site search
Customer Experience, eCommerce Growth, Guest Posts

10 Site Search Strategies to Boost Your Growth in 2021

One group of customers converts more often than any other segment. These shoppers spend more money than other visitors. They will tell you their favorite products and which ones they’re not interested in and won’t buy.

Who are these incredibly valuable customers?

Site search users.

Check out just how valuable they are:

Their conversion rate is about 1.8x higher than other shoppers. Through search, they tell you which products they like, because they click on them. They tell you which products they don’t like, because they bounce away from them. 

Site searchers users buy more often, spend more money, and give more feedback than any other group of shoppers. There are a whole range of ecommerce site search best practices you can use to get the most out of this segment, but we want to focus on the 10 most effective strategies for growing your business by targeting these shoppers.

Optimize Your Store for Your Shoppers

Search users are always telling you what they want and what they won’t buy. They type what they want into the search bar. If a result matches their desire, they buy it. When they see something they aren’t interested in, they ignore it. With this data, you can do a few things to maximize your search optimization.

First, showcase your search bar. Use a contrasting color to make it stand out. Fill it with a catchy CTA such as “Find something amazing.” Keep it on every page and not just the home page.

Second, use data from your searches to optimise your listings and placement. For example, find your most frequently searched term and make a special banner or space for those items on your home page.

Third, target hot sellers and eliminate the slow movers. Search data will show you what your customers want. Stock more of those things. Search data will also show you which products customers saw but didn’t click on or buy. Optimize those listings or remove those products.

Finally, you can even use internal searches with no results to tell you what customers want that you don’t currently sell. Go get those things and list them on your site (if they’re relevant). 

Find and Fix Site Exits to Keep Shoppers Engaged

Use search data and analytics to find the points where people leave your site. Site search users who do a search, see the results, and then leave the site are saying, “You don’t have what I’m looking for.”

You might sell what they want, but they can’t find it. Instantly, these site exits can show you points to improve. Here are some examples:

  • Perform the same searches and look at the results from a customer’s perspective. Are the results relevant?
  • Another potential problem is a search that produces confusing results because of different product categories. You could see this problem and implement clearer categories on your website. 

The key is to find the point where people leave your site and then discover why they are leaving. Once you understand their departure reasons, you can tweak your site to keep them on board.

Use Personalization to Boost Retention and Speed

We’re all about customer retention as a driver for big ecommerce growth. In fact, we have a whole post dedicated to customer retention strategies. Personalization is a big part of customer retention because you want to connect to your customers as people by giving them their own accounts, sending them relevant email, and providing personal customer support.

Site search is also a great place for personalization. You can use your existing customer data to provide personalized search results. Here are a few simple ways to do this:

  • Tweak search results to show products at a matching price point to the customer’s last purchases.
  • Use previous purchases to display gender-specific search results.
  • Match search engines results to the information you have about the customer. Clothing sizes, electronics specs, and customer location are all examples of personal data that can be used.

Using personalized site search helps with customer retention by making the shopping process frictionless. If you help your customers find what they want quickly and easily, then they will buy it from you.

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Implement Searchandising to Showcase Products

Searchandising is a new term used to describe the process of optimizing site search results to show products you want to sell to customers. Traditional stores have used merchandising practices such as sales stickers, placing impulse products near checkouts, and putting premium items on higher shelves. Online sellers can add a few searchandising strategies of their own.

First, you can tweak your SERPs to showcase popular products. Different ‘weights’ can be attached to products so the important items you want to market are shown first.

Second, you can add images, prices, and reviews to your search results to increase impulse buying.

Finally, you can place new arrivals or branded items at the top of the SERPs to showcase these items and drive sales.

There are many more ideas you could try within the realm of searchandising. Try to find the right data and then use it to place products where your customers will see them.

Leverage Faceted Filtering to Make Shopping Easier

Facets are the metadata about your products such as price, review score, size, color, and so on. You can use this data in searches to make the process much simpler for your customers. Here are a few examples of how this works:

  • Adding a price filter helps customers grasp the value of different products.
  • Review scores as a filter helps customers pick out high-quality items.
  • You can use themes as filters for seasonal products or cultural items, such as movies or events.

