personalization

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Luggage check at NRF

Personalization fuels Tumi’s customer experience renaissance

Charlie Cole is an e-commerce and digital marketing veteran who’s now running digital for Tumi, makers of the kind of high-end luggage that draws envious stares as it’s slipped into the overhead bin.

For the past year and half, Cole, Tumi’s chief digital officer, has been part of a team that has turned the brand around and dramatically increased sales. It took eliminating some corporate-culture baggage (sorry) and a renewed focus on the brand’s customer experience.

We caught up with Cole in advance of his appearance at BloomReach Connect New York, where he’ll talk about how the executive team turned Tumi’s shrinking business into a high-growth brand and where Tumi goes from here. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Charlie Cole, chief digital officer, Tumi

Q: Retailers for years have been getting crushed by the tyranny of promotions. Tumi has been able to reduce its reliance on promotions and still show improved financials. Can you talk about the perils of becoming over-reliant on sale pricing and the strategies for weaning a brand or retail operation from that reliance?

A: We think about this really simply, which is, if you are trying to differentiate on price you cannot beat Amazon. You can’t do it. And Jeff Bezos has actually gone out and said as much in his shareholder notes from a couple of years ago: ‘Our partners’ margin is our opportunity.’ When you spell it out like that, we’re surprised more people aren’t as nervous about it as we are. The other piece about it is, a promotion is, by definition, something with a limit. You only have so many days you can be promotional.

The idea of weaning them off is really quite simple. When you over simplify an e-commerce business into what is your revenue based on, it’s three things: traffic, average order value and conversion rate.

That means if you’re going to get off promotions, it’s a fair assumption to say, you’re probably going to hurt your conversion rate a little bit.  People love sales. People buy at a higher trajectory on sales. Which means, you have to come up with creative ways to drive traffic and average order value. For us, average-order-value increase is going to happen somewhat naturally, because things are going to cost more, because you’re not on a promotion. We really want to attack the question of, ‘How can we attract more people to Tumi that are ready to buy, that are interested in the brand and that can offset some of that traffic that isn’t going to convert because they’re deal hunting?’

Q: So how do you do that?

A: We did a multitude of things. We focused on on-site personalization. We focused on messaging personalization. But we also just sort of went back to the drawing board on what our traffic-generation strategy was going to be.

Q: Personalization is a term that’s thrown around a lot. What do you mean by personalization?

A: It’s definitely a nebulous definition. We talk about it as how do you serve the right message to the right person at the right time. That means in email, for example, if all you ever do is open emails about backpacks, we probably shouldn’t shove luggage down your face. That’s messaging personalization.

That’s applicable, also to advertising. And it’s certainly relevant on-site. So on-site personalization, meaning we know you’re logged into your account. Same example. You just bought a backpack. We probably shouldn’t show you a backpack home page. Or it’s Mother’s Day and we know that you just received a Mother’s Day gift. Maybe we should move certain things up, such as, ‘Hey, here’s how to register for the warranty repair.’

We actually started moving that into the store as well, where we want to have our store associates in brick-and-mortar stores have access to a clienteling application so they can have much more visibility into understanding what customers have and have not done, or what they’re interested in.

Give customers information on their terms

Let me give you another example of something that I’ve learned, that I’m kind of directly responsible for. Thirty percent of our inbound calls to our call center are based on people asking where their packages are. That is embarrassing, because to me, that means that we, as a digital team, are not doing our job of getting customers access to information on their terms.

So, the personalization option may be, after you buy something, you get a little thing that says, ‘Click here to receive your shipping notifications via text message as opposed to email.’ Something as simple as that is going to decrease our call volume by 20 percent among a chunk of people.

Q: It sounds like you see personalization as going well beyond selling products.

A: Personalization is far more than just product recommendations to drive conversion rates.  Personalization is after-sale service. Personalization is warranty-repair support. It’s just really more about making sure you’re doing business on your customers’ terms.

Q: You’ve talked about taking time to step back from big strategy to think about customers, to “optimize for the customer.” Can you talk about that?

A: I’ve got to give one of my bosses, Rob Cooper, a lot of credit for that. When I got to Tumi, we were so freaking tactical about fixing the business. And I think, when you say those words, if we just blindly asked 10 VPs of e-commerce, what does “optimize for the customer” mean, they’re going to go off on a diatribe about optimization, usability, digital marketing, CRM, analytics. And they’re going to say 100 words before they say ‘customer service’ and I was just as guilty about that.

