Last week--March 28th--ForesightOne had the honor of co-sponsoring an in-depth webinar with Vioby, exploring how e-commerce retailers and the digital agencies that serve them can optimize paid search advertising and customer experience for shoppers.
We've explored the power of Vioby's AI-based component before, but this conversation, hosted by our own Pedro Rego, serves as an extensive and educational primer into the nuances, challenges, and opportunities posed by effective paid search advertising, and the solutions that promote it.
We encourage you to check out the entire webinar here:
Replicating the Ideal Brick and Mortar Shopping Experience
When you go out shopping from a brick and mortar retailer, your expectations are relatively certain. You likely know what it is you want to purchase--be it clothing, furniture, a video game, or a new television. When you arrive at the store, you might go up to an attendant and tell them what you're looking for, at which point they'll direct you to the proper aisle, the right items, etc. They might even stick around to explain to you the differences in models or brands, and guide you to other products that might suit your needs.
Online shopping has become relatively ubiquitous, and--as a result--most shoppers expect their online experience to closely replicate the experience we just described. Over the years, shoppers have seen that e-commerce retailers have the capability to swiftly direct them to the most fitting items, to provide relevant recommendations, and to expedite the purchasing process through a variety of solutions and functionalities.
In many ways, paid search advertising is among the most powerful of these. An individual can simply open up a search engine--be it Google or Yahoo or Bing--and type in exactly what they are looking for, down to brand and style. Once they hit that enter key they're met with an array of search advertisements, promising quick access to that particular product.
Unfortunately, that's rarely what they get.
Paid Search Advertising Gone Wrong
Imagine that you went into your favorite clothing store, and told the attendant that you were looking for a certain pair of jeans, providing the style, fit, color and size information. Now imagine that attendant walks you around, and then leaves you right at the front of the store...or in the t-shirt section...or at a rack that should hold what you've wanted, but is totally barren. Before you can ask for more help, they ditch you.
You probably wouldn't be thrilled.
Unfortunately, as Pedro explains, this is all too often what happens with paid search advertisements. Using American Eagle Outfitters as a case study, Pedro shows that even a hyper-specific search engine query is met with an advertisement that strands the shopper on a non-relevant page.
And, AE isn't alone in this problem. ForesightOne and Vioby conducted a research with more than thirty brands in the e-commerce space and they all face the same challenge.
Far too often paid search advertisements ostensibly promising the perfect result will send shoppers to totally irrelevant pages, forcing them to sort through massive catalogs, showing them items that are completely out of stock, or directing them to a section of the site that is totally different than that which they asked to see.
In these situations, shoppers expecting convenience and efficiency are likely to leave the site altogether and look elsewhere, much as you might do when faced with amateurish customer service at a brick and mortar store.
What's Causing This?
The cause of this problem, though frustratingly pervasive, is relatively unacknowledged. Many online retailers possess large catalogs which are increasingly dynamic, with items being added or removed on a near daily basis.
Because most Search Management tools require campaign managers to assign specific keywords to specific urls manually, it's impossible for the search ads to keep up with the changes in these catalogs, thus forcing shoppers on to pages that don't actually provide what they need.
On top of that, the manual assignment of keywords to urls forces paid search advertisements to respond to the literal text of a shopper's query, rather than their semantic intent. If I'm searching for jeans from a brand like Hollister and search the term "skinny" when Hollister's site actually has those jeans tagged as "slim," then I'll be misdirected, because the Search Management solution employed by the brand could only provide results based on the specific words I entered, rather than the intent of what I was looking for.
When you go shopping at a brick and mortar store, the way you describe what you're looking for is likely to be different than the way another customer, looking for the exact same item, describes it. While the store attendant can put the pieces together and direct you properly, Search Management solutions cannot.
...At Least Until Vioby
As Pedro explains, Vioby's AI-based component, was designed to integrate with your pre-existing Search Management Platform like Google, Kenshoo, and others. Using AI and semantic understanding it "attaches" a Smart Bot to your e-commerce site that scans all of the categories, landing pages, and individual items on the site and dynamically updates the Urls to reflect shopper intent.
Providing an increase in conversions between 15 and 28 percent, Vioby replaces the most common, irrelevant search results...
...with relevant ones.
As a result of this, shoppers are always directed to the page most relevant to their query, and are far more likely to follow through with their customer journey. Rather than being frustrated by the need to scour your entire site for what they wanted to buy, they find themselves expediently redirected, and immediately able to peruse relevant items, even if the specific product they wanted is no longer in stock.
Whisper Down the Lane
Pedro helpfully opens the webinar with the following comparison: many of us have played Whisper Down the Lane/Telephone as kids--wherein one child comes up with a phrase and whispers it to another, who in turn whispers it to a third, so on and so forth until it reaches the end of the chain. By the time that message has reached the last participant it is usually hilariously warped, nothing like what the first kid came up with.
In the context of the game, this is a lot of fun. But, when search advertising does the same--warping your original query until the final result is nearly unrecognizable--few are thrilled.
Your paid search advertising could very well be coercing your shoppers into a game of telephone that they have no interest in playing, and the consequences for your e-commerce aren't anything to laugh about.
Vioby clarifies the communique, so your site can hear all your shoppers loud and clear.