Old Time Search
Just past Fish Creek Campground, a gravel, two-track wanders off into the wilderness of Glacier National Park. At the head of the road there are several warning signs about the perils of backcountry travel. Bears. Mountain Lions. Falling trees. There are also unlisted perils — flat tires, dehydration, fire, and the various demons that live in our imagination when we venture into wild places. There’s a lot of unknown down that track but that’s where we’re going, so we drove on.
You know your site search isn’t good. You’re in good company. A recent survey we did of leading healthcare companies showed that 47% of the industry’s top keywords performed poorly on site search. That’s consistent across industries, more so in B2B enterprises. But site search is the first personalized experience customers have with your site. Shouldn’t you make sure it meets their expectations?
Why is site search so bad? Well, some of that is because search owners don’t know what to fix. The good news is that getting started is easy and there are four things you can work on today that will improve your site search success rates.
The age of digital marketing is defined by data. Data has quickly become one of the most valuable assets a business can have, and businesses are willing to invest a ton of resources into market research and collecting data about target demographics. Yet far too often businesses fail to collect the data that customers willingly give them.
Site search is the most underrated and underfunded part of the sales process. Up to 50 percent of customers use site search–but most companies don’t have resources dedicated to improving their search. A significant part of the problem is that many decision makers are confused by site search and don’t know where to start.
The ROI of Site Search
The calculation of ROI (Return on Investment) is a critical step of the business decision making process. It can also be the most intimidating step. Even those who sat through Finance 101 and understand the concepts of ROI calculation may not fully understand how to do it in practice. Fortunately, we’ve had a lot of experience in using this tool, especially in calculating the ROI of site search improvements.
B2B Sales is changing
According to Forrester, the percentage of B2B buyers who prefer to do research online increased from 53% in 2015 to 68% in 2017. But it’s not just pre-sales research. Accenture’s research indicates that when you look at the end-to-end buying process, 94% of buyers do online research. The digital shift has completely transformed B2C buying behaviors, and while B2B has been more resistant to the shift, those changes are coming.
To take advantage of this trend, successful digital sales leaders will recalibrate where resources and management attention is focused. Sales Reps will continue to be a key part of the B2B sales process, especially during the final phases of high consideration purchases. But online capabilities, especially during the research phase, needs a better seat at your sales table.
Many companies have a measurement problem when it comes to understanding the effectiveness of site search. But that measurement problem often stems from the failure to ask the right question. The question shouldn’t be about customer behavior or what your customer does. The question you ask should be about customer experience or how you help your customers accomplish their goals. At SoloSegment we believe that the only customer experience that matters when you’re talking about site search is the success rate. Did the customer find the right content to answer their question on the first click? Unless you start with that point of view, you’re doing it wrong.
In fact, we think that site search is the first element of a personalized customer experience. Think about it. What is more fundamental to a great personalized experience than making sure your customer gets the right answers to the questions they’re asking? That’s just one of the “Six Personalization Realities B2B Marketers Need to Know Right Now” in a new ebook we’ve put together for you. Because site search and personalization go hand-in-hand.
The biggest roadblock to fixing your site search is recognizing that you have a problem. Many business owners will brush site search off as unimportant, and even when they know their site search is broken, they will put it off and tell themselves they’ll “fix it soon.” It’s common for our prospects to be skeptical on the real value of improving site search, but the facts are clear.
Site searchers tend to show up at your website with a certain purpose in mind. They have a need and believe that you have the solution. This should be great news, because you have all this great content and if they get to see your product, it is likely they’ll buy it. But our experience shows that many site searchers don’t actually get to the point of seeing your content. They use your site search and are frustrated by the poor quality of results. You’re frustrated too, because you don’t know why this happens. Finding out why searchers are frustrated and creating a plan to prevent it can significantly improve your site search conversions and lead to sales.
As digital professionals, we’re tasked with understanding and managing the behavior of customers and sales prospects across our digital properties. Really knowing what’s going on can be a challenge. Nowhere is that more true than site search. Most companies have a lot of of stranded customer value on their site search pages. Customer journeys are abandoned due to poor search results and poor user experiences. Acquiring the tools and building the expertise to deliver an excellent site search customer experience allows you to unlock that value.