While digital agencies provide ever more sophisticated search engines, only a few companies have been able to maximise the online journey experience for their customers and, in the process, convert search into sales. The secret could lie in the little-known concept of "scent optimisation".

This is the view of Peter Stewart, MD of South African search and conversion agency Clickthinking, who explains: "There are many number of companies selling search as part of their greater media offering but very few of these pay attention to generating the maximum volume of prospects for the least spend.
“It is not sufficient to simply build rich media interfaces and applications that support traditional media. Once the investment has been made in getting the prospect to the web site, the site must actually deliver on what the advertising messages promise. Sophisticated search management and site performance need to work hand in hand,” he says.
Scent optimisation, he says, refers to the method used to trace exactly how consumers go about looking for information online – much in the same way as animals follow scent and visual cues to find food.
"This advanced user experiential tracking and testing system uses heat maps, click paths, online customer videos and sophisticated form analysis to accelerate site visitors from initial search through to final action. The result has been return on investment in excess of 1 500% on marketing spend for a number of our clients,” says Stewart.
Clickthinking was recently acquired by global media communications and market research group Aegis. It will become part of iProspect, the group’s search engine marketing firm, which already has a presence in the world’s top 40 digital economies.