How Can Effective Site Search Build Trust in Your Brand?
Did you know that only 65% of customers trust search engines? That's according to Edelman's 2019 Trust Barometer. Many marketers are focused on building trust off the website, through a host of different channels, including social media, video content and events. However, many marketers may be losing out on opportunities to build trust through their own web properties. This post looks at the role of site search and how answering queries effectively can build consumer trust in your brand.
Maintaining trust in your brand can be challenging, and this was the focus of a webinar last month from Digital Doughnut sister company London Research in partnership with Yext, now available on demand.
As discussed in this previous post, consumers have become far more conversational in their search queries. As customers, we are used to entering long-tail search queries into Google and other search engines to get an immediate answer. We know that Google can understand human search behaviour and has the ability deduce meaning even when the user doesn’t use exact phrases or specific keywords.
In addition, with more of us asking questions using smart devices, it seems we also now talk to the internet in a different way. More than ever, users are asking Siri, Google Home and Alexa a specific question and becoming used to receiving a distinct response.
However, this customer behaviour doesn’t work so well when the user arrives on to the website. While Google understands human-led search queries (even when we aren’t saying what we really mean) on-site search is still playing catch-up. Very often, site search only delivers the right response when users type in specific keywords.
Take the example of H&M as shown by Yext’s lead sales engineer for northern Europe Sam Davis during the webinar. As can be seen below, a query for the term “smart jeans” actually results in a set of summer dresses – when in fact the site has plenty of products that are more relevant to the query.
More often than not, what this means is that the consumer will not find what they are looking for, will bounce off your website, go to another site and convert to give their business to your competitors. So, ineffective site search has a tangible negative impact on the customer’s likelihood to convert. In fact, Forrester research shows that 68% of customers who have had a bad experience with search on your website won’t return.
It’s clear that index-based site search (which is based on keywords) is not enough to fulfil most users’ needs when it comes to finding what they are looking for. It’s unrealistic to expect your users to trawl through thousands of search results to find the page that most accurately fits their query.
This traditional approach of using keywords clearly isn’t working. In addition, businesses could be doing more to focus on implementing effective site search.
What happens when you implement an effective site strategy?
Statistics show that consumers prefer to find an answer to their questions or queries themselves – 84% of consumers said that they don’t want to have to resort to contacting the brand, according to research cited in the webinar. Moreover, there’s a tangible link between site search users and the bottom line, as 15% of customers who use site search account for 45% of ecommerce revenue.
Another gap often seen in site search is that most search bars only take into account product-related searches. However, this does not factor in customer behaviour where the customer searches for other information, such as FAQs, facility information, or delivery and return information. Research from Yext indicates that 75% of searches are for non-product entities.
The solution is to move away from a keywords-based approach to site search that is smarter.
What does a good search experience look like?
Simplicity is key. The key to a good site search is the ability to serve the customer with a simple answer to their query. The results should include strong calls to action and should make conversion easy. The use of natural language processing (NLP) equips websites with the ability to better understand customer queries.
In the example shown, the results to this query provide the customer with a product-based experience. It is simple for the customer to see what they are looking for and follow-up and convert, with a clear call-to-action displayed on the results page.
What are the benefits of an effective site search experience?
A strong focus on site search results in:
- An optimised user experience.
- A reduction in support costs, as customers are empowered to solve their own queries.
- An increase in clicks and conversions.
- A greater understanding of your audience and core customers – which allows for greater personalisation and targeting.
A good site search must be underpinned by analytics and measurement. The underlying data allows marketers to further improve site search and move away from a traditional approach that relies on keywords, and towards a smarter strategy that takes into account nuance and language.
The additional insights and data from analytics enable marketers to further drill down into customer behaviour and thus improve the website by personalising the experience around the customer.
There’s plenty more key tips and case studies in Yext and London Research’s webinar entitled Foundations of Search: Building Trust on your Website. Register and view to find out more about implementing an effective site search strategy.