Decreasing time spent and the number of searches per visit are the best ways to create valuable search experiences and boost conversion; common sense and best practices go hand in hand.
Posted Jul 7, 2006
E-commerce sites need to take a page from pizza delivery services, according to a new study from the Patricia Seybold Group (PSG). "Search Experience Metrics: Key Indicators You Should Be Tracking for Customer Search Experience" asserts that a quick delivery time is crucial for online customers to keep them coming back. To ensure a great search experience on the customers' end and high conversion rates for their traffic, customers must be able to connect with the information they are looking for within five minutes, and with no more than two searches. Although this small window might seem narrow, developing the best practices for quick delivery is possible if proper attention is paid to search metrics. These efforts pay for themselves multifold in customer response and retention.
"Search is critical. It's the number one driver for online interaction," says Susan Aldrich, senior vice president for PSG and author of the study. "Specifically, conversion rates are extremely relevant to a business's value. The connection between conversion and revenue generation is great."
To get the most out of customer search--and thereby drive profit--the study explains that companies must tailor their sites to the needs and wants of their customers. The primary customer desire, the study claims, is that they don't want to spend a lot of time on site navigation; customers want what they are looking for immediately upon searching. This translates into a measurable behavioral pattern: Most customers will leave a site if they need to spend more than five minutes searching or they need to complete more than two searches. These numbers, according to the study, appear across all search experiences--whether a customer is trying to find a product, resolve a problem, or conduct research.
The study highlights the importance of acting on these metrics. "A company should set a strong goal of having under three searches per useful event," Aldrich says. To lower search time, the study outlines a plan for companies to follow. First, establish a top-level search experience performance indicator in order to create a routine so that companies have a baseline against which they can measure trends. The next steps are assigning an individual or group of individuals to be responsible for search experience and establishing a plan for implementing performance indicators. Continue to measure results to tweak the site to create the best possible search experience.
Aldrich adds that there are more specific ways to increase performance as well. She says the best way is to approach the problem using common sense. "Some simple suggestions, like breaking down your average number of searches by product line or customer segment, can help you figure out which policy or procedure is working or not going so well. This way you can narrow the problem from what can seem like the entire world to pinpointing problem areas."
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