Amazon has come a long way from its humble beginnings as an online bookseller. Since its launch in 1994, Amazon has grown to become an ecommerce behemoth. These days, it’s one of the first places shoppers turn to buy anything from cleaning products to the latest tech gadgets.
This success took years to achieve and is due in part to Amazon’s strategic approach to growth. Although Amazon has now expanded into other avenues like streaming and food delivery services, any ecommerce business, regardless of where they start, can learn from Amazon’s example to grow their business and attract and retain more customers.
Here are six lessons that are at the center of why Amazon is so successful. Use them to make your ecommerce business more popular and profitable.
1. Highlight what other customers love
Long-term growth requires a customer-focused approach. When every aspect of the business prioritizes and anticipates the customer’s needs, your company is set to increase customer satisfaction and retention.
One way Amazon meets the needs of its customers is by tapping into the power of social proof through reviews and recommended products. On each product page, Amazon includes a section of recommended products based on what other customers who viewed that product have also viewed.
Amazon gives its consumers the evidence and options they need in order to make a purchasing decision. Providing users with a “customers also bought/viewed” section taps into the consumer’s fear of missing out on the best or trendiest options. These sections also work to keep Amazon users engaged and continuously browsing.
Providing social proof pays off for brands. According to a Brightlocal consumer survey, 79% of people trust online reviews as much as word of mouth. Moreover, 94% said they are more likely to purchase from a business with positive reviews, and 92% said they are less likely to purchase from those with negative reviews.
What you can do
We live in an age where people share their experiences online, and reviews hold more weight than brand marketing.
Use this audience preference to your advantage by focusing on ways to make your customers happy. If you do a good job, your customers are more likely to share their experiences, which will help grow your customer base and increase your revenue — by lowering customer acquisition cost (CAC) and potentially boosting lifetime value (LTV).
2. Incorporate data analysis into your decision making
Amazon prides itself on its commitment to innovation and testing. They test every aspect of their business — from pricing to product selection — so decisions are based on customer needs and not what Amazon thinks customers might want.
As Bezos puts it, “Our customers are loyal to us right up until the second somebody offers them a better service. And I love that. It’s super-motivating for us.”
In part, it’s this constant threat of customers switching to the competition that drives Amazon’s innovation. Even though it’s the largest ecommerce retailer, with a worldwide revenue of $469.82 billion, Amazon is constantly in competition with other businesses.
When it comes to features, Alexa on Amazon Echo was one of the first versions of voice-controlled tech. Amazon has gone further with its smart speaker tech to release the Amazon Echo Dot, a smaller, more affordable version, as well as the Echo Show to further cater to customers’ need to be connected.
What you can do
Be strategic about testing your products regularly and coming up with new ideas to meet evolving customer needs. For example, run A/B tests by selling limited edition products to test customer interest, send customer surveys, or use a Net Promoter Score (NPS) survey to find who your promoters are and how many, so you can cater to their specific needs. Combine these efforts so it’s easier to make decisions and create innovative products, features and services based on data.
3. Get to know your customers
Amazon is constantly tracking and learning about its customers. As customers search and add products to their cart, Amazon uses this behavioral data to make product recommendations. The online marketplace shows customers products related to items they’ve recently browsed and based on their search habits:
At the bottom of the homepage, customers can also see more recommendations based on recent purchases and a history of products they’ve recently viewed. All of this information guides customers to buy more.
This personalization pays off. According to Evergage research, 78% of marketing professionals believe that personalization has a strong or extremely strong impact on advancing the customer relationship. Moreover, 92% say that customers or prospects expect a personalized experience. Whether it’s through email, website, or in person, successful marketers use data to provide better customer experiences and increase loyalty.
What you can do
Personalize your customer’s shopping experience based on their past behavior, location, and interest list of the customer’s recently searched items at the bottom of your product pages. This makes it easy for them to find the items and add them to their cart.
On your homepage, list products customers might be interested in based on what they’ve purchased or browsed in the past. If you let customers set up accounts on your store, consider setting up a past orders menu option. This feature makes it quick and easy for customers to find what they need and buy it again.
4. Build a community of trust through reviews and Q&As
When it comes to purchase decision-making, people often look to one another for guidance. Online reviews and question-and-answer sections can help increase trust and purchases. Research shows the most important aspect of a customer’s purchasing decision is high ratings and reviews. Consumers even prefer positive product feedback over discounts, coupons, or loyalty program offers.
Amazon taps into this trait of human nature by offering user reviews and a question-and-answer section. Through these features, the online marketplace builds a community where consumers can educate each other and move along the customer journey.
