Search Failure. You Can’t Stop Talking About It.

Since January I’ve had dozens of discussions with marketing professionals as part of a product roadmap listening tour. My goal is to hear what’s top of mind for thought leaders, understand the pain points, and figure out how to align our product and our marketing messages with what I’m hearing. While most of the conversation focused around our new product thesis: effective visitor journeys and customer experience powered by behavior-based personalized content recommendation, people couldn’t help but talk about search failure.

Site Search

As you already know, searchers are your best prospects and are more likely to convert according to the data our clients have shared with us. It’s true for B2C and it’s true for B2B. But selling this notion is hard because many companies have no clear owner for the search experience. So we don’t always talk about the positive effect our product has on search. But the people I’ve been talking to can’t help themselves. They universally volunteer that at best their search is a work in progress and at worst it’s a disaster.

So many stories

One large packaged goods company showed me a content marketing site that seemed incapable of providing search results of related articles. If you were looking for an article on living with teens, you were likely to see content marketing and products related to babies.

An executive at a leading insurance company lamented the fact that if you were looking for content related to their asset management business (a B2B play), you were just as likely to see information related to consumer offerings.

And there were also countless stories about personal B2C problems. Looking for the thing in white and only being offered red. Searching for a hoodie and being offered jackets without hoods. Seemingly random search results.

Why is that a problem?

Because of Google. You’ve spent a lot of money and effort improving SEO to attract visitors to the top of your funnel. If they land on your page and find the content wanting they have three choices: site search, navigate, or go back to Google. Navigation is only viable if your site is simple enough to understand. For most B2B companies, this is really hard. If site search isn’t working, well your visitors are left with only one choice. Google.

There are three concerns when visitors bounce back to Google:

  1. It potentially invalidates your SEO strategy. You’re either on the wrong keywords, have the wrong content or both.
  2. Your ability to progress journeys is stymied.
  3. Your competitors get another crack at your visitors.

The Promise of AI and Site Search

A lot of site search vendors are beginning to pitch AI as a technology that will make search better. The engine is smarter, therefore results are better. That’s a start. If text analytics or machine learning models can make search content more relevant, then eventually your visitors may begin to trust your site search.

But what’s really relevant about better search is not the “how” of better search, it’s the “why” of better search. Do the better results lead to fewer site bounces? Fewer exits? More conversions? Is your search data useful outside of search?

Is better search the answer?

Better search is only part of the answer. What you really want is better journey progression. What you really want are more conversions and more MQLs. That’s why we’re focused on building technologies that take better search data and use that elsewhere in the visitor journey.

If you’re a B2B company, it’s likely that site searchers make up a relatively small portion of your website visitors. But every visitor could use guidance as they try to navigate the complexities of your digital presence. Combining better search data with your journey data and your content data creates the opportunity to identify content that your visitors need, so that they’re more likely to progress their journeys and less likely to bounce and exit.

Make your search smarter. But make sure you’re focused on the true goal. Increasing the likelihood that your visitors are going to connect with content that matters and progress towards their goal. 

Want help getting the benefits of better site search? Check out our SearchBox software.

Steve Zakur

About Steve Zakur

Stephen Zakur is CEO of SoloSegment. SoloSegment provides analytics that improve site search conversion and machine learning technologies that improve content effectiveness.

The Secret Value of Site Search

While rushing to close 2018 deals, business teams everywhere are also finalizing 2019 plans. Business cases have been calculated, lists have been prioritized and they’re getting to green light 2019 initiatives. All of these are focused on yielding the greatest return for businesses. Increasingly, site search is on the list because of the hidden value in this capability.

Among the value being found by companies are: 

  • Site searchers are 87% more likely to respond to marketing goals than non-searchers
  • Site Searchers are 43% more likely to buy — and in some cases a lot more (up to 600%) — than non-searchers
  • Effective site search retains visitors increasing SEO & SEM Yields

Site Searchers 87% more likely to achieve marketing goals

We were recently looking at one of our client’s Google Analytics dashboards. One of the reports reported the marketing goal achievement of searchers vs non-searchers. While we’ve known for a long time the positive impact that site search has on transactional and commerce experiences (see next section) we were encouraged to see the data that showed that marketing goal achievement was 87% higher for searchers than for non-searchers. That’s almost double!

Now you can only get to these levels of performance if your search is really good. It has to do with what we expect most search engines do: Answer our questions accurately. This client has made the investment in understanding the sources of search failure and fixing many of those. Their search success rate is 44% and going higher. This is the type of experience that your visitors expect.

Site Searchers 43% more likely to buy

Higher conversion rates from site searchers is a well documented phenomenon. It’s intuitive that this is so. The person who is searching knows what they want and thinks you have that thing. All you have to do is point them to the thing that they want. Some studies of highly transactional businesses have indicated that searchers are up to six times more likely to buy.

Again, the table stakes for getting this value is to make sure that your search engine experience delivers highly relevant answers that allow the buyer to move forward with their journey.

