Virgin Trains is a joint partnership between Stagecoach and Virgin that has operated the West Coast mainline between London, Birmingham, Manchester and Glasgow for the last 20 years. Their e-commerce website provides customers with information on planning their journeys, live travel information, up-to date arrival times and more.
Desktop and tablet visitors are entering the booking engine funnel through an initial journey search but as they move along the funnel, visitors often abandon.
By looking at web data for virgintrains.com, Webtrends found that visitors were often being distracted through the booking process – leaving to do other things on the site through interacting with the navigation bar.
In order to validate a hypothesis, Virgin Trains wanted to run a simple A/B test to see if an alternative minimal design of the navigation in the booking process would reduce distraction and as a result, increase conversion.
The test itself was relatively straightforward to implement, but delivered some interesting results.
Whilst overall conversion rates broadly mapped with the non-test traffic throughout the duration of the test, there was a surprising variance in results by device. Desktop showed a lift in conversion across every step of the funnel, with a signifcantly higher uplift in new account registrations of over 4%. The same test had little, if any, impact on tablets though. When looking at conversion across both devices, conversion had an overall uplift of 1.38%, a small but significant result.
Simon Bagel – Digital Optimisation Manager at Virgin Trains commented, “We really wanted to explore how minimising distractions and paths out of the funnel would affect performance. This simple but very effective test from Webtrends has shown strong results and a positive ROI both validating assumptions and emphasising the role of reducing cognitive load for the user. It also highlighted how performance differs by device – and that one solution needs to be carefully considered when rolling out across devices.”