Big Data continues to be a popular topic in ecommerce and beyond. Marketers increasingly want to learn how to mine information about customer behavior so they can use this data to better predict customer needs, respond to issues and concerns, and increase loyalty.
For some, data mining may be a significant effort requiring a team of IT consultants and months of work to find the hidden gold in your data. But there’s an easier way to get fast answers about what your customers want and don’t want from your business: your site search.
Site search data can reveal what customers are searching for and how, providing valuable insights on shopper behavior. However, according to our latest ecommerce survey, the majority of online retail businesses are not taking advantage of the opportunity to tap into this storehouse.
In our November 2013 survey of 160 global retail organizations, 57% said they don’t use site search reports and information to improve marketing programs, and half of the respondents told us that they don’t use site search data to enhance any business programs or processes.
To avoid losing out on sales and new customers that can be gained by using search data, put the following ideas into place – they’ll help you get the most value out of your marketing campaigns, making them more appealing to shoppers and featuring products you know they want.
Get more clicks from paid search
If you’re constantly on the hunt for new keyword terms to support your paid search campaigns, site search data can deliver just what you need. The keywords your customers use when searching for popular products are likely to have strong clickthrough rates. Party Supplies Delivered, an online party retailer, uses keyword terms from top searches on its site for Google AdWords campaigns. By making the most from site search data and technology, the site’s bounce rate dropped 40% and page views increased by 132%.
Conduct more targeted email marketing
Consumers are only too willing to ignore the flood of emails they receive from merchants – unless these emails give them a good reason to click on the subject line and keep reading. Information gathered from site search can improve the value of your email marketing campaigns so that they’re highly relevant and difficult to ignore. Create targeted emails that feature products related to the recipient’s previous search terms and top-selling items from their favorite brands. Shoe retailer Footwear etc. fills its marketing emails with links to products from brands that it knows shoppers have identified as their favorites. The result is incredible – 4x higher clickthroughs and 3x the sales revenue from emails customized with search data than non-customized emails.
Improve search usefulness and accuracy
Making search the best it can be is certainly a marketing imperative. When visitors search and find what they are looking for, they’re likely to convert and return to your site again. If your search function returns poor results, visitors are most likely to abandon your site. By examining search data on a regular basis, you can find out which searches deliver poor results or no results, and add in the proper synonyms or link products to search terms so that shoppers can connect with the products they intend to buy when they conduct these searches.
For more effective merchandising, you can also monitor search data to see which products or searches are most popular with your customers. You can then promote these product or content items in search results, moving them to the top of the list.
Merchandising banners and custom landing pages
By examining site search data, you can create customized merchandising banners and landing pages that appear when visitors search on your site for a given product, or when they arrive at your site after clicking on a search engine result. Motorcycle Superstore uses site search data to create custom landing pages with merchandising banners for visitors arriving from Google who used specific keywords. In Motorcycle Superstore’s case, the merchandising banners highlight other site search results for the same keyword, drawing shoppers to a wider range of products than they would otherwise have noticed. The company reports that the banners and product detail pages have generated an average conversion lift of 2-5% for the featured products.
Site search data offers you on-target and easy-to-access information about exactly how your customers shop on your site, and what they want from your online storefront. Don’t miss the chance to convert this information into marketing intelligence, which will help you drive more value out of your investment in search.
Tim Callan is Chief Marketing Officer of SLI Systems.