Search has been widely accepted as a customer self-service approach. Your potential customers all start from the same starting point (products that match terms), then they must wade through and self-select the path (faceted search) to find the best result for them. This is a problem because not every potential customer is the same and not every potential customer has the same affinity to a search term. Remember, these are potential customers you can lose at any point. You have invested heavily to get them to your site—now convert them.
The majority of search technologies have exacerbated this problem by creating technology that requires a search administrator to drive improvement—heavy administration interfaces, lacking actionable reports, and relevancy are based on a one size-fits-all transaction model. You’re already using segmentation and real-time data to target your customers in email and advertising—you should be able to do the same in search. Search should be personal, ever adapting, and simple to manage and measure for meaningful conversion results.
Personal SearchSite search terms, which are topical in nature, led to faceting to help improve user affinity preferences. You have already invested heavily to understand your user attributes such as geography, brand preference, and buying power. You should be using it to provide more relevant search results per user. A simple example: If I am traveling to New York City on business versus traveling with my family, there is an absolute difference in the hotel preferences I will have. I should not see the same results when searching, especially when I have already entered the number in my party and whether they are adults or children. The system should use this data, even for users new to the site, to drive a better search conversion experience.
Smart and Automated AdministrationIf you happen to be one of the few companies that can afford the luxury of a full-time search administrator, lucky you, you are in the minority. A modern, personal search solution should be a smart partner to your search owner. The system should automatically be based on smart algorithms, and be able to ID synonyms, commonly misspelled words and regional dialect. It should be able to make these changes in real time and offer these (machine learnings) to every potential customer who has a need to interact with your search. The system should be conversion oriented not click-through oriented. It should provide clear and actionable reports to your administrator to enhance the conversion rate.
If you are struggling with search and looking to increase conversion rates, focus on the customer experience—focus on search.
Want more tips on optimizing on-site search? Check out my recent webinar…
Bill Hustad is CEO of Baynote, Inc. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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