August 18, 2011, 11:29 AM

Musicnotes uses site search to key in on what shoppers want

The retailer increased search conversion 10% for less popular instruments with a new tool.

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For years when a shopper searched for downloadable sheet music for instruments that weren’t guitar, piano or voice on the web site of Musicnotes Inc., she’d have to dig through those more popular sheet music results to find arrangements for instruments like the flute or cello.

But since the online downloadable sheet music retailer began using Adobe Systems Inc.'s Search&Promote tool in March the site now makes the process easier. The tool uses a consumer’s purchasing history to present site search results focused around that shopper’s preferred instrument. The retailer gathers a consumer’s previous buying history via a cookie it places on consumers’ computers.

“That way if you play the flute, when you do a search, flute sheet music will rise to the top,” says Bill Aicher, director of web and marketing for Musicnotes, No. 491 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide. “It makes for a better experience for our niche customers.”

Since implementing the tool the retailer’s search conversion rate for some non-core instruments is up 10%, he says. And, because of that growth, the retailer is expanding its catalog for those instruments. “It was a bit of a chicken and egg thing,” he says. “Because we weren’t making it easy for consumers to find those products, people weren’t buying them. Now that we are seeing people gravitate to them we want to offer them more options.”

For Musicnotes site search is crucial because most consumers visiting its site know the song they need and use site search to quickly find the sheet music.

Musicnotes is also using Search&Promote to find search terms that are converting at a rate less than 2%. It then investigates whether there is a problem with the results. “With more than 200,000 pieces of sheet music, it’s hard to let just a handful of rules coordinate everything,” says Aicher. For instance, the search term “Green Day” presented the song “Green Day” at the top of the search results. Because most consumers were looking for a different song by the band “Green Day,” the retailer manually lowered the song “Green Day” in the search results.

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