Data helps watch manufacturer redesign its site, boost return on search spend.
When Jonathon Vandergrift took over as e-commerce manager at Timex Corp. two years ago he quickly realized that consumers were having trouble finding what they were looking for at Timex.com. He also concluded that the watch manufacturer was spending too much for each order it generated through its paid search campaign.
He dove into the data to find the source of the problems, and ways to improve results. Two years later, he can point to a 35% improvement in conversion rate on the site as well as a $5 increase in average order value, which he largely attributes to a complete restructuring of the site to make it easier for consumers to find what they want. As for the paid search campaign, cost per click is down 18% while traffic to the site increased 25%.
Vandergrift says the improvements came from usability testing and data provided by analytics vendor Omniture, part of Adobe Systems Inc. Timex had been using Omniture’s core analytics product, SiteCatalyst, when Vandergrift arrived; soon after, the company also began using Omniture’s search management product, SearchCenter.
The data helped Vandergrift and his team recognize that the structure of Timex.com did not conform to the way consumers searched the site. For instance, he says, the site tended to organize watches by activity, while consumers often searched by features, such as leather band versus metal expansion band.
It also became clear that Timex marketers were not looking at products the same way consumers did. “We tend to look at them from the point of view of people making and marketing watches, not the way consumers are viewing them,” he says. One solution was to add more terms to the product database to incorporate terms that a consumer might use. For instance, a consumer might search for a stopwatch or timer, when Timex had been using the term chronograph.
Making it easier for consumers to find the products they want boosted the site’s conversion rate quickly by 35%, he says.
Another big change was to merchandise the site using a variety of personas, which now appear in the central image on the home page. Hovering over the image of a young man on a bike produces an image of a watch an athletic young man might like, and a click takes the visitor to a page showing a variety of such watches. Clicking on the mother and child image produces a different assortment.
The idea of incorporating those personas into the web site explicitly—right on the home page—came out of usability testing, Vandergrift says. He says Timex came up with several profiles of its customers in order to organize the testing, then found that test subjects identified closely with those personas. “It really became something that was embraced, so we just ran with it,” he says.
The new features were incorporated into the site last fall, and more changes are in the works for the third quarter, again based on what Vandergrift and his colleagues have learned from analytics data. For instance, while Timex has been showing visitors who view an item other products from the same collection, perhaps in different colors, the data shows that consumers often are looking for products with similar features, even if they’re not in the same collection.
Meanwhile, integrating the SearchCenter paid search management tool with the SiteCatalyst tool for recording activity on Timex.com produced fast improvements in the company’s paid search campaign, Vandergrift says. He set goals based on cost per order, ad position and return on ad spend, and the Omniture SearchCenter product sent him notifications when spending on a particular keyword or keyword group was falling short of those goals. That enabled the Timex team to change the ad copy, landing page or bidding strategy for those keywords, without having to manually track all of the 15,000 keywords Timex bids on.
In addition, the SearchCenter tool, drawing on SiteCatalyst data about what consumers do when they reach Timex.com, provides recommendations for improving return on ad spend based on how many clicks an ad generates in a given position and whether consumers who click ultimately buy. In some cases, Vandergrift says, the tool suggested that Timex could achieve similar results with a lower position, enabling it to lower its bids on certain keywords. In other instances, the application recommended that higher spending would produce even better results.
“You always have to be testing,” says Tim Waddell, director of product marketing at Omniture. “We give folks the tools to do that simply, without investing a lot of manhours.”
Prior to employing SearchCenter, Timex.com’s results on the Yahoo search engine were so poor that Vandergrift was considering an end to search spending on Yahoo. But once Timex began using SearchCenter in conjunction with SiteCatalyst return on ad spend across all search engines exceeded the company’s goal of a 350% return, hitting 500% for the 2009 holiday season.
“The key was the total integration between the two components,” Vandergrift says, referring to the two Omniture tools. “We were able to tie everything from the click end of our ad campaigns through to every metric that mattered to us far better than we had been able to do prior to that.”