Europe’s smarter phone shopper

Adam Cooper December 2018 Search, Retail, Retail

For technology brands that often don’t sell to consumers directly, understanding the role of the brand’s website can be challenging. So we asked more than 6,000 European consumers about how they purchased a mobile phone, and talked to 600 more along their shopping journey. We asked them about the resources they consulted, and why. Here’s what we learned about the role of the manufacturer’s own site.

Almost half of shoppers visit a brand website

In Europe, 47% of consumers visit at least one manufacturer website when looking to buy a new mobile phone.1 The website is a popular destination, regardless of brand: for each of the top three brands, at least one-third of shoppers visited.2

And the brand site has a significant impact: 22% of European consumers said that it influenced their purchase the most.3 According to a Google-commissioned study by research agency Purchased, shoppers were more likely to say that the manufacturer site influenced which brands and models of smartphones they considered, compared with other sources. And brand websites are more useful: shoppers were 50% more likely to consider a visit to a reseller website unhelpful than one to a brand site.4

Shoppers want to understand the product before they buy it

A brand’s own website presents the best opportunity to explain products to consumers and, in the case of mobile phones, helps them understand functionality and features. Almost two-thirds of visitors said they went to brand websites to research specs of particular phones, or see what phones looked like, and they were more likely to do these things on brand websites than on retailer and telco websites.5

The website helps consumers decide which model to buy. When asked what characteristics of brand and retailer websites were important to them, 68% of UK shoppers surveyed said “easy comparison between products”, more than any other feature.6

Brands should avoid being overly focused on their website’s ability to drive conversions: fewer than 1 in 5 visitors said they went there to buy the product, or find out who sells it.7

Questions for brands to ask themselves:

  • Is the messaging consumers first encounter focused on closing the sale or showcasing the product?
  • Does our website communicate product features in a straightforward way?
  • Does our website enable easy comparison between models?

What difference does the brand site make?

There is a significant difference between consumers who visit the brand website and those who don’t.

Site visitors buy more expensive phones

Our study in the UK showed that brand site visitors were almost twice as likely to buy a high-end smartphone, with 51% buying a model costing more than €600, vs. 27% of buyers who didn’t visit the brand site.8 US data from Traqline supports this finding: consumers who visit the brand website buy phones which are on average 23% more expensive.9 In France, Germany, Spain and the UK, this would be equivalent to an extra €90.10

They are more likely to buy manufacturer accessories and add-ons

Site visitors are 35% more likely to buy accessories such as batteries and headphones from the same brand, and 25% more likely to buy manufacturer’s insurance.

They’re more loyal

Visitors to the site are also more likely to select the same brand again: 74% said they were very likely to repurchase, compared with 59% of non-visitors.11

The result of increased spend and loyalty is greater customer lifetime value. Based on the research, the incremental value of a site visitor vs. a non-visitor is almost €300.12

It’s likely that loyal consumers are more inclined to visit a brand’s website, raising questions of cause and effect, and the true incremental value delivered by actively driving traffic to the site. Brands can begin to understand cause and effect better through measurement and experimentation.

What should brands do?

As technological differences between mobile phones narrow, manufacturers need to rely on telling a compelling brand story to consumers in a crowded marketplace. The easiest place to do this is via the property they have the most control over: their own website.

There are specific actions brands can take to capitalise on the value of this marketing channel:

  • Be present. Almost two-thirds of consumers turn to search when considering the purchase of a smartphone. Being there to tell your own story when consumers search for your brand or are undecided is key.
  • Develop content which addresses consumers’ needs. Ask yourself whether your site content enables consumers to understand which model is right for them. Test variations of content to determine which type generates the most engagement.
  • Connect offline conversions to online activities to get the full picture. By connecting registration data to website analytics, advertising data and social media engagement, brands can get a richer understanding of which media touchpoints consumers encountered on their path to purchase.
  • Build a data-driven attribution model. Use machine learning to determine the impact of different touchpoints and optimise investments accordingly.
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