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How P&O Ferries boosted online sales

How P&O Ferries boosted online sales

Best practice from Speed Trap.


Since April 2008, P&O Ferries has been using Speed-Trap’s customer insight technology on its freight and passenger websites. Previously using Webtrends, P&O Ferries wanted more flexibility and immediacy in the customer information gathered from the site.

Through being able to instantly draw information from new web pages, without either waiting for new tags to be configured or for the internal IT teams to install them, P&O Ferries was able to respond directly and instantly to its customer base’s activity and take advantage of the trends identified.

This insight provided by Speed-Trap has contributed in no small part to the 40% increase in P&O Ferries customers completing the online sales process.


P&O Ferries offers the most comprehensive route network and the most frequent passenger and freight services to the Continent.

The P&O Ferries website ( offers products ranging from £1 bargain trips to £1,000 holidays and receives over 700,000 unique visitors per month. The site itself has between 3,000 and 4,000 individual pages, spanning five languages, all of which are monitored by Speed-Trap’s software.

Having previously been a Webtrends customer for almost four years, P&O Ferries decided that the IT labour overhead and the time delay in receiving actionable data from the site were untenable.

Daniel Acarnley, P&O Ferries’ Direct Marketing and E-Commerce Controller, comments, “We are constantly making changes to our website and frequently adding entire new pages. With our previous analytics supplier, new tags that would monitor specific activity had to be freshly created and then forwarded to us, obviously creating a time-delay.

“This was then compounded by the need for our IT team to install them onto the page itself and link each individual tag to our KPI analytics processes – a time-consuming process that often had to be sidelined in favour of more pressing IT issues.”

He added, “This meant that we needed to supply additional technical resource and development time to support this activity, and that the e-commerce team lost ultimate control of the tool, even though it did not benefit the IT team directly as it did not report metrics such as error logging and the like.”


Acarnley continues, “In contrast, the benefit of Speed-Trap is that we only need to deploy one line of code in each page, and are then able to gather the entirety of activity on the page, not just the activity through the tags. Because our site is constantly and so rapidly evolving, this was a far more suitable product for our needs.

“The complete view it provides also meant that should our marketing campaigns change, and therefore our needs for customer data with it, then the supporting historical data has already been collated and there is no need to change anything on the site – all we have to do is produce a different report – also particularly easy through the Speed-Trap interface.”

P&O Ferries’ main advantage however was on the reduction in technical resource to implement and the ability for both IT and e-commerce to benefit from the same tool.

Acarnley explains, “Speed-Trap’s simplicity allows us to monitor all page activity via just one line of code – a task that takes our IT team only a couple of minutes to complete, not several hours or even days which was the case previously. Indeed, the whole system took only days to set up, after which we were immediately monitoring the whole site and deriving business value through our analysis of marketing effectiveness.

“Also, because the information gathered by the Speed-Trap system is so inclusive, we are able to monitor our campaign activity and simultaneously monitor the usability of the site – something we could not previously do.”


It took P&O Ferries less than two months to ascertain exactly where improvements could be made to the site, from both marketing and site usability perspectives, and complete the adjustments. In one instance, P&O was able to use the Speed-Trap data to identify that a legacy online booking engine was often failing and presenting the customer with an error screen.

Acarnley explains, “We could not previously see precisely where, when or why the booking engine would fail, we could only see that it was happening, but with Speed-Trap, we were able to pin down the exact circumstances when it would occur. It is this extra level of detail that Speed-Trap provides which allows us to remedy problems with our site, and prevent potential customers being unceremoniously turned away.”

Acarnley adds, “The Speed-Trap data is reliable and accurate enough for us to inform our marketing campaigns.

For example, if we make a change to our landing page in our pay-per-click campaign, we may see an overall effect on conversions through the reports from our agency, but what Speed-Trap adds to that is the visibility of at what stage the customers are leaving, whether the landing page itself is better at encouraging visitors to start as well as complete the quote. It is this level of detail which allows us to proactively adapt our site to maintain successful marketing investment.”


The Speed-Trap software has been developed dramatically over the last six months, incorporating unique abilities to gather customer insight on interactions with Flash-based applications, rich media and even when the site is accessed through a mobile device rather than a desktop PC.

All of this development allows P&O Ferries to be certain that any substantial expansion to the site can be monitored by Speed-Trap in the same way.

Acarnley concludes, “For us, future-proofing is key, both in terms of short-term site expansions and marketing campaign changes due to Speed-Trap’s simplicity and coverage, and also in terms of wider trends of internet usage because of Speed-Trap’s evolution and sophistication."

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