We drove the business in a way where it was turned around and we got to see some great things. Then Rob kind of sat me down and said, ‘OK, good. Now how do we make our customers’ lives better?’ And I kind of stopped and said, ‘I don’t think I’ve thought about that in a year.’

Three things about Charlie Cole

  • He’s color blind. It’s an unexpected strength in his role, Cole says. He tells his creative team that the condition means he’ll generally remain neutral on design issues, which means they need to pay that much more attention to the analytical feedback and insights he provides.
  • He plays volleyball. Well. Both Cole and his wife, Elissa, played in college, though Cole says he didn’t approach his wife’s caliber of play. He’d like to find more time for his favorite sport, which he’ll engage in indoors or on the beach. The beach, he acknowledges, is a little gentler on the body, even though he’s a much better player on the hardwood than on the sand.
  • He’s an auditory learner. Cole says he finds it difficult to fully absorb information through reading. In college, he would record lectures and listen to them one extra time to better retain the information. Now, when he reads, he eliminates distractions and slips on headphones to listen to music without lyrics. Classical, hip-hop, techno. It doesn’t matter, as long as there are no words.

Q: So how do you get to the place where you’re thinking about customers?

A: Step one is make it a priority. I know that sounds stupid, but if you want to make a business case for it, that reduction in phone calls (at Tumi”s call center) has a significant EBITA savings. You’re printing money. So customer-centricity and customer service in general, is really the perfect symbiosis between customer desires and company desires. Done properly, you’re increasing lifetime value; you’re decreasing customer support cost; you’re increasing Net Promoter Score. Nobody loses here. It’s just a matter of making it a priority. And we’re starting to talk about some really fun stuff.

Q: Such as?

A: We’re going to select half of our orders over a certain period of time and write handwritten thank-you notes to each one of them with a relevant tidbit about that customer. ‘Considering this is the third Alpha piece that you’ve bought from us, we just really appreciate the loyalty.’ And we’re going to do that and then we’re going to shut it off. We’re going to wait six months and see if it has any sort of effect on interaction with emails, post-purchase behavior, lifetime value, return rates.

It might not matter. And then we go back and we say, ‘Hey, but we got a lot of feedback that customers really like that. Do we just want to front this expense?’ And it’s OK to not have every test work. It’s just not OK, in my opinion, to just do something for the sake of doing it.

Q: You’ve said businesses need to try things that are outlandish and exceed customer expectations. I don’t know if thank you cards are outlandish, though I can’t remember when I’ve gotten one after buying something. What do you mean by being outlandish?

A: I think there’s sort of a lot of industry edict around this idea of surprise and delight. I’m not a big fan of the phrase, because I don’t want to shock anyone. Surprising a customer doesn’t have a positive connotation to me, but delighting them does.

One of my mentors, this guy named Tarang Amin, he used to say, one of the things we always can do is strive for a breakthrough. You have to really strive for something that makes the company different. So, I was talking to you before about  how there are a lot of people calling and asking where their packages are now. We basically leveraged the systems we were given. So UPS, FedEx, they send you a notification. But if you’ve ever bought something online at 8 a.m. and you got a tracking notification at 2 p.m., you and I both know that if you click on it, it won’t work until the next day.

We looked the problem and said, ‘Well there are technologies out there that basically will give you an algorithmically based answer. It’s another thing that’s a little silly. An algorithm to save you eight hours of waiting, but it exceeds any customer expectation. And at the same time, it decreases our phone calls and makes life a little better for all our customers

Keeping up with rising customer expectations

Q: But it seems like consumer expectations are constantly rising. You’ve used the example of Amazon Prime and the breakthrough of two-day delivery. Two-day delivery is no longer a wonder. Now it’s expected. How do you keep up with increasing expectations?

A: There is something very Sisyphus about it, I’ll give you that. What can we do as retailers? It’s another one of those things that I’m almost hesitant to say, because it sounds so obvious. But when you’re within a brand, you know exactly what’s going on, because you live within the brand all the time. The best thing you can do is just remove yourself from the equation and talk to your customers about what they think.

One of the first things we did as a team, is we created this program that was called Brand Ambassadors. We found a group of 18,000 Tumi email list participants — some were buyers, some hadn’t bought, but they were willing to talk to us about very specific things. You can talk yourself into anything. So I think it’s important to keep up with customers and don’t let yourself have tunnel vision within your corporation.

