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How to Market like Amazon

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by: Todd McCormick (@TMcCormick2011)
11 February 2013

Amazon uses its rich data library to serve up incredibly relevant content to its customers, an approach we’re big fans of here at Silverpop. In fact, the Internet mogul (which is not a Silverpop client) provides literally every visitor with a fully customized home page that directly appeals to his or her unique interests.

But, you don’t have to be a multibillion-dollar company to mimic this hallmark example and make your data work for you. Whether you’re a B2B company with a long buying cycle or a small brick-and-mortar retailer, you can use the capabilities available via behavioral marketing automation to capture and respond to online buyer behavior like Amazon in three key ways.

1) Recommend products based on a buyers' past purchases.

Who hasn’t bought something else from Amazon, simply because the site suggests products that are similar or relevant to your past purchases? You might have thought all you needed was an espresso maker on your last visit, but this time you realize you absolutely require a milk frother, new mugs, and flavored syrups to go along with it.

In the same way, today’s marketers can leverage purchase data to offer the same suggested selling approach on their websites and in their email campaigns via dynamic content personalization and e-commerce integration. For example, a hospitality brand might automatically send a special email offer for a deep tissue massage when a frequent spa patron makes her upcoming travel reservation at your hotel. You could even send the offer via SMS, if you know she’s text-friendly.

2) Suggest products based on browsing history.

Like Amazon, marketers also can combine robust Web tracking capabilities with dynamic content personalization and programs based on browsing history across their email campaigns and websites. Say a house hunter spent 30 minutes on one home’s virtual tour page last week. Now would be the perfect time for your real estate firm to automate an email about that house, personalized with newly updated pictures and pricing.

Similarly, a software vendor might dynamically feature an upcoming Webinar about winning social selling strategies on its website, if that Web visitor recently visited an information page about an upcoming trade show but failed to register. Perhaps an online event will do the conversion trick.

For double points, offer social login registration to speed the process. You’ll capture another rich set of data about his preferences and personal information. You might also encourage him to share his event registration with his social networks by embedding social-sharing capabilities into your confirmation email.

3) Offer product reviews for items.

What others say about your brand’s products are arguably far more important than what you say about them. Personally, how much more likely are you to purchase something on Amazon when it has a five-star rating, versus two out of five?

Today, you can incorporate similar product review strategies into your email and Web marketing strategies as well. For example, retailers can use individualized emails to request reviews, then set up a system of rules so that these reviews are dynamically pulled from APIs and content platforms. By populating personalized emails with these reviews according to each recipient’s interests or purchase history, you’ll deliver messages that are more relevant and engaging.

The same principals apply in the B2B world. We’ve all heard of LinkedIn’s product review capability by now. But have you considered asking for reviews of your Webinars, white papers, and in-person events? What about customer testimonials on video? Ask for them in your post-download or post-event emails, and you can feature this content on your site and company profiles. Remember to prompt buyers to share the product reviews they create with their social networks — you’ll automatically expand your marketing reach.

Conclusion
Whether you’re a B2B or B2C, effective marketing boils down to communicating with each buyer in a way that’s relevant to that person. To achieve this, all you need to do is match your campaigns to their key buying preferences and behaviors.

When you do that, you can deliver highly personalized experiences to individual buyers — and individuals in a company.

And that’s what it takes to market like Amazon. Some might call it the secret to getting customers to market to themselves.

Related Resources:
1) Video: “Behavioral Marketing Automation Defined
2) White Paper: “6 Keys Marketing Trends for 2013 – and Tips for Succeeding in the Year of the Customer
3) Blog: “3 Ways to Build More Robust Profiles Using Behaviors

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