Guest Author: Rachel Schultz, Content Marketing Manager at Coveo

Personalization is everywhere - and for good reason.

Three out of four consumers expect personalized content when they come to your site. In a separate study, consumers rewarded those that do personalize, with 40 percent reporting they buy more.

But many organizations are still behind in implementing personalization, particularly where website visitors need it most: site search. Site search users are convert at a higher rate - if the experience meets their needs. With the rise in mobile devices, the internet is accessible everywhere. When your customers are on the go and needing answers fast or they have already researched and have a specific question, they are using search.

The problem is that marketing and IT leaders still hold on to outdated beliefs about search, viewing it as a commodity rather than a crucial piece of how you can meet your users' expectations for personalization and increase conversion rates.

Take this real-life scenario: you are having a problem connecting your speakers to your new 4K TV. You walk into the store and go over to the 4K display and start explaining your issue to an employee. You finally get to your question if your speakers are not compatible, and suddenly the associate starts telling you about the speaker, other TVs, and other connectivity issues, essentially forgetting about the entire previous conversation. Frustrating, right? This is what happens online when you don't personalize the search results to users' contexts.

2017 Sitecore MVP Simon Langevin will explain how to personalize search results to context during a webinar, "Extending your xDB Personalization with Site Search," on August 17 at the Global Sitecore Virtual Summit. Register today.

Myth #1 Personalization is still a nice-to-have - without an impact on sales.

What could you do with a 19 percent increase in sales? That's how much retailers stand to gain when they start personalizing content. Even if you are in the B2B world, personalizing content to users' needs can help speed up the buying cycle and more closely align your prospects' journeys with your targeted messaging online.

Myth #2 You don't need to invest in search when you have invested in great UX design.

Today's websites need both; users with a purpose in mind will go to your search box while other users will be content to explore your content. Many website visitors won't take the time to explore, however, and they will want an optimized experience.

Myth #3 Improving the search experience won't affect conversion rates.

Imagine going to a store with the intent to buy something specific. Do you wander the aisles perusing at other items until you half-heartedly get to it? No, you do your best to find the item immediately. The same thing happens online; determined buyers are going to use the search box to get to what they need.

Myth #4 Content is content. Your search results shouldn't be affected by users' contexts.

Context always matters in digital experiences. Location, previous pages visited, preferences, device - these are data points that help to whittle down the top results shown to the exact right answer. Think of calling a contact center for assistance. The contact center rep begins by asking a series of questions about your name, product, and then finally, the issue you're experiencing. They don't jump right into asking about the issue because the context matters - and it matters for your digital experiences as well. Consider how frustrating it would be if you searched "restaurant ideas" in your search engine and the results were not based on location. You type "issues with USB dongle for keyboard" and the results brought up every page on keyboards, without paying attention to the page on your keyboard that you just visited. This is frustrating and it's poor user experience.

Myth #5 It's OK to personalize landing pages, emails and ads, but provide generic messaging on the website.

With the advent of account-based marketing, it's become clear that the company that understands their users' pain points is the one who converts more customers. With the explosion in content over the last decade, it's hard to stand out online among your competitors. Many have turned to precisely targeted messaging and personalization on initiatives to acquire more customers, from retargeting ads to dynamic landing pages.

It's not enough. It's disorienting for users to go from a personalized experience in a few channels to a completely generic experience when they start to research on their own on your website.

Myth #6 Manually tuning search results is too time-consuming and resource-intensive.

This one is actually true - but this isn't the only option that you have. Industry-leading products provide automatic tuning for relevance, applying machine learning to usage data to truly understand what users need, and delivering the most relevant content.

Myth #7 Search is only for websites.

Relevant and personalized interactions drive business today. With so much content and so many competitors vying for the top spot in consumers' eyes, the brand that can deliver relevance is the one that will win their loyalty. From digital assistants to online self-service communities, search technology will have a major impact on the intelligent workplaces of the future and the best-in-class digital customer experience enterprises need to create.

With Sitecore, you've already invested in personalization, but you may need some help extending that personalization into your site search. 2017 Sitecore MVP Simon Langevin will explain how to do just that in a webinar, "Extending your xDB Personalization with Site Search," on August 17 at the Global Sitecore Virtual Summit.

This guest blog was authored by Rachel Schultz, Content Marketing Manager at Coveo. Coveo is a provider of intelligent and predictive search technologies, with integrated plug-ins for, Sitecore, Google Apps for Work, Atlassian, JIRA, Office 365, YouTube, Lithium, Jive, Dropbox, and more. CapTech and Coveo partner to provide industry leading search capabilities with clients, most notably with Sitecore implementations. CapTech integrated Coveo's platform with the Virginia Department of Alcohol Beverage Control, which was recently featured in our latest whitepaper.