Hear more from Charlie Cole at BloomReach Connect

  • Tumi chief digital officer Charlie Cole will be a featured speaker at BloomReach Connect in New York on May 4. Cole intends to get past “digital transformation” as a buzz phrase and talk about how he and his team actually changed the digital culture at Tumi and helped spark impressive revenue growth.
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Q: How do you fend off tunnel vision? How do you keep things fresh?

A: Retail is such a microcosmic-timing business. It’s month-over-month comps. It’s day-over-day comps. It’s week-over-week comps, which I really think injects a certain attitude of incrementality. I also believe that incrementality is the biggest enemy to that aforementioned breakthrough. So how do we try to adopt the culture internally that does not preclude the dynamic thinking? And the short answer is, we respect and crave failure.We have a culture where we screw up so much, but we do it in a risk-averse way. We mitigate the cost implications. And we’re constantly testing and iterating at a rate that I don’t think most retailers our size do.

There’s this old adage of measure twice, cut once. We’re like, ‘Just cut the damn thing. Just don’t cut it too deeply that we can’t repair it if we screw it up.’ And I think that’s the attitude that you have to have to be great at digital. You have to make a lot of tiny bets, mitigate the risk around them. And then, the ones that work for you, you have to not double down — you have to octuple down on them immediately.

Charlie Cole portrait courtesy of Charlie Cole.

Mike Cassidy is BloomReach’s storyteller. Contact him at mike.cassidy@bloomreach.com; follow him on Twitter at @mikecassidy.

Facebook points to the future of personalization

Facebook logo

Looking to Facebook to get a peek into the future of the head-spinning evolution of the digital world is hardly sheer genius.

But it is at least wise — not so much because Facebook is the most-cutting edge enterprise when it comes to digital innovation, but more because Facebook is brilliant in understanding where consumer desires and expectations are headed.

Like any hugely successful market leader, Facebook is not always first on a trend, but it is sometimes first on understanding how to combine already identified trends. Its MO of late has been to buy the technology it needs to build its vision of the future.

That’s why I was so intrigued with the stories coming out of Facebook’s F8 conference in San Jose, Calif., this week. Take the story that appeared in the Mercury News of San Jose concerning changes to the company’s Messenger app.

There were a lot of little pieces mentioned in the story — adding mobile payment capabilities to games, making Messenger more like Snapchat (if you can’t buy ‘em, join ‘em), accommodating those who want new ways to access commerce bots or find businesses or order food.

What the story didn’t expressly say, but what the story illustrated, is that Facebook is charting the course of the future of commerce. And at the center of it all is personalization. Facebook is tackling that with the vast trove of information it has on its members.

Facebook has the advantage of being able to connect every online action with a known individual. Users sign on to Facebook. It has no need to segment or target. It can develop one-to-one personalization because it knows exactly who the “one” is.

The Mercury explained that Stan Chudnovsky, Facebook’s head of product, believes that Messenger will remain a go-to by using artificial intelligence to improve the personalized experience it gives users.

Personalization applies to content, products and even friends

That kind of personalization, of course, can apply to content or products or even finding compatible friends who users don’t even know. But take that kind of personalization and connect some of the other dots in the Merc’s piece and the story becomes all that more interesting.

For instance, Chudnovsky, speaking at F8, also said that FB was unveiling a feature that would make it easier to have group chats with bots, the story said. The app will allow groups to summon bots to share music from Spotify and to make restaurant reservations.

IDC analyst John Jackson told the Merc: “You want to meet the customers where the customer is, and that’s where we are in messaging apps. For businesses, it’s a very logical way to engage in that way, and they’re taking very significant strides in making bots available.”

Meet the customers where the customer is. It’s the very mantra of the omnichannel retail crowd. But for Facebook it might be a more about keeping the customer where the customer is — namely on Facebook.

So far, so good for the Menlo Park company. According to the Mercury News about 20 million businesses are already connecting with users on Messenger. And the company says Facebook expects that number to grow, which makes sense, especially if the latest moves are in line with what consumers are looking for.

The improved app make Messenger more like China’s WeChat, a messaging app that has become a huge commerce platform because it allows such flexibility and because China has long been a mobile-first digital culture.

Facebook, meantime, has been pushing into e-commerce for some time. And so it’s no small thing that the Silicon Valley social network company is trumpeting personalization as one key to its future. There is little doubt that personalization is also a key to the latest era of digital commerce and communication.

Those who offer content and products on the web will no doubt be staking their futures on finding the right recipe for personalization.

