E-commerce marketers have steadily eyed ‘Big Data’ to learn more about their customers – for example, understanding how shoppers behave, their path to purchase and what they ultimately buy (or don’t buy) so that they can do a better job of merchandising products, improving customer service, and strengthening loyalty. However, mining these stores of data can take a lot of time and effort – and it’s often hard to know what data really matters. But there’s an easier way to open a window into how your customers browse and buy, and that’s by examining the data in your site search.
Site search data yields valuable insights, but not enough online retailers take the time to delve into this gold mine of information. According to SLI Systems’ recent e-commerce survey, 57% of online retailers said they don’t use site search reports and information to enhance marketing programs, and half of the respondents said that they don’t use site search data to improve any business programs or processes.
That’s too bad, because there’s business intelligence there for the taking that can help win sales that might otherwise walk out the door. Here are our best ideas for using search data to get high value out of marketing campaigns and make them more relevant to customers.
Drive higher clicks from paid search: If you’re always looking for new keyword terms for your paid search campaigns, site search data is the place to start. The keywords that customers use on your site when searching for popular products are likely to have strong click-through rates. Party Supplies Delivered, an online party retailer, has seen great success using keyword terms from top searches on its site for its Google AdWords campaigns. In fact, the company’s bounce rate dropped 40% and page views increased by 132% once it began adding in keywords from search for its campaigns.
Create more targeted email marketing: Consumers are looking for any excuse to ignore merchant emails – unless you offer them a message that relates to products they really want. Site search data can help you determine what brands and items to highlight in personalized emails to make them more attention-getting.
For example, your emails can feature products related to the recipient’s previous search terms and top-selling items from their favorite brands. Shoe retailer Footwear etc. sends marketing emails with links to products from brands that it knows shoppers love. The result: click-through rates that are four times higher and sales revenue that’s three times higher (source: Patricia Seybold Group case study embedded below).
Sharpen search accuracy: When visitors to your site launch a search and actually find what they’re looking for, they’re more likely to convert. If they don’t find the desired item, they’re more likely to abandon your site. When you view search data regularly, you can discover which searches deliver poor results or no results and then add helpful synonyms or link products to search terms for more productive searches.
Increase conversions with merchandising banners and custom landing pages: Site search data can also help you create more compelling merchandising banners and landing pages that appear when visitors search on your site for a given product or arrive at your site after clicking on a search engine result. Motorcycle Superstore uses site search data to build custom landing pages with banners for visitors arriving from Google based on the keywords they use in their site searches. 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 can reveal the “secrets” of how customers shop on your site and what they want from your online storefront. Don’t miss the chance to use this information to improve your marketing programs, increase sales and ultimately get better value from your investment in search.
By Tim Callan, Chief Marketing Officer, SLI Systems