With literally millions of products, a constant stream of personalized recommendations, seamless checkout service, and quick delivery options – more and more people are spending a significant part of their customer journeys within the Amazon ecosystem.
The trend is only going to widen - a staggering 56 percent of US, UK, German and French shoppers now use Amazon as a starting point for their purchasing journeys. And 51 percent will visit Amazon regardless of whether or not they’ve found a product on another retailer’s site.
So why should marketers care? Well, e-commerce giants like Amazon and its competitors, like Wal-Mart and Target, don’t just own the conversion point. They also own all the rich customer intelligence that comes with it. What’s a digital marketer to do?
Today’s commercial dynamic leaves marketing officers in a tight spot: while brands do certainly earn revenue when using Amazon to sell products - they’re also limited in how much knowledge they can gain about the customer who browsed or purchased it. With little to no points of contact, how can you establish or cultivate customer loyalty relationship when you can’t even access a contact list?
With all data streams diverted into the Amazon river, relationship marketers like us can find ourselves on the sidelines. After all, your customers are increasingly becoming indirect customers. Still, brands are under pressure to serve personalized customer experiences and consumer-first marketing, no matter where these customers make their purchases.
Regardless of whether or not you decide to use Amazon or other big-box stores to sell your products, marketers need to learn how to navigate this new e-commerce marketing landscape as soon as possible or risk giving up more and more power to these data behemoths. Without further ado, here are 3 strategies I think you should use to reach indirect consumers:
Maximize Your Owned Customer Intelligence
Amazon is currently starting to outgrow Google in the number of product searches. As search engine marketers know, if these searches would happen on Google, brands could place bids on them. Now they’re behind a wall.
And to add insult to injury, Amazon is putting this owned customer data to work as a major part of their business model. Using advanced AI functionality, Amazon uses the big data it owns to create personalized shopping recommendations - in fact, this is how they make over 35 percent of its total revenue.
Take this fact as inspiration rather than discouragement. Because first of all, the AI-powered tech that helps Amazon know exactly which item you want to purchase next is becoming accessible to all brands, for instance through our Selligent Cortex engine. And second, with the right marketing software, you can create meaningful marketing personalization with very little data, even for anonymous website visitors.
But the more data you are able to collect, the deeper the relationship you will be able to cultivate with these indirect consumers. So get creative and make the best of your owned customer data by…
- Integrating your data infrastructure. Eliminate silos and integration issues across your entire stack for a single customer view across channels (also read our blog post on streamlining your customer data strategy).
- Learning from your staff. Talk to customer care teams and in-store clerks to learn from the front lines what customers are into.
- Surveying the customers you are able to access and apply lessons to those you hope to attract.
- Studying other marketers in your space. What are they doing with their programs and can you adopt elements that would benefit yours?
- Building out mailing lists by offering incentives such as discount coupons or preferred access.
Innovate Experiences That Build Brand Buzz (And Loyalty)
As the next order of business, get into your customer’s mindset and innovate new experiences from their perspective. Ask your marketing team: What unique value proposition can we offer outside of price and fulfillment? How can we keep customers engaged beyond the purchase process and deepen the relationship?
Solve this fundamental challenge by taking notes from leading brands and retailers:
- Offer personalized in-store service. Provide a good reason to drop by a physical store – by connecting your 360-degree customer data to service teams. Fashion retailer and Selligent client JBC creates consumer-first marketing moments by getting personal with in-store customers, powered by Selligent’s universal consumer profile data on tablet computers.
- Play your physical store presence. Consumers still like shopping in actual stores. California footwear brand Vans rewards customers by handing out $25 purchase vouchers on next visits for every in-store purchase over $65. A major stoke factor for fans, and reason to come back.
- Upsell online purchases. Also leveraging their physical presence, Drent’s Museum offers visitors extra perks and access to special services that they can purchase or request directly online from the museum, rather than from the central ticketing service who otherwise would have owned the information.
- Provide post-purchase support. Bicycles purchased over the internet ship in a box – and require assembly. Meh! That’s why bicycle company Raleigh offers free assembly at store locations and via the Beeline delivery service for bikes over $500.
- Leverage branded content as educational tools. Branded content has the added value of being a vehicle for upselling and brand awareness. Selligent client and e-commerce specialist Coolblue provides free online tutorials for over 250,000 different computer products in its inventory. This has cut down complaints and returns over 70 percent and boosted customer satisfaction.
If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Join ‘Em
Now that Amazon is capturing a large part of the product discovery cycle, it may make sense to run sponsored ads on their advertising platform. Amazon ad revenues are growing 63.5 percent year-on-year and expected to reach $2.89 billion in 2018.
This number will more than double over the next two years, as more and more brands realize the importance of presenting their goods in a controlled manner right where the searches and conversions happen. Who would have thunk a few years ago that Amazon would also take a big bite out of search marketing?
It’s a brand-new world and this is the time for marketers to get really creative. Find new ways to insert themselves into the customer’s mindset. Get innovative with reasons to entice them to proactively seek out consumers and gain perspective on their motivations.
The successful brands of the future will be the ones who recognize that their role in the commerce ecosystem has changed. And that they must adapt in order to build meaningful relationships with all customers – direct and indirect.