The reported announcements at F8 touch on another intriguing puzzle for both digital commerce and digital content providers: the seemingly contradictory chore of figuring out how to personalize for groups.

The features enlisting bots for creating playlists for groups or allowing group ordering, for instance, might well need to offer personalized recommendations for those groups, as oxymoronic as that sounds.

Chris Martin, chief technical officer of Pandora raised the idea of coming up with group personalization at the Structure Data Conference last year. What do you do, he asked, if you have an algorithmically aided music recommendation engine that is playing to the crowd, so to speak? Martin suggested the machine might add context clues to the mix to come up with the answer.

For instance, I could see a machine that gathers signals that would help it consider whether a number of people had gathered for a birthday party, a sports tailgate party or a funeral.

It’s all a reminder that personalization is likely to be one of those things that marketers never quite master. Just as the technology to achieve true one-to-one personalization becomes available, it could be that it’s time to work on one-to-many personalization.

None of which is reason to be discouraged. In fact, it’s reason to be energized, as we race to get ahead of the future. All the while, looking to Facebook to show us the way.

Facebook logo courtesy of Facebook.

Mike Cassidy is BloomReach’s storyteller. Contact him at mike.cassidy@bloomreach.com; follow him on Twitter at @mikecassidy.

 

Stack of grammar books

Do you really understand your customers?

stack of language and grammar booksPoets, philosophers and scientists have spent generations exploring the question of what makes humans, human.

Laughter? Love? The inclination to text and drive?

For the artistic and scientific, the basic question provides the inspiration for works of great beauty and deep analysis. But today, the question, in a slightly more crass form, has been taken up by marketers — marketers who are not as much interested in the universal answer as they are in the individual answer.

Marketers in the age of digital transformation want to know what makes that particular human, human. And more importantly what makes that particular human tick? It is a question at the root of developing real-time, one-to-one personalization.

In my search for answers, I bypassed the poets and philosophers. I politely sidestepped the marketers and turned to the scientists, in particular a data scientist. Amit Aggarwal is BloomReach’s chief technology officer and a guy who has thought a lot about personalization and its relationship with human intent and human nature.

Aggarwal naturally has a deep technical understanding of the algorithms and data streams that make authentic personalization a real thing. But he indulged me, taking a broader view of personalization and breaking it down into its vital components:

  • Semantic language understanding
  • Contextual understanding
  • User behavior understanding
  • Product understanding

Aggarwal had compelling arguments for each. Me? I was fixated on coming up with the most important element of personalization. Aggarwal wasn’t biting. The world isn’t simple. Multi-faceted problems aren’t solved with one solution. Complicated challenges aren’t met with simple solutions. A data scientist knows this.

And the greatest of these is language

A writer does not. And so among the fearsome foursome of personalization, I decided the greatest of these is language. Imagine, a writer choosing language as the key to success. But hear me out. Nothing is more human that language. It sets us apart from the other animals.

It is the basis for all we do. Grand ideas are nothing without a way to express them. Love goes unnoticed if it’s not expressed. The next big thing falls silently in the forest if no one can describe it.

And so, a compromise: I’ll respect Aggarwal’s superior understanding of personalization by presenting all four basic elements of true personalization. But I’ll start with my favorite — language.

First, however, why this whole “what is personalization” exercise in the first place? Because personalization, as a term, needs some refinement. It has become a buzz phrase to mean whatever the one uttering it wants it to mean.

I look at personalization as the ability to understand a consumer on an individual basis; the ability to understand a consumer’s intent in the moment, and the corollary ability to provide that consumer with relevant and personal content as a result.

And that brings us back to Aggarwal’s four elements, starting, naturally, with language.

Semantic language understanding: True personalization begins with a deep understanding of what digital users are saying. One of the deepest human needs is to be understood. And that understanding is achieved through language. Not just words, but language. Language comes with sentiment and context. Language changes. “That’s sick,” meant one thing in 1950. It meant something entirely different in 2000.

The future of personalization

  • Join us at BloomReach Connect in New York to hear customer experience visionaries talk about personalization in the age of digital transformation.
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There is no personalization without language. Language is different from words. Plenty of technologies can understand words. You type in a search query and the machine looks for product descriptions, for instance, that contain those words.

Language is more than that. Language is living and ever-changing. Different digital consumers use words differently. In a sense we all speak our own language. Not only does a real personalization system need to acknowledge that fact, it needs to constantly learn to better understand what language means and what consumers mean by the language they use.

