Compare Group wants 50% growth in 2015
Compare Group, a Dutch holding company consisting of five price comparison services in four different countries, wants to welcome 50% more visitors in 2015 than it had last year. And in terms of clicks it thinks it could achieve even much more growth. We interviewed CEO Ben Kerkhof, who explained to us why the company mostly thinks about a girl named Lisa these days…
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2014 was not an easy year for price comparison sites. Of course there was the upcoming of Google’s own price comparison service called Google Shopping, but also this internet giant’s updates to its search engine has damaged the search engine rankings of websites where visitors can compare products and prices.
Lisa wants convenience and service
This was one of the reasons Compare Group decided to follow a completely new strategy. From now on, they would focus more on a specific target audience. And their persona, their typical customer is called ‘Lisa’. “We can create a better user experience if we focus more specifically on a target audience”, says CEO Ben Kerkhof. “Our persona is called Lisa. She uses a comparison site mainly because of the convenience and service it provides. When we are able to bring added value, Lisa will become loyal to us and will develop into a true brand ambassador.”
“Lisa is not someone who wants to know every little detail of a product, but she does want practical information. She doesn’t really care about amperes, decibels or call minutes, but wants to know if a vacuum cleaner is heavy to carry or if a kitchen gadget makes a lot of noise. “By giving our visitors this information, we’re not only providing unique content which has its positive influence on our search engine ranking, but it primarily offers a unique user experience.”
Kerkhof tells us that previously a lot of visitors stumbled upon the site after using Google, but their experience wasn’t too terrific, so they didn’t come back. “This way we always had these high marketing costs, which slows down our growth. Now there are still people who want to see all the specifications of a certain product, but we have already noticed that when we help a ‘Lisa’, she will come back and recommend us to her friends. And those visitors won’t cost us any extra money or effort. That’s just scalable growth!”
Turning from a general comparison shopping website into a persona-focused environment is not something you can achieve in just a few weeks. “No, we were busy with the transition for almost all of 2014, but now we can say 2015 will be very promising year for Compare Group. Our ultimate goal is to achieve more growth, by expanding to more countries and by launching more websites for specific target groups. But for now, we mostly want to become a market leader in the current countries where we are active. At the end of 2015, we want our visitors to have a real user experience when they visit one of our five websites. They must notice the difference between our and other comparison shopping websites.”
In the Netherlands, where it all started for Compare Group, the customer service got a big boost by introducing so called “blijmakers” (happy makers). These are customer service agents who will do everything to make a website visitor happy. Sometimes this will result in a very long Whatsapp, mail or phone conversation. But it bears fruit, as the company now has a much better view of who their visitors are and what they are looking for. And of course, it has also resulted in more satisfied customers.
“Our new strategic plan will be rolled out one step at a time. First stops are the Netherlands and Belgium, after that Finland and France will follow”, Kerkhof says. “We’ve invested a lot during last year, but for now we have high expectations. Of course it’s always uncertain what we can achieve if you have to bear in mind there are always unknown factors like the influence of Google, but all things aside, we are hoping for 50% more clicks at the end of this year.”
About Compare Group
Compare Group is a Dutch holding company consisting of five comparison websites: Vergelijk.nl in the Netherlands, Vergelijk.be and Comparer.be in Belgium, Comparer.fr in France and Vertaa.fi in Finland. The latter seems like an odd choice, but it’s thanks to Kerkhof’s Finnish wife he came into contact with Vertaa.fi. In Finland and the Netherlands Compare Group is market leader in certain specific product categories.