The guy on the phone was obviously very cross: “I’ve been trying to search your website for nearly an hour now. I’m looking for Chanel, and every time I search, it just tells me you don’t have any Chanel! Just what exactly is the problem?!” Well, you guessed: we didn’t sell Chanel, we never had and we never would.
What to do with website searchers when you just don’t have what they’re looking for, has been one of those problems that’s bugged me for years. If someone’s searching my beady site for 7mm orange beads, they obviously have a very specific requirement, and telling them sorry, would you like these 4mm pink beads instead isn’t going to help much. Then inspiration struck: if eBay were sending their zero-result searches off-site, then I could do the same thing in reverse. I’d send my customers back to eBay.
In case you don’t already know about the eBay affiliate program, in brief, it allows you to earn money by sending buyers from your website to eBay. They provide lots of handy tools to generate traffic, from banners like you sometimes see on the bottom of TameBay pages, to RSS feeds and search engine marketing tools.
I used eBay’s Editor Kit to pull in eBay listings in a table styled to match my website. The code you need to add is generated for you, and is easy to tweak: I’ve limited my searches to beady categories where there’s a better chance of my customers finding something they want – I found doing that was more likely to exclude get-rich-quick ebooks too.
Once you have the frame looking like you want it with the Editor Kit, paste it into your website. The only change you then need to make is to have the Editor Kit code reflect the search your customer has actually made. The “&query=” value in the EK code just needs to be edited to the variable representing the search string your customer’s entered.
And has it worked? I’ve had this feature for three months, and yes, I’m seeing a reasonable return on it. Not a fortune, because bead purchases tend to be lower value – but enough to make it worth doing. And anyway, if people are going to buy from my competition, the only thing that can make that palatable is me getting a cut of the sale 🙂 You can try it out for yourself at allyoubead.com.