5 ways to improve on-site search
For starters, your whole marketing team should be on the same page when it comes to site search.
Having a website search function is critical to any business’s success. However, many have a difficult time providing customers with relevant search results and gaining actionable insights from the data.
“Site search is a misunderstood capability on our websites,” said Stephen Zakur, CEO at SoloSegment, in his talk at our recent MarTech conference. “As marketers, we often think about listening very closely to our customers, but we do that in kind of obtuse ways. We’re always getting first-party data and third-party data to try to discern what somebody is up to on our website.”
People expect to find exactly what they search for on your website. Failing to do so inevitably sends them to another site that better meets their needs.
“And search is interesting in that you don’t have to wonder,” said Zakur. “People are going to type into a search box exactly what they’re looking for, and to the extent that you can help them achieve that goal, you’re going to be successful.”
Neglecting your site’s search functionality can seriously hamper user experience and performance overall. Here are five ways marketers can improve site search and win over more customers.
1. Prepare the marketing team
Your whole marketing team should be on the same page when it comes to site search. Signals can get crossed fairly easily with so many people publishing content and developing site technologies, so everyone should work together to create a cohesive search experience.
2. Analyze customer experience
It’s important to distinguish between search and customer experience. Even if customers are finding what they need via site search, you can’t neglect their experience following the search. What happens after they search is the metric that matters most.
3. Automate A/B testing
It’s time for marketers to apply A/B testing to site search. Test and compare search algorithms, then ask site users which functionalities help them the most. This will help keep your system updated and relevant to searchers.
4. Use machine learning and AI correctly
AI is closely related to marketing automation, and there are two types marketers routinely use within campaigns.
- AI as a toolbox
- AI as automation
The toolbox version of AI takes the form of site kits that allow your team to interact with the system and make manual changes as needed. Conversely, AI as automation utilizes technologies that are embedded within the system itself to improve task efficiency and free up your team to perform their primary marketing tasks.
5. Start using search as a service
Many businesses continue to take on the maintenance tasks of site search engines themselves, though there are many external vendors who provide search engine software as a service. This lets marketing teams focus more on their campaigns while shifting the responsibility of search engine maintenance to a 3rd party.