The motorcyclists who frequent the CruiserCustomizing sites expect performance. So when the on-site search tool wasn't firing on all cylinders, the Livermore, Calif.-based e-tailer of motorcycle parts and accessories decided it was time for a tune-up.
In October 2008, CruiserCustomizing hired search service provider SLI Systems of Cupertino, Calif. By April, CruiserCustomizing noticed that the new feature was driving up results on its five sites: CruiserCustomizing.com, RealHog.com, GoldWingCountry.com, RideGear.com and DollarRider.com.
In October, 14 percent of visitors used on-site search, and by April, 28 percent were plugging in keywords. In October, 14 percent of on-site sales were attributed to search; in April, that number grew to 58 percent. Of those who use the on-site search option, 2 percent more convert than those who don't. And those who do convert after using the on-site search have 10 percent larger orders than those who don't use the option.
Tammie McKenzie, CruiserCustomizing's director of marketing, says the new on-site search capabilities are now a good complement to the company's already optimized search engine optimization. ("We come up first [in search engine rankings] almost every time for just about every product that's on our Web site.")
Target Marketing: What prompted CruiserCustomizing to want to improve its on-site search on its five e-commerce sites?
Tammie McKenzie: ... Our search vendor that we were using before SLI didn't have any intelligence built in to [its solution]. So we were having to, based on gut and best guess, manually rank search results and, of course, sales trends. But ... we now have the learning search functionality which automatically, based on people's behavior on the Web site, pushes certain products up in the rankings.
TM: Why are people who search on the CruiserCustomizing sites more likely not only to buy, but to buy more than those who don't use on-site search?
TM: I do believe because it gives them the ability to drill down to the exact product selection that they're looking for. So let's say they're coming from an e-mail campaign or a pay-per-click landing page and they get a specific set of results, based on some advertising that they've been served. Immediately, they're seeing a large product set with facets along the side ... and so they can immediately say, "OK. I ride a Honda Shadow and I'm looking for this particular brand of exhaust and I want this color and I'm looking for this price range."