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Networking in Surrey

Customer research on steroids: How Amazon took business into Sci-Fi territory

Like it or not, Amazon have taken retail by storm. There are many reasons for this and I could do a whole essay on everything from their cheap prices to their superb customer service. Instead I want to talk about how they took customer research and the internet and put them together in a way that changed how businesses work forever.

Have you heard of split testing? Before you ask, no it’s not taking a single spoonful of banana and ice cream and deciding whether you want it or not.

It basically boils down to making two different versions of your web page and showing each version to half of your customers. If one of them gets a better result you go with that one.

Amazon built their website by taking these principles to a frightening degree. This article  outlines how they tested and modified their ‘add to shopping cart’ buttons alone.

The changes they made seem tiny, but they used the fact that they could split their audience over the course of a day or so to see what would get better results, then they would take that result and test it again and again until they had one of the best converting websites out there.

This method sounds incredibly complicated and expensive, but it’s actually possible to do it for free. Google Analytics offers tools that let you split test your website, and MailChimp lets you A/B test your emails to people.

Customer research is all about finding exactly what works, this just takes it to the next level by testing it as you go.

Here is a great tutorial from Copyblogger on how to get started on split testing and whether you should be worrying about that part yet or not. (Simple answer: probably not. You would need thousands of customers rolling through your pages to get a clear answer quickly. So you should focus on building your audience before any of that.)

Split testing is just one of the tools bigger companies use to enhance their websites, but the basic principles apply to even the smallest businesses. I hope you end up looking at split testing in the future to take your business to the next level of success.


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