage (December 2014)

Optus’ homepage (December 2014)

Looking at the right hand side of the page, you can see how Optus has grouped information together on the basis of customer needs and presented in different coloured boxes. The dark grey box contains links to info such as billing and usage, and the darker blue box has links to their community and social sites. Along the top of the page are more generic information tabs – different types of signposts depending on the customer’s needs. Lexical and illustrated signposting also increases success and it gives the visitor more than one way to read the text.

Due to the methods Optus has used to signpost key information and a clear balance of funnel pages with call to action pages, when a visitor clicks on the image of a particular device the information which appears beside that device changes. The filter option is on the homepage which also brings the information forward, which means the customers does not need to leave (or abandon ) the homepage and keeps them close to the call to action.

Research Calendar
The next Global Reviews International Mobile Phone Providers Digital Sales Effectiveness Study will be fielded in May 2015. If you would like to know more, please contact us

International Best Practice
To find out more about what best practice looks like and those who are achieving it, view our recorded webinar: Digital Sales Effectiveness of International Mobile Phone providers.

Mobile ph webinar
* The Global Reviews Digital Sales Effectiveness (DSE) programme focuses on the Consider and Act stages of the online purchase journey.

DSE circlesThrough a proprietary, task based methodology; we invite ‘In market’ consumers to visit and experience the customer journey on your site.
We also measure the performance of your competitors’ sites in a similar fashion with a separate group of ‘In market’ consumers. This enables us to benchmark the performance of your brand within the marketplace and against the competitive landscape. We can tell you why some customers abandon the purchase journey on your website and complete purchase with a competitor.
We can provide you with a totally unique insight into how ‘In market’ consumers research and make decisions about your brand, your products and your competitors online and will help you to answer the following strategic digital sales questions:

1. Is your online sales journey more effective at converting prospective leads than your competitors?
2. Where do you need to focus resources to maximise online sales and customer experience?
3. Does your website meet best practice customer experience design for that product purchase journey?
4. How much effort is it to buy from you online?


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