Amazon proactively asks recent customers to rate and review their experience. This feedback appears on the product page with a “verified purchase” flag, which adds to the trustworthiness of the review.
Amazon also offers a customer question-and-answer section at the bottom of its product pages to give shoppers the option to ask specific questions before they buy something. Past customers provide answers:
Both of these options make it possible for shoppers to rely on other customers for information and not solely on Amazon. Shoppers can read about honest experiences from other customers and base their purchasing decisions on feedback from those with similar needs.
What you can do
Send follow-up emails to customers to request a review of your product. You can also post requests for reviews in each customer’s personal dashboard, so when they log in, they’re reminded to submit a review directly on your site. Like Amazon, you should flag reviews to make it clear they’re submitted by people who actually bought the products they’re reviewing.
5. Build a loyalty program to incentivize customers
Amazon launched their loyalty program, Amazon Prime, in 2005 as a membership service that offered two-day free shipping and other benefits, like no minimum purchases or consolidating orders. In 2015, the service gained even more attention when Amazon Prime Day was launched. For one day only, Amazon Prime members have access to deep discounts and exclusive offers.
Prime has evolved since then to also include exclusive offers at Whole Foods grocery stores, access to their streaming platform and music service, and much more. As of 2021, Prime Day continues to be extremely popular with its members, bringing in $11.19 billion in global sales.
Prime isn’t a loyalty program where customers automatically qualify — they have to pay an annual fee to join. But for many consumers, this fee is worthwhile as long as the program offers decent benefits. According to ClarusCommerce, over 70% of customers are even willing to pay a premium to join a loyalty program.
Shoppers are willing to pay for a Prime membership to gain access to all the benefits—special discounts, free shipping, entertainment, and more. The program taps into customers’ classic desires of saving money, fast deliveries, and easy returns.
What you can do
Create a program that offers incentives that get customers to come back to the store regularly and take advantage of special offers. For example, include access to free shipping, limited-time discounts, and other membership perks.
You can also personalize your membership benefits by offering timely gifts. Studies show that, in addition to saving money, 79% of customers want loyalty programs that care about them. Offer customers special rewards and bonuses during important occasions — like a membership anniversary or birthday — to show customers your brand values them.
6. Think of new ways to evolve
Amazon continues to grow as a result of its dedication to trying new things. If you maintain a mindset focused on evolution, you can foster more opportunities for growth. Amazon continues to grow as a result of its dedication to research and development, from scientific discoveries to improving its inventory planning system to developing the Amazon Fire Stick. The marketplace’s commitment to innovation keeps their business running smoothly and continuously growing.
In the U.S., Amazon has made returns as simple as bringing your items (sometimes even unboxed) to locations like UPS, Whole Foods, or Kohls. They’ve partnered with these companies and introduced a QR code each place can scan to process your returns.
Amazon’s focus on producing new ways to make the customer experience simple, seamless and entertaining keeps their shoppers engaged. Whether it’s by introducing new TV and movie programming as part of Prime membership or access to new audio content, Amazon is always looking for new opportunities to capture its audience.
What you can do
To innovate, look at what your competitors offer and find gaps you can fill. Listen to what customers are saying on social media, and ask your customer support representatives to log insights they get when customers call in.
Use any avenue where customers share information as an opportunity to learn from them and improve your business and product offerings.
Leveraging examples of what makes Amazon so successful
Since launching in 1994, Amazon has experimented and learned lessons to become the ecommerce giant it is today. Follow in the marketplace’s footsteps by tackling your growth strategically. Start with small changes, test and adjust. Pay attention to your customers and the changing landscape of ecommerce. Be persistent and dedicated with your innovation. If you have patience with the process, over time, you’ll see results.
But equity rounds aren’t the only way for a company to raise money — alternative and other non-dilutive financing options are often overlooked. Taking on debt might be the right solution when you’re focused on growth and can see clear ROI from the capital you deploy.
Not all capital providers are equal, so seeking financing isn’t just about securing capital. It’s a matter of finding the right source of funding that matches both your business and your roadmap.
Here are four things you should consider:
Does this match my needs?
It’s easy to take for granted, but securing financing begins with a business plan. Don’t seek funding until you have a clear plan for how you’ll use it. For example, do you need capital to fund growth or for your day-to-day operations? The answer should influence not only the amount of capital you seek, but the type of funding partner you look for as well.
Start with a concrete plan and make sure it aligns with the structure of your financing:
Match repayment terms to your expected use of the debt.
