Searcher Behavior

Feb 28, 2005 - 3:16 pm 2 by

We spend a lot of time and money to get people to visit our websites? But what do we really know what users behave like. The room is really packed again. This looks like its going to be a great session to report on. First up was Dr. Bonny Brown from Keynote Systems. She is going to be talking about customer experience management and how people use the web to conduct searches. About the concept of customer experience management. She asks if anyone out there has tried to interpret log files? This can be very difficult to intererpt their behavior. What are they doing? Did they not like the offer? Was it the wrong ad or audience?

To get the complete customer experience, you need a more complete picture. You need to start what the cusomter has already been exposed to. They have certain expectations. The gap is what creates the delight or disappointment. You need to understand their attitudes and reasons. Lastly the last compenent is to relate this information to making decisions. She has competitive benchmark studies that show the strengths and weakness. The mission is to help the companies understand what their strengths and weaknesses is. Understanding the why behind the strategy will help you apply it their websites. An example is vacation packages, they monitor their behavior as they navigate the website. Back to competitive benchmark studies. She took the leading search engines, and their were 2000 panelists, per site. That�s a lot of response! They have run this study twice, and see how these search engines are comparing against each other.

To get a view of how they see the behavior, is they invite panelists, and they login and search and surf the web using a browser compenent. They capture feedback and keywords they use. The customers viewpoint is that Google is #1. This is what customers are telling them. Then Yahoo #2 and MSN #3. They are seeing Yahoo and MSN closing in on Google. Ask Jeeves is also a clear success and has achieve clear gains in the space. Ad clicking behavior is directly related to customer satisfaction. Interesting indication from the study. They do not take volume driven statistics. Ask Jeeves has resulted in the best click through rates. I am wondering if this has to do with the 10 sponsored ads they had in the natural results, which has since been tweaked.

Approx 1 in 5 users express frustration with search results relevance; product search yields fewer problems than other types of search. Some other findings from the study, say that 95% of participants use Google �sometimes or �often�. 64% use Google as their �primary search engines:. Other findings are that 3 in 4 have a primary search engines. 1 in 2 use another search engine if they cannot find what they are looking for. 1 in 3 use a search engine toolbar on their browser.

On the behavior side 3 in 4 participants began their search through a search engine or Web portal (source: clickstreams). 48% of participants used Google at some time during the task; 29% used Yahoo and 8% used MSN. 22% of people searched for a specific website they had in mind. They were also able to see how much time was spent on each website. You have the search engines, but you also have eBay and Amazon. She shows that eBay kinda sucks people in. Customer experience management helps you understand the �WHY� behind customer behavior. Sites that drive clicking behavior, may not drive a satisfying customer experience. People want relevant search results � marketers can be a partner in that goal.

Next up was Gord Hutchkiss presents some new findings about possible influences that can help us understand searcher behavior. Was hoping to see how different types of people search. They went through thousands results and manually coded them. The rank and page position were the only things that matter to users. They considered t values greater than 2. Of all the click throughs they monitored 51% clicked on the number 1 listing. There was a discrepancy between how searchers behaved as opposed to what they told us.

They created a theory, and found that a users confidence level gradually went down if they found it harder to find something they were looking for. What�s the best way to find out what they are seeing. Eye-tracking. It gives them a map of how someones eyes move across the page. Very interesting, he put up a page that showed the eyes move. These are high level finding. What was discovered was the behavior indicated that the activity on the search page show up at the top of the page. What they found that the majority of the activity happens right above the fold. �Searches golden triangle� meaning the location on the page where most people see and look at. It�s the Park Place and Broadwalk of the search page. The study also showed that the #1 paid listing also gets a high percentage of activity. If you move down beyond the page you are determined and educated about finding something down there. Back to the triangle. If the listing catches the attention to the user they will read the first listing. If not, then they scan the right side where the paid listings are. This pattern will be repeated down the page. About 50% of people are going to scan down below the fold, and the process starts over. So this scan pattern, what does it mean when building listings in the vertical space.

You need to put something that will pop and catch attention. If you do so you will get a better chance of a click through. For visibility, there is a drop down after listing number 3. After listing 8 there is a huge drop drown again in scanning behavior. Seems to level off 20-30% down at the bottom (9th and 10th) positions. 28% of people click through on the #1 paid listing. It drops off below the 3rd paid listings. If they can see the ads, why does it drop. When people where asked about how they click, they said they would click on the first thing that interested them. Asks how many people have seen rankings slip down on less popular terms. He mentions something about using click popularity as a part of how they rank. They capture how they interacted on the site. If you are above the fold you have a good chance of getting someone to click. If they are in the search triangle then they will click on the first listing. Incredible presentation!

Next up was Cam Balzer, and is discussing search before purchase. He goes into some company information. There goal was to look at the behavior up to the purchase and several areas they wanted to dig deeper. What kinds of search activity precedes the converting search/click? Search ROI usually considers only the last click before purchase. They identified 30 ecommerce website that had enough traffic to give them some reliable data. The looked at buyers and how they behaved. The findings of their study, one of the most powerful was roughly half of all buyers made a relevant search before their online purchase. They also found that marketers have a way to reach users at each step of the buying process. Travel for example had a high volume of people that did 10+ searched to find what they were looking for. Another finding was that majority of buyers searches and clicks are on generic terms. Brands do well in search, and they wanted to see how brands performed with other searches. There is a lot of people searching on generic terms to find what they were looking for. The other finding was that 30% of searchers only used a brand search. It was curious that so few users only used a branded search. Another findings, if someone was searching for a winter jacket or something in the spring, they may spend a long time in order to complete the process, sometimes up to 4-6 months. Another finding related to how the investment put into paying for generic terms also resulted in positive return for the brand name.


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