Three Lessons Marketers can Learn from Amazon Prime Day

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Jeff Navach, Vice President of Marketing, MediaAlphaBy Jeff Navach, Vice President of Marketing, MediaAlpha

A year ago, Amazon launched its first attempt at Christmas in July, kicking off the inaugural Prime Day as a sort of summer sale to end all summer sales. Many pundits were skeptical at such a brash offering; rolling Black Friday and Cyber Monday into one day, months before the holiday season kicked off, seemed like an aggressive ploy that was doomed to fail.

However, Amazon proved once again that it knows exactly what it is doing. Sales weren’t just impressive, they were astronomical. Amazon sold more units than they had sold on any Black Friday ever, had the most successful day of Prime trials in the company’s history, and sold almost 400 units per second. For perspective, it would be as if every single one of New York City’s 8 million residents ordered four items from Amazon on the same day.

Other than “we should be selling goods on Amazon,” there are key takeaways that marketers across the globe should be considering. Here are three lessons from Amazon’s first Prime Day:

  • Engaging Customers Further Down the Funnel Will Generate More Sales – One of Amazon’s key strengths over the years has been its ability to retarget customers. Consider what customers are really telling Amazon when they search for a particular item; they’re saying “I’m interested in buying this product.” Whether it is through enhancements to their website that remind customers what they’ve searched for, emails with special offers after a customer has abandoned their shopping cart, or retargeting efforts scattered throughout the company’s affiliate network, no company has been more effective in using this data than Amazon (as an aside, just imagine what the company will do with Alexa once more consumers have purchased an Echo). From the outside, it seems as though many of Prime Day’s sales should have come from retargeting efforts; a customer who logs in for the big event will see which of the items they’ve previously clicked on are on sale. In addition, we can speculate that sales for the days following Prime Day were disproportionately related to retargeting efforts. Excuse the pun, but Prime Day was a prime example of how effective companies can be when engaging customers who have already expressed an interest in making a purchase.
  • Focus on monetizing shoppers, not just selling products – While Amazon’s press release (linked above) highlights a variety of Amazon branded devices (the Kindle Fire Tablet and Fire TV sticks are mentioned by name), the company wasn’t only selling their own wares. Whether it was identifying complementary products like upmarket headphones to go with a new Fire Tablet, or even including competitor’s hardware, Amazon was able to be so effective because they were able to monetize their audience. It isn’t always a good idea to sell a competitor’s products on your website, but in some markets it can be an effective way to generate additional revenue and increase the leverage of your marketing spend. When a customer has completed a vertical search (one that identifies their specific buying interests), companies can be more effective selling when they offer a variety of solutions (think about how car insurance companies offer quotes from competitors on their own sites). Establishing partnerships and “frenemies” can allow companies to increase their revenue, as Prime Day shows.
  • Be a pioneer – By the numbers, Prime Day 2015 was a major success. However, there was quite a bit of ire and skepticism directed at the company when the idea first came to light. Being a trendsetter isn’t easy. The first people to discuss Black Friday were probably laughed out