How better onsite search can up your conversion rates with Ian Scarr from Klevu (episode 010)

by April Buencamino-dy

Ian has been involved in the world of site search since 2013, helping retailers throughout the UK and beyond to leverage ever cleverer algorithms to improve the experience of searchers on their website, and therefore (of course!) the sales achieved on a website. When we decided to spend a month covering improving onsite conversion rates – site search was a topic we had to cover, and Ian was at the top of my list to come on and talk about it

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About Ian

Ian has been working his way through marketing and other peripheral roles for 20 years.

But in 2013, he joined SLI Systems where he started focusing on site search, which is now his speciality. Ian started his new position at Klevu in 2019.

The Importance of Search

Imagine going into a high street store and the shop assistant comes up to you. When you ask a question about a product, the assistant simply says nothing — or strangely leads you to a bizarre unrelated part of the store.

This, Ian says, is what bad site search is like. Which is especially problematic when you consider that customers who are using your site search are some of your most engaged customers.

Ian says that people using site search generate about 50 – 60% of revenue generated from eCommerce sites. Ultimately, the better experience you can provide people who are searching, the better your outcomes.

Built in Magic

The major eCommerce platforms have come a long way and have ready built search and peripheral tools that are quite powerful.

Ian says matching the site search experience with the overall website becomes your best converting engine. It’s crucial to ensure all the great things you have on your site are being indexed by your site search.

Locating the Search Bar 

A simple way to start optimizing your site search — make sure people know where it is!

Create a nice prominent search box, centrally located with some placeholder text. Why not put the best converting tool on your site smack in the middle of things?

Search Driven Competition 

The biggest competitors to your brand are Google and Amazon — two companies that have taken search bar seriously.

Now, thanks in part to their efforts, search is becoming increasingly personalized and customers are beginning to expect that high level of personalization — just another reason to deliver personalized search on your own site.

The algorithms look at both what the majority of people do—ie: type sh—and the search tool will guess your going to type shirt and what a customer does while on a site, changing results based on your browsing history. 

Multi Layered Search Results

A good site search brings back more than just products. The best site search tool will return a much richer array of content.

Ian says, people are often searching in different stages of the purchase journey. This is precisely how search can be so powerful — it can return a bevy of information related to the searchers interest, which will in turn please the shopper.

Ian says it’s especially powerful to include references from sources like social media influencers, bloggers, podcasts and more. 

Using the Site Search to Investigate Customer Needs

The site search is also a powerful merchandising tool. You can use the search bar to watch what’s happening in site search and solve the customers problems in real time.

Having really strong automatic reporting and back end merchandising is great and the best place to start, but there are human driven tactical pieces that are important as well. 

Voice Search

Voice search is a growing trend — especially since people are getting more used to speaking to their phones, Alexa’s sat maps and more — Ian says there is a reason why voice search is coming online quickly.

Insider Tips

If we’ve inspired someone to take their first step with Email Marketing – what do they need to know to give themselves the best chance of success?

Evaluate which platform you’re on. If you’re using a major eCommerce builder like Shopify or Magento, you’ll have great luck sorting out the nuances of the built in site search. If you’re on a bespoke website, that’s more of a custom solution. 

Once you’ve started of course you’ve got to ‘keep optimising’! So what’s your favourite way to improve Email marketing performance?

Look at search terms and look for the trends. Look at what people are searching for and solve the problems they are articulating in your search. If something is trending in search, boost that piece and raise conversion site wide. 

It’s impossible to improve our marketing unless we’re monitoring the performance – but the list of stuff we could monitor can be overwhelming. So what, for you is the number one Email marketing KPI?

  • Search Conversion. Site search users represent 10%—30% – 40% of site user who are generating 50%-60% of overall revenue. That’s huge! Make sure you are maintaining these conversions and ensure you are making the search tool highly visible.
  • Bounce rates—people not bouncing means what they are finding is more relevant.
  • Overall Revenue—Is your revenue increasing as your search gets better?

Crystal ball time – what’s coming up in the next 6-12 months that we should be getting ready for in Email marketing?

  • More personalization—more interactions that engage early. 
  • Voice search and everything talking to each other. 
  • Image Search—drop an image into the search box.

Interview Links

Ian on Social media:

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