Searchandizing: how to show up in an algorithm-led world
Frog’s senior consultant Alice Paul explores why brands must ‘searchandize’ effectively to remain discoverable and relevant, no matter the path to purchase.
Frog considers how marketers can maximize using algorithms / Marten Newhall via Unsplash
In a retail store, a huge amount of effort is put into merchandising; from the end caps that attract bargain shoppers, to the impulse strike zones attempting to disrupt their route to the checkout. Given the recent surge in e-commerce, it stands to reason that this same level of effort should be put into the digital shelf. Introducing ‘searchandizing’: the process of curating search results to drive sales.
The online world is saturated with an ‘endless aisle’ of products and services. In fact, 68% of shoppers only click on the top three search results, and 75% never click past page one. Therefore, successful searchandizing must use search marketing tactics to win a place on the first page of results at the very least. If your brand doesn’t show up for a shopper on a search return page, it may as well not be there at all.
However, searchandizing today is no longer this straightforward. Brands are facing challenges driven in part by two large shifts in consumer purchase behavior:
The collapse of the marketing funnel
Nowadays, consumers’ instincts are supercharged with a wealth of options, meaning linear shopper journeys are no longer relevant and their decisions are ‘messy.’ In fact, these decisions are so unpredictable that 30% of shoppers discard their first preference of product when a second brand is introduced. Added to that is the fact that shoppers no longer differentiate between digital and physical touchpoints, and the end-to-end consumer experience will often cross both brand-owned and partners’ digital experiences. This makes it extremely difficult for brands to be relevant and show up to the right shopper at the right stage in their shopping journey.
Content and commerce are converging
Social media platforms are building shopping functionality, retailers are maximizing their retail media networks, and traditional commerce platforms are enhancing their interface with livestreaming and in-platform gaming. This has had a direct impact on search habits. Where aesthetics plays an elevated role, image recognition tools are being used to locate ‘lookalike’ products. Pinterest’s Lens Tool, for example, helps users find similar items across 2.5bn home and fashion searches. Similarly, social search has become the number one method to research brands and products after search engines. This means brands are having a hard time keeping tabs on how consumers find products, and as a result they are struggling to remain discoverable across new platforms and search techniques.
How can brands searchandize effectively to be discoverable and relevant, no matter the path to purchase?
1. Adopt a holistic approach
To maximize your chances of winning over the ever-indecisive shopper, it no longer makes sense to talk about organic and paid search separately. Holistic search strategies combine the keyword, audience and industry data from organic and paid channels to better address customer needs and increase ROI.
A beauty retailer implemented a holistic search strategy to identify opportunities for content and coverage. Defensively, it optimized its organic content to own branded keywords and maintain its share of voice. Offensively, it used paid search tactics to gain share in the category. Together, this mix of defensive and offensive plays guaranteed its discoverability for all eventualities and shopper searches, achieving 100% coverage for branded search terms and +20% ROAS for new ad groups.
2. Leverage search intelligence
Through analysis of shopper search trends, brands can highlight demand patterns and target more effectively. Targeting based on age and gender profiles often misses the nuances of differing shopping missions. For instance, 70% of potential mobile shoppers are missed by marketers who use demographics over search intent to understand their needs.
Farfetch regularly uses search intent data to anticipate market demand. During the pandemic, it identified a peak in searches for luxury shirts alongside loungewear; although people were spending more time on video calls, they wanted to appear professional from the waist-up. Farfetch responded by aligning its paid search strategy and content creation to capitalize on these rising consumer needs.
3. Test and learn
Search success will increasingly depend on understanding how people use voice assistants to find information, harness image recognition tools to find ‘lookalike’ products and conduct research on social media. Brands must continuously monitor these new trends, test what content performs well, and then optimize accordingly. According to recent data from Shopify, businesses that embrace a visual search strategy and test optimization are seeing conversion rates rise by 200%. This is a lot less expensive in the long term than buying your audience through ‘quick win’ paid tactics.
As the online world expands, new platforms proliferate and innovative ways to search emerge, searchandizing effectively to remain discoverable and relevant will become even more important. Ultimately, we live in an algorithm-led world, and if your brand does not show up on the search return page, it may as well not exist.
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frog is a leading global creative consultancy, part of Capgemini Invent.Find out more