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Use Site Search to Optimize Your Customer Journey

Largely, it remains, the neglected stepchild of e-commerce optimization. Site-search optimization has the potential to catapult your customer journey strategy to a new level. The success of an E-commerce shop is tightly coupled with the quality of its site search. Customers cannot physically enter the store and look around. Instead, they interact with the shop’s search. Whether via the navigation, if they haven’t a clear idea of what to buy, or via a search query, if they have something specific in mind. Google states that 64% of people in the midst of an, “I want to buy moment”, use search. 71% of these actually visit a retailer’s website. And from all purchases on retailers’ websites, 39% were influenced by a relevant search.

How-To leverage site-search to Optimize your Customer Journey

Of course, search volumes of an online shop do not come close to those of the Google search, but you can learn a lot about visitor search behavior from this analysis. In fact, if you are using Google Analytics, and you haven’t already, you can check it out yourself by navigating to Behavior> Behavior Flow> Site Search> Overview

Site-Search Analytics of a searchHub customer

Site Search Reveals Your Customer Journey

These figures, impressively, show how important a well-functioning search is. What do you think the worst thing is that can happen to a retailer? A customer, who is willing to buy, cannot find what he’s looking for. And this happens, every day, even though the shop has products in the range that match the search. The problem often goes deeper than merely one missed transaction. In fact, not finding what they are looking for can be the very thing that causes him to jump to a competitor and never come back. According to research done by Algolia, 12% of customers will go to a competitor’s site if they are dissatisfied with the search result.

  • Do you know how many shop visitors have had bad experiences with your search?
  • Do you have a dedicated resource responsible for optimizing your site search?


Chances are… you don’t.

Econsultancy report on Site Search Administration

You may think e-commerce has progressed beyond this statistic, however, around 42% of online shops still neglect site search completely. For another 42%, it’s just a side topic. The bottom line: start focussing on it! It’s easy to get started. Almost every search provider on the market offers built-in analytics, some more, some less. If your solution includes analytics, please use it! Your site-search analytics will help you determine next actions and improve the shopping experience of your customers. They will be thankful and buy from you again the next time. This point is driven home most recently in the book marketing metrics, by Bendle, Ferris, Pfeifer, and Rebstein. In it they speak to the importance of getting the customer journey right:

The probability of selling to an existing customer measures between 60-70%, whereas the probability of selling to a new customer is only 5-20%. Bendle, N. Marketing Metrics – 2016

Humans are creatures of habit. If a shopping experience is positive, meaning: the search quickly found relevant results, the product(s) arrive quickly, and in good quality, there is no reason why you should not purchase again in the future. You see, search, plays an integral role in the complete service a shop offers. Unfortunately, in the majority of cases, the customer journey will start – and sadly sometimes end – with a search!

Optimize Search, Capitalize on Customer Lifetime Value

If you are not completely convinced yet, ask a trusted source to begin optimizing your current conditions. After all, costs for a one-time site-search optimization are considerably lower compared to the expensive customer acquisition marketing campaigns. Not only that, this kind of customer search journey optimization is more sustainable than a marketing campaign.

Bain and Company underpin this with the following figures:

Acquiring new customers is 5-25x more expensive than retaining existing customers.


Company profits increase by 75% by increasing customer retention by 5%

Understanding these kinds of business cases has the potential to be quite compelling to a CFO on the fence, about whether to invest in site-search optimization. The main reason companies fail to optimize site-search is due to lack of budget. In 2019 companies claimed, in 42.7% cases, that there was no budget for e-commerce search. Furthermore, in 38.8% of cases, there was no budget for employees to manage the search.

Why Site-Search is Still a Neglected Stepchild

These figures align perfectly with those of the somewhat antiquated Econsultancy report and reveal a fundamental problem: Businesses are yet unaware of the dire significance, and subsequent consequence, of an optimally tuned site-search. As a result, the ultimate impact it has on cost savings and increased profits are blind to them as well!

I’ll end this post with one last quote from Gartner Group

80% of your company’s future revenue will come from just 20% of your existing customers. – Gartner Group

Watch this space to learn more about what we are doing, on a practical level, to make your site-search analytics more profitable and transparent than anything you’ve seen to date. #searchHub #searchCollector

Let’s go out and Make Search great again!

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