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Tom Beverley is Customer Marketing Director for Confused.com, and leads the customer insight, below the line marketing, customer service and content teams.

Tom will be speaking at Econsultancy's JUMP event on October 13, on the subject of how traditional and digital marketing can work together. Here, Tom talks about measuring the online impact of TV ads, and how Confused.com is joining up its marketing efforts... 

Confused.com does a lot of TV advertising, how do you measure the impact of these ads on online?

Confused.com uses a variety of methods to understand the impact of TV advertising, a couple of which should be familiar to any offline TV advertiser:

  • Econometric analysis: using 1000s of variables to isolate the impact of TV spend and ROI based on visits, quotes and sales. This has some unique challenges in a market as young, competitive and volatile as price comparison.
  • Customer attributation: we ask customers who came direct to site to indicate which media channel influenced their decision to visit. This method provides long term trends. 
  • Regional hold back control groups: provide some insight for TV copy changes but with multichannel TV’s rise  this method is becoming less and less reliable.
  • Brand search versus competition and market: using insights for search we can get a rough and ready indication of how our TV is performing.

None of these methods provides us with “the answer” to the impact of TV advertising but together give us a feel – a flare in the dark. We can’t wait for IPTV.

How can traditional marketing and digital work well together? What has worked for you?

While Confused.com hasn’t had a “Meerkat” we are always looking for ways to make traditional and digital marketing work well together. We’ve seen particular success in combining PR, social media and digital together.

For example, our recent Confused Nation campaign combined traditionally commissioned PR research to find out what consumers were confused about, the Twitter and Googlemaps APIs to produce content mash ups on a campaign site and our PR network to push the story (and site) out to journalists and the wider public. This campaign has generated significant coverage both in national and regional press and online leading to some great equivalent advertising values.

Conversely, we’ve experienced times when traditional marketing and digital haven’t worked well together. Our recent ATL executions led with the line “you could save £150 in 5 minutes”. A claim that tested well in traditional research groups. However, when using this claim in the competitive car insurance paid search arena it significantly reduced the effectiveness of our adword copy. This particular message looked weak when directly alongside competitor claims that promised significantly higher savings.

Insurance is a very competitive areas in terms of SEO and paid search - can you use offline advertising to reduce PPC spend and reduce the reliance on search to acquire customers?

Absolutely. Indeed, we have seen a steady decrease in the number of consumers searching for generic car insurance terms as price comparison sites have dominated ATL spend in the insurance sector.

Conversely we’ve seen an increase in branded search for comparison sites which is heavily correlated to brand awareness and salience driven by TV spend. This has made getting the right strategy on brand defence increasingly important to our search marketing team.

Presumably you can use online data to feed into your offline marketing - can you give me some examples of this?

Presently, we use some online data to help target and understand our best consumers (demographics, attitudes, behaviour). We also develop our savings claims from online data which invariably end up in our advertising. However, this is an area we’re looking at exploiting further in the future. Watch this space.

Insurance quotes can be a lengthy and potentially frustrating process for customers - how do you approach form design to maximise conversions?

Simplicity is the guiding principle for our form design. We need to through the process as seamlessly as possible. We made big strides in 2009 to remove as many unnecessary questions as possible as well as moving non-standard questions into overlays (e.g. additional drivers, claims or convictions).

This reduced the length of our forms for a significant proportion of our customers. In addition, we pre-populate fields where possible and provide contextual help throughout the form. However, it’s a never-ending process and our product teams are continually working to identify problem areas and find innovative IA and UX solutions.

What have been the major points of friction in the process for customers? How have you solved these issues?

Login was and is our major area of friction for returning customers for various reasons. We’ve implemented a number of changes to both improve the log-in process as well as improve the password retrieval process.

One of these is to allow returning customers to go through the quote process without logging in immediately but moving that to the end of the process. On password retrieval we’ve improved the copy on the login page to direct consumers to our customer support team as a last resort and increased the priority of these requests to ensure a timely response. 

For new customers our main area of friction is on the sign up pages. Surrendering the level of data required for an accurate car insurance quote does put some visitors off. For example, for historical reasons we capture mother’s maiden name.

We know consumers don’t like this and are working with our partners on alternatives. These issues have been identified through a combination of web analytics analysis, session replaying and speaking to customers.

Do you have any 'quick wins' in terms of website usability that you can share with us?

Don’t overload pages with too many competing messages. Use traditional customer insight methods to understand your two or three most important messages for consumers, prioritise them and then implement a simple information architecture and design that highlights them.

For example, if you find that free is an important message then your call to action button could contain the word “Free, sign up now” rather just “Sign up now”.

I know it’s boring but keeping it simple and clean is the best trick. Cut copy relentlessly. Confused.com is a guilty as any website for not following this rule. 

Graham Charlton

Published 27 September, 2010 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is the former Editor-in-Chief at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin or Google+

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