Having a search function on the website is essential to the success of any business. However, many struggle to provide clients with relevant search results and gain actionable insights from the data.
“Site search is a poorly understood feature on our websites,” said Stephen Zakur, CEO of SoloSegment, in his speech at our recent MarTech conference. “As marketers, we often think of listening very carefully to our customers, but we do it in a somewhat obtuse way. We always get first party data and third party data to try to discern what someone is doing on our website.
People expect to find exactly what they are looking for on your website. Failure to do so inevitably directs them to another site that better meets their needs.
“And the research is interesting in that you don’t have to ask yourself questions,” Zakur said. “People will type in a search box exactly what they’re looking for, and as long as you can help them achieve that goal, you’ll be successful.”
Neglecting your site’s search functionality can seriously hurt user experience and overall performance. Here are five ways marketers can improve site search and gain more customers.
1. Prepare the marketing team
Your entire marketing team should be on the same page when it comes to site research. Signals can be crossed quite easily with so many people posting content and developing site technology, so everyone should be working together to create a cohesive search experience.
2. Analyze the customer experience
It is important to distinguish between research and customer experience. Even if customers find what they need through on-site search, you can’t overlook their post-search experience. What happens after the search is the metric that matters most.
3. Automate A / B testing
It’s time for marketers to apply A / B testing to site research. Test and compare search algorithms, then ask site users which features help them the most. This will help keep your system up to date and relevant to searchers.
4. Correctly use machine learning and AI
AI is closely related to marketing automation, and marketers regularly use two types of campaigns.
- AI as a toolbox
- AI as automation
The toolkit version of AI comes in the form of site kits that allow your team to interact with the system and make manual changes as needed. Conversely, AI as automation uses technologies built into the system itself to improve task efficiency and free up your team to perform their core marketing tasks.
5. Start using search as a service
Many companies continue to perform site search engine maintenance on their own, although there are many external vendors who provide search engine software as a service. This allows marketing teams to focus more on their campaigns while transferring the responsibility of search engine maintenance to a third party.