In the most recent Digital Marketing Effectiveness (DME) study for Energy Retailers, 51% of consumers said that they would use a smart device (smartphone or tablet) for at least some of their research into energy providers.
Additional survey results from the Mobile Devices Survey: User Research conducted by Global Reviews explored the attitudes and behaviours of consumers and their use of mobile devices to complete common research and transactional tasks such as finding a new energy provider. In general, 28% of consumers felt that website experiences on a smartphone were much worse than the equivalent experience on a computer.
To see just how well energy retail brands are performing across their mobile sites, Global Reviews conducted Sales Effectiveness audits across both desktop and mobile sites for some of the top energy retailers across Australia. From an overall industry average perspective across the seven providers assessed for both desktop and mobile, the desktop assessment (DSE) and mobile assessment (MSE) held the same score with 47%.
As the following chart shows, the experience across the customer journey is fairly well aligned across the mobile and desktop sites, however there are definite gaps along the way.
These gaps bring with them a lot of potential for energy retailers. By assessing the highs and lows across the customer journey, they can learn not only from their competitors, but also from themselves, as there’s obviously areas where they are performing better on one of their site versions than the other.
Looking at the top three needs of customers when researching energy providers, the top two reasons are the same, regardless of channel. It’s only the third need that differs, with navigation playing a more important role on the mobile site than on the desktop site.
Top 3 customer needs
|Information about rates/costs
||Information about rates/costs
|Information that's easy to understand
||Information that's easy to understand
|Information about daily service charges
||Website that's easy to navigate
If consumers are having a bad experience due to a poorly designed website whilst researching on their smartphone, 54% of the respondents from the Mobile Devices Survey said that they would try using a different device (eg desktop computer), and 37% said that they would remain on their smartphone but would visit the desktop site equivalent rather than use the mobile site.
However, 28% said that they would look for an alternative company and 18% vowed that they would never use the site again through their smartphone.
Even if this latter 18% were to visit the desktop site, there is still a potential loss for brands if and when they do upgrade their mobile site. Given how quickly consumers can turn if the experience on any given mobile site is not up to standard, it’s imperative that particularly in the early research stages, brands are providing both a positive mobile and desktop website experience.
We can see from the overall benchmarking scores that AGL and LUMO are performing far better on their desktop sites than they are on their mobile sites. Some of this variance in scores is attributed to AGL and LUMO not currently providing application forms on their mobile site, however there are still other differences throughout their sites that come into play. Meanwhile the other brands are performing better on their mobile sites than their desktop sites – much of this comes down to different navigation, display and information.
Typically, the design of a mobile site dictates that navigation must be fairly simple and easy to follow, as finding your way through a website becomes somewhat limited when using hands rather than a cursor and keyboard. As a result, when consumers were asked to locate a product range and find the price for an energy supply, they were able to complete the tasks more efficiently on the mobile sites than they could on the desktop. That is, with thanks to the navigation on mobile sites, consumers are requiring fewer page views and are appearing to find it easier to figure out where to begin from the homepage.
Being able to quickly find information feeds into how satisfied consumers are with the process and, therefore, the website – so the mobile sites get a tick there. However, the level of detail in the information and ability to complete more complex tasks like matching a product to meet particular needs is tending to be more limited on the mobile sites compared to their desktop counterparts.
Given the general trend with mobile use of consumers giving up on a site if it doesn’t perform as they’d expect, it’s no surprise that this trend applies to the use of energy retail mobile sites as well. Where phoning the provider or using help/FAQs is typically the first port of call for those who experience problems while browsing on a desktop, 1 in 4 consumers browsing on a mobile site said they would leave the site and look for another provider.
As we’ve seen in previous research, website experience influences which energy provider consumers prefer. This appears to be even more pertinent when browsing on a mobile site. While relative ease of navigation can be seen as a current strength on mobile sites across the industry, if brands can’t deliver on the most complex tasks and provide more in depth information, then consumers are likely to give up on them, meaning an opportunity is lost.
Notes about the study:
The studies observed 573 ‘in-market’ consumers during August 2015 through the Global Reviews’ scientific, customer experience and sales journey measurement tool that uses consumer and best practice inputs. More information about the research methodology can be found here: http://globalreviews.com/about-us/our-methodology