Site search performance is all in the reporting, says Marcus Law, Marketing Manager EMEA at SLI Systems
It’s a truism to say that people can’t buy what they can’t find, making search one of the most important elements of digital business. What gets less attention is site search, however, and how its effective deployment can really make a difference to your business.
Search matters because every customer has dozens of choices of where to shop, and getting your search parameters right will bring them to you. But what happens when they reach your site? Are you offering the best service that you can?
Many ecommerce and m-commerce businesses use the default site search that comes with the platform. Sometimes that can mean that search results are ranked by the number of times the search term is included in the description. That’s one way of doing things, but it’s not going to do much to serve the customer: it’s a limited approach that can lead to skewed results and frustrated potential customers.
Every business needs to ensure that customers are finding what they need when they look. Every failed search in ecommerce is a potential lost sale, even a lost customer if they get sufficiently frustrated. Making sure that your search results are accurate, immediate and relevant allows you to cut bounce rates, increase page views and, most importantly, increase conversions.
SLI is ‘software as a service’ which means it’s always on, and the team can implement enormous amounts of man-hours and technology to ensure that your ecommerce site has the same advantages as giant multinationals. The system is divided into two parts, live search results and reporting.
Live search results are one thing but it’s the reporting that’s significant. One of the most important things you can do is review site search quality metrics to make sure that search is improving over time. Things you want to know are average rank, click through rate, revenue generated per person that searches.
You can test keywords: if there’s a low click through rate, try alternate terms and see if rates improve, or analyse what people are searching for to find out how your visitors are using language. Multivariate testing means you can find out quickly and directly. The point is to ensure that searchers are given the most relevant results quickly and easily. Improved searches results in higher customer satisfaction and greater sales
What reporting allows you to do, however, is far more in-depth. You can learn from your customers what they’re looking for, products that are performing well and more. This enables you to keep up with new trends, ensure inventory is matching need as the seasons change, eve create new products.
At Lovehoney for example, customers started searching under the term ‘Fifty Shades of’… The company noticed, did a deal with the book’s author and has become an exclusive distributor of a ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ product line. At Jelly Belly, the company discovered there were many searches for Champagne Bubbles flavoured beans, and the sales didn’t match the search volume. At the time, they were only selling 10lb bags. When they saw the search results, they launched a 1lb bag and its become one of their biggest sellers (very popular with wedding planners).
That could be your site. Listen to your customers and learn from them. That’s what learning site search reporting can do for you.