Amazon has built an empire by providing its consumers with a vast range of products, becoming a one-stop shop for most people’s entertainment needs. The amazing thing is it didn’t achieve this by advertising to the masses. Instead, it focused on segmenting its consumers online and building a remarkably customized experience for each consumer. Customer segmentation often involves creating personas based on demographic information. For years, Amazon has understood the power of e-mail as a tool to predict customers’ future purchasing behavior hence increase real revenue.
Track everything customers do
Rule no.1: track absolutely everything customers do, data is power.
Amazon has mastered this. It has built a very complex technology system that segments its consumers with little effort by using software that automates the process. This software monitors its website visitors, their behaviors on the site, what products they buy and what information they download. As consumers navigate and interact with the website, information from their visit is recorded and provides updated content based on their actions.
Just take a look at their homepage. Yours will look different than mine and I am sure it will be different tomorrow. The homepage is never the same. With sections like ‘New for you’, ‘More items to consider’ and ‘Recommendations for you in video games’, Amazon is constantly tracking what customers browsed and what they have bought and then adjusting their messages.
If you are a student, Amazon will want you to connect Twitter and Facebook. It doesn’t need to keep asking you questions in order to know all about you, but your information will never be hidden from them!
Predicting future purchasing behavior
What’s the most predictive of future purchasing behavior? The answer is previous purchasing and shopping behavior.
Why try to predict when female customers will get pregnant? When can target customers who use pregnancy-related terms in the product search? Or used Google to look for phrases like ‘prenatal vitamins’ and ‘baby’s names’? Or have bought a book about pregnancy? Or signed up for Amazon Mom? The interesting part is that not only Amazon predicts this one customer’s behavior, but also captures other good targets who might fall outside segment parameters, such as fathers-to-be, or friends and family of expecting parents.
By tracking everything customers do, can begin to compile e-mail marketing campaigns that really resonate with customers at an individual level.
A single call to action
Amazon’s e-mails are generally very specific and direct. Take the following e-mail which is an example of the sort of email you will regularly receive after buying a book on your Kindle. They send you an email to ask for review of the book you have purchased. As you can see, there isn’t much else you can other than click through and review the book!
This email only works because of its highly targeted nature. Rather than a blanket send, they segment their database by people who have recently bought certain books.
After clicking the link, you are taken to another simple page that looks like this:
On this page, you can do nothing except rating the book. This is a brilliant example of keeping things simple.
Using series campaigns
Another thing Amazon do well is setting up series of e-mails. They are not afraid to e-mail their customers. It is important to get the frequency and timing right for e-mail campaigns.
Amazon’s tactic is to not only send an e-mail a few hours after a customer abandons the cart but another 24 hours after that. This can increase conversion ratio by 50% or more, just by adding a second e-mail.
As we can see from the example below, Amazon doesn’t mind working persistently when they think they are onto a good thing. Each of the e-mails below is targeted toward DVDs or Electronics Deals after customers browsed for digital cameras.
Therefore, the experiment with more frequent and series campaigns is an important step in e-mail marketing. Vary the e-mails, make the content interesting and useful and be prepared to reach a ‘maximum’ are the three rules Amazon has always followed.