SearchChat Podcast: Ring in the Year by Putting Data to Work

Analytics matter: this is the unavoidable fact of digital marketing, even for those digital marketers that fear it. But are you even measuring the right things? Do you know how to make meaningful improvements?

In this episode of our SearchChat podcast, Steve and I talk about site search, personalization, and big data. In our work in website search, we’ve seen that clicks are a measure of activity, but not necessarily an indicator that something good happened. Did the click lead to a purchase? Did the click answer to a visitor’s question?

First, a brag: Marketing Tech Outlook named SoloSegment to its top 10 marketing analytics solutions. We talk about what we’ve learned and what we now offer our customers. When I first heard about receiving the award, SoloSegment was mostly collecting data. Now, we realized what sets us apart is automating changes using that data.

Our focus for 2019 is on  putting data to work. It’s not an easy task — it means determining if your data is accurate, as well as usable to measure success. 

We discuss personalization, which every marketer wants to jump into. Not everyone is ready.  Do you have the data to identify your audience, what the right content is, and identifying whether it’s working or not?

Tune in and discover more!

00m 00s — Intro and overview

02m 00s — SoloSegment named in top 10 marketing analytics solutions

5m 20s — Why measurements like clicks fail

9m 25s — Can you use your data to power success?

15m 15s — Why your B2B content marketing isn’t ready for personalization

20m 45s — How to think about Google Discover

28m 02s — Subscription links and outro

SearchChat is available on

Check us out on FacebookTwitter, or email info@solosegment.com.

Originally posted on Biznology

About Tim Peter

Clarke had it right, AI is magic

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic


Arthur C Clarke

It seems like AI has been on everyone’s minds lately. It definitely has been on ours, as Tim Peter and I spoke on AI on our latest podcast. AI has been particularly hyped up, with plenty of big ideas emerging about what it can do for website owners. But I’m fearing, that like blockchain, we’re heading for Gartner’s fabled Trough of Disillusionment if we’re not there already. AI can’t solve all your business problems, though there are those that are well suited with the tools that are available today. But like any solution you have to have a valuable problem and the right approach to applying the solution.

So, how do you get started? There are three real impediments to getting AI off the ground.

  1. Unreasonable expectations
  2. Concerns about data
  3. Skills and Experience

The AI Expectation Problem

We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten. Don’t let yourself be lulled into inaction.



Bill Gates

The Trough of Disillusionment is largely filled with folks, especially at B2B companies, who came to AI with unreasonable expectations. Like any new technology our expectations for near-term impact are always too high. There are no magical powers, there’s only hard work. So the first step in applying AI to any business problem is assessing the measurable value of the problem (make sure you have a business case) and think small.

Most “big bang” projects — large budgets, lengthy schedules, massive business cases — fail to meet expectations. With new technology the risk is even greater because not only are you proving that the project is valuable, but also that the platform can deliver.

To minimize your risk, think MVP (Minimum Viable Product) which is really just a fancy way of saying “Proof of Concept”. Identify a handful of experiments that you can run. This reduces the risk of failure — the likelihood that all the experiments fail is low — and set out goals that aren’t purely business value. For instance, teaching your dev team how to set-up a text analytics platform has a lot of value in the long run.

The AI Data Challenge

One of the intimidating challenges for AI projects is getting the data. Modeling can consume a fair amount of data but it’s not usually the volume of data that trips companies up, it’s that availability of that data. 

Many problems where AI can help requires data from across the organization. Building the connections, both technically and within the management system, with other organizations to access the data is critically important. Ideally, availing yourself of data from work that’s already being done within the company will provide you with the right access. Of course, normalizing that data to work together can still be a challenge.

The AI Barrier: Cost

One of the largest barriers to getting started is skills and expertise. Competition for data scientists is fierce and consultants who do this work can be costly. There are essentially two types of consultants that can help. Domain experts with software that focuses on one specific type of problem and custom development shops. 

