The Value and Incremental ROI of Internal Site Search

Any endeavor in digital marketing these days requires a demonstration of return on investment (ROI) before you can hope to get the CFO to loosen the purse strings. The business case must be made. Your internal site search capabilities are no exception.

Let’s start with some facts. MarketingSherpa data reveals that 43% of visitors who land on a website go immediately to the search function. In addition, customers who use the search box on ecommerce sites convert at nearly three times the rate of general browsers. Let’s take that data at face value and run some numbers. An expected, conversion rate from most lead generation activities runs in the 2% to 4% range. On a site with a smoking site search capability that shows the visitors what they want to see will nearly triple that rate to 6% to 9%. Let’s say the revenue accrued from the normal lead generation visitors was $500,000. The incremental lift in ROI from your effective site search capability would add another cool million to the bottom line. True, you would have to go back to the attribution model and figure out what percentage of that would be attributed to site search … if your company even included site search in those calculations. Most don’t.

Yeah, not very scientific in this day of data-driven marketing, but we’ll get to that in a minute. The real issue is that there is ROI to be found by paying attention to your internal site search engine, the indexing of pages on company owned web properties, building an effective algorithm that discovers the information your visitors are seeking, and linking your site search data to your data analytics engine so you can gain insights into what your visitors want and deliver optimized and personalized data to each user of your site search engine. After all, site search is your own personal search engine over which you have total control without the fear of Panda’s and Penguin’s invading your territory.

The point is that your internal site search function can affect visitor behavior and even produce desired visitor behavior if your optimization and personalization is on target. The beauty of this is that search is often a default behavior, i.e., the first thing people do when they come to a site. In many cases, visitors don’t even explore the navigation, but go straight to the search box.

Everybody has tools to gather data and site search data is particularly valuable. The key to success is to gather the right data that can validate your performance KPI.

These metrics are just an example of what to measure so you can demonstrate your ROI from site search. The evaluation of the data has many advantages, with visitor behavioral analysis being one of them.

Once you understand these behaviors, you can tune your site search or site navigation based on what people search for or what you want them to find. Site search behavior is often only reviewed at a high level, but the information that can be gleaned from it can help greatly improve customer experience, and provide an incremental lift for your marketing ROI.