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Monday, Jan. 30, 2012 at 11:00 am

Site Search Part 3: How We Increased ROI For A Client

By Mariel Bacci
January 30th, 2012

rolled up wad of 100 dollar billsFor the last post of our site search series, we are going to show one example for how using site search has increase the ROI of one of our clients, thepartyworks.com. This post should inspire you to think outside the box and give you some ideas on how to optimize the site search experience on your site to increase revenue.  If you haven’t read the first two posts of this series, Site Search Part 1: Learn From Your Customers outlines why site search is important and highlights some insights it can provide you, and Site Search Part 2: Track Site Search can show you how to get site search set up and help you begin tacking your visitor’s behavior in Google Analytics.

We go through a specific process at FutureNow, when we analyze our client’s sites and help them make improvements. We got to a point of our analysis where a high impact opportunity seemed to exist within the potential of thepartyworks.com’s site search. We noticed that people who used the search bar on the site were converting at 3.25%, while the site average was .7%.  There wasn’t a lot of traffic coming through site search, but we figured that if we could make the site search more prominent on the site, then perhaps more late stage visitors would find and use the site search, resulting in more visitors entering a funnel that converts at a higher rate.

The site search box likely converts users at a higher rate for several reasons; it caters to later stage buyers, it gives instant results, and people have gotten used to navigating this way from using search engines.

So, by simply making the site search box more obvious, we were able to increase the amount of people who use it from 7.9% to 11.4%, a 30% increase. Since people who use site search convert at a higher rate, we were able to increase ROI significantly with this small change.

Before and After Site Search Box Example

Click Image to View Enlarged Version

Let’s look at some hypothetical numbers (these are not our client’s numbers- those are confidential!), so you can see what a drastic difference a small informed change can make on your site.  First, you can find the increase in site search box users by looking at the percentage of unique visitors to your site who use site search. Let’s say you originally have 5,000 visitors who use the search box on your site each month, and their conversion rate, like with thepartyworks.com is 3.25%.  After you put your new, more obvious search box on your site, you notice that 6500 people use site search, with 30% more people using search per month.  That means that before the change, 162 people converted per month, and after, 211 people converted.  If your average order value is $30, you will get $1470 per month with this single change, or $17,640 annually. That’s a lot of money to make from spending 5 minutes looking at your site search data and 2-3 hours taking action.

As a follow up test, we optimized the site search box landing page, and now people who use site search on thepartyworks.com are converting at a 14% higher rate. This means that in our hypothetical version, the new annual revenue from site search would increase by $2469, to $20,109.6 annually. One small win after another and you’ll be banking those extra dollars in no time!

So, what are you waiting for, dig in!  Optimizing your site search experience can increase your conversion rate.  You can also gain other valuable insights such as what pages on the site need help with navigation, what keywords people are searching for on your site, and much more.

Have you run any tests based on your findings in your site search data?  Did they add value to your website?  Do you need help implementing your site search box or tracking it in your Google analytics, Omniture or SiteCatalyst account?  Most importantly, do you know how to draw insights from that data to make you money?  If you need help with any or all of these things, contact us.

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Comments (52)

  1. It’s a valid point to make the best use of site search box and predict the user’s interest on the site. Will this technique work well for all kind of businesses?

  2. Keywords are very important to test and locate which ones have the best conversions.

    I have found that location specific keywords usually have best conversions.

  3. @ Discount Perfume

    Every business is different. You need to look carefully at your data to see if it will work for you.

  4. Still not used to the new GA. How do you see your conversion rate with site search visitors or data?

  5. Thanks for the tips. Surely, in increasing ROI keywords plays a big part. That’s why keyword research is a vital part before anything else. Making sure that you pick only the ones that will surely drive traffic.

  6. Great article, I will implement this as we do CRO on our other jewelry site.

  7. @ Matt

    See post 2 of out site search series to get all the information you need!

  8. @ Matt

    The new GA is a bit tricky but you’ll get used to it. =)

    Once in a specific GA account (standard reporting), just click on: content > Site Search > Usage
    From there you can click on visits with/without site search.

    Once in one of those reports just click on the ‘ecommerce’ tab in the explorer at the top and it will show you your conversion rate for that segment of visitors.

    Hope this helps.

  9. I’m really surprised to see that the search users had such a higher conversion and wonder if search didn’t exist what the actual percentage of overall users that were converted would be. I wonder if that ends up just being the natural progression once someone is sold.

  10. I never thought I site search bar would have any impact. I usually ignore it. Great post, really eye opening.

  11. Thanks @Jason.

    I really love site search data. For my particular site for the year 2011:

    With site search conversion rate: 2.72%
    Without site search conversion rate: 0.65%

    This is my brother’s ecommerce site. I have never optimized it for conversion and only put in the basic SEO effort at site launch. People are coming and buying.

    Crunching the numbers and potential annual revenue is depressing. There is so much potential but I can’t convince him to invest effort.

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  13. Thanks for thi tips. Surely, in increasing ROI keywords plays a big part. That’s why keyword research is a vital part before anything else. Making sure that you pick only the ones that will surely drive traffic.

  14. Important tips! Data is the key.

  15. Site search! I’ve never really thought about making any further use out of it other than know the keywords visitors are looking for. I’ll have to spend some more time on my google analytics account.
    Thanks
    Ikenna

  16. Wow, great article. Thank you so much for this well written informative piece done on this topic. I will implementing these tips and tricks into my company site and will keep you all posted on the results. Thanks again!

