How Shearings trebled Customer Acquisition

After a successful TV advertising campaign in 2012 that led to a big lift in customer acquisition, Shearings’ Head of Marketing was faced with a difficult question to answer in 2013:

“Why did our 2012 TV advert out perform our 2013 version, even though the latter cost more and was viewed internally as being slicker?”.

It was critical to understand the reasons why the first creative outperformed the second – especially as he was about to brief the external agency for the 2014 campaign.

Research Conducted
In the moment feedback

A long-standing client, Shearings had regularly used WhatUsersDo to interpret their digital marketing metrics by understanding the WHY of customer behaviour. In this project, this was extended to their TV advertising.

Shearings ran tests with profiled users who matched their target market from the WhatUsersDo UK consumer panel. Users were presented with both versions of the TV adverts (in their browsers) and asked to think aloud as they saw each one. To avoid bias, 50% of users saw the 2012 version first, the remainder the 2013 version first. The WhatUsersDo platform recorded participants’ spoken thoughts synchronised with the adverts into online videos.

The resulting videos were fully analysed within days by WhatUsersDo’s UX Team to answer the research objectives.

The Results
Trebled response rate, halved costs

The research provided Shearings with not the reasons why the 2012 version had performed so well, but also provided them the insights to brief their agency for the 2014 version.

As a result of producing their agency brief on this insight the 2014 advert’s performance exceeded even the Head of Marketing’s expectations – response rate was trebled, with halved costs per response.

"Using WUD to A/B test our TV campaigns has been an extremely quick an efficient way to radically enhance the performance our campaign.”
Chris Barker, Head of Marketing, Shearings

Our Thoughts
Behavioural trumps Attitudinal again

Shearings had previously relied upon Focus Groups to gather feedback on and generate ideas for marketing campaigns. But they had more than a niggling suspicion that this approach was biased toward the participants’ characters and that time could never permit a sample size they could rely on.

In fact, the jury is well and truly out when it comes to techniques like Focus Groups to gather credible insight. Marketeers are now shifting their spend from attitudinal techniques to behavioural ones that gather user feedback more naturally and “in the moment”. That’s because behavioural techniques are superior at gathering feedback on existing assets or online experiences, and also to elicit genuine user needs and gain a competitively advantageous understanding of consumer behaviour.

As one Marketing Director described it to me recently: “My working day is a wall of marketing metrics that gets interpreted a hundred different ways by as many people. It’s my job to understand the “Why” behind the metrics to limit conjecture and focus on action that will lead to tangible improvement”. Behavioural insight answers the “Why”.

The Project
20 profiled users, served two TV adverts over the internet, giving their spoken thoughts during each one, produced 185 user insights.

About Shearings
Shearings are the UK's number one and Europe's largest coach holiday tour operator. Shearings offers coach, air, rail, cruise and hotels breaks to more than 170 destinations in the UK, Europe and worldwide, as well as owning 52 hotels across the UK.

Lee Duddell – UX Director
Lee is the Founder and UX Director at WhatUsersDo. Having worked in digital for 20 years he was pretty fed up with the amateurish way businesses made decisions about digital experiences. He started WhatUsersDo to fix this by introducing robust user insight, rather than hunches or guesswork, into the decision making process.