How to use site search to improve conversion

Ian Scarr, the Regional Vice President for EMEA of SLI Systems delivered a very interesting talk at Internet Retailing Expo about site search on ecommerce sites and how it can increase a conversion with a series of steps.

Here’s a round-up of the talk, along with Ian’s tips on the importance of site search for every website.

Targeting the “spearfishers”

Ian Scarr started his presentation reminding us that “good site search should be for everybody” as every site should focus on helping its customers find exactly what they are looking for.

According to a report by Forrester Research, retailers should focus on “spearfishers,” meaning shoppers who visit a site looking for a specific product. This can be achieved by providing a useful site search.

Forrester Research also found that 43% of visitors navigate immediately to the search box, while searchers are 2-3x more likely to convert compared to non-searchers.

Reduce the path to purchase

Site search - how to improve conversion

Users need to have easy access to the products they are searching for and the number of clicks required to complete a purchase affects the conversion rate.

A rich auto-complete search engine can speed up the journey to a particular product and this helps customers complete the purchasing process.

What’s more, it may be useful to add recommendations for popular products and also redirects to specific pages on the site, which helps shoppers find exactly what they are looking for as fast as possible. For example, when the search displays only one result, you can redirect to the particular page directly and help facilitate the customer’s journey.

Site search - how to improve conversion

Understand your visitors

The search function should provide contextually relevant results, as any irrelevant result could affect the conversion rate.

It is important to understand what your customers are looking for and use the learning of their preferences to put the best performers first. Dynamic refinements allow you to let your customers decide what to merchandise, which leads to an increased number of conversions.

Site search - how to improve conversion

Optimise search

As the search gets more optimised, the likelihood of a purchase gets higher.

For example, there is no need to let a misspelling keep the user away from the right search results. By providing the properly spelled results the bounce rate is reduced, which increases the chances the users end up buying the particular product.
Site search - how to improve conversion

What’s more, you can also identify the key terms that are not converting for you, in order to promote or demote the products by pushing them either at the top, or the bottom of the results.

Site search - how to improve conversion

Build landing pages

Dedicated landing pages for PPC campaigns, or email marketing campaigns may help the conversion, as it increases the relevance and the user experience when searching for a specific product.

Site search - how to improve conversion

The analysis of the popular search terms may indicate the searches that require their own tailored pages, whether it’s about specific brands, or even specific products.

Provide an alternative

No matter whether users find what they are looking for or not, the search results can be enhanced with relevant recommendations.

For example, Amazon’s recommendations take 75% of the page and they seem to benefit the conversion rate, as they are all extremely relevant to the users’ searches.

It has been observed that recommendations lead to a 10-25% increase in site revenue, while there is also a 11% decrease in bounce rate.

Site search - how to improve conversion

Don’t forget mobile

As mobile usage gets more popular, it is more important than ever for every site to provide the same searching experience, both in desktop and mobile.

Less typing (and browsing) leads to an improved mobile experience, with speed and ease being critical for “spearfisher” shoppers.

Except for the tips mentioned above, mobile search should also be fit for the smaller screen, ensuring that users do not abandon the process early.

Site search - how to improve conversion

For lots more valuable insight on the changing face of digital marketing and ecommerce, attend our two-day Shift London event in May.

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