This is a guest post from Craig Johnson, a director at Kagool. A Coveo partner, Kagool builds digital experiences to solve business challenges.

As far as digital marketing goes, in today’s Google-orientated, SEO focused world, we know how valuable it is to find what we’re looking for, yet site search is often overlooked in favor of what many think are more eye-catching streams of investment.

Site search can reveal crucial insights into your customers’ behavior. This data, when used effectively, can be pivotal for your digital strategy. It can help inform your PPC ads, guide your organic SEO keyword strategy and most of all, provide a great return on digital marketing investment.

At Kagool, as a Platinum Sitecore Partner, we integrate Coveo powered site-search along with Sitecore’s latest technologies. We use the data and insights it produces to form part of our digital marketing strategies and enable digital transformation for our clients.

Here are eight reasons why you should invest in site search for your digital transformation now:

#1 Site search is crucial to improve conversion rates

Before we go into more detail on the different aspects of site search and how to get the most out of them, it’s worth considering its main purpose.

Site search helps users to find what they’re looking for. If your customers are looking for something, and they find it, they’re likely to convert. For this reason, a well-functioning site search is extremely important as a driver of revenue – and it’s crucial to improving your conversion rate.

By providing accurate results, with helpful suggestions in a well formed search results page, you can nudge customers towards the products they are looking for and see increased sales as a strict result.

#2 Site search is critical to user experience

A central point of interaction for customers, the search bar is a conversion booster. If customers can find and use the search bar easily, it’s a step towards gathering key data from visitors.

A well-placed search bar, with features such as autocomplete implemented, will allow and encourage users to search. Autocomplete also increases chances of conversion, the less a user needs to do, the more inclined they will be to search in the first place.

The same goes for making placeholder text in the search box disappear when it’s clicked into. Avoid making customers hit backspace to delete the default message by taking away that extra step.

A big enough search bar also means visitors can search for longer terms, such as product codes. Add the above enhancements to your search bar to see a positive return on investment.

#3 Gain analytics and insights for digital transformation from site search

Your marketing team’s digital transformation depends on having the right insights in place – or you will end up pursuing every trend in digital marketing without the right tools to see how it affects customer experience.

Product names, brands and ranges are just some of the words and phrases visitors type in the text bar when using site search. What a lot of marketers don’t realize, is that this information can provide key insights into your customers browsing and buying habits.

Save this information and analyze it. See which terms are getting repeat searches, which are seasonal and which increase/decrease over time. If you have one, look at how many times your ‘zero results page’ gets hit with traffic.

You can use this information to decide how best to merchandise your website, categorize products, or even to see if you would benefit from renaming certain products.

#4 Use those insights to craft your strategies, such as your SEO strategy

With an array of new data and search terms at your fingertips, you can also start to compile a list of keywords. This list will give you a good indicator of what off-site searchers may also be looking for in Google, as well as what these customers may be searching for on your competitors’ sites. Many users’ first instinct is to use an external search engine to find the information they need first. Although these queries may not yield high traffic, many will indicate a higher buying intent, so a higher conversion rate on your content.

With your new list of keywords ready, you can create and optimize pages, targeting traffic towards your website.

#5 Create search-driven landing pages for PPC

Not just reserved for use in organic strategies, site search data can help identify your paid search campaigns as well. When you understand what your visitors are searching for at each stage, you can more adequately tailor retargeting campaigns, landing pages and entire search-driven experiences and recommendations to improve their conversion rate.

These analytics should also be fairly straightforward to digest and implement. Less time spent on keyword research means more time to focus on driving other marketing channels forward.

#6 Bring AI into your marketing and digital transformation strategy with site search

By now you’ve probably heard about the effect machine learning is having on digital marketing. Features such as Sitecore’s Cortex are now pushing the boundaries in terms of what machine learning can do.

With machine learning, customer behavior, interactions and decisions are continually tracked and monitored, forming future outcomes that better optimise the user experience. Site search is another element that can be integrated with machine learning, with a plethora of information available to tap into and feed back into your optimization strategy.

The true advantage of machine learning is enabling your business to scale. When you are able to automate the analysis of your data and the correction for those insights, your team is able to focus on more strategic initiatives and priorities.

Not only does it allow you to reap the rewards of gained insights (which could cost money), but it also saves time that market research would’ve taken in the first place. With site search, you’re letting your customers’ data do the research for you, while you do something else productive.

#7 Unlock personalization

Coveo for Sitecore integrates with Sitecore Experience Database (xDB), which means marketers can personalize the search results, content and products that are displayed to customers. As you invest in setting up the profiles and personas to use personalization within the xDB, site search with Coveo will integrate this work into the site search experience. You can also use the queries and insights from search to quickly build personas and profiles in xDB.

The key feature to take advantage of here is Coveo’s ability to pull captured site search results, feeding them back to Sitecore for personalization. In addition to this, the advanced site search analytics provided give marketers a clear vision of key performance metrics.

#8 Use it as a basis for remarketing

Google Display Network reaches 90 percent of internet users worldwide. Let that statistic sink in for a moment.

With this in mind, if people are bouncing from your site, remarketing can be a very effective way to retarget visitors. Redirect them back to your website with more accuracy and insight by using intelligent insights gathered from site search. If you know that a certain percentage of your users bounce after submitting a certain query, for example, you can create a page to address that query and then retarget them with that content later. You can even use your site search insights to become predictive with your retargeting. Once you use your search usage data to understand the content that users in a similar context view after a certain query, or the next few queries they will submit, you can “continue the conversation” with them through retargeting. After all, 90 percent is the sort of figure you can’t ignore.

Site search is often overlooked, underestimated and even dismissed when it comes to constructing a digital marketing strategy. With the above tactics in mind, the reality is that site search provides a wealth of opportunities to be taken hold of.

Whether you’re a developer, marketer, designer or an e-commerce manager, you can harness site search’s huge potential to increase conversions, sales and revenue. Not only is it a cost-effective approach to marketing, but it also produces tangible results and real insights.

At Kagool, we’ve used site search as part of our digital marketing services to deliver results and revenue for our clients. Get in touch to find out more about Sitecore. Alternatively, see how our case studies produced a positive return on investment for a range of our clients.

About Craig Johnson

Craig heads up Kagool in Manchester, UK. He’s responsible for client digital marketing strategy including PPC, SEO and content marketing. His digital career spans 22 years, including work for hundreds of high profile clients. This includes agency, publisher and client-side roles for the likes of WPP/JWT, Guardian Media Group and Trinity Mirror plc. He's a leading authority on digital strategy, digital advertising, social media and search marketing.

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