A 3D rendering of man speaking to an application on mobile phone screen.
PHOTO: Shutterstock

Companies are constantly refining the digital experience they provide to first-time or regular visitors to their websites in a bid to make that engagement easier, more immersive and more personalized.

The goal is both to simplify and speed up the conversion of a casual website visitor into a loyal customer. In order to achieve that target, organizations need to pay attention to and try to get out in front of the latest shifts in customer behavior and buying patterns.

Changes in digital customer experience often form part of a company’s broader digital transformation initiative which aims to better position the organization and its employees to meet the future, as-yet-unknown, needs of its customers, the industry it serves and the regions in which it operates.

A key challenge for digital marketers is deciding on the best tools and strategies to use to reach potential and existing customers at the right time and through their preferred channel of choice.

With so much of the digital customer journey being undertaken online by the customer with no recourse to or need of a company’s sales team, it’s left to digital marketers to do all that is possible to help encourage these self-directed customers to purchase their organization’s products and services.

Related Article: How AI-Powered Search and Relevance Make Your Support Experience Smarter

Don’t Overlook the Search Experience

With so many factors to consider when reimagining a more intelligent website, your digital marketers may forget about refining a readily available tool for unlocking what site visitors are most interested in – your search engine.

In the rush to redesign the digital experience, it’s vital not to overlook the search experience. Instead, invest the time and money to optimize the search experience for your website visitors and to empower your marketers with access to search analytics. See search as a great complementary technology to other marketing tools.

The quickest way to lose a potential customer is when they can’t find what they want from the first query they enter into your search bar. They’re unlikely to try again with a second or third query. Instead, they’ll leave your site and they may never return.

Clearly, when it comes to search, your website visitors are expecting the same kind of experience they have using an external search engine like Google or the kind of in-context, relevant search they encounter on major consumer websites such as Amazon.com.

Make Content Findable and the Search Experience Valuable

You need to be able to provide the most appropriate content to site visitors to answer their queries. This means fully indexing all public-facing content so it’s searchable and will display in the results shown to visitors. This content should include all potentially helpful resources, such as information from product documentation, your customer community and your organization’s YouTube videos.

Once you’re confident that you can offer visitors a great search experience, ensure that it’s easy for them to locate and use your search bar no matter where they are on your website and regardless of which device they’re using to access your website. You want to ensure an optimal and consistent search experience.

Benefit from Personalization at Scale

AI-powered search and relevance can enable your organization to quickly and efficiently provide every site visitor with their own personalized search experience by delivering real-time content recommendations in response to their search query. Think of this kind of automation of individual recommendations as enabling you to offer personalization at scale.

These dynamic content recommendations are based on the current interaction taking place with an individual as well as drawing on data collected during that visitor’s prior engagements with your website along with more generic demographic information. The types of results served up are based on the visitor’s needs rather than how organizations might tend to serve up content such as ranked by date order or content type.

Artificial intelligence engines like Coveo Machine Learning continually track and monitor visitor behavior and constantly refine their dynamic recommendations based on their analysis and comparison of the search data from your website. Such engines also have the ability to recognize patterns from similar types of online queries to recommend the most appropriate content to an individual visitor.

Gain Actionable Insights from Website Searches

In crafting and honing digital marketing strategies, the tendency for organizations may be to conduct additional research endeavors, but it’s worth remembering that your website visitors’ searches are a great internal resource to mine.

AI-powered search and recommendations provides access to easy-to-interpret analytics which enable digital marketers to see which search terms are the most popular and to note any changes in popularity at different times of the year. You can take this information and check that these popular search terms are part of your search engine optimization (SEO) keyword strategy.

A particular useful area to investigate is which visitor searches are currently receiving zero results. You can use this knowledge to create additional content to meet those needs or to use this data as the basis for some strategic decisions such as creating a new product or product variations.

Once your digital marketers understand more about what visitors to your website are searching for, they can apply that knowledge to help refine their current campaigns, the targeted user personas and specific landing pages so as to boost your conversion rate.

Implement an AI-Powered Search and Recommendations Engine to Deliver a Compelling Customer Experience

In order to fully meet the needs of visitors to your website, prioritize the use of AI-powered search and recommendations.

On the one hand, you’ll be able to drive continual improvements in the search experience so that more visitors find what they need on your website more quickly and are therefore more likely to become customers.

On the other hand, you’ll be giving your digital marketers valuable insights into customer buying behavior on an ongoing basis so that they can constantly refine their strategies in order to appeal to potential customers and then help convert them into purchasers of your products and services.

Digital transformation is all about enabling continual improvement. With AI-powered search and recommendations in place, you are well positioned to effect real change in your digital customer experience and to help your organization in its larger quest to constantly adapt its business and its employees to optimally meet the needs of your current and future customers.

Part 2 of a 2 part sponsored article series from Coveo, a leader in digital experience, unified search and analytics.