Tapping into Site Search Data for More Targeted Merchandising

Customer Strategy
Customer Experience
Here are some smart ways to use site search data to improve the way you merchandise online.

When customers visit your website, they expect relevancy - products and brands that they know and love, choices that fit their lifestyle, and easy ways to drill down to their desired purchases. But remaining relevant in today's fast-changing web-based world isn't easy. It requires the right tools to quickly present the most valuable information for an engaging, targeted and consistent shopping experience. Itentails listening to shoppers and testing to understand what works - and what doesn't.Site search data can be an invaluable tool in this regard.

By studying site search data, marketers can uncover a gold mine of information that helps make their online product merchandising and other marketing efforts more relevant. Site search data is particularly valuable because it's coming directly from site visitors who are using their own words to tell you what they want. Using this language in your product descriptions and various marketing efforts will help you directly address your customer needs - with their own terms. This data also lets you easily and quickly test and refine product assortments, promotional messages, and the placement and presentation of non-product content on search and navigation pages.

Here are some smart ways to use site search data to improve the way you merchandise online:

Make searching with synonyms easy. By examining search data, you can find a plethora of terms people are using to search on your site. This information provides important connections between the search terms people use, and the products they actually click on. You can then allow visitors to search by these "like terms" or synonyms to get relevant results, which will help avoid "no results" pages that will drive shoppers off your site. Most site search solutions let you define synonyms, so that a search for any of the words in that group will also trigger a search for the corresponding synonyms.

Create landing pages for groups of products. Similar to the idea above, you can also create special landing pages that will load when a specific search term is entered on your site. For example, if you want to promote a group of Thanksgiving Day products, you can create a landing page that loads when the words "dinner" or "Thanksgiving" are entered - and display particular products or sale items that you want to showcase.

Use reporting and analytics to understand trends. Dig into search data to find out what your customers are searching for, and where they're running into problems. Look at top keyword searches to learn which products are of the highest interest and the search terms visitors use to find them. Also review which keyword searches produce poor results, such as searches for products that you don't sell, or search terms that don't match up with products that you do sell. Either way, this information can tell you if you need to change inventory, or tweak search results or product descriptions.

Tune results to promote products. Once you've tapped into site search data to learn more about customer likes and dislikes, you can "tune" search results by moving certain products to the top of the results page - such as seasonal or high-margin items. Alternately, you may want to push certain results further down on the list. The bottom line is that tuning helps you place the products that you want visitors to see front and center in search results.

As you explore site search data, you may discover other ways it can help improve your merchandising efforts beyond search results - for instance, in email marketing or social media campaigns. These merchandising practices can help online brands create more relevant and engaging online experiences that boost conversion rates, increase average order sizes, and grow online revenue.