National Semiconductor is the quintessential b2b company, manufacturing and selling power management circuits, audio amplifiers and other semiconductor products to a broad electronics market that includes medical, automotive and industrial companies.
The Santa Clara, Calif.-based company has spent most of its Web analytics effort recently in search optimization, using keyword searches to refine the choice of landing pages to which visitors are directed. According to Phil Gibson, VP-technical sales, “We're trying to customize landing pages based on search queries to get visitors to a decision point right away.”
Gibson considered more sophisticated, and expensive, solutions, including those from the biggest Web analytics firms. Ultimately—despite being a $2 billion global company with 65,000 customers—National chose Google Analytics, which is free. So far, the application appears to be more than up to the task.
For top-level general numbers, Gibson is able to peek daily at traffic volume and heavily visited pages. But he's also able to analyze search results, managing and optimizing the most frequently queried terms that customers search for with Google.
Gibson's concentration on search optimization mirrors a change in Internet users' habits, he said. A few years ago, some 80% of visitors to National's Web site came from their own browser bookmarks; today, visitors are just as likely to type a keyword in a search engine—phrases such as “high performance LED driver,” for example, or “low voltage comparator” and similar industry-specific terms.
Gibson wants to make sure these queries result in the most appropriate National Semiconductor Web site landing pages, displayed high in Google's results list. Landing pages, in turn, are constantly tweaked to mirror the top keyword queries.
Gibson also looks at the queries sought by National's chief accounts to make sure these also are pointed to the most productive landing pages, and that automatic cross-promotions based on keywords point to complementary product lines.
“We make sure that when people query, the answer that comes back is the highest-margin product we have for that search term and the best opportunity we want to position for that particular customer,” Gibson said.
An important goal for National is to satisfy search queries that prompt requests for simulated product designs, a tool the company calls Webench. National scores some 1,200 Webench design requests a day; producing more is a powerful conversion indicator.
The payoff has been subtle but pervasive, Gibson said. In leveraging Google as his customers' acknowledged primary navigation tool, he is helping make sure both organic (free) and paid search terms always drill back to an appropriate landing page. Further, in understanding and fine-tuning keyword content, National makes sure the phrases themselves appear in the appropriate online marketing documentation and data sheets, to further reinforce accurate customer searches. This is so whether the search query produces a paid keyword result or an organic one.
“A user just wants to find the most appropriate result,” Gibson said. “And when a paid keyword appears as well in the top organic search results, there's a 72% chance that someone will select that first item and go with it to the site.”
The ROI of this process seems self-evident to the company, and doesn't require extensive justification, he said.
“Search engine analytics is the most impactful thing I'm aware of in improving the customer experience on my Web site, leading to more positive survey interactions,” Gibson said. “But also, there's a big cost in lost opportunities if you don't do these things.” M