At UPS Battery Center, we sell batteries for just about every industrial application, including UPS backup systems, alarm systems, and test equipment. While what we sell has stayed the same, our marketing approach has changed dramatically.
Over time our strategy for finding and serving customers looking for a trusted battery expert has become more effective and efficient. We have invested time, money, and resources in several marketing approaches, including pay-per-click campaigns and search engine optimization (SEO).
One program that has been surprisingly effective for us is optimizing conversions that come from customers using our website search box. The results speak for themselves. Orders have increased by 140%, revenue grew 125%, and overall conversion rates improved by 116%. Plus, we’ve seen a 10X decrease in inbound phone calls since implementing site search that not only provides customers with better results, but as important, gives us insight into customer behavior we didn’t previously have access to—data that we now use to inform our merchandising and promotions.
While the flow of our website has been effective, the search box that came with our original provider was not powerful, accurate, or flexible enough to meet our needs. In many cases customers were not able to quickly find the products they were searching for.
In addition to losing website traffic due to disgruntled visitors leaving, many frustrated customers would call, email, or live chat our team for help. The volume of inquiries became such a problem that we started bookmarking the most popular product pages so we could have the links readily accessible to share with customers.
Clearly, we had to fix this problem because it was not a sustainable scenario. But we lacked the financial resources needed to have staff dedicated to search and we didn’t want to do any serious engineering. We wanted something that worked—an out-of-the-box solution.
After looking at our options, we chose to implement site search with Swiftype—a tool that allows us to tune our search algorithm and boost certain products to the top of specific queries. Seems simple, but as a result of having the ability to pull actionable data, we’re now able to provide a vastly improved user experience and better metrics, insight, and results for the business.
Here are three tips for marketing-centric site search learned from our experience:
First, leveraging site search analytics is the cornerstone to our site search strategy. On a regular basis, our team reviews the top searches for a specific time period, homing in on which products are the most popular. Because this data is showing customer intent, we use these insights to configure our homepage and plan promotions.
Second, the ability to customize search to spur sales has been one of the biggest drivers for amping up conversions. Using insights from click-through behavior, we continually drag and drop products to rearrange search results and add in products that don’t appear by default. This ensures that we’re promoting not only the most relevant results, but also showcasing high-margin products and featuring unsold inventory at the top of the results.
Finally, as part of our SEO strategy, we analyze what people search for from organic traffic. One way we do this by creating landing pages for products not in stock and make sure search is prominently placed. Then, we capture organic traffic on these pages and look at the website search analytics to see which products customers actually want. When the data becomes meaningful, we then source the requested products and add them to our website. This has helps us keep inventory costs down because we only buy inventory for new products that already have customer interest and allows us to add products we never would have thought would be of interest.
As you finalize your 2016 marketing strategy, be sure to include optimizing your website’s search capabilities in your plans. We’re living proof that there’s hidden value waiting to be uncovered in this marketing strategy.
About the Author
Anton Khramov is founder and CEO of UPS Battery Center. He specializes in e-commerce and online marketplaces, with a focus on industrial asset recovery and asset remarketing.