Website visitors who use site search to find what they’re looking for represent a golden opportunity for digital marketers—no other type of activity directly tells them as much about a visitor’s interests. To capitalize on the power of personalized search, marketers need technology that’s designed for them (i.e., business people). In addition, they should steer away from just improving site search with no way to perform merchandising or promotions.
With this in mind, here are five characteristics to look for in enterprise-class site search and merchandising:
1. Rapid and reliable implementation. It’s easier to implement a cloud solution than an on-premise solution because there’s no need to purchase and maintain hardware. Cloud-based site search offers faster setup and a simplified learning curve, so you won’t get mired in an IT project. And regular feature releases and upgrades can take place behind-the-scenes, increasing reliability. When looking at cloud solutions, though, it’s critical to ensure enterprise-class security.
2. Simple, cost-effective scalability. Cloud-based offerings are also easier to scale, and typically offer higher availability than an on-premise deployment (unless expensive clustering solutions are involved in the latter, which can drive up costs). Keep in mind that your content and indexing needs will grow. With the cloud, you can simply increase your desired capacity instead of deploying new hardware. Distributed organizations with multiple offices and global customers can also realize benefits in terms of avoiding latency issues and keeping CAPEX and OPEX costs under control.
3. A single, straightforward interface. Having a single interface for business users and administrators simplifies both use and management. A built-in staging environment is also handy, allowing marketers to easily test and preview optimization changes without requiring additional setup and IT resources. Look for built-in capabilities, such as search-as-you-type functionality(they’re not always offered as standard).
4. Superior marketer control. Marketers need the ability to activate and suspend business rules, adjust rule weights and ranking relevance, and apply results-based triggers. They need to be able to modify banner messages and images based on search results. More limited control can effectively tie your hands and keep you from realizing the most revenue from site searches.
5. Integration with other cloud-based marketing tools. Optimization doesn’t happen in isolation. Site search that integrates with other data sources (Facebook Likes, page views, profile information) and analytics engines allows deeper insight into user behavior and segments. With some site search, integration requires additional development and cost, and even then functionality can be limited. It’s key to have full access to website metrics to optimize rules and increase relevancy in search results. Increased relevance and personalization leads to higher conversions, which is the name of the game.
It’s important to take these best practices into consideration to develop a truly enterprise-class site search and optimization program and drive the most revenue from your efforts.
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