Balance working capital needs with growth capital needs.
It’s understandable to hope for a one-and-done financing process that sets the next round far down the line, but that may be costlier than you realize in the long run.
Your term of repayment must be long enough so you can deploy the capital and see the returns. If it’s not, you may end up making loan payments with the principal.
Say, for example, you secure funding to enter a new market. You plan to expand your sales team to support the move and develop the cash flow necessary to pay back the loan. The problem here is, the new hire will take months to ramp up.
If there’s not enough delta between when you start ramping up and when you begin repayments, you’ll be paying back the loan before your new salesperson can bring in revenue to allow you to see ROI on the amount you borrowed.
Another issue to keep in mind: If you’re financing operations instead of growth, working capital requirements may reduce the amount you can deploy.
Let’s say you finance your ad spending and plan to deploy $200,000 over the next four months. But payments on the MCA loan you secured to fund that spending will eat into your revenue, and the loan will be further limited by a minimum cash covenant of $100,000. The result? You secured $200,000 in financing but can only deploy half of it.
With $100,000 of your financing kept in a cash account, only half the loan will be used to drive operations, which means you’re not likely to meet your growth target. What’s worse, as you’re only able to deploy half of the loan, your cost of capital is effectively double what you’d planned for.
Is this the right amount for me at this time?
The second consideration is balancing how much capital you need to act on your near-term goals against what you can reasonably expect to secure. If the funding amount you can get is not enough to move the needle, it might not be worth the effort required.
Elon Musk said Sunday he “somewhat agonized” over the font designs for his companies Tesla and SpaceX.
The billionaire businessman added he “loves fonts” and has tweaked the logos over the years.
He revealed the SpaceX logo also holds a hidden meaning, representing a rocket’s arc to orbit.
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In a series of Sunday tweets, Elon Musk said he “somewhat agonized” over his choice of fonts for his businesses and revealed a hidden meaning behind the SpaceX logo.
Responding to a tweet about serif and sans-serif fonts, the billionaire businessman took a break from posting cryptic memes and discussing politics to say he loves fonts and put significant consideration into how his companies are presented to consumers.
“I somewhat agonized over the Tesla & SpaceX font design (love fonts tbh),” Musk tweeted. “There are some similarities, particularly use of negative space. We’ve made many little tweaks over the years.”
The Tesla logo — a T-shaped design with a custom, sans-serif font spelling out the brand name — is meant to resemble a cross-section of an electric motor. The SpaceX logo, written in a similar font with an extended X, references the reusable rockets made by the company.
“The swoop of the X is meant to represent the rocket’s arc to orbit,” Musk tweeted.
Other business logos have also held hidden messages: Baskin Robbins, a chain that sells 31 flavors of ice cream, has a secret ’31’ hidden in the letters of its logo. Likewise, Amazon’s arrow logo is meant to represent a smile, while the circular ‘B’ logo for Beats by Dre represents a person wearing the popular headphones.
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The internet has revolutionized the business world and changed how we conduct business. Any business that aims to increase its visibility and boost profit needs to pay much attention to top ranking factors, including local SEO — which introduces the topic of the local search algorithm.
Local SEO is one of the top practices that help boost a business’s visibility and generates more sales.
However, achieving better local SEO rankings is not a walk in the park, especially due to increased competition. To appear higher on local results, businesses and marketers need to understand how the local search algorithm works.
Knowing this helps guide the steps for improving rankings in the local pack.
The competition gets stiffer as more businesses open and optimize for local searching. Besides, Google is updating its algorithm consistently, meaning only businesses that can keep up with these updates can appear at the top of local search results.
Luckily, you have come to this post as this article looks at everything you need to know about Google’s local search algorithm and what you can do to get that top spot in the local pack.
Understanding the local search algorithm
Google aims to provide the best results that match a specific local search query. It constantly updates the local search algorithm to determine which business to rank on top of local search results.
Ideally, Google wants to provide local content that is relevant and valuable to users. As with search engine optimization, keyword stuffing cannot give you that top spot in local search results.
SEO specialists and marketers should consider Google’s local search algorithm updates and make the necessary changes to rank higher. Failure to consider these updates means losing your local search presence, resulting in fewer leads and conversions.
Local algorithms check the Google My Business (GMB) listings to determine where to rank a business in local search rankings.
Ideally, Google’s local algorithm ranks businesses with information that matches a searcher’s query. And the higher a business ranks in local search results, the more chances a potential customer will click on it.
