February 29, 2012, 8:34 AM

Guess stops guessing about how consumers search

The apparel e-retailer boosts search traffic by matching pages with search terms.

Lead Photo

Guess Worldwide increased its natural search traffic by 20%, and also boosted conversions and average order values, by using a marketing technology that focuses on the terms consumers use when shopping online.

The apparel manufacturer and e-retailer, which operates Guess.com, began in June testing a web-based marketing platform provided by BloomReach Corp. The BloomSearch platform is designed to increase natural search traffic by indexing product information from e-retail sites and the broader web, and improving e-retail pages to make them more attractive to search engines.

Mike Relich, executive vice president and chief information officer at Guess, says he wanted to improve how Guess.com products showed up in search engine results for searches that didn't include the Guess brand name. "I knew we weren't getting the natural search traffic we should be getting," he says. "You know you are missing a whole bunch of traffic when you run a Google search for embellished jeans and Guess doesn't come up. We sell a lot of embellished jeans."

To add the BloomSearch marketing technology to Guess.com, the retailer’s web team had to add a JavaScript pixel to each page of the site, which Relich says took a couple of days. BloomReach CEO and cofounder Raj De Datta says the technology works by interpreting all the product data and images on sites operated by the e-retailer and its competitors, and then adds data collected from the broader web to understand how consumers are referring to the types of products sold by the e-retailer. The BloomSearch platform then uses that data to add the terms that consumers use to search and retailers use to sell—which, in turn, makes those products more likely to show up higher in search engine results.

The technology also generates new landing pages to answer consumers' searches, pages that may not exist elsewhere on an e-retailer's site. "What our technology does is find out the areas where the products and services on the site aren't getting discovered and why," De Datta says. "We add data and create pages that make those products discoverable to a [search engine] crawler. The net result is a great user experience that gets found."

Relich says traffic to Guess.com that comes as a result of a consumer searching for a non-branded term continues to increase every month. "70% of the increases we've seen have come in the last three months," Relich says. "All these related searches, cross-links and increased page relevance results are helping our rankings rise."

And since consumers are landing on pages that have desired products, the conversion rate is 50% higher among those consumers than consumers who come to the site another way. Relich also says the average order value is 35% greater for consumers who arrive at a customized results page than consumers who arrive another way. Guess pays BloomReach a fee for each customer that comes though natural, non-branded search and makes a purchase. BloomReach says the fees e-retailers pay vary, but declined to disclose specifics.

Relich says BloomReach is driving traffic Guess otherwise wouldn't be getting, so the fee is acceptable. "It's not the biggest driver of traffic, but it is incremental from a [return on investment] point of view," he says. "We get the highest ROI from this; the percentage is double than what we get from e-mail."

Guess? Inc. is No. 268 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide.

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