Amazon is widely recognized as the most successful ecommerce site in history. Much discussion has been devoted to the role of Amazon's affiliate program, website usability, website personalization, and capital investments. But little attention has been paid to the vital role content plays on the Amazon site, and how big an advantage Amazon has over its competitors thanks to content.
How Does Amazon Use Content?
Unlike most ecommerce sites, Amazon doesn't stop at a simple product image and a blurb.
- Amazon includes just about every bit of text the manufacturer or publisher of the item provided. For books, this is the publisher's description and selected quotations of reviews.
- Then there are the famous user reviews. A lot of sites give visitors an opportunity to cast a review, but few sites accord their reviews the pride of place that Amazon does, with the result that there is rarely a product or book on Amazon that doesn't have at least a few reviews.
- Finally, there are the original reviews Amazon's in-house writers create. Even with a wealth of content it does not have to pay a writer for, Amazon still sees the value in professionally crafted words.
What Advantages does Web Content Bring Amazon?
- Eyeballs. A visitor who is reading something is much more likely to stick around the site. And as every web marketer knows, the longer the visit, the better the chance of them buying something. Meanwhile, you're much more likely to turn to Amazon in the future when you're in the early stages of shopping. After all, Amazon is one of the few ecommerce sites that actually provides the information you need to make a decision.
- Mindshare. Were you ever sitting on the fence about buying something, until you read something on Amazon that sold you? You probably didn't realize it at the time–we all like to think our decisions are ours alone and not the product of careful marketing–but carefully placed content was working its magic on your decision-making.
- Trust. An oft-overlooked dimension of content on ecommerce is sites is how it can built trust enough in visitors to make them feel comfortable pulling out their credit cards. The ultimate trust issue in ecommerce is that the product isn't really what the visitor wants, that when it finally arrives it won't be quite what you had in mind. Detailed information about the item goes a long way to assuaging those fears.
- Search engine traffic. Certainly there have been numerous times when you've searched on a product or book name and Amazon was one of the first results. How often do you see Overstock.com or BarnesandNoble.com appear? How could they? They don't have anywhere near as much text for a search engine to base its listing on.
- Reduced advertising expenditures. Overstock.com has launched a relatively massive (for the web world) television advertising campaign along with a significant web advertising campaign. It's even followed through on the campaign with a lot of truly great bargains. Yet Amazon.com is still number-one in ecommerce and has not felt the need to make a big splash on offline media in quite a while. When you have the search engine traffic and mindshare that website content brings, even the biggest advertising budgets will have a hard time unseating you.
In short, Amazon may have the most sophisticated and carefully fine-tuned ecommerce operation in existence, but it still appreciates one of the most time-honored methods of selling something: words. If your business doesn't have the advertising budget of Overstock.com or the brand recognition of Barnes and Noble, that's an encouraging fact indeed.
About the author: Joel Walsh, who has no affiliation with Amazon.com, writes on web content and business marketing. Contact Joel to discuss your business web content copywriting: http://www.joelwalsh.com