Streaming Downton Abbey via Roku and Amazon Prime this weekend struck a nerve. As the web continues to destroy middlemen and gatekeepers concepts like “CBS” and “Time Warner Cable” are in play. Watching Amazon move from webpage arbitrage to web services platform to streaming video seller got me thinking about tips every content marketer should steal from Amazon TODAY:
- Create original content.
- Crowdsource your content.
- Infinite Inventory Becomes Buzzing Inventory.
- Be agnostic about content source.
- Vertically integrate merchandising.
#stealthis 1: Create Original Content
In order for your ASK sound and feel legitimate you must create and share enough original content to have authority. No authority = no response to your ask. Authority comes from:
- Creating original relevant content.
- Curating high authority content of others.
- Mashup mixtures of original content with high authority content.
- User Generated Content (most trusted content).
There is no magic formula on how much content you need to create to develop authority. Use a tool such as MOZ to determine how many pages you and each of your competitors have in Google. What is you “MOZ Rank” compared to competition?
If you don’t want to pay for MOZ you can get about 80% of this Business Intelligence free by using site:url.com in Google. Site:url.com gives you a crawl count, but you need a tool like MOZ or SEMRush to know how many pages Google cares about.
#stealthis 2: Crowdsource Your Content
Amazon asks for more help from its crowd than Netflix. Amazon Originals create pilots and asks members to vote with views and a survey. Amazon tests content across a wide range of issues and genres. Amazon insures investments pay of even if they don’t produce the series.
Each “Amazon Original” increases Amazon’s “creator cred” making the next series “green light” easier and less risky. Amazon learns so much from voting and who votes they do what they’ve always done – care more about DATA than MONEY. Amazon understands the web’s SPEED and FURY.
Amazon founder Jeff Bezos brought Wall Street arbitrage where everything is for sale all the time to online retailing. Amazon was the first to understand the need to “sell” infinite inventory. They set up their partner network, where they really make their profits, to sell every book ever published. Community is the key to creating a “partner network”.
Create community as described in Red Bull Branding Lessons 2.
Pillars of online community are:
- Creation Story – Who Are YOU (About page should map core values and tell a story referred to over and over).
- Authoritative Content – Become the expert for your entire business segment.
- User Generated Content (UGC) – Must be valued by actively curated and rewarded via gamification.
- Gamification – Defined system of rewards that may include “jobs” so community begins to scale and take over.
- Movements Not Campaigns – Umbrella ideas that incorporate major calendar events but whose genesis you own.
If your website isn’t “community based” then adding one more SALE blows air into the balloon without a capture. Air goes in and then right back out. Promotions without advocacy go up and then traffic and conversion fall back to baseline. Create a MOVEMENT instead of one more offer. Ask your customers to JOIN that movement. Faith Popcorn’s famous saying has never been more true:
People don’t BUY brands they JOIN them.
Faith Popcorn, author and marketing guru
#stealthis 3: Buzzing Inventory
“Inventory costs money,” the founder of the $150M very successful catalog business where I was worked said. “Not in a digital state,” I remember explaining how our “hard goods” existed digitally far longer and cheaper than in our warehouse.
“Why don’t we ‘Sell’ everything,” I asked to a now confused owner. Inventory was a physical THING and physical things needed to be carried on balance sheets and in our warehouse along with the other 13,000 things we sold. I suggested we ‘sell’ a million or more products because web scale is different than “catalog scale”.
Adding inventory LOWERS COSTS of online inventory. The MORE information we share the more authority we create. “Sell” is in quotes because we might “sell” a million products and have no more than the 13,000 in our warehouse. Every product page provides INFORMATION in two directions. Customers consume the information and we track their consumption.
We could trade clicks for affiliate cash, lower our merchandising costs by asking if we SHOULD carry a product and earn more User Generated Content (#ugc).
Since adding hundreds of thousands more products costs pennies for each new product it was some of the cheapest “advertising” we could buy. “But inventory costs money,” was where the conversation ended. I was having a 2014 conversation in 2008 now AUTHORITY is important.
Today I would modify my 2008 suggestion from “Infinite Inventory” to “Buzzing Inventory”. Today’s social / mobile web demands shares, advocacy and engagement. I wouldn’t recommend dumping a million pages on any website today, but NOT including relevant conversations and content AS THEY HAPPEN is a big mistake and the purpose of our new Triangle Startup Factory Funded “conversations are the new links” tool called Curagami.
Authority means you know what is GREAT and GOOD in your area and you share it. If you only cover and discuss YOUR content, products and customers and not the experience of all customers, competitors and relevant gurus then you are not an AUTHORITY.
In The Icarus Deception author Seth Godin shares a story about a Paris coffee shop so sure of their distinct flavors they gladly share information on ALL coffee in Paris. Godin’s coffee shop is acting as an authority. Godin’s Paris coffee shop is acting very Amazon-like.
Amazon makes it easy to see, stream and buy CBS, PBS and BBC content. They Prime the pump with an extensive freemium offer. Amazon Prime provides much more than Free Shipping. Amazon extended Prime to include a group of free to stream movies and TV shows.
It takes several months before Amazon’s high quality “freemium” offerings are played out. Then guess what happens – customers begin to BUY streaming content. When you are AGNOSTIC about content you act less proprietarily and so have more AUTHORITY.
Give away a sizable chunk of content to create content junkies. Compare the DIY environment Amazon/Roku creates vs. watching commercial ladden TV. NO ADS and being in control of a seemingly infinite and increasingly relevant set of offerings (especially true for Netflix with their famous “learn you as you use it” search tool) means you NEVER go back to commercial TV.
Even DVR based commercial TV becomes slow, with too many interruptions. In every instance old ideas about FREE in exchange for payment with our most valuable asset – time and attention – is losing to DIY control. Amazon doesn’t spend billions in advertising (nor should you). Amazon’s content creates community and community is the new advertising.
#stealthis #5 – Vertical Integration
Every piece of content has cross-sale and up-sale potential. People Who’ve Bought X also Bought Y is a famous Amazon Up-sale. By sharing a view into purchase history analytics Amazon created one of the most viral suggestions in web history.
If Up-Sale is getting someone to BUY more similar or supportive products than cross-sale is moving customers to products with more margin, better social attributes (more likely to be shared) or other “hidden” algorithm ideas capable of making any ecommerce website feel highly relevant to a variety of visitors.
Relevance = familiar and familiar is closer to purchase than “new”. We’ve hit another big reason we’ve created our pro-active Online Reputation Management (#orm) tool called Curagami. Ecommerce sites need to create community. Community is about many things. Buying and selling is ONE dimension to community. Other critical community aspects key to success in the “New Ecommerce” include:
- Finding friends “like me”.
- Joining and advocating.
- Finding 1% Contributors, 9% Supporters, 90% Readers.
- Creating contests, gamification and tools to support 10%ers.
- Curating User Generated Content (to prove social value).
- Gamification to encourage contribution over time.
- Buying & Selling.
- Realizing dreams & understanding customer aspirations.
If community sounds like a lot of work you win a cookie. Community is WORK, but your other choice is to shoot it out in tactical warfare where someone is always faster and where we are reaching points of diminishing return much faster.Tribes of advocates and supporters do DECAY, but they decay the slowest especially if you understand how to care for and grow your online community.
Other Helpful Posts
- Free Why Ecommerce Is Broken Whitepaper on Curagami
- Red Bull Branding 2: Friends of Friends Marketing
- Red Bull Branding; We Are All Media Companies Now