Through a combination of using Unica Affinium NetInsight, usability testing and system developments, VisitBritain has seen a reduction in shopping cart abandonment to 30% (from a high of 70%) and a 100% increase in conversion rates.

VisitBritain, the official website of the British Tourist Authority, wanted to understand more about how its visitors arrived and progressed to make purchases online. The intention was to establish the best ways to promote the site and to better understand how visitors used it, before making decisions to purchase complete holidays or related items such as tickets and travel options. It was a challenge that meant integrating web analytics software with e-commerce applications across a number of different websites that are aimed at visitors from many different countries.

Every web publisher needs to know how many visitors come to a website, and to find out how they get there. It is equally vital to know how many make a purchase, and what sells best online.

However, it’s only when those two massive amounts of data are linked together that you can really start to work out how to turn visitors into customers instead of mere browsers. It’s only then that you can really understand how your most important customers are finding your web pages, and whether the adverts you’re running are merely generating traffic or actually resulting in sales.

That’s why VisitBritain commissioned SCL Analytics to integrate the data from its Unica Affinium® NetInsight™ web analytics software with the e-commerce databases of its online shops. The aim was to answer the following kinds of questions:

• Which Pay per Click (PPC) keywords and creative produce the most paying customers?
• Which email-based marketing campaigns are most successful?
• Are visitor purchases influenced by different landing pages?
• Which organic and paid search engine terms ultimately generate the most sales as opposed to most visitors?

Selecting SCL Analytics to perform the integration was a relatively straightforward decision, says Harry Speller, web analytics manager for “I had used NetInsight at a previous company, and it has been in use at VisitBritain for about 3 years. The latest version of NetInsight is more of a business intelligence tool than previous versions and has great flexibility for including data from other sources.”

All the same, the integration process was challenging and complex. VisitBritain operates more than 40 websites, each targeted at specific country markets around the world. Behind each website is an online shop selling transport options and tickets for events and shows. Some sites sell all the options, whereas others sell a selection, and the data for each shop can be configured differently according to its location.

SCL’s consultants carried out the initial design and implementation of the integration for several of the country websites, then provided Speller’s team with the necessary instruction and training to complete the process. Support remains ongoing, but the integration has now been completed.

Order numbers generated by the e-commerce software are linked to traffic data generated by NetInsight, so that a user can be tracked forwards and backwards from point of entry to leaving the site. It’s possible to see how users behave prior to and after purchase, with detailed reports being generated by NetInsight.

The fact that the integration has gone smoothly vindicates Speller’s trust in the power and flexibility of the NetInsight software. “Our experience proves that NetInsight is an extendable platform capable of joining discrete and diverse datasets,” says Speller.

With integration now completed across all its profiles, VisitBritain’s shop managers are able to produce complex reports linking traffic to actual sales.

“We’ve been looking at our Pay per Click advertising, and focusing our efforts on what keywords generate sales,” comments Speller. “Knowing what works and what doesn’t will lead to significant cost reduction and better targeting of resources. We use thousands of keywords for different destinations and different types of holidays, so we want to see what works best, and develop content that’s better matched to the keywords our visitors are using. We’ll also be able to identify the partner websites that work best for us, and this will help us develop better affiliate programs.”

Already, NetInsight is providing some interesting observations that VisitBritain has been able to turn into commercial advantage. For example, French visitors tend to be more interested in family holidays, whereas German visitors tend to be looking for business travel advice. It has also become apparent that different nationalities tend to purchase UK travel tickets in the formats most similar to their own domestic versions. “This kind of detail is helping us to direct visitors more quickly to the parts of our sites that interest them most and that encourages them to buy,” adds Speller.

NetInsight has been used as a catalyst to generate additional insights that can then be fed into further development. In fact, through a combination of using Unica Affinium NetInsight, usability testing and system developments, VisitBritain has seen a reduction in shopping cart abandonment of 30% (from a high of 70%) and a 100% increase in conversion rates.

Longer term, SCL will return to implement a new system for engagement ranking, providing a means of measuring how users interact with the site. SCL has developed its own metrics for measuring engagement based on actual activity rather than the traditional crude metric of time spent.

There will also be further potential work on the website to integrate VisitBritain’s CRM system, thereby offering a more personalised and targeted experience to website visitors, with all the opportunities for cross selling that this entails.

“We currently have annual sales approaching £3m but already we can see that our trend is increasing,” concludes Speller. “Our traffic is increasing, and we’re confident that what we’ve learned from integrating our web analytics with our e-commerce systems will help us to achieve more sales from more visitors.”

SCL Analytics provides web analytics consultancy and training and are a value added reseller for Unica Affinium NetInsight throughout the UK, Europe and Scandinavia.

For more information about SCL Analytics’ web analytics solutions, visit us at

For more information about VisitBritain, please visit

For more information about Unica, please visit

Published on: 12:00AM on 19th September 2008