LNER -East Coast Trains Case Study

Train company on track to save millons using Webtrends Optimize CRO

The Client

LNER (Formally Virgin East Coast Trains) runs high-speed passenger services on the east coast main Line between London, Yorkshire the North East and Scotland. It runs 155 services per weekday, and carried 18.7 million passengers in 2011. It operates on routes totalling 936 miles, has 30 electric and 14 diesel trains, and was the first UK train route to offer wireless internet on a moving rail vehicle.

LNER has around 2,800 employees at stations, depots and offices from Inverness to London. Its headquarters are in York.

The Challenge

Booking travel online is rapidly increasing, and so is the competition. Websites need to be easy to use and provide an informative and relevant experience to the consumer. To achieve this, brands – like LNER – need to understand who is visiting the website and their intentions. If they can extract and use this data, it not only improves the experience for the visitor but also identifies additional sales opportunities.

Whilst LNER takes a third of its revenue from its website, a lack of internal resources meant that the in-house team were previously focused on maintenance rather than innovation. The team recognised the opportunity to improve the site in order to maximise possible conversions, but lacked the resources or experience in house to dedicate the time to exploring this.

It was also cautious about making changes to the website without knowing if these would detrimentally affect the conversion rate. It needed a team of experts that could provide a managed service to help them through the process and implement a strategy that was appropriate to their business model, and would support the future growth of all digital channels.

"We started off using Webtrends Optimize tentatively to see how it could improve customers’ awareness of special offers. The subsequent conversion uplift we saw from what we originally thought were simple changes was astounding."

Conor Marron
Digital Optimisation Manager, Virgin East Coast (LNER)

The Solution

LNER engaged with Webtrends  Optimize with its A/B testing and targeting platform to make improvements that would drive an uplift in conversions.

Webtrends Optimize provides online testing solutions that reduce abandonment and customer service issues, improve conversions and increases customer loyalty through a complete selection of test and target types, including A/B, MVT, advanced segmentation and behavioural targeting. By using data gathered from their analytics solution to uncover difficult-to-find customer abandonment points and optimising the customer experience, Webtrends helps companies maximise their online presence and stand out in a competitive marketplace.

Webtrends Optimize was able to deliver an exclusive testing package based on LNER’s unique requirements and challenges. Webtrends Optimize managed service was selected to develop a new strategy testing in order to improve the company’s online potential.

Woman on train

“The expertise of the team at Webtrends gave us the confidence and the support to try new approaches. To see an overall uplift of over £1.6 million following our testing to date is incredible.”

Conor Marron
Digital Optimisation Manager, East Coast Trains (LNER)

£ 0 +
Incremental revenue through CRO

The Results

LNER in its previous guise as Virgin East Coast’s initial foray into the world of optimisation took the form of a test to increase visitor engagement with their special offers. Using analytics intelligence to guide the approach, combined with their enthusiasm to dive straight in, Webtrends Optimize devised a strategy that used multivariate testing in order to increase the visitors’ familiarity with the special offers available to them. With the benefit of the additional measurement recommended through the managed service, LNER (Virgin East Coast) saw the unexpected benefit of additional sales and revenue uplifts up to £6,000 per month on the first test alone.The team were astounded by the results and keen to test other sections of the website to see what further improvements could be made.

A primary business objective was to increase the volume of upgrades to First Class rather than increase the ticket price. The team needed to understand the behaviour of visitors to ensure the right customers were being targeted. Webtrends Optimize worked alongside LNER (Virgin East Coast) to develop and implement an MVT strategy. By testing multiple iterations, the team were able to save considerable time with maximum efficiency – if they had run each test separately it would have completed 256+ tests but instead, using Webtrends Optimize patented algorithm, only 16 were required, achieving the results a lot quicker. The tests were run for 14 days to ensure any anomalies in customer behaviour would be detected. The multivariate tests provided insight into areas of the First Class web pages to be re-designed, resulting in significant conversion uplift.

Following the success of the first and second tests, the team turned their attention to the booking funnel. Their analytics identified an issue in the booking process: following the visitor expressing an interest in a fare and clicking ‘buy’, in the time it took for them to progress to the next page a drop-out rate was identified. The data aggregated was used to form the basis of the testing strategy devised by Webtrends Optimize. The pages were re-designed, shortening the booking funnel, and resulting in a positive impact on conversion uplift.

Following the success of A/B and multivariate testing, Virgin East Coast increased conversions by over £1.6 million.

LNER (Virgin East Coast) is continuing to work with Webtrends Optimize to improve its understanding of customer behaviour online to shape the on-going testing and targeting strategy.

The LNER (Virgin East Coast) board has been so impressed with the results to date that it has added a new member to the website team, enabling each individual to have an area of focus: testing and personalisation, alongside analytics and reporting.

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