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Helping Visitors Help Themselves

  • July 01 2004, 1:00am EDT

REVIEWER: Ted Kelley, applications manager, eBusiness Group, Cabot Corporation.

BACKGROUND: Cabot Corporation is a $1.5 billion global specialty chemicals company, with more than 4,000 employees and 39 manufacturing locations worldwide.

PLATFORMS: Microsoft Windows, Sun Solaris.

PROBLEM SOLVED: Cabot needed to help users find information on its Web site more easily. However, because visitors range from customers and distributors to prospects, they have widely divergent needs. Moreover, Cabot's Web site content mirrors this complexity: it describes 400+ products in 12 product families, with hundreds of applications across dozens of markets. To solve this challenge, Cabot built a Web site to serve all its constituents, using the next-generation search and navigation technology from Endeca.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: Endeca ProFind, an innovative enterprise search and navigation engine that wraps relevant search results in a browse context - showing people precisely how to refine and explore content - is built dynamically from existing content. This greatly simplifies how content is organized on our Web site. It also eliminates much of the trial and error commonly associated with searching and helps users to quickly hone in on exactly what they need. For example, a search for one of Cabot's largest products, Carbon Black, yields 1,046 results - more than 100 pages. The results include product news, technical and white papers, data sheets, sales contacts, FAQs, and even job openings and company press releases. Rather than requiring visitors to add keywords or scroll through all 1,046 results, the visitor is presented with refinement options to help add context to their exploration. A visitor seeking specific product literature can now hone results from more than 1,000 to less than 50 with a single click of the mouse. Quite simply, users are now finding more of what they're looking for. At Cabot, product datasheet downloads increased by 17%, technical information downloads increased by 48% and material safety data sheet downloads increased by 87%. Cabot has also realized significant labor savings. First, Cabot experienced a 21% reduction in inquiries fielded by phone, e-mail and traditional channels. Second, we realized thousands of dollars in savings in site design because we can now generate navigation dynamically, leveraging our existing content management process. New visitor registrations also shot up by 30%, and average duration of individual visits increased by 47%.

STRENGTHS: ProFind integrates search and browsing into one experience, helping users more successfully find information. And because site navigation is now generated dynamically from existing content, it reduces the need for laborious taxonomy management and hand-built site redesigns as content evolves. ProFind also increases user success without training. Additionally, ProFind integrates data from multiple silos of structured and unstructured content, regardless of source and file format.

WEAKNESSES: Because ProFind queries against an index of content it pulls from many different data repositories, the user is not able to access transactional data in real time. Endeca now offsets this gap by offering rapid updates to the index - ensuring near real-time interaction.

SELECTION CRITERIA: Cabot discovered that Endeca's solution offered something truly unique: not just a great search engine, but also the ability to power all site navigation on the same platform. The deciding factor was the ability to go beyond just search and also integrate it with global navigation, while also reducing site design and management expenses for that navigation.

DELIVERABLES: Cabot has significantly increased the success of its customer-facing ProFind site as a low-cost sales channel and informational resource. Today, visitors are more likely to succeed with the Cabot site as their first-point contact, increasing information downloads and reducing labor costs associated with fulfilling information through other channels. Cabot has also reduced site maintenance and content management expenses.

VENDOR SUPPORT: Endeca and integration partner, MindsEye, worked closely with Cabot to ensure complete satisfaction with the product and its application on the Cabot site. Since launching the site, Endeca has continued to help optimize Cabot's search and navigation solution. Cabot recently upgraded the version of ProFind to take advantage of new features and functionality.

DOCUMENTATION: Endeca actually offers its own self-service technology for its documentation browser. On Endeca's support site, Cabot can easily search and browse hundreds of pages of ProFind documentation to quickly locate specific answers.

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