Three years ago this month I made my very first purchase from Amazon.com. They sent me a coupon for a $10 discount on any purchase over $50 to celebrate my Amazoniversary. Is this a cheesy marketing gimmick? Yes. Does it work? Yes. I probably won’t even use the coupon; it expires on January 31st. But it’s little things like this that reinforce my belief that Amazon.com is the slickest “e-commerce” enterprise. As far as I’m concerned, they do everything right. Amazon and Google are the only two sites that have continuously improved over the years, and have (yet) to do anything to really tick me off. I love the fact that they remember what I’ve bought and what I own and what I’ve told them I like and dislike. (How cool would it be if you went to the grocery store and discovered that they had moved the beer aisle closer to the front door? And what if there was a clerk standing there saying, “I’ve noticed you like Budweiser. Did you know that many people who enjoy Bud also like Amstel Light?” or, “You’ve bought pretzels three times this month, so we started to stock more varieties to make sure you’re happy.” Or, heck! What if you got a letter from the grocery store saying, “You’ve been a great customer for three years now. Take $10 off the next time you come in!”)
And Google? Google just keeps keepin’ it simple. One text box + two buttons + excellent search results = Happy ‘Net Geek. I know I’m in the minority, but I think their targeted micro-ads are wonderful. They don’t do – afaik – two trillion mathematical computations on my search before feeding me the results (see: MS Search, Alta-Vista). They don’t have 6 megabytes of graphics slowing my results. I type, “eloquent thirty-something HDGM,” and they find one immediately. There are so few web sites that get everything right. I even detest my own page usually: the navigation’s cluttered, my mom doesn’t really understand the design, the archives are fubar, etc.
What’s my point? I don’t know. Sell your (always-has-been-and-always-will-be) worthless Yahoo! stock and buy some Amazon shares. You can’t keep doing everything right and not realize a profit eventually.
(Don’t get me started on ESPN’s recent MSN-ization. I detest the fact that my visits to ESPN are now surrounded by ads for Hotmail, Slate, MSN, and Windows XP. I don’t understand what they’re thinking. Do you think you’d still watch ESPN the television station if they suddenly filled the right and top 2″ borders of your screen with advertisements for ABC and Disney? It’s ridiculous. ESPN used to be one of my favorite web sites. Now I hardly ever visit. It’s not worth the wait for all the sidebars.)
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