Elicit Secures $1.5M to Fund Its On-Site Search Effectiveness Tool

Searching a site using its own on-site tools can often be a frustrating experience, and in fact, people will often opt to go to Google and search for their query plus whatever domain name they want to crawl as a workaround for sub-par built-in search. Chicago-based startup elicit wants to help make on-site search more of a conversion opportunity for companies, rather than a barely-works feature that ends up driving people away, and today it’s announcing a $1.5 million round to help it achieve that goal, raised from GreyCroft Partners, First Round Capital, ff Ventures and Michael Lazerow’s L3 investment fund.

Soft-launched in April of this year, elicit is the brainchild of founders and brothers Adam and Eric Heneghan. The brothers have worked for a long time in online marketing and sales, and noticed that more often than not, businesses were missing out on a glaring opportunity to get valuable data from customers and also to target content to their needs.

“We’ve been seeing on sites that people primarily are not going to navigation at all on websites, they go immediately to search boxes,” Eric Heneghan told us in an interview. “Everyone thinks, ‘Well search is covered, it’s an algorithm, Google has it covered and whoever else.’ It pretty much lives in IT [departments], and the marketing people aren’t paying any attention to it.”

Using elicit, which isn’t designed to replace Google Site Search, Baynote and other on-site search tools necessarily, but to integrate with and augment them, companies can not only track and analyze how visitors to their sites are using their search boxes, but also help tailor what content gets served in what circumstances. If a company notes that users are frequently searching for a specific term and not finding what they’re looking for, for instance, it could drag-and-drop preferred results in the order of its choosing instead. It’s about creating conversion opportunities and adding marketing value to a tool that’s been largely ignored, according to Eric.

Eric wouldn’t reveal too much about the mechanics of how elicit’s system works on the backend, since he noted that there’s some strong competition in the space in the form of Swiftype, which launched earlier this month. Still, he says elicit has already been in use by some big-name companies including Motorola, and the funding will build out the startup’s sales and marketing team to expand its customer pool and raise awareness.

Elicit operates on a subscription basis, as a software-as-a-service offering that Eric said is very easy to get set up with (clients need only include a short snippet of JavaScript to take advantage of its most basic offering). It looks like it’ll be something that brands are interested in pursuing, since it offers the prospect of extending the sales and conversion opportunities available to anyone selling products and services.

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