What Amazon Can Teach You About Email Marketing: 4 Key Lessons

Amazon is currently one of the world’s most valuable companies. From humble beginnings in Jeff Bezos’ garage in 1994, Amazon has grown into one of the most valuable companies in the world, as well as the second US company ever to reach a $1 trillion market valuation.

While Amazon’s journey from startup to essential world domination is the result of a combination of factors (including a bit of luck), there are easily observable lessons businesses of all sizes can learn from the e-commerce giant — particularly when it comes to its email marketing.

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For the uninitiated, a few quick facts:

  • Amazon currently captures about half of all online retail sales in the United States — and reported revenue of $232.89 billion in 2018.
  • Amazon’s highly-optimized recommendation engine is responsible for a whopping 35 percent of revenue it generates, and emails Amazon sends are a big part of this recommendation engine.
  • Amazon’s emails convert significantly more than Amazon’s on-site recommendations — which is a big deal considering that Amazon’s on-site recommendations conversion to sales ratio can be as high as 60 percent.

With these facts established, the big question is what is Amazon doing differently when it comes to email marketing? How does Amazon’s approach to email marketing differ from that of other major online retailers?

Below are four key lessons from Amazon’s approach to email marketing:

What Amazon Can Teach You About Email Marketing

1. A Focus on Not Interrupting the Email-to-Website Flow

A key lesson you can learn from Amazon’s approach to email marketing is how much of an effort it puts into ensuring that email-to-website user flow isn’t interrupted: for Amazon, email isn’t just another component — it’s an extension of the Amazon website — and moving from a particular email to a desired action on the Amazon website is often a click away.

Below is an email Amazon sent to me:

A few things are instantly noticeable from the above email, but I want to pay attention to two in particular:

  • Amazon made sure that the look and feel of the email is similar to that of its site; when I got that email, I had no doubt I was dealing with Amazon — I was on Amazon.com.
  • Beside each of the recommended book was an “Add to Wish List” button — clicking that button automatically adds each book to my Amazon Wish List; no extra step required.

This experience continues even after a purchase has been made. Here’s another email I got from Amazon:

Shortly after purchasing some items on Amazon, the ecommerce giant sent me an email asking me to review my purchase: right from my inbox, I could click on the number of star I want to give the product and I’ll be automatically redirected to the reviews page on Amazon.

Research has indeed shown that interrupting user flow by adding unnecessary extra steps that affects user action can kill conversions; Amazon is aware of this and is careful about ensuring that steps users have to take from the email to action phase is as direct and straightforward as possible.

Key lesson: Reduce email-to-website friction by ensuring that CTAs in your emails lead users directly to the action you want them to take. Your CTA shouldn’t lead to more information; it should lead to an action.

2. Reliance on a Well-Optimized Targeted Follow-Up System That Leverages the Familiarity Principle

One of the biggest weapons in Amazon’s email marketing arsenal is its ability to repeatedly follow up until a customer purchases — premised on the psychological principle of the mere-exposure effect (also known as the familiarity principle).

The familiarity principle says that we tend to like and take something more seriously, even if we didn’t initially, after repeated exposure to it.

One of the most popular experiments that demonstrate the effectiveness of the familiarity principle was conducted by a professor called Charles Goetzinger in the year 1968. For the experiment, Goetzinger had a student come to class dressed in a large black bag with just the student’s feet visible. He then carefully monitored other students’ reaction to this “black bag.” As expected, and in line with the familiarity principle, Goetzinger found that other students were initially hostile to the black bag. After having the student repeatedly come to class dressed the same way, however, other students started to become curious about the black bag, gradually began to engage it, and eventually developed a liking for it.

A classic example of just how relentless Amazon can be when it comes to email follow ups can be seen in a case study of a user that looked up point and shoot cameras on the site; after spending just two or three minutes researching cameras, and Amazon established intent.

What Amazon did next is a key lesson for all email marketers: in just 12 days, Amazon had sent nine emails featuring different cameras in an attempt to get the user to buy.

Here’s the very first email Amazon sent to the user:

On the fourth day, Amazon sent another email trying to offer a 50 percent discount on a Canon PowerShot camera:

The eight email happened to coincide with Father’s Day in the US, so Amazon sent another follow up promoting a Father’s Day deal for cameras:

Nine emails, within 12 days, all about cameras.

Key lesson: In most cases, a single email isn’t going to be enough to convince a prospect to act. Repeated, targeted follow ups is going to make a lot of difference, however. Most email marketing services can now be integrated with your website, making it easy to kickstart campaigns based on actions users take on your website. Be sure to leverage this and take follow ups more seriously.

3. Leveraging A Very Effective Personalization and Recommendation Engine

Amazon’s personalization-based recommendation engine is one of the keys to its success not just with email marketing, but with e-commerce in general. As earlier stated, Amazon’s recommendation engine is said to be responsible for 35 percent of what consumers purchase on Amazon.com.

Amazon doesn’t employ its recommendation engine on its website alone; it also relies on it when it comes to its email marketing. Shortly after purchasing a book about stoicism on Amazon, I started to get emails like the one below:

Amazon doesn’t just send emails for the sake of sending emails; sometimes, as evidenced by the case study of the user that got nine emails in 12 days after searching for cameras, you might get a lot of emails all around the same time from Amazon. At other times, Amazon might be silent for weeks.

One thing instantly clear about Amazon’s emails, however, is that these emails are influenced by your activities on Amazon’s site as well as your interests — ensuring a higher likelihood of you responding to the emails.

