What would Amazon do? No matter the size of your business, whether you’re a marketing team of one or twenty, whether you sell one product or service or hundreds to consumers or businesses, there are lessons to be learned from the Amazon marketing powerhouse. This crystallized for me when I was having (yet another) conversation with (yet another) someone about why you don’t want to send the same email to every person in your list every time (what’s known as batching-and-blasting).

Amazon MarketingIf you’ve ever bought anything from Amazon – heck, if you’ve ever even clicked on a product on Amazon – you’ve probably seen the section “Customers who bought this item also bought…” Remember that? If you don’t, go search for anything, click on a product, and scroll down. You’ll see it. Amazon created a method for increasing sales by showing customers and potential customers related products that other people are buying. Amazon has also added to some products a “frequently bought together” section which shows logical companion products (a cookbook with an Instant Pot, for example). Pretty great, right?

Amazon’s marketing emails draw on that information. I bought a book last week. Now I get emails “inspired by your purchase” that share other books that Amazon thinks might interest me. Perfect.

Now imagine, if you will, that YOU go on Amazon and you buy an Instant Pot. What does Amazon know about you? That you likely are a cook, right? Or maybe you buy a pair of men’s trousers. Amazon now knows that you shop for, or are, a man who wears trousers.

In either one of those scenarios, how would you feel if you started getting marketing emails from Amazon about baby goods? Or medical supplies? Or dog toys? What would that say to you?

One word: incongruent

From vocabulary.com: “Something that’s incongruent doesn’t fit. If you saw your teacher speeding around town in a red sports car, blasting music, this would be incongruent with your image of her as very reserved and studious.” In other words, a big left turn in your thinking would be required – and, as humans, we tend to resist those.

In marketing, if you have a person on your list who is interested in fishing reels, sending them an email about fishing rods would be congruent. Sending them an email about basketball shoes would be incongruent.

If Amazon were to send an email about dog toys to a person who had purchased men’s trousers, that would likewise be incongruent.

If Amazon consistently did that to you, how long before you would stop paying attention to the emails you get from Amazon? It wouldn’t take long until you’d be “trained” that their emails are not relevant to you. You’d stop reading them – but you probably wouldn’t unsubscribe, on the off-chance they’d send you something that you WOULD be interested in them. Their engagement would drop; their emails might even stop landing in your inbox, and they would lose their opportunity to share things with you that WOULD be valuable and perhaps cause you to make a purchase.

Do you see it?

It’s about segmentation

What Amazon is doing is segmenting the people on their list – and even the people who visit their site but haven’t purchased yet. Considering that they have thousands of people engaged in developing and maintaining their web platform, they can afford to create this seamless type of advanced segmentation experience. Small and mid-sized businesses don’t have that kind of horsepower, but there’s a TON of capability that is within reach, even on a very modest budget.Interest Bucket

If you don’t have it already (or if you have it but just aren’t using this capability), you want a marketing automation platform that allows you to segment the people on your list into “buckets” based on their interests. They’ll tell you those interests through their page views, downloads, and email clicks. Your job is to follow those clues and correspond with the people on your list in a way that is congruent. Read more about lead segmentation here: Don’t Bother with Lead Segmentation – Seriously?!?

You are Amazon

In the section above, everywhere it says “Amazon,” it could have the name of your business instead. No matter what you sell – one product or one service, or dozens, or hundreds – people want to know that you’re paying attention to them. When they get a marketing email from you, they want to know that it has information that is aligned with those interests. And those marketing emails are your way of deepening the conversation, exploring their interests, and guiding them down the path of becoming your customer.

Let’s break this down a bit further:

If you sell one thing, you’ll want to understand the different REASONS people would buy that one thing. I was on a call yesterday with someone in the reverse mortgage industry. The only thing he does is sell reverse mortgages. One product. That’s it. So what kind of segmentation could he possibly do? Well, people get reverse mortgages for several reasons, and those reasons are quite different. One person might want to fund her retirement travel dreams. Another might want to pay off a child or grandchild’s college tuition. Yet another might just want to pay off debt. Segmenting his list into the reasons someone might buy his product is critical to his marketing. Sending someone who just wants to pay off debt an email about luxury travel would be incongruent. But sending someone who wants to pay off debt an email about freedom from debt would be completely congruent.

If you sell many things, identifying related products or services and using your marketing emails to point to those things is congruent. Fishing rods? Send an email that links to a blog post about how a rod and reel combo pulled in a very big fish for one of your clients – with a link to your fishing reel selection in the blog post. Consulting services? Why not use your blog to tell success stories and send emails that link to your blog posts? High end business software solutions? Use your blog to paint a picture of how businesses change when they deploy your software.

These are just examples. What could you do to ensure your email marketing is congruent with what the people on your list are interested in?

Key takeaways

Any marketing strategy that involves sending the same email to everyone on the list without regard for their interests is a strategy that will ultimately fail. Marketers who do this will have to keep attracting new leads to combat the list fatigue and attrition that will occur – just to have a shot at staying even.

The key to email marketing success is “listening” to your leads – and that means segmentation. Not your old-school demographic segmentation, either. Segment leads based on the interests they’re showing you by what they opt-in to receive, what pages they visit, what emails they click through – not just what they’ve purchased in the past.

Identifying logical tangents to those interests allows you to remain congruent with what the people on your list are telling you, through the interactions they have with your content and emails.

A final note…

Remember, the vast majority of the people who visit your site and the people already on your list are not ready to buy from you. At least not today. Thinking like Amazon is exactly how you can keep them engaged until they’re ready to make a decision.