Learn from Amazon.com’s Targeting Mistake and Boost Your Conversion Rates Further

by Rich Page

When we think of Amazon.com, we often think of the fantastic personalized recommendations and content suggestions they provide while browsing their website. And they are great at doing this on their product pages and shopping cart. BUT. They are making a major mistake on their homepage that is really limiting their visitor engagement and conversions, and is something you can learn and profit from.

The mistake: Above the homepage fold in their content slider they are not doing any targeting and are showing generic products that they hope will interest their visitors (one size fits all mentality). In the screenshot below you can see that the two main items of content that show initially on the homepage imply that I am a woman, and I want to buy an ebook reader. Neither which are true – which is shocking considering I am logged in, and have been an amazon customer for 15 years.  It’s only below the fold that you see Amazon showing what they do best at, showing me recommended products relating to content or categories I have previously viewed (highlighted in green boxes). What a way to drop the ball and miss out on providing even higher content relevancy to visitors, resulting in even higher conversion rates!

Also, their content slider is pretty pointless – it doesn’t auto rotate, and doesn’t give clear navigation buttons to move to the left and right. It also has 8 different slides, which is way too many. While Tim Ash says you should avoid content sliders at all cost, I disagree with him in one circumstance – if you add targeting to them, and provide relevant more content to each of your visitors, it actually improves conversion. This is known as content affinity targeting, and is continually one of the greatest testing successes I see clients with at Adobe – often over 100% conversion lifts by offering this in home page content sliders.

So how can you learn from Amazon’s missed opportunity? Not only do you need to be doing content affinity targeting for your homepage to show targeted, personalized content related to what visitors have most often previously seen on your website, but you need to test the locations of the modules of where you show this targeted content, and test how you handle stepping through content in it – don’t just presume static or animated works better – test it!

But what you can target in your homepage sliders to increase engagement and sales?

  • Content relating to items that a visitor has previously purchased (cross-sell items work very well, like accessories)
  • Content relating to a category that a visitor most often browses (either most popular in that category, or most related)
  • Conversion recovery messages to those who have left items in shopping carts or didn’t finish a registration or signup process (and offer incentives to complete!)
  • Content for first time visitors (explaining benefits of using your site and first time purchase coupons etc)

And if you want to learn more on all this, I wrote a blog post about optimizing content sliders, and discuss topics like content affinity targeting in greater detail in my new book, ‘Website Optimization: An Hour a Day’.

About the Author

Rich is a Conversion Solution Specialist at Adobe and is the author of ‘Website Optimization: An Hour a Day’. He has been testing and optimizing websites for over 10 years and is a regular industry speaker. He also has his own testing and optimization blog, and you can follow him on Twitter for conversion tips.

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