There are many more ways to use faceted search to help your customers find products easily. The key idea is to use dynamic filters. Dynamic filters change with each search so the most useful filters show for each search.

Include a ‘New’ Filter to Bring Customers Back

A simple way to boost sales and showcase products is to use a condition filter. Specifically, you can add a ‘New’ filter to your search results. 

New filters will help in any market area where trends and developments happen quickly. Clothing is a great example of this kind of market. Mobile phones, accessories, and gadgets are other areas where a New filter will help highlight products customers might want.

A New filter is also great for customer retention because it will help returning customers find things they might not know about. They visited your store before, but when they apply the New filter, they get to see all the new products they didn’t see during their last visit. A simple filter like this gives them a reason to return more than once.

Optimize Your “No Results Found” Pages

Your “No Results Found” page should never be a dead end for your customers. These pages can feel like the end of the customer’s journey. If customers are left with no options, they will leave your site out of desperation or frustration. Instead of this bad outcome, try a few other ideas:

  • Always take responsibility for the outcome. Instead of saying, “Your search produced no results…” try to say something more positive like, “We’re sorry we didn’t find the perfect _________ yet. Would you like __________?” Don’t make the customer wrong by blaming them for a search with no results.
  • Always give your customers another step. Suggest another search, use synonyms to suggest related products, or offer a contact page to help them further.
  • Always check your analytics to find searches that did not produce results. Tweak these searches to point to products or categories. If you don’t have any matching products, consider stocking some, if they are relevant to your store.

The main idea of tweaking No Result pages is to give your customers an option. If they can see an easy path towards what they want, then they’ll take it. 

Be As Fast As Possible

Slow websites lose customers; this is common knowledge. 

The goal is to help your customers finish their search quickly, so you need to do more than just having a quick loading time.

One way to speed up customer searches is to use visual cues. Instead of listing all your categories as text, could you add a thumbnail to each category? When customers erch, could you use product images to help them spot their product faster?

Another method of speeding up searches is to use Autocomplete. Intelligent autocomplete will save customers time – especially on mobile devices, as it suggests popular searches and products.

If you can put those two ideas together, you’ll have a search with autocomplete suggestions and pictures. Customers will be able to spot their desired products super fast and move to the next stage of the buying journey.

Identify Your Most Popular Queries

Analytics data can help you identify products your customers search for the most often. Trending products and hot sellers are great products to feature. Here are some ways to focus on these products:

  • Feature popular items in a newsletter or sales email. Once you know what customers are searching for, and buying, you can suggest these products in an email or message to your customer base. 
  • Popular items are great targets for a small sale, discount, or urgent offer. You could combine these in an email, banner, or pop-up to showcase these items to your shoppers.
  • Sites using featured products and images on their home pages can use their knowledge of popular searches to know which products to feature on their landing pages.

The key is data. Great data from analytics can help you find many new ideas for marketing and selling your products.

Create Effective Analytics Reports

We’ve mentioned data and analytics many times. So our final strategy for site search is to create effective analytics reports. Instead of being swamped with data, you can create a site search analytics dashboard that shows you the most important information at a glance. Here are some of the things you may want to include:

  • % of users/session that used search. If your percentage is lower than average, consider tweaking your search bar placement and visibility.
  • Bounce rate and zero result searches. Fix no result searches as quickly as possible.
  • Top search terms. We mentioned this in point 9, so keep this data on your dashboard.
  • Search refinements and search exits. Discovering where people refined their searches will allow you to tweak your results to make the refinements unnecessary. Spotting search exits will help you see how to keep those customers on board for longer.
  • Searches by country and date. Location and time of searches can show you trends in specific locations and around specific events. These data points could help you plan marketing and sales.

The key idea of a site search analytics dashboard is to show you useful information quickly so you can act on it to improve your store.

Grow Revenue Through Site Search

All these strategies will help you power up your site search function. The goal is to increase revenue through customer retention, frictionless shopping, and better advertising. 

Site search users show you the hidden keys for all three ways of increasing revenue.

Author bio:

Paige Tyrrell is the Head of Marketing at Prefixbox, a leading eCommerce site search solution provider. She’s an American who’s been living in Budapest since 2017 and loves giving #alwayslearning sessions to help people optimize their online stores.

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