Your audience will tell you what they want
Last month Google came out with a new service for businesses with current or future plans for expanding ecommerce presence.
Google has a great way to approach new products. They test new products by allowing limited membership to their new programs and products while they work out the kinks and learn from the group of users who test the new products and services.
Google Commerce was rolled out with Birkenstock and it seems to be a big step for companies with a focus on ecommerce. The step may not be directly related to Google Commerce Search, but the trend that Google Commerce Search addresses is certainly important for businesses with an ecommerce presence as well as for companies with any Web presence.
Let me explain…
Search and Ecommerce
In Google’s Commerce Search video they mention an amazing statistic:
Web site visitors spend an average of 8 seconds on a site before deciding whether to stay. And 70% of online shoppers use search to make this decision.
It seems that the Web and ecommerce has honed in the consumer’s focus of searching for products. Or perhaps consumers have always used search in some form to discover the things they are looking for.
Whether it’s a catalog or a Website, the designer can make suggestions with headings in navigation or in a table of contents, but consumers will still page through a catalog or page through a Website to discovery products on their own.
I’ve been noticing an increased emphasis on search and specifically on the importance of the search bar design on many popular ecommerce sites.
Visit the site – LL Bean
LL Bean now features their search bar directly right in the middle of their home page. The search bar is also highlighted with a color (a shade of LL Bean green) and the text ‘Enter item # or keyword’ is prominently displayed.
LL Bean has obviously been doing some testing of their own and has discovered that their customers are using the search bar to discover, find and purchase the products available on the site.
It’s a great example of a company paying attention to their audience and using Website design and functionality to add value to their customers.
Here are a couple other examples…
The search bar on Zappos’s test site, Zeta, has the search bar with a color background to highlight the search functionality even more.
Visit the site – Bowhunting.com
The search here is not in the typical upper right hand side of the page. It’s toward the upper middle area and the company is using Google to provide their search functionality.
These companies realized what their visitors wanted – search functionality – and fostered their Website design around those expressed needs.
Your customer may be expressing different needs for your Website and business. You just have to figure out what they are asking.
Listen to Your Audience
A key to success on the Web for any company is to pay attention and listen to your audience.
Successful marketing driven companies in any contact channel have always been exceptional with testing various initiatives while listening to the feedback their customers provide to the testing. Google has made their mark on the Web by following the principle of testing and rolling out products that their audience responds to with the most long-term excitement. There will always be misses along the way, but the testing and listening strategy is a strong strategy for any company.
Testing at times can seem difficult and time consuming and to setup formal tests it can take time, but is often worth the effort to see the results.
Often times though you’ll find that you can listen and pay attention to your audience without setting up a formal test.
For example, I’ve noticed on the Hunting Business Marketing blog that the types of posts that get shared the most are posts that highlight the success of others. These are usually list posts such as 50 Best Hunting Website Designs. However, posts with more in depth commentary such as Successful Business Highlight – Smashing Magazine are also successful.
I didn’t setup a test for types of posts, but I like to try writing posts of varying style while paying attention to what readers are responding to the most. It seems to be a great way to learn and grow as a writer and as a business owner.
Paying attention and listening to your audience is the key to testing and finding the needs of your customer. Successful companies are able to recognize these needs and address them with improvements to their value chain.
Companies involved in ecommerce have been alerted to a growing trend in Web consumer need – search.
Google has offered their own search for companies with an ecommerce focus with Google Commerce Search.
Successful companies always test and pay attention and listen to what their audience is telling them. Companies with long-term success are able to not only listen to their audience, but are also able to try new things that successfully address the expressed needs of their audience.
Setting up formal tests and even doing a little in depth analysis of your Website are great ways to listen to what your audience is saying. If you notice an area of expressed need that you can address then roll it out and see how your audience reacts. If it’s positive then great. If the response is so-so then try something new.
The key is to pay attention and continue adding value to your connection with your audience.
What to read next on Hunting Business Marketing
What to read next on the Web
Image courtesy of alexkerhead