When you picture your customers’ purchasing journey, what do you see? Gone are desktop-bound 9-to-5-ers searching for products with a keyboard. A world of smartphones, smartwatches, and even smart homes has transformed the modern buyer’s experience. Here are five ways you can gear up your website for the customers of today and generate revenue with site search in 2022.
1. Take your content to your customers –
Make your site human-centric. Customers today have integrated digital devices and platforms into their lives, so they want to be able to find things as the need arises, wherever they are.
– on their mobiles
Offering only a static website will limit their access to your products and content. In this context, mobile-friendly website design is obviously a given, but have you considered the role your site search can play in getting your content in front of your customers? The limited screen space on a mobile device means that having an effective site search function can make all the difference to content visibility.
– via voice
Search is no longer limited to the search bar either. The keyboard and keypad are giving way to a world of voice-activated devices for people on the move. Now used to voice search on their phones and in their home, people are expecting it from websites as well. If you’re wondering how you can make the leap, you may find this post on optimizing for voice search helpful.
– using pictures
Image search also offers some compelling case studies, helping users find similar items and allowing shoppers to follow a trend. It can be a fantastic way to prompt your customers when they’re uncertain about what they want to buy.
Customers can’t buy what they can’t see, so make sure you’re giving them access to your products when they have the need.
2. Personalization drives conversion
Dynamic search suggestions have changed the game for websites trying to get eyes on their content. Now, when customers type in a keyword like ‘shirts’, you can use intelligent search and the wisdom of the crowd to make sure that the shirts they see are the right ones for that time of year: keeping them cool in summer and warm in winter.
Take the time to understand your customer’s search intent. Relevant suggestions will keep customers on the site longer, exploring more of what you offer. Giving them more time to explore makes them more likely to find something that excites them.
Implementing dynamic search suggestions gave one client an uplift of nearly 300% in customers moving from the search bar to the product details page. That momentum resulted in increased sales. If you’d like to hear more, check out our webinar with André Vieira of Looptimize.
3. Use your search data
Your site search is a goldmine of information on what your customers (or prospective customers) are looking for. Optimize and use it to shape your marketing strategy, refine your FAQs, and adjust your funnel to capture and hold customer attention.
The data you get from search analytics can also help you understand whether your search results pages present the results that customers want to see right at the top, rather than making them scroll and look for it.
A good site search solution will let you adjust the ranking of results and add weight to your customer’s priorities, giving them what they are looking for faster. The more helpful your website is to customers, the more it will keep them coming back, and the more likely they are to trust and work with you.
4. Remove unnecessary friction from your customer’s journey
Every interaction with your website is a moment of truth for your customer; you are telling them who you are as a business and how you can help them.
When they encounter difficulties in moving to the next step in their journey, customers may begin to feel they may be better off with a business that puts them first. This could happen because visitors to your website have accessibility and usability issues or just because they have to put too much thought into finding out what that step is. A lack of consistency in messaging in the different parts of your buyer journey can also cause friction, which can cause them to drop out of the funnel.
Removing these barriers (also known as friction) increases your customers’ momentum as they move between pages, translating into more conversions – and more revenue for you.
5. Embrace your brand and website’s uniqueness
It is easy to get excited by the latest trends and flashy features – but their effectiveness for you depends on whether your customers will adopt them and benefit from them. For example, Amazon’s search experience is renowned, but what works for their platform may not work for you. One instance of this is dimming the area around the search bar when it is clicked to reduce cognitive friction and make it stand out. While this seemed a great idea, testing it showed that it didn’t always work for other businesses.
How a customer interacts with a website could change based on what he or she is looking for. This means that even if your audience seems to love another brand’s site (and the way they do search), they may behave differently on your site because you serve a different need.
While best practices are helpful and can give you ideas about what could work for you, keep your audience and brand at the heart of your site search user experience for best results.
6. Ask questions and test everything
The easiest way to find out what anyone wants is to ask them. Survey your customers and other website visitors to get insight into how they experience your website. When you do this, it becomes critical to ask the right questions because they can affect how people answer – or whether they respond at all.
Once your visitors give you some ideas, split testing is a practical way to understand what attracts your customers and converts them. Further experimentation can tell you what is working for your site and what needs work.
If your website is already highly optimized, then your experiments can be ‘crazier’. Counterintuitively, visitors can respond well to some elements that intentionally introduce friction. The search submission button is one example of ‘effective friction’ since although your visitors have to go through an extra step to get their results, it is a step that they already expect.
Don’t expect instant gains, however. Any results from A/B testing are usually incremental, so running a number of tests will get you where you want to go, one step at a time.
Take the first step today
If you’re ready to begin the journey and generate revenue with site search this year, the best time to start is now. Take one small step: make your content more accessible, personalize your search results, reduce friction, or experiment with a change. Your customers – and your bottom line – will thank you.