There is a distinct trend towards identifying and supporting top tasks on websites. Consumers go online to get things done and the reward for making those tasks easier to complete are well documented. Certainly there are sites with multiple types of visitors who have separate top tasks but that is no reason to throw in the towel.
Most products and services are not “must have” and even then you face competition. Consumers prefer to self-conduct research online and poor websites can cause procrastination and even abandonment.
LIMRA, an organization dedicated to Life Insurance research recently reported that shoppers who use only the Internet and never meet with anyone are the least likely to buy — only 36 percent do so. This compares with 70 percent that purchased with face to face contact. This is in part due to the nature of the product but also to the lack of a logical and efficient task flow on insurance sites. This problem is not limited to insurance.
The problem becomes even more paramount with mobile devices. You no longer have the luxury of a large home page that can accommodate hundreds of links and words. Gerry McGovern, with his unique presentation style, addresses the topic in his latest webinar. He even addresses the whole topic of exactly what is mobile, posing the question about the use of smartphone by Norwegian men in the bathroom.
His view is that you don’t need a mobile strategy. You need a top tasks strategy. And once you’ve identified your top tasks, you deliver them through mobile and/or through your website. The essential difference between mobile and your website is that you need to be even more ruthless. Even within the top task, your content and links needs to be pared to the absolute minimum.
To listen to the webinar click on the button or this link - mobile-extreme-top-tasks
If you would like a copy of the slides Click on this link for copy of the Powerpoint slide deck
How do you know your visitors can complete their most important tasks successfully and efficiently? The answer is simple: observe them and use a stopwatch. In other words, get hard data on how people are progressing their tasks on your website, where the problems are that slow them down and push them off course. Don’t ask them, don’t rely on analytics, but observe.
The lady had just finished trying to complete 15 tasks on the website. “What did you think of the website,” the organizer asked her. “It was great,” she replied effusively. “I really liked it. Lovely website. “12 out of 15 of the tasks the lady had tried to complete had been totally unsuccessful.
In the real world, managers can often observe customers as they interact with products and services and identify where they get stuck or lost. Online, the equivalent is to perform remote testing with real people, monitoring and measuring their attempts to complete typical tasks on your website.
Insurance websites are unusual in that the range of top tasks is actually quite well defined. Typically, they consist of Find An Agent, Get A Quote, Compare Products & Services, How Much Insurance Do I Need, Initiate A Claim, Manage My Account.
Insurers therefore are at an advantage in that there are relatively few tasks to manage and get right. However, our experience over years of analyzing insurance websites would suggest that companies don’t manage tasks properly. Confusing navigation and links, missing or irrelevant content, and clutter all still persist and without doubt lead to confusion or abandonment.
When companies rely heavily on website functionality for their core business, it is critical to manage top tasks properly. Failing to do so is simply careless. Tasks should be tested and improved iteratively until success rates are high and time to completion is optimal.
Furthermore, someone should be responsible for managing and improving the top tasks. Typically, for example, the ‘Compare Products and Services’ task might be the responsibility of the marketing, IT, and web teams jointly with a product manager. This means that no one person is in charge. Ideally, there should be a single individual with the job of improving and managing tasks with specific, well-defined goals to aim at.
Fortunately, it is not a major undertaking to analyze how well people can complete the top tasks on websites. Technology has made remote testing very cost efficient, and allows participants to be observed in their own environments. Today’s managers can quite easily get all the data they need to see exactly what pitfalls and hurdles are in the way of potential customers doing business on their websites.
If you need help finding out how easy it is to complete the top tasks on your website, let us know.
Are consumers ready to buy insurance online? The jury is out on that. However, when it comes to consumers wanting to research insurance options online, there is no doubt. Studies indicate that the Web is the first stop for many consumers. While industry websites have improved considerably since we started benchmarking the industry nine years ago, customer expectations are ever more demanding. One big disconnect between the Web team and content providers are the actual words on the site. Content that is hard to understand is just as likely to lead to site abandonment as is bad navigation. Work has focused on getting consumers to the right page. But once consumers are there, do they understand?
Insurance is a difficult subject, and some insurers have long considered complex content as necessary and even beneficial. Complete understanding hardly creates the pressing need to speak with a professional who can identify and explain the best products. Now that consumers visit multiple sites, clarity is more important; and while connection with an agent remains a critical part of the selling process, poor content may eliminate the call.
With this in mind, we asked one of our technology partners, Visible Thread, to analyze the content from 19 major insurers.
Tests were conducted on 100 Web pages on four indices: readability, passive language, long sentences and complex language. The key findings from the study were as follows:
- On readability, just two carriers were rated “acceptable” (based upon the Flesch Reading Ease index). The carriers were Mutual of Omaha and Liberty Mutual. The majority of insurers write at a high school upperclassman level or higher, with one insurer only comprehensible at the post-graduate level. The average industry score was 40, considered “difficult.”
- Long sentences, while perfectly fine in context, can create comprehension difficulties. The percentage of sentences more than 25 words in length was recorded. This metric was 4.2% for both Nationwide and Mutual of Omaha, and up to 19.1% for Mass Mutual. Nationwide Insurance maintains the shortest average sentence length at eight words, while State Farm and Farmers both average fifteen words.
- Complex language is the density of complex words/phrases relative to the total word count. AXA-Equitable and Principal Financial were most complex, while Progressive and Thrivent Financial scored least complex.
- Passive language can reduce clarity and strength, creating ambiguity. This is used most often by State Farm and Northwestern Mutual and least often by Nationwide Insurance and Liberty Mutual.
When indices were combined, best-performing sites included Mutual of Omaha, Liberty Mutual, Nationwide Insurance and USAA. Sites needing further review included Northwestern Mutual, AXA Equitable, MassMutual and Farmers Insurance.
This was a snap analysis, an indication of whether wording presents a potential problem. Content in the industry often has the fingerprints of legal and compliance all over it, but it is critical that we understand the limited patience of the consumer. Consumers want and expect a multi-channel experience, which includes call centers, agents and self-serve online properties. The failure of one channel can be a death knell for the entire process. It is critical for content to engage and educate, and plain language is part of the requirement.
While such an analysis can never truly judge the written word, this one creates objective metrics and focuses efforts. With sites containing thousands of pages — some obsolete — Web teams need to target pages that reduce customer satisfaction and usability as much as they target broken links or poor design.