Product Finding Methods
Product Finding Methods, is a topic that I have touched upon briefly in past blog posts, but not in great detail. Some others have also talked about it, but in a quick Google search, the most relevant post I found on the subject was this post from back in 2008. Therefore, in this post, I thought I would explore the topic and how it can be applied to both eCommerce and non-eCommerce sites.
What is Product Finding Methods?
I define Product Finding Methods as the way that website/app visitors use to find products that they ultimately purchase. For example, if a visitor comes to your website and conducts a search and then finds a product they like, then search would be the Product Finding Method that should be associated with that product. Most websites have about 5-10 different Product Finding Methods, such as:
- Internal Search
- Internal Campaigns/Promos
- Campaign Landing Pages
These are usually the main tools that you use to drive visitors to products, with the goal of getting them to add items to their online shopping cart. Having a Product Finding Methods report is useful when you want to see a holistic view of how visitors are getting to your products, but it can also be used to see how each product or product category is found. In most cases, the KPI that you care about for Product Finding Methods is Orders or Revenue because, while it may be interesting to see which methods get visitors to add items to the shopping cart, you make money when they order products and pay you!
Why Implement Product Finding Methods?
So why should you care about Product Finding Methods? Most organizations implementing this do so to identify which method is most successful at driving revenue. Since websites can be tweaked to push visitors to one finding method over another, if you have one that works better than another, you can work with your design team to either fix the lagging one or push people to the better one. For example, if your internal search functionality rarely produces orders, there may be something inherently wrong with it. Even if you track the internal search click-through rate and that is ok, without the Product Finding Methods report, you may not know that those clicking on results are not ultimately buying. The same may be true for your internal promotions and other methods. I once had a client that devoted large swaths of their product pages to product cross-sell, but never had a Product Finding Methods report to show them that cross-sell wasn’t working and that they were just wasting space.
Another use of Product Finding Methods is to see if there are specific products or product categories that lend themselves to specific finding methods. For example, you may have products that are “impulse” buys that do very well when spotlighted in a promotion on the home page, but don’t do so well when found in search results (or vice versa). Having this information allows you to be more strategic in what you display in internal promotions. By creating a “Look to Book” Calculated Metric (Orders/Product Views) within a Product Finding Methods report, it is easy to see which products do well/poorly for each finding method.
Finally, once you have implemented Product Finding Methods, you can use them in Segments. If you have a need to see all visits or visitors who have used both Internal Search and a Registry to find products, you can do this easily by selecting those two methods in the Segment builder. Without Product Finding Methods being implemented, creating a viable segment would be very cumbersome, likely involving a massive amount of Page-based containers.
How Do You Implement Product Finding Methods?
So let’s say that you are intrigued and want to see how visitors are finding your products. How would you implement this in Adobe Analytics?
Obviously, if you are looking to breakdown Orders and Revenue (which are Success Events) by a dimension, you are going to need a Conversion Variable (eVar). This eVar would capture the most recent Product Finding Method that the user interacted with, regardless of whether that Finding Method led directly or indirectly to a product. To do this, you would work with your developers to identify all of your Product Finding Methods and determine when each should be passed to the Product Finding Methods eVar. For example, the “Internal Search” product finding method would always be set on the search results page.
However, before we go any further, we need to talk about Product Merchandising. If you are not familiar with the Product Merchandising feature of Adobe Analytics, I suggest that you read my post on that now. So why can we not use a traditional eVar to capture the Product Finding Method? The following example will illustrate why. Imagine that Joe visits our site and clicks on a home page promotional campaign and you have your developer set the Product Finding Methods eVar with a value of “Internal Campaign.” Then Joe finds a great product and adds it to the shopping cart. Next Joe does a search on our site, so you have your developer set the Product Finding Methods eVar with a value of “Internal Search.” Joe proceeds to add another product to the shopping cart and then checks out and purchases both products. In this scenario, which Product Finding Method will get credit for each product? If you said “Internal Search” you would be correct because it was the “most recent” value prior to the Purchase Success Event firing. Unfortunately, that is not correct. In this scenario, product #1 should have “Internal Campaign” as its finding method and product #2 should have “Internal Search” as the finding method. Because we need each product to have its own eVar value, we need to use the Product Merchandising feature, which allows us to do that.
For Product Finding Methods, it is common to use the “Conversion Syntax” methodology of Product Merchandising since we often don’t know when the visitor will ultimately get to a product or which product it will be. By using the “Conversion Syntax” method, we can simply set the value when the Product Finding Method occurs and have it persist until the visitor engages in some action that tells us which product they are interested in (the “binding” Success Events). Normally, I recommend that you “bind” (or associate the Product Finding Method with the product) when visitors view the Product Detail Page, perform a Cart Addition, engage with a Product Quick View or other similar product-related actions. These can be configured in the Administration Console as needed.
Once you have navigated the murky waters of Product Merchandising, set-up your Product Finding Methods eVar and worked with your developers to pass the values to the eVar, you will see a report that looks something like this:
From this report, you can then use breakdowns to breakdown each Product Finding Method by Product ID:
If you have SAINT Classifications setup for your Products Variable, you can see the same reports for things like Product Category, Product Name, Product Type, etc… All of these reports are bi-directional, so if you wanted to see the most popular Product Finding Methods for a specific product, all you would do is open the Products report and then break it down by the Product Finding Method eVar.
What About Deep-Links?
So what if you don’t sell products on your website? Does that mean you cannot use Product Finding Methods? Of course not! Even if you don’t sell stuff, there are likely uses for the above implementation. For example, if you manage a research site, you probably have visitors looking for content. In that case, your content is your product and you may be storing your content ID’s in the Products variable. This means that you can capture the different methods that your visitors use to find your content and assign each Content ID with the correct Product Finding Method.
If you manage a B2B website, you have product pages, but you may not sell the actual product online. In this case, the implementation for eCommerce will work the same way, but instead of Orders and Revenue, you may make the final Success Event Leads Completed. You can also see how visitors find your product videos, pricing sheets, etc…
Similar approaches can be employed for non-profit sites, government sites and so on. If you work with a non-eCommerce site, you may just have to think a bit more creatively about what your finding methods might be, what your “products” are and which binding events make sense. As long as you understand the general concept: Figuring out how visitors make their way to the stuff you care about, you will be able to find a way to use Product Finding Methods in your implementation.
If you have questions or other approaches related to this topic, feel free to leave a comment here or ping me at @adamgreco. Thanks!