This post looks at the three major pillars that determine local search results to better understand the local search algorithm: proximity, prominence and relevance.
Of course, other factors make up Google’s local search algorithm, but since we cannot identify all of them, we’ll focus on the most crucial ones in this post.
By understanding these pillars, marketers can better position themselves for local search success.
Proximity is one of the major ranking factors when it comes to local search. That means the distance between a business and a searcher is a ranking factor in local search.
When a searcher searches for something, Google considers how far the searcher is from the location of the term they use in the search. When a searcher doesn’t specify the location, Google calculates the distance based on the information they have regarding their location.
Ideally, Google aims to provide the most relevant results to a search query. For instance, why would Google provide a list of coffee shops in Los Angeles if the searcher is searching from Colombia?
That would be irrelevant local search results that won’t benefit the searcher.
Unfortunately, while proximity is a major local search pillar, it’s one of the factors that businesses have little control over. After all, you cannot change where your business is located, right?
You can only ensure your business location is as clear as possible, so that it appears for related nearby queries. Here are steps you can take to achieve this:
Claim and verify the Google My Business listing
Ensure local listings are accurate and optimized for local products or services
Get the Google Maps API Key and optimize for your location and routes
Set up your profile correctly (for Service Area Businesses) to avoid violating Google’s guidelines
Users can perform several types of local searches, including:
Users will perform geo-modified searches when they are planning to visit somewhere. For instance, a searcher in Los Angeles planning to visit Toronto, Canada, may search for a “coffee shop in Oakville.” The results will differ from if they searched for “coffee” while physically in Oakville.
To be specific, geo-modified searches are mainly based on relevance and prominence as opposed to proximity when a user searches for something when outside the city included in the search.
Searchers perform this type of search when looking for something around them. For instance, a user in Los Angeles performing a local search for “coffee.”
Ideally, the user only needs to search for something and is shown results based on proximity. They will get the results that are closest to them.
“Near me” searches
“Near me” searches have been so popular in recent years. Although their popularity has significantly declined, users still perform this type of search when looking for something locally.
For instance, some users could add “near me” when searching for a coffee shop, hoping to get the most relevant results near them. As we’ve stated, this trend has lost popularity because when you perform a local search, you are searching for something near you.
It is not necessary to add “near me” to what you’re searching.
Prominence refers to how important Google thinks your business is, which gets factored into the local search algorithm.
In other words, it refers to how well a business stands from the rest in various aspects, including directories, links, reviews, mentions, among other things.
If search engines view your business as trustworthy and credible, they will likely show it on top of related search query results.
The local search algorithm views businesses/brands with a stronger online prominence as credible and trustworthy. Some of the factors that determine prominence include:
A local citation is the mention of a business’s information online. The mention can include the partial or complete name, address, and phone number (NAP) of a local business.
Citations are an excellent way for people to learn about local businesses and impact local search results.
A business with high-quality citations can rank better in local search results, although businesses must continually manage citations to ensure data accuracy.
Backlinks play a crucial role in local business prominence. Gaining relevant backlinks from high-quality sites is an excellent way to build a business’ online reputation.
If you’re trying to outrank your competitors without much success, your backlink profile could be the reason.
In that case, you should check your competitor’s backlinks and compare them with yours. When doing this, pay attention to the number and quality of their backlinks.
As a rule of thumb, aim to have high-quality local backlinks pointing to your site to improve your page’s authority.
Next, you need to pay much attention to reviews to improve local prominence. Many customers look at a business’s online reviews before deciding whether to engage more with the business or not. Besides, many positive online reviews can increase a business’ ranking factors.
Consider this scenario. A potential customer is looking for a pub around Oakville. When they perform a search, they are presented with two results: one with over 100 reviews and another with less than 10 reviews.
Which business do you think the searcher would trust? The one with 100 reviews, obviously.
As with search engines, customers need to trust a business before they decide to do business with it. Similarly, search engines can view online reviews and analyze them to determine a business’s online prominence.
That said, here are strategies you can use to boost your online review signals:
Have a strategy
You won’t have a strong online prominence if your products or services are not of a high standard. So, the first step to having many great reviews is to develop great products and services.
After that, develop a strategy to encourage your happy customers to leave honest but valuable reviews of their experience doing business with you to help boost your online reputation.
Monitor and manage the reviews
Having many reviews is one thing; you need to develop a plan to engage with your customers for better results. Responding to reviews shows people that you care and are genuine about your products and services.
People will avoid businesses that don’t respond to customer reviews (whether positive or negative).
