What if your website had a built-in function where customers who are ready to buy could tell you exactly what they want and be directed straight to it?
You read the title of this blog post, so you already know we’re talking about search. Traditionally seen as just a way of helping users navigate your website, search can be an extremely useful conversion tool.
Based on interviews with 21 eCommerce companies, Econsultancy reported that website visitors who use search are 1.8x more likely to convert. According to the same research, those search-using visitors account for an average of 13.8% of revenue.
It makes sense. Someone who is using search likely has a specific product or service in mind, which indicates that they’re further down the funnel than a more casual browser. However, many organizations are still underestimating the power of search to increase conversion. Here’s how to supercharge search on your website.
Make it effective
Like most online consumers, people using your search function have high expectations. If you fail to deliver, there’s a good chance you’ll lose out on more than just one sale.
In a poll commissioned by Google Cloud, 52% of U.S. respondents said they often abandon their whole cart if search fails to find just one item. In addition, 77% of U.S. respondents said they tend to avoid returning to websites where the search function hasn’t worked smoothly in the past.
Here are things your search function must deliver to meet customer demands:
People are used to highly personalized recommendations. A search experience that knows a customer’s location, their search history, and their preferences on things like price can prioritize results that are more likely to align with what they want.
Fast internet has made us all impatient internet users, especially when we’re trying to find information. People who use search are in even more of a rush. They have a specific query or product in mind, and they want immediate answers. Your search needs to get them there quickly, or their frustration may push them to click off and try a competitor.
Simply identifying keywords won’t cut it anymore. The AI powering your search needs to be able to analyse context, sentiment, and intent, to make sure it’s delivering relevant answers.
Your search results must be specific, but also comprehensive. If people suspect that they aren’t seeing every relevant result, they won’t trust the search, and they won’t use it. Use sorting functions to move the most likely results to the top without cutting out other options.
Sometimes you just don’t have what the customer is looking for. When you create a landing page for this message, include recommendations for similar products and a prominent search bar in case they already have an alternative in mind. This way, you’re still delivering a convenient, personalized search experience rather than the digital equivalent of a shrug.
Build a strong search UX
People who are using search already know what they’re looking for. Your job is to make it easy for them to find. In addition to having excellent functionality, your search needs to be designed with the user in mind.
Make your search bar obvious
Sorry, minimalists: Your search bar is not the place to be subtle. It needs to be obvious, easy to click or tap on, and identifiable through text and symbols. For example, most internet users recognize a magnifying glass as an indicator of a search function.
Also, think about search bar placement. Most websites have their search bar at or near the top of the screen. If you put yours somewhere else, users might struggle to find it and give up on your site. Don’t reinvent the wheel: Make navigation as straightforward as possible.
People are used to computers finishing their thoughts for them thanks to features like predictive text. As they type their search query, include a drop-down menu of several suggestions but not so many they would have to scroll. This makes it easier and faster for the customer to find what they’re looking for and gives them confidence that you know what they need.
That’s only true if your suggestions are relevant, however. List a bunch of seemingly random items that happen to start with the same three letters they just typed and you might lose them.
Optimise for different devices
With users dividing their time across devices, your search function needs to be as efficient and fast on someone’s cell phone browser and app as it is on their tablet or desktop. This also means enabling voice searches, which are becoming increasingly popular as an alternative to typing out text. In 2020, eMarketer estimated that 38.5% of Americans use a voice assistant at least once a month. A flexible, inclusive search makes it possible to convert more customers.
Learn from your search data
People using your search function are giving you a very valuable insight. They’re telling you what they want in their own words. Use that data to optimize your search and website.
Make sure every product, service, and piece of content that is connected to your most common search terms is tagged and categorized appropriately.
Trace user journeys, so you can see which product most people click on after entering a specific search term. For example, if five out of 10 people who search for “men’s running shoes” ultimately end up buying the same style, make sure that popular product is ranked higher in the search.
Consumers already know the value of search — and they expect you to as well.
Click here to learn more about how to supercharge the search experience on your website.