  17. This is an eye opener! I never really know how to further analyse site search and use it in the way you mentioned in this article. Thank you for sharing this knowledge.

  18. Thank you, I will use these tips to increase ROI.

  19. The site search info is very valuable to track opportunities. i really like the example. Thanks for sharing how you proceed on client projects. I think one of the most important things in SEO is driving towards high ROI, the example you showed is perfect to understand the value.

  20. Thanks for thi tips. Surely, in increasing ROI keywords plays a big part. That’s why keyword research is a vital part before anything else.

  21. Great article here! I will definitely make use of these tips to increase my ROI effectively. And I completely agree with your point that site search optimization can increase your conversion rate and also at the same time can reduce bounce rate!

  22. I’ve been working on site search optimization for one of my clients and it did make proven conversion rise. Thanks for sharing this with us.

  23. Thank you very much for those infos, i really think that colors and layout is a main part of the ROI optimization of a website.

  24. Thank you very much for those infos, i really think that colors and layout is a main part of the ROI optimization of a website.

  25. Very good ideas. I build sites and had not thought of utilizing your site search ideas. Thanks.

  26. I’ve actually noticed that most users come direct to a deep linked landing page either by organic or paid search, and if they stay they browse through the menus but very few actually use site search.

  27. Thank you, I will use these tips to increase ROI.

  28. This is really insightful. If I had seen this happening on my site my personal theory would have been that people who already intend to buy something use the search box. Never would have thought of the opposite possibility, and I would have missed this incredibly valuable information. Good lesson!

  29. Optimizing the search field visibility is a great idea, we really need to test that.
    Thank you guys !

  30. Nice article!
    Developers do not generally give search tools the importance you have.
    My search landing page delivers results in 4 ways:
    – If just 1 result returned, I redirect the user to that product/post directly.

    – If no result returned, I try the same search with separed but next words like ‘CPU Intel Core’, ‘CPU Intel 2.83 GHz’ can be returned.

    – If no result returned this way, I retry the search with every single word independently.

    – the last step is the ‘No Result Found’, maybe with some recomendations.

    It maybe is not the best way, but it work very good for me. :)

  31. Great article, I will implement this as we do CRO on our other Wine site.

  32. I am planing to implement these tips for my websites so thanks a lot about the great info

  33. Great info!

    Every ecommerce store needs to evolve over time to become more and more optimized for conversions. Very rarely do you “guess right” when you initially set it up.

    Typically, the best way to make improvements that can be A/B split tested is by listening to your customers. Whether that’s through analytics data, tracking site search, or listening to what customers ask for during correspondence with them.

    The bottom line is that giving customers what they want will improve your conversion rate & profits!

  34. Much easier to get this information and to implement with lots of data. I haven’t found many people using the search feature though. I guess its to each his own market though. In web design and development or local visits, its probably lower than a more broad website as this?

  35. A nice demonstration of how a single small change can bring a huge difference.

  36. Many Thanks for the great tips, I will have a go at implementing these in to my website.

  37. Great tips. Never thought of working the search box. But makes sense on getting the information to customers faster and less clicks.

  38. Wow, good info. I’m working with a music store who is basically trying to accomplish the same thing with their search traffic. I’ll have to suggest some of these tweaks!

  39. Thank you for such a nice share.Will certainly Consider your tips for our resources.

  40. Excellent article! I work with a lot of clients and finding that while concept of ROI is well known to people – its application to the website design eludes them completely!

  41. This is amazing. A small tweak to the widget and the increase in ROI is so much. 5 minutes of work and that translate to potential $1000s of increase in sales.

  42. Much easier to get this information and to implement with lots of data. I haven’t found many people using the search feature though. I guess its to each his own market though. In web design and development or local visits, its probably lower than a more broad website as this?

  43. I’ve used site search in the past but was startled by how much of a conversion increase is possible when it’s used more efficiently. Time to implement
    Thanks.

  44. wow amazing. A small tweak to the widget and the increase in ROI is so much. 5 minutes of work and that translate to potential $1000s of increase in sales. really great and relevant for me.

  45. You know, I have never been a fan of site search because I have personally never been an advocate of using it.

    However this article made me check into my site search logs and low and behold i realized they are a gold mine.

    I think it is frustrating to a lot of marketers when their content simply gets lost in their websites and users cannot easily navigate to it.

    Increasing the size and modifying the position of my site search one week after reading this article has increased my site search figures by over 30%.

    That is simply incredible to me and I am glad I randomly stumbled upon this post in Google.

    Thanks Mariel for the insight!

  46. And the site search must be placed where clients can see them easily.

  47. Site Search box is important to read the user’s mind. I think that site search box can be helpful in displaying the essential things that the user look for in a site.

  48. I have tested these tips on a small scale i.e. the services that I offer and by just responding to customer feeedback with new services and options I’ve been able to increase my client base by 45%!

  49. Intelligent post with some awesome details. Just a week back I found a similar blog but the posts were not so deeply researched. thanks so much

  50. When it comes to ROI, everything is very polemical. Very good this post, really helped me understand how it all works. Friends who have posted comments also helped a lot. Thank you!

  51. Thanks for the tips. Surely, in increasing ROI keywords plays a big part. That’s why keyword research is a vital part before anything else. Making sure that you pick only the ones that will surely drive traffic.

  52. Thanks for the tips. I always say that keywords are the base of every IM campaign. All that will happen in future depends upon the keywords. keywords are key and the method you use for driving traffic is also responsible for the conversion rate.

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Mariel is a GA certified analyst at FutureNow, Inc.

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