Since the start of the pandemic, we’ve seen a huge surge in digital activity, and with the increase in competition online, businesses can often find themselves lost in the noise.
As the UK continues to ease out of lockdown, it’s never been more important for businesses to communicate their story in a way that will sustain growth and maintain loyalty.
For many consumers the way they view your brand is going to be the sum of the (digital) interactions, indeed experiences, they have with you. Every second a customer spends interacting with your business online paints a picture, so it’s important to get it right.
Increasingly, these online experiences are based on getting quick, accurate answers to questions, be that about buying your products or services, getting support information, finding out more about your company or even applying for jobs! So why are we letting them down so badly?
The new customer journey is based on answers
With the rise of online search, the new customer journey has become more complex and harder to track. Most journeys start with a question and consumers are no longer following a simple path that leads from discovery, to consideration, to purchase. Their needs narrow and broaden based on the unique and unpredictable moments they experience, with all the brands competing to win them over. People turn to their devices to get immediate answers for their questions, not follow some predefined journey. And increasingly, this journey starts with your website. Which is where many brands fail to deliver.
The ideal online experience today is one where it’s easy for people to find the information they’re looking for at the point when they need it. You need to think about how easy it is for potential customers to find the information they need when visiting your website.
Of course, all of us have spent time and energy building beautifully designed and engaging websites. But there’s one section that still needs an overhaul - site search. I’m sure when you hear those two words you probably think “who cares?” Well, if we all agree that we want customers to get the answers they need and that they use search engines like Google to start their journey then why don’t we continue that experience on our own sites? What could be more powerful than a “Google-like” search experience on your website? Our own research shows that placing your visitors in control of their own digital experience makes them more likely to convert and return for more. So offering clear and direct information when they search is vital.
Enter AI-search to provide answers
In order for brands to answer customer questions effectively, marketers need site search technology to make sense of what is being asked. Unfortunately the technology most brands still use today (aka keyword search) hasn’t changed since 1999 and just isn’t up to the job in 2021. Enter AI Search. Leveraging Natural Language Processing (NLP) and advanced AI tech, customers are now able to ask complex questions in the way they would if they were speaking aloud (just like in Google search), while businesses are able to provide direct answers in return (again, just like in Google search).
Instead of surfacing blue links and irrelevant search results, as keyword search has since the 90s, AI search delivers direct answers which accurately connect the intent and context of a question and produces a relevant result.
To do this, it leverages a brain-like database, called a knowledge graph, which is the single source of truth about all the facts and information relating to a brand, and how they interact with one another.
By creating a knowledge graph a business can set itself up to provide all the necessary information not only on its website but also for search engines, map sites, voice assistants and other AI-powered services when customers need it. This will help more consumers find the brand-verified answers that they’re looking for.
With more customer questions being asked than ever before, the time is now to modernise your brand’s search experience. With advanced AI technology, brands can deliver the direct answers their customers are craving and create a far more seamless consumer experience.
Authored by John Watton, Vice President Marketing, Yext