Search engines, too, can tell whether you engage with customer reviews or not and will use the information to determine where to rank on local search results.
When responding to online reviews, pay special attention to negative reviews and how you respond to them. While no business likes getting negative reviews, how you respond to them can positively impact your business — respond positively to turn the negative reviews around.
As earlier stated, Google wants to provide the most relevant results to a local search query. This key ranking factor will determine a business’s position in local search results — how well does a local business match a search query?
Even if your business ticks the above pillars (prominence and proximity), if the content on your page isn’t well structured and doesn’t cover the topics that a searcher is looking for, you won’t appear on top of local search results.
Here are factors that businesses should consider to create a relevant listing:
Local page signals
Local listing categories and attributes
Social posts and responses to online reviews
Local listing signals and categories
A business GMB listing and category can impact its relevance score for local searches. As such, complete your business profile carefully and continually add quality content to the web page to ensure it is relevant for proximity searches.
More specifically, ensure that all information on all listing pages, including Yelp, Bing, and Google, is complete and accurate. Aside from these factors, here are two crucial features you should pay attention to:
Selecting the right categories for your local business listing is among the crucial factors for ranking locally. With over 4000 GMB categories, you want to choose categories that best describe your business — ensure they are relevant and specific.
Here are guidelines to follow when selecting a category:
Describe your business as opposed to your services
Be specific to minimize competition
Reduce the number of GMB categories to describe your business better
Without a proper description, users won’t know what your business is about. This section is about adding an introduction to your business so that customers and search engines can know more about your business.
However, don’t use this section for marketing your business. Just give users and search engines descriptive info that can help determine whether your business matches their needs.
Local page signals
Another way a business can improve its standing in the local search algorithm is by optimizing web pages for specific keywords. For multi-location businesses, it’s essential to have separate, localized pages for each location, with relevant information and contact details for customers to reach you.
Performing competitor research is advisable to determine what terms or keywords to use for a specific query. Here are top on-page signals to consider when trying to gain relevance for a given topic:
Keyword research — Before creating local content, you need to find keywords that matter to your business. Perform keyword research to determine highly relevant keywords with high intent. When finding relevant terms to use in your content, base your research on the customer perspective; think about what they search for and the type of content they are looking for.
Create local content — After finding the right keywords, it’s time to create your content. Google values the quality of content more than the length of the content, so keep this in mind when creating content. Another crucial thing to pay attention to is localizing the content. For example, you can create content on local news and events or use your city’s name within your content.
The goal is to create a connection between what’s happening in your local area and your business. Also, use pictures with your specific geolocation to increase your content relevance.
Creating quality and relevant content is only the start. You need to optimize your content for on-page signals so local search algorithms can discover and rank them better. Here’s how you can optimize your local content for on-page signals:
Meta descriptions — Include keywords in your meta descriptions to encourage searchers to click through and increase visibility
Title tags — Title tags are some of the factors that search engines use to determine where to rank content. Incorporating keywords naturally in your title tags can help boost local rankings
Image tags — Another way to improve local rankings is by including relevant keywords in your image tags. Including geotags also comes with an added advantage
Headings — Users and Google value pages with clear structures. Consider creating headings within your content to capture readers’ attention and encourage them to read on. However, ensure your heading tags describe the content that comes after them well. Also, include keywords in your heading tags to help search engines understand them and their importance.
Off-page local signals
Gaining high-quality backlinks is a great way to boost credibility and trust. Backlinks refer to external links from another website to your site. Aim to have more high-quality backlinks to boost your website authority.
Ideally, having many quality backlinks shows search engines that your website or page is credible and trustworthy, which boosts the chances of ranking it higher in search engine results.
Guest posting is one of the best examples of link-building strategies you can use. Finding great guest posting opportunities provides an excellent opportunity to share your content to a new but relevant audience, which helps boost your website authority.
Another strategy you can use is to create longer and better content than what is already available on the web. When your content is high quality and relevant, it will be easier to get high-quality backlinks.
Review and social signals
Online reviews can also help boost relevance for your local business. Aim to get as many positive reviews from your happy customers as possible.
Remember, when customers perform a local search, they get not only the relevant businesses but also reviews related to the search. The more positive reviews a business has, the higher chances a potential customer will do business with them.
Closing thoughts on the local search algorithm
Ranking on top of local search results can seem daunting, but it shouldn’t when you know the vital things to focus on. As you have seen above, the local algorithm is based on three pillars: relevance, proximity, and prominence.
Of course, other factors determine local search rankings depending on your industry and competition.