A particular study by MarketingSherpa found that sending targeted, segmented emails can yield as much as a 208 percent increase in conversions compared to simply sending “batch-and-blast emails.”

Key lesson: Segment your subscribers based on interest, and only send them emails relevant to their interest and activities on your site.

4. A Less is More Approach to Email Content

Finally, what makes Amazon stand out when it comes to email marketing is its “less is more” approach.

Once Amazon has established what a user’s interest is based on activities on its site, it goes straight to the point: no wordy emails trying to convince you to take a certain action.

Amazon’s emails are often simple emails like this one:

The only information included is the title of the recommended product, an image, the price, and a link to learn more. That’s all you need to know. No wasting your time or waxing lyrical on you trying to convince you.

When it comes to getting users to review products they purchased, too, Amazon uses a similar approach.

Key lesson: Don’t waste users’ time in your emails. Wordiness does not necessarily equate with persuasiveness. Provide only the information necessary to make a decision, and ensure that your CTA stands out so that users can easily see it and head over to where they need to do what you want them to do.

Your Mileage May Vary

In conclusion, your mileage may vary: most of what Amazon does is influenced by a lot of tests and large data sets. However, it is important to note that several things make Amazon different: these include its brand value as well as the fact that it is an everything store. You might have to adjust a few things depending on your business model. However, most of what Amazon does when it comes to email marketing isn’t by accident, and the same principles can be used to help grow your business.

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Google Maps Marketing Strategy: The Ultimate Cheat Sheet

A couple years ago, I used TripAdvisor or Yelp to learn about new restaurants in my area. Nowadays, I use Google Maps as the primary decision-maker, instead.

If I’m on my phone, I’ll simply open the Maps app and click the “Food” or “Drinks” icon to begin perusing options near me.

Alternatively, on desktop, check out what happens when I Google “Chinese food near me”:

More than likely, most users will find what they’re looking for within the Google Maps results, and won’t even scroll to the organic results underneath — which is why it’s critical you optimize your website to appear on Google Maps.

Here, we’re going to cover how you can optimize your Google My Business account to ensure you appear on Google Maps, as well as marketing tactics you can employ to improve your local SEO.

Create a Google Ads campaign that makes money for your business using this  essential guide.

How to Optimize Your Google My Business Account

To appear in Google Maps, you’ll need to create a Google My Business account and ensure all the information is up-to-date. Once you’ve created a profile, it’s critical you include as much relevant information as possible — including a business profile picture, the area you serve, hours of operation, attributes (i.e. “free wifi”), a public phone number, and your website URL.

Additionally, according to Google, businesses with photos receive 42% more requests for driving directions to their location, and 35% more click-throughs to their website. To optimize your account for search, then, it’s vital you provide pictures of your physical store as well as images of your products or services.

Google also recommends responding to online reviews of your business, which enables new people to find you online, and also demonstrates to existing customers that you value their feedback. You might consider asking happy customers to leave reviews, or even incentivizing them with a coupon in exchange.

Alternatively, if someone leaves a negative review, it’s still important you respond. Look at Google’s guidelines for how to respond to a negative review.

To learn more about how to optimize your Google My Business account, check out The Ultimate Guide to Google My Business.

Marketing Strategies to Improve Local SEO

Google Maps is the most popular navigation app by a landslide, with 67% of total navigation users — second to Maps is Waze, with only 12% of total users.

This means it’s a critical tool for ensuring local consumers can find your business.

Google Maps can help bolster your online presence in local search results, which demonstrates your legitimacy and relevancy as a company — you wouldn’t be able to rank #1 for “nail salons near me” if you’d closed down months ago. Additionally, ranking high in search will ideally convince consumers to choose your business over a competitor’s.

To improve local SEO, try these three tactics:

1. Get links back to your site from local businesses or bloggers.

To improve your local SEO, consider crafting a strategy to get links back to your site from other local businesses. You could create a deal in which you link to another business’ site in exchange for a link from them.

Alternatively, depending on your industry, try reaching out to local bloggers to ask for reviews — for instance, if you run a Bed & Breakfast, you might ask travel bloggers to stay for free in exchange for an online review.

2. Submit your site to local business directories.

Try submitting your site to local business directories like Yelp, Local.com, and Superpages, and ensure all information across each of the sites is accurate — ultimately, the more websites that reference your business, the better.

To submit your site to Yelp, for instance, go to https://biz.yelp.com/signup_business/new and fill in the form. Once the site is verified and approved by moderators, you’ll receive an email on how to claim your business page.

3. Keep track of performance via Google’s Insights tool.

Once you’ve created a Google My Business profile and optimized it for Google Maps, you’ll want to track analytics using Google’s Insights tool.

To access Insights on a desktop, sign into your Google My Business account, open the location you’d like to manage (if you have multiple locations), and click “Insights” from the menu. On mobile, open the Google My Business app, click “More”, and then tap “Insights”.

Insights allows you to see how many times people have seen your business information, how many times people have requested driving directions to your location, and how customers are able to find your listing.


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3 Analytics Tools That Help Measure Your Marketing Results

Need better ways to analyze your social activities? Looking for tools to prove your marketing efforts are working? In this article, you’ll find three tools to analyze and report on your social media marketing efforts. #1: Evaluate Keyword Mentions and Sentiment Awario is a social media monitoring and analytics tool that finds mentions of your […]

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