When I’m shopping for clothes, beautiful, colorful displays tend to catch my attention, as do big “sale” signs. But if I’m shopping for something less personal, like housewares or gardening items, I need signage that makes it clear where I need to go to find what I want. But that’s just me. Other consumers have different preferences – which makes it challenging for merchandisers to figure out how best to compel shoppers to make a purchase.
E-commerce marketers face similar challenges, as they have to understand how best to highlight promotions – on what pages, in what format and with what messages. Search results pages are a prime location for online merchandising, as we explain in the latest edition of the Big Book of Site Search Tips for 2014, available for free download. Once visitors have conducted a search on your site, they’re in the mood to make a purchase, provided they find what they’re seeking and you make it easy to browse through product options. For more effective merchandising, consider bringing these ideas into search:
Override search results (sparingly): While too many overrides can negatively impact the relevancy of search results, it can make sense to do an override when you want to place relevant promotional items at the top of the list – like sales or seasonal items. Online shoppers pay the most attention to the first several results above the fold, after which there’s a steep drop-off in engagement. Take advantage of where their attention is focused. Of course, the products that you push to the top of search results still need to be highly relevant to the search term.
Avoid presenting unrelated cross-sell or up-sell products: Shoppers will distrust search results if they are wildly off-base from their search terms. From their point of view, they’ve used the search box to tell you exactly what they want, and it’s your job to supply it. If you want to promote products that aren’t truly connected to searches, you should do so on other pages such as cart or checkout pages.
Show related searches on content pages: Even if visitors don’t find what they’re looking for within the first several results for their search, they may be encouraged to keep on looking if you offer related searches on content or product detail pages – or they may decide to start a new search. It’s best to create related searches based on keywords or phrases other visitors have used in the past when searching for the same items. Since they’re based on the language of your visitors, they’re a great way to promote related content or products and may also provide SEO benefits.
Create banners related to specific keywords: Keyword-driven banners on search results pages send your visitors the message that they’re seeing the right results for the right products. A banner can also highlight a promotion that’s related to the search, which can either move along the decision to make a purchase (like an extra discount or free-shipping deal), or propel the visitor into related searching (like a banner about products from the same brand).
For more ideas about selling through search, download the 2014 edition of the Big Book of Site Search Tips today.