Language includes synonyms, different words that mean the same or similar things. True personalization understands that the user searching for a “camel pocketbook” and the user searching for a “tan purse” might be interested in the same product or the same story about a fashion trend.

Contextual understanding: But when a user says or types “tan purse,” how does a personalization system understand whether the user is searching for a product or a fashion story or even instructions on how to make a tan purse or advice on what colors go best with a tan purse? The system needs to understand context. It needs to understand what a digital user hopes to accomplish.

Is she seeking inspiration? I she researching a product or subject after being inspired? Is she already sure of a product she wants to buy and hunting for the seller with the best price or fastest or most convenient delivery options? Has she already bought a tan purse and is looking for care instructions or whether she can return the purse for a different color or style?

True personalization understands context and constantly learns from interactions with millions of users. It understands that someone in Northern California searching for “water shoes” in the summertime is not likely to be looking for footwear designed for a rainy day. Instead, it’s quite likely that person is searching for footwear meant for the beach and for wading into the water.

User behavior understanding: One part of grasping context is understanding using behavior and what a user’s digital activity and the activity of users across the web tells us about their intent. Here, true personalization parallels the work of a high-quality store associate.

When you walk into a home-improvement store, the human associates who work there can learn a lot about you. Yes, they learn from what you say to them. But they can begin building their understanding before a customer even opens his or her mouth. What aisles and products do you pause in front of? Do you browse one aisle and then head to another with products that might be used in the same DIY project?

Do you examine the top-of-the-line variable speed drill and then put it back and reach for a serviceable model that costs less? Do you stride through the store with a certain confidence? Or do you look a little lost, eyeing the 1-inch, 90-degree PVC elbow segment like it’s something an Apollo crew brought back from the moon?

A perceptive associate, which granted is sometimes hard to find, knows a lot about you already. Or at least he or she knows a lot about you and your intent on this particular shopping trip.

A constantly learning machine that deeply understands language can draw some similar conclusions from online behavior. Moreover, understanding not just what words mean, but how they relate to other words and what their connotations are in different circumstances, means that an artificial-intelligence-driven system can serve up recommendations that are relevant to one, single individual.

Product understanding: Deeply understanding a user’s language and behavior and the context in the moment is a start to providing true personalization. But it isn’t enough. A true personalization system needs to understand what a user is in the market for. Is someone who’s shown an interest in financial products looking for a home loan or a credit card? Is the user who’s shown an intent to learn more about insurance, looking for life insurance or homeowner’s insurance?

A true personalization system must deeply understand content in order to properly match a consumer’s intent with the available content. There is no deep user understanding without a deep understanding of the content they are seeking.

Consumers are the ones defining personalization

What’s crystal clear is that in today’s world, it’s consumers who are deciding what “personalization” means.

And so it’s only right that enterprises listen to consumers and provide what it is their customers are demanding. Not only is it the right thing to do, it’s also the profitable thing to do. It’s clear that the ability to understand language will only become more important for enterprises as the era of digital transformation rages on.

Total Retail Report found that commerce sites that based their site search on keyword search, returning only recommendations that included the keywords, suffered a 40 percent abandonment rate. Sites that rely on semantic understanding experienced only a 2 percent abandonment rate, Total Retail Report said.

A few other statistics help explain why digital consumers can become so frustrated. Google has said that 15 percent of the search queries it receives on any given day are queries that the search engine has never seen before. It’s reasonable to imagine that individual sites are subject to the same sort of effect, meaning the site needs to be smart enough to understand the meaning of what a searcher is saying.

For in the end, we are individuals who celebrate our own individuality in what we believe, how we dress, whom we associate with, where we work and yes, how we talk. In English alone there are more than 1,000 ways to say something is beautiful and more than 1,500 ways to say “happy.”

No doubt we will continue to find new ways to express ourselves, whether we’re talking about beauty, happiness or buying a new pair of shoes. It will be up to those building digital experiences to keep that in mind as they design better ways to keep up.

Photo of books by Jackie Finn-Irwin published under Creative Commons license. 

Mike Cassidy is BloomReach’s storyteller. Contact him at mike.cassidy@bloomreach.com; follow him on Twitter at @mikecassidy.

 

a blackboard with a lot of words

Site search needs artificial intelligence to really understand your customers

a blackboard with a lot of words

As great as humans are, they are no match for the accelerating needs of a modern commerce site search engine.

