Eurostar: How do they gather data, implement tests and interpret results?

Our final blog post from our experience at the Internet Retailing Expo 2016 is on Eurostar and how they use A/B testing, data and insights to improve their website and conversions. Neil Roberts, Head of Digital at Eurostar, spoke on the Merchandising stand and definitely sparked some inspiration and gave us plenty of takeaways for improving on-site conversions.

Eurostar is a brand that’s widely known in the UK for being the underground train that takes individuals, families and business people across the Channel to France and beyond - a brand with very few competitors! Despite this, they still follow many of the best practices in place today to make sure that customers book with them and have a positive customer experience.

So, what can we learn from Eurostar?

Laptop and NotepadUsing both quantitive and qualitative data to inform decisions

For many digital marketers, it makes sense to take a lot of numerical data and top-line website metrics to inform the tests you might make on the website and any changes to on-site elements. However, Eurostar take a blended approach which mixes the digital with the traditional.

They use both website and behaviour metrics and use these, alongside surveys and questionnaires, to form assumptions about how people use the website.

They understand that analytics can give the ‘what’ but it can rarely give the ‘why’. For instance, if a bounce rate on your online store is high, you know that many people are visiting but leaving straight away. But you don’t know why, despite how many guesses and assumptions you might make.

Taking the time to ask your customers and listen to them can be very valuable in piecing together the whole story of how they use your site.

Of course, you may have to take what they say with a pinch of salt but if feedback aligns with your pre-existing assumptions and matches the data you’ve gathered from analytics, then it can help move you forward.

A/B TestingA/B testing

Eurostar also invest in A/B testing (using data previously mentioned) and we found their process very interesting.

They initially look at analytics data, then they use this and conduct surveys to further validate this data. But they acknowledge that testing in the wild is the only way to really see what is working and what needs improvements.

Neil spoke about how it usually takes around six months of user research, interviews etc. before they build the site or make any ‘permanent’ changes. That’s a lot of solid, validated data to work from in order to be confident that the change will bring in more revenue than previously.

One test had a 3.7% increase in conversions and thus brought in a significant number of additional sales - making the whole process worth it.

Do you have a stated process for your website improvements?

FamilyUnderstanding customer motivations

It’s important, for any retailer, that you understand your customer. A customer-first approach is a term that is thrown around a lot lately and it’s certainly an important mindset to be in when making changes to your website.

Why are people using your website?

Eurostar use customer data and previous bookings to figure out just how people are using the site and why they are booking tickets for travel.

Some are business people travelling to meet with clients and partners. , families going on holiday, individuals travelling for a day or two for leisure, and many overlapping, switching between business and pleasure.

Eurostar not only understand that they have different audiences with different motivations, but they understand that these interlink and change from one to the other each day. And more importantly, they consider all of this when interpreting data, which is very important for understanding the overall customer experience.

How are you using data?

If you’re using data to inform marketing campaigns or web updates, how are you using it? We hope this blog post explained some best practices for gathering data, implementing tests and understanding the results. Tweet us at @Statement if you have any questions or want to discuss data and eCommerce further!

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