How many e-commerce businesses wouldn't want to convert more site visitors into customers? Introducing: conversion rate optimisation (CRO).
CRO refers to the continued improvement of elements of your e-commerce site, such as design, UX, site search and navigation, with the goal of converting more browsers into customers.
The performance of your site search and navigation in particular can have a huge impact on your conversion rate. In a world where almost half of us will leave a website if it takes more than 3 seconds to load, getting the right product in front of your customers quickly is more important than ever. Good site search will not only help browsers in this respect – it's also a proven method of boosting your conversion rate. Research by WebLinc discovered that e-store browsers who didn't use site search converted at a rate of 2.4%. Those who did use site search converted at a rate of 5.5%. That's a whopping 129% increase in conversions.
There are a few reasons for this. Firstly, those browsers searching for specific products are shopping with intent and are therefore much further along the sales journey. Site search also provides your customers with a frictionless journey from store homepage to desired product page, making it effortless for them to click buy.
No matter the reasons why, one thing is for sure – site search can massively help with CRO.
Assuming your site already has site search functionality, here are a few top tips to bear in mind.
Make Sure Your Site Search Actually Works
It may seem like we're stating the obvious, but a shocking amount of e-commerce site search isn't optimised as well as it should be.
Baymard Institute conducted an assessment of site search across the top 50 US-based e-commerce sites, and the findings were pretty dismal. They found that 22% didn't support search queries for colour variations (despite the product searched for being available in multiple colours) and 70% required users to enter exact search terms to find the right products (i.e searching for "hair dryer" wouldn't show products labelled "blow dryer").
To avoid making the same mistakes, you need to ensure your site search is up to standard. Start by making sure it's capable of:
- Auto-completing search queries
- Offering product suggestions when there are null results
- Personalising results
- Understanding thematic searches
- Offering faceted navigation
- Automatic merchandising
Show Off Your Site Search
There's no point in investing in a powerful site search tool if it's going to be hidden away in the corner of your site. Scream and shout about your site search.
We recommend taking a leaf out of Amazon's book. Their search navigation takes up almost a third of the screen. Amazon recognises that the more people use their search, the more data they can collect and harness to continue optimising their conversion rate . There's no reason why your e-commerce site can't achieve this too, so be sure to promote and showcase your site search.
"That’s all well and good, but how do I actually track any of this?”
It's actually really simple to keep track – you just need Google Analytics.
How to Set Up Site Search Tracking in Google Analytics
- Log onto your Google Analytics Account.
- On the right-hand side, click "Admin".
- Under “Profiles” go to "Profile Settings".
- Towards the bottom, you'll see "Site Search Settings" – in here, select "Do Track Site Search".
- Next, you'll see the "Query Parameter" box – enter your query parameter here. To find this, do a search on your site and have a look at the URL – The Query Parameter is the string after the “?” and before the “=”.
- Click apply and wait a few days for the data to come through.
How to Find e-Commerce Conversion Rate For Site Search Visitors
- Log onto your Google Analytics Account.
- From Standard Reporting, navigate to Content->Site Search->Usage using the left hand navigation.
- In the Explorer, click the E-Commerce Tab.
- Navigate below the "Visits" graph and change the dimension to "E-Commerce Conversion Rate". You'll see something like this:
"In this case, goal conversion rate is a lot higher with site search".
Site search should play a key role in your CRO efforts, as it has been proven to dramatically improve conversion rates. The defining purpose of site search is to make life easier for visitors to your site. If you make the journey from browser to buyer seamless, it's only a matter of time before you feel the benefit and your conversion rate starts to bloom.