Consider the vast web and the incalculable number of ways those who use the web describe what it is they are looking for. Pants, knickers, slacks, jeans, trousers, corduroys, dungarees, khakis. And that’s just products.

Think of all the adjectives the world uses to describe products. And then think about trying to keep up with it all. Why, you’d have to be superhuman.

“Unfortunately, your website visitors will use search terms that are different from the product descriptions in your catalog,” RealDecoy’s Richard Isaac said during a December webinar on improving site search hosted by BloomReach. “This is one of the reasons that you can’t just rely on search technologies that have great keyword search.”

You need site search that relies on artificial intelligence and natural language processing to constantly learn from user behavior — because users’ behavior constantly changes.

You need an engine that can automatically match a billion synonyms or more based on context and user behavior. The days are past when site search teams can take it upon themselves to write rules that will deliver the customer searching for “dungarees” to the page of blue jeans that he or she longs for.

Humans can’t keep up with digital consumers’ increasing demands

Some argue that legacy, rules-based site search systems, like Oracle’s Endeca, give marketers more control over site search results. But in fact, the dizzying number of combinations of product descriptions and phrases that customers use to describe products means it is not humanly possible to write enough rules fast enough to ensure that consumers are presented with relevant and personalized results through on-site search.

And irrelevant results mean unhappy customers and unhappy customers mean lost sales and lost loyalty.

A true learning system doesn’t simply “hand the keys to the robots and say, ‘You drive,’” as Forrester’s Mark Grannan recently put it during a webinar. Instead, it allows human intervention when desired, but in the meantime, it automatically offers relevant and personalized results to the customers that an enterprise has worked so hard to attract.

That frees up marketers, merchandisers and others to work on more creative and higher-value challenges and projects. In fact, Staples, the No. 5 retailer on the Internet Retailer 500, moved away from a rules-based system to BloomReach Commerce Search. Staples executives said their digital team was able to handle its manual site-search tuning in a fifth of the time it once took.

Oracle’s own research shows that businesses are ready to embrace the cloud and machine learning to take advantage of the agility and rapid iteration the technologies provide. It’s a reality that has even Oracle’s top executives are urging business leaders to build their strategies around artificial intelligence and machine learning.

Site search webinar

To that end, Oracle, which sells Endeca, is focusing on a cloud-based future distinct from Endeca, which was born in an earlier internet era.

Endeca, which was founded in 1999, comes from a heritage of faceted navigation. Its search engine does not have natural language capabilities. It lacks the ability to develop a semantic understanding of the words that customers use when shopping and that enterprises use when they describe what it is they sell.

Why is that important?

Consider a consumer looking for an “iPhone.” If he or she types the phrase into an onsite search engine without semantic understanding, he or she is likely to get a set of results that includes iPhone cases, iPhone chargers, iPhone screen protectors, iPhone adapters and any number of products that are not at all what he or she is looking for.

But a system built around natural language processing and machine learning knows that an iPhone is, in fact, a phone and the search results will reflect that.

I want an iPhone, not an iPhone case

The difference between returning a phone in search results and showing a phone charging cord could be the difference between prosperity and ruin. RealDecoy in its report, “Endeca vs. BloomReach: taking site search to a new level,” cities a 2015 Forrester study that found that 90 percent of site searchers do not read past the first page of results — and that searchers will often just give up if they are frustrated by poor results.

“Usually website visitors are on your site for a specific reason,” RealDecoy’s Isaac said during the webinar. “Generally speaking, if your search is not good, they stop using, not just your search box, but they leave your site and don’t come back to your site, period.”

During the webinar, Isaac laid out what happens when search goes bad. Take a million new annual visitors, he said. Thirty percent of them will use the search box the first time they visit a site. Eighty percent of those will bounce because of a bad search experience. That means you’re losing 240,000 visitors because of bad search.

Now, multiply that by an average order value of $158 and an average conversion rate of 5 percent. By Isaac’s math, you’re out nearly $2 million and that doesn’t count whatever you spent to attract those lost customers in the first place.

That’s not the side of the balance sheet you want to be on. We’ll offer some thoughts on avoiding that fate on March 30, during our webinar,  “Three site search moves helping your competition sleep at night.”

Photo of blackboard by Mr Hicks46 published under Creative Commons license.

Mike Cassidy is BloomReach’s storyteller. Contact him at mike.cassidy@bloomreach.com; follow him on Twitter at @mikecassidy.