November 11, 2009
Your site’s search tool can provide a wealth of information about the most sought-after products in your inventory – and the problems customers may have finding those items.
See how a car parts retailer used internal search data to uncover popular products and drive page design changes. They’ve seen nearly 59% more revenue from the redesigned pages.
In 2007, Chris Casarez, Internet Marketing Specialist, 4 Wheel Parts, replaced his site’s search tool to make it easier for online customers to find aftermarket truck, Jeep and SUV parts.
Besides offering customers a chance to customize results, the new tool also gave Casarez and his team more data about visitor behavior. The team could see popular search phrases on a page-by-page basis, revealing what customers wanted -- but could not find -- through navigation and browsing.
The team realized they had an opportunity to boost sales by displaying the most popular products before a visitor even entered a search phrase.
"That way they don’t have to leave the page and go sifting through the search results," Casarez says. "We can display [what they’re looking for] more prominently."
The team focused on its product category pages to uncover which product and brand names were most commonly entered during visitor searches. They redesigned the pages to incorporate what visitors wanted, eliminating unnecessary steps before conversion.
Here are the four steps they took:
Step #1. Have a flexible search tool
The team could not have completed this effort without an updated search tool. Their previous tool was designed for content-oriented sites, not ecommerce sites, according to Casarez.
"It wasn’t geared toward having prices, best seller items, or things of that nature."
Additionally, the previous search tool did not offer customized search results, and the data it exported was less than stellar. These drawbacks hid valuable insights from the team.
Once the team upgraded, they were able to export search data that showed which searches were conducted on each webpage.
Step #2. Gather months of data
The team did not dive directly into the product category pages’ data. Instead, they spent the first few months learning the finer points of the new tool, such as how to best customize search results, and how to feature monthly promotions higher in the results pages.
Working on the basics and capturing low-hanging fruit gave them time to accumulate a meaningful amount of visitor behavior data while improving results.
Step #3. Analyze product category page searches
Visitors often navigated to category pages to find specific products. If they were unsure where to find items once on these pages, they would then type a phrase into the search box.
By analyzing 2-3 months’ worth of data, the team could see which products were most frequently searched for -- i.e., which products site visitors were having the most difficulty finding.
Step #4. Create image/links sections
The team focused on two product categories to test this strategy. They made the following changes in May:
- Leveling kits
The data showed that people who visited the do-it-yourself vehicle leveling kits page often searched for a specific brand. The team responded by adding brand logos and links to the page. The links pointed to the brands’ dedicated pages on the site.
"Once we realized people were searching for brand names for manufacturers of these kits, it was a no-brainer to showcase their logos and link to their product pages," says Casarez.
The team added a similar section at the bottom of the tire product page. More importantly, Casarez says the team also changed the tire brands’ pages to feature the most commonly searched tires in a brand’s catalog.
For example, Pro Comp’s Radial All Terrain tire is the most frequently searched Pro Comp tire on the site. Therefore, it is featured first on the Pro Comp tires brand page (see creative samples below).
"We expected to see positive results with the work we were putting in, but they did exceed our expectations," Casarez says.
The following metrics compare April -- the month prior to the team’s changes -- to September.
The changes to the leveling kits category page resulted in a(n):
o 59% increase in monthly revenue from the page
o 89% increase in dollar index on the page (a page’s dollar index is revenue divided by unique page views)
The changes to the Pro Comp tires page resulted in a:
o 52% increase in monthly revenue from the page
o 37% increase in dollar index on the page
- More on-site search results
The team’s other on-site search oriented work is also paying off. By tweaking search results for performance and by emphasizing promotions in the results, they’ve achieved a:
o 4.65% increase in conversions site-wide
o 221% increase in conversions when customers use the search
Useful links related to this article
Creative Samples from 4 Wheel Parts’ on-site search overhaul
4 Simple Steps to Tweak Site Search Box & Lift Conversions 20%
How to Use Internal Site Search Data to Revamp Your Home Page: People's Bank
Celebros: The search tool the team uses
4 Wheel Parts