5 Business Lessons From Yahoo!

By Jenna Lebel

Yahoo! unveiled a fresh, new look for its home page and mobile sites earlier this week. The overdue facelift marks the biggest product revamp since CEO Marissa Mayer took the reins in July 2012. Yahoo! has historically been criticized for being traditional and complacent, but the fact remains that the site generates 700 million monthly visitors and is still a leading source of information on finance, sports, and entertainment. I’m admittedly not a Yahoo user myself, but some part of me is rooting for this underdog to make a major comeback. Regardless of whether you’re a Yahoo! believer, there are some strong lessons to be learned from the web portal giant. Here are 5 lessons businesses can learn from Yahoo!

 1. Change Is Imperative

No one knows this lesson better than Yahoo! Making its debut in 1994, Yahoo! experienced significant growth and enjoyed a considerable amount of time at the top. But over time, other web giants took shape and evolved, leaving Yahoo! in their wake. Having been criticized for its lack of innovation and evolvement for over a decade, Yahoo! finally decided to do something about it. The changes are not extreme, but for Yahoo! they are revolutionary because they signify that Yahoo! finally decided they needed to evolve too. And we’ll continue to see Mayer make changes to their product portfolio with the company’s heightened focus on mobile. Change can be hard and scary, but it is completely necessary to change with the landscape. 

2. Personalization Matters

A notable update for Yahoo! is the focus on a personalized web experience. When a user goes to Yahoo.com from any device, the experience is much more customized to that individual’s interests, reading habits, as well as what their Facebook friends have read and liked.

Mayer introduced the home page revamp on the company blog as follows:

Designed to be more intuitive and personal, the new Yahoo! experience is all about your interests and preferences. Since streams of information have become the paradigm of choice on the web, we’re introducing a newsfeed with infinite scroll, letting you experience a virtually endless feed of news articles.

The personalized online customer experience has become a standard practice. Consumers are much more fickle these days so cultivating loyalty is a challenge for marketers. A truly personalized web experience (or any experience really) can be the competitive advantage marketers need to stand out.

3. Give Customers A Reason To Come Back

With monthly pages per visitor on the decline, Yahoo! needed a way to get users to interact regularly. Their solution came in the form of a news feed, front and center, that updates in real-time with infinite scroll. The feature is similar to Facebook’s News Feed and I’ve already found it to be just as addicting. Now with everything a user wants and needs in one place, they have a reason to stay longer and come back frequently.

4. Understand What’s Not Working

Many are hopeful that Yahoo’s new look signifies that Yahoo finally gets it. Or at the very least, they are hopeful that Yahoo finally understands what’s broken. Understanding what’s not working is just as valuable as understanding what is working. Over the years, the Yahoo brand has suffered. The company boasts several impressive properties like Yahoo Finance, Fantasy Sports, and Flickr, but they could never figure out how to make them all work together in a changing marketplace.

5. Establish and Leverage Strong Alliances

Yahoo! is part of a highly competitive landscape in the online and mobile space. Twitter and Instagram are fueding. Samsung and Apple are battling over patents. And Facebook and Twitter continue to be our favorite “frenemies.”  Yahoo! has an opportunity to play nice with all of them. In fact, they’ve already started doing this. They teamed up with Facebook for the new website revamp. They work with both Apple and Google for operating systems. And Mayer has made it clear that they will continue this trend. Strong partnerships can have a major impact for a brand. They can help enhance a brand’s image and expand a brand’s reach, among other things.

What lessons have you learned from Yahoo? Share in the comments below!