SEO & SEM yields Increase

Anyone who tracks traffic on their website knows how much of their traffic comes from Google. The data that not everyone looks at is the amount of traffic that goes back to Google. For many companies the amount of traffic that goes back to Google is almost equivalent to what they got in the first place.

We looked at data for a couple of companies and found that on average 30.5% of their traffic comes from Google. We also found that 24.5% of their traffic exits to Google. What is frustrating is that many companies spend a tremendous amount of money (it’s an $80B industry) on search engine optimization and search engine marketing. They’re paying to attract the traffic. What they struggle with is retaining that traffic.

What’s the value of retaining that traffic? One large chemical company we’re working with has determined that their digital lead value is $10,000. We recently calculated that just focusing on increased search retention of one product could yield over $60,000 in incremental revenue. This is a number you should be able to calculate for your business to demonstrate the value of better search. (If you want to find out your potential increased revenue, contact us for a free consultation).

Get them. Keep them. Grow.

Great search improves marketing goal achievement, improves commerce conversions and improves the yield on your SEO and SEM spend. What could be more valuable than that? Invest in better search. Site search is your hidden growth engine. What’s in your budget?

If you want to get started, feel free to check out Two Things You Can Do Now To Improve Your Site Search. And if you want to generate the most revenue from your site search, don’t be afraid to drop us a line.

Steve Zakur

About Steve Zakur

Stephen Zakur is CEO of SoloSegment. SoloSegment provides analytics that improve site search conversion and machine learning technologies that improve content effectiveness.

Warning: You’re ignoring your company’s best salesperson

Here’s a scenario for you: imagine you have an amazing salesperson who develops a deep connection with customers, beginning with their very first interaction. Even better, these prospects share their deepest concerns, telling your salesperson everything you’d want to know about how to help them — and how you can sell them what they need.

But you ignore everything this salesperson wants to share with you about what they’ve learned. You simply say, “Nah, I’m not interested in providing a better experience for these prospects. I’m not curious about their needs. I don’t care what they’ve told you.” That would be ridiculous, right? And yet, if you’re like most companies, you’re probably doing this every single day.

You may have guessed that your company’s best salesperson is, of course, your website. This brilliant salesperson who knows what matters most to your prospects and leads might still surprise you: website search. That is, the searches customers conduct directly on your site. What customers tell you in those searches will make the difference between successful enterprises and the also-rans.

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About Tim Peter

Tim Peter is the President of SoloSegment. An expert in e-commerce and digital marketing strategy, web development, search marketing, and analytics, Tim focuses on the growth of the social, local, mobile web and its impact on both consumer behavior and business results. SoloSegment provides analytics that improve site search conversion and machine learning technologies that improve content effectiveness.

How does your search customer experience treat your visitors?

This morning I had to log on to United Airlines’ website to request a refund for accommodations from a recent overnight flight delay. Surprisingly there is no form specifically for this type of request on the site. I struggled with a bit of cognitive dissonance on how to fit my request in the standard fields where one might complain about rude service or a poorly maintained restroom.

Needless to say, I didn’t come away from the experience with a favorable opinion of United or its process. This at a time when they should be trying to take a bad situation (my original overnight delay) and turn it into something awesome. It didn’t help that there were errors in their login process as well as an inexplicable refusal to load a 900KB JPG file that was both less than 1MB size limit and one of the approved file types.

Am I less likely to return to united.com because of this bad experience? No, I’ll be back. Fortunately for United, oligopolists can get away with poor service. Can you?

Steve Zakur

About Steve Zakur

Stephen Zakur is CEO of SoloSegment. SoloSegment provides analytics that improve site search conversion and machine learning technologies that improve content effectiveness.

How long will business models based on personal data survive?

I don’t use Snapchat mostly because nobody I know uses it. I’m not the target demographic, apparently. But that doesn’t keep me from talking about how much I dislike the user experience. I know that when I register such complaints I probably sound like a codger who wants his buggy whip back. But even so, I never really “got” why someone would build a platform where content is ephemeral. Isn’t the whole point of social platforms to catalog our lives? Maybe I’m missing something.

Steve Zakur

About Steve Zakur

Stephen Zakur is CEO of SoloSegment. SoloSegment provides analytics that improve site search conversion and machine learning technologies that improve content effectiveness.

Google: Frenemy?

Can you imagine not caring about how you rank in Google? Maybe someday something will replace Google as what is arguably “the” most important source of top-of-funnel traffic but today much of your marketing activity is rightly focused on SEO and SEM. Having a strong Google game is critical to many companies success. But is Google your friend? I’d argue that Google as Frenemy is the proper way to look at the relationship; Google is critically important at some points but dangerous to rely upon later. Let me explain.

Steve Zakur

About Steve Zakur

Stephen Zakur is CEO of SoloSegment. SoloSegment provides analytics that improve site search conversion and machine learning technologies that improve content effectiveness.