Search has changed the way our customers do business, and we are on a mission to communicate the value of it. “On the Search” is a new series to help uncover the good, bad, and ugly of what many companies face with search today–and how Swiftype can help.
On the Search: Travis Clark, EO Media Group
Travis Clark was in a search bind.
As the digital development manager for EO Media Group, Clark needed to improve their search results—and fast. With only three weeks before launching a new ad marketplace platform, he was on the brink.
Here, he discusses the challenges and ultimate success of moving from a “black hole” to new business and revenue opportunities. And it’s all thanks to a transformation through search.
What kind of challenges with search did you face?
We are a small publishing company with 11 newspapers throughout the Pacific Northwest. We built some things with newspaper vendors and used WordPress, but the search for both was awful. Plugins didn’t work very well for us either.
I worked on building a new ad marketplace that is now running on the Capital Press site. We were looking to hit hundreds of thousands of searchable bits of content, and nothing we tried could handle that for us. It was very frustrating.
As a small team, we couldn’t say, “Okay, let’s throw a bunch of money at a developer to build something from scratch.” I wasn’t sure what we were going to do. Then Swiftype was recommended to us to check out.
What was your “must-have” for search in your new ad marketplaces?
Speed was definitely key. When we found Swiftype, we were able to implement it in just a couple weeks and right before our launch. And it had all the power we had been looking for.
It was also a priority to finally be able to do facet searches. The faceting part is super important because we really need to be able to drill down through the content. Now that we have Swiftype we can’t live without the results ranking. We literally need that to do our business.
What has been most surprising with your new deployment?
Before we pretty much had a black hole. We could track users, page views, and all the normal Google analytics. But we didn’t have any idea what people were actually searching for.
Case in point is our Capital Press site, which is an agriculture publication. We thought we knew the customers for it, but this changed once we started receiving the metrics on search queries from Swiftype.
There are parts of our audience we never knew existed. Now we can take these metrics to new advertisers who wouldn’t think we are a fit for them. Or, on the flipside, go back to old customers with new pitches and the numbers to back it up. We’re so happy with what we have now.
What new things did you find readers searching?
A couple surprising search terms were “Christmas trees” and “livestock.”
Christmas trees as a term starts popping up in the summer and tapers off after Christmas obviously. We didn’t know anyone was looking to our agriculture publication to buy and price the market online.
Our print publication had always sold to the livestock business. But there are also a lot of searches on livestock online, which we didn’t realize. This is a great example of a wide, open market because most of our advertisers for the digital site are not in that industry. We can now outreach to those businesses in our region and show them a market they haven’t hit yet.
What kind of success have you seen since launching the improved search with Swiftype?
Most telling is that ad revenue has increased 145% since implementing Swiftype. We’ve also seen some really incredible results with an increase in users (43%), sessions (17%) and new (46%) and returning (31%) users. This tells me that the new platform is attracting more people and more often.
The ability to refine the platform and begin seeing classified advertising more like a retail business has been very exciting. We believe powerful search has streamlined our user experience.
We have some really great stories from our customers, too. One has a tractor rental business and, after three months, he had to pull his listings because the booking was so far out. He switched it to used parts he sells and had to pull that because he got low on inventory. It’s pretty amazing.