August 17, 2022

How to Use Site Search to Analyze User Intent

To be successful as a B2B distributor, it is imperative to understand your customer. One proven way to effectively get to know your customer is by trying to get into their mindset. What are they looking for, both from an eCommerce perspective and from an experience perspective? B2B electrical distributors have vast product catalogs that are data heavy and complex. The goal is to always use that catalog to drive sales, so the question becomes, how do B2B distributors use that catalog effectively to engage with the customer? As Jonathan Meyer, the Senior Software Solutions Engineer for Hawksearch, stated in his webchat, a powerful asset to help drive sales and understand the customer’s experience is site-search.  

The Different Types of Searches

Site-search takes your audience through the sales funnel, while simultaneously offering an individual experience that meets the expectations of the different types of customers. The right site-search solution can allow you to direct the right types of traffic to the right areas of your site, increasing conversions and average order value along the way. It does this by understanding how to separate the types of customers and offering unique functionality to meet their needs.  

The first thing that comes to mind when people think of searching online is Google. Google search center on Search Engine Optimization (SEO), which is how Google guarantees its users that they are seeing the best results possible. But that’s only half the battle. To convert, people need to find your product as easily as they found your site to begin with. That’s where site-search comes into play.  

A B2B site-search needs to be able to discern between user intent like a search engine, helping increase conversion and creating opportunities to successfully upsell. As Jonathan states in the webchat, B2B Distibutor sites can break down user search intent into four main architypes: informational, direct search, navigational, and transactional. Working to understand these mindsets through the help of site search can lead to improving the customer experience overall.  

Informational Intent

The first type of search intent is informational intent. A site visitor that has informational intent is simply looking to do research, gathering as much information as possible. Visitors with informational intent might not necessarily know what they’re going to purchase right away, but they might have an idea of what they’re after. They often seek out customer reviews, compare product attributes and learn from previous product users.  

A site search solution should aid these users by helping them find relevant information as efficiently as possible. An Autocomplete feature in the search bar, like the one offered by Hawksearch, can help focus an informational intent user’s journey. Seeing these autocompleted suggestions might help them decide what products to research and compare. As a brand, B2B electrical distributors can be transparent with their product catalogs, making product reviews and details easy to find. Instead of offering the hard sell right out of the gate, help ease these searchers into the sales funnel, bettering their experience and increasing the likelihood that they will convert into returning buyers.  

Direct Searchers

In direct opposition to informational intent, site visitors with direct search intent know exactly what they are looking for and need to find it fast. For a B2B electrical distributor, that means that the visitor knows the exact product number, the SKU number, the product details, and the quantity they need. These visitors are hyper-specific in the search bar, and their general expectation is to find relevant search results.  

B2B distributors don’t need to provide a diverse set of product options but need to guarantee that they can provide the right results quickly. One way to do this is to use a search solution that offers facet and filter management, so you can make it easier to navigate an extensive product catalog. It doesn’t do anyone any good if the product someone is looking for is buried under a mountain of product category pages and search menus.  

B2B electrical distributors can improve these searchers’ online experience by simplifying their search process, in addition to offering machine learning personalization to help remember their orders and make it easy to repurchase again and again.  

Navigational Intent

If informational and direct search intent are on opposite sides of the spectrum, then navigational intent sits right in the middle. Site visitors with navigational intent understand what they’re looking for, like those with direct search intent. However, they might not understand the attributes of their search or how to describe them. Navigational searchers need guidance.  

A product recommendation functionality in the search bar is an excellent way to positively engage with these types of searchers. As these visitors go to type a query into a B2B electrical distributor’s site search, they are instantly met with top products or popular product categories that can help direct their customer journey. These recommendations can help a visitor navigate to the pages they will find the most beneficial, potentially increasing the chance they’ll convert into a paying customer. This functionality allows for casual browsing, creating opportunities to upsell as the visitor organically discovers more products relevant to their overall needs, not just their immediate ones.  

Transactional Search

Transactional search intent is the final and most important motivation a site visitor can have. The site search functionality for the first three intents centers on directing traffic to the right places. This segment of searcher intent focuses on converting and is the end goal for every site visitor. Site visitors with original informational, direct, or navigational intent should evolve to have transactional intent if they have found what they are looking for.  

Site search functionality like machine learning personalization and recommendations are critical for creating upsell opportunities and encourages transactional intent users to increase the value of their order. Making it easy to find and purchase the exact right products a customer needs improves their experience and makes them think of you the next time they need to buy.  

Reporting and analytics

The last feature Jonathan Meyers mentions in his Webchat is backend reporting. When thinking about site search, we tend to not immediately think about the analytics it can provide; however, the data a site-search solution can collect is worth its weight in gold.  

For example, Hawksearch’s eCommerce Insights allow B2B electrical distributors to see what products are trending, what types of product categories are being searched for more than others, and where potential upselling opportunities may exist. The data analytics provided by a site-search solution are flexible and intelligent and allow for a website to also be flexible and intelligent.  

Understand your data so that you can understand your users and improve their journeys and experiences. Implement a site search solution and better engage with your customers sooner rather than later.

by Nick Zerbst

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