Working with a software vendors can provide you with a quick start, but it often presumes that you have a problem that fits with the software that they’re selling. What we’ve seen in the marketplace is that the best packaged AI solutions are in very narrow domains. If that’s a fit for you it can be a great accelerator.

Custom development is a great option when you have a rather unique problem. The downside of this approach is that you’re often building both the platform for the application and the application itself. The timelines for this approach can be long and the cost high. 

One of the the ways we’ve found successful is to find a vendor who has both domain expertise and a good platform but not necessarily an application that meets the need. If they have application expertise in a close swimlane, they may be able to provide you with something that is specialized for your use case but not rigid like a prebuilt application. This allows you to enter with a modest investment and a solution that meets your solution needs.

It’s not magic, it’s work. Valuable Work.

When AI works, I think Clarke was right, it does seem magical. And what business can’t use a little magic? But don’t buy into the hype. Don’t be frightened by the expectations curve. Do find a valuable problem. Do run a few experiments. Do start. Build the muscle memory. Find the place where AI allows you to build a valuable customer experience.

If you want help figuring out how to use AI to convert your customers, check out SoloSegment’s technology solutions.

Originally posted on Biznology

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.

SearchChat Podcast: Budget Season Survival Guide

Not enough marketers take advantage of the other kind of search — the one on your own website. Few companies budget for it, while budgeting for content without a second thought. We’ve talked about the cost of value before. But when they search, can visitors even find the content they need on your site?

Steve and I are excited to introduce a new podcast, exploring the topics we are fascinated by: AI, search, and content. Site search is part of a customer journey. When you optimize your site search with automation, visitors can find your content and continue on their journey.

Today we cover the Budget Season problems: proving why site search matters, what makes for good analytics, and how much budget you need to make your search better.

00m 00s – Intro and overview

01m 17s – Start of discussion with Steve

07m 04s – Do clicks mean success?

11m 44s – What do we mean by upstream/downstream traffic to/from search?

13m 12s – Why it matters that Google exited the site search market

14m 58s – How much budget is enough to make your site search better?

17m 27s – How can you get started on improving site search?

SearchChat is now on

Check us out on Facebook, Twitter, or email info@solosegment.com.

About Tim Peter

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.

About Tim Peter

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.

Is your site search a guess machine?

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.

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.

Site Search is Market Research

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.

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.

#SEMPOChat: Site Search

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.

In this free 60 minute webinar, four site search experts discuss:

  • The importance and value of site search
  • Ways to assess your company’s site search
  • Approaches to improve your company’s site search

SoloSegment CEO Steve Zakur and Chief Strategist Mike Moran have worked in search for decades and join this webinar to share crucial insights on measuring and improving your site search. SoloSegment specializes in measuring site search analytics to help clients measure their site search and use those measurements to significantly improve their conversions and sales.

If you only have 5 minutes to spare, skip ahead to 26:10 where Mike provides two compelling answers about site search value.

Special offer for SEMPO viewers: Try SoloSegment’s Site Search Inspector free, and get 10 percent off if you decide to purchase!

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 ROI of Site Search

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.

Determining what to do and how to make the most money doing it would seem to be reason enough for calculating ROI. But there’s another, almost equally important reason. Communicating the returns on business decisions is the language of business. You’ll need this information to convince the IT and Finance guys to make the investment. But (ironically) many businesses fail to put the proper time, resources, and methodology to determining ROI, and end up allocating their resources poorly. Site search is a great example of this problem.

Even though up to 50 percent of your customers use your site search, I bet you don’t have technical and human resources dedicated to it. That’s something that needs to be remedied. You’re leaving money on the table. You need to build great partnerships with stakeholders from across business functions to change the status quo and you need to be able to express the need for change in terms of value. Fortunately, you don’t have to have an MBA to figure out the value. Here’s the steps you need to be taking in your ROI process.

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.

B2B buyers rely upon site search

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.

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.