Website visitors who use site search to find what they’re looking for represent a golden opportunity for digital marketers—no other type of activity directly tells you as much about a visitor’s interests. To capitalize on the power of personalized search, marketers need an enterprise-class site search solution that’s designed for business people to use. Be wary of solutions that are limited to just improving site search with no way to perform merchandising or promotions. Most marketers will also want to steer clear of offerings that require extensive on-premises deployments and IT involvement.

Here are five characteristics to look for in an enterprise-class site search and merchandising solution:

1. Rapid and reliable implementation. It’s much easier to implement a cloud solution than an on-premises solution, because there’s no need to purchase and maintain hardware. Cloud-based site search solutions offer faster setup and a simplified learning curve, so you won’t get mired in an IT project. Regular feature releases and upgrades are accomplished behind-the-scenes with no IT involvement, increasing reliability. When evaluating cloud solutions, however, be sure to select one that offers enterprise-class security and reliability.

2. Simple, cost-effective scalability. Cloud solutions are also easier to scale, and usually offer higher availability than an on-premises deployment (unless expensive clustering solutions are involved in the latter, which quickly drive up costs). Keep in mind that your content and indexing needs will grow—with a cloud-based solution, you can simply increase your desired capacity, instead of deploying new hardware. Distributed organizations with multiple offices and global customers should seriously consider a cloud solution to avoid latency issues and keep CAPEX and OPEX costs under control.

3. A single, straightforward interface. Having a single interface for business users and administrators simplifies both use and management. A built-in staging environment is also handy, allowing digital marketers to easily test and preview optimization changes without requiring additional setup and IT resources. Look for built-in features such as search-as-you-type functionality; they’re not offered as standard in all solutions.

4. Superior marketer control. Marketers need the ability to activate and suspend business rules, adjust rule weights and ranking relevance, and apply results-based triggers. They need to be able to modify banner messages and images based on search results. Many site search products offer only limited marketer control, effectively tying your hands and keeping you from getting the most revenue from site searches.

5. Integration with other cloud-based marketing tools. In previous blogs, we’ve emphasized that “optimization doesn’t happen in isolation.” Site search solutions that integrate with other data sources (Facebook likes, page views, profile information) and analytics engines allow deeper insight into user behavior and segments. With some site search products, integration requires additional development and cost, and even then functionality can be limited. The site search/merchandising capability within Adobe Target integrates with the rest of Adobe Marketing Cloud, giving marketers full access to website metrics to optimize rules and increase relevancy in search results. Increased relevance and personalization leads to higher conversions, the name of the game.

No other site search/merchandising solution is able to address all five of these requirements the way Adobe Target can. We’ve taken into consideration these best practices to develop a truly enterprise-class, cloud-based site search and optimization tool that integrates with many of our other products to give marketers what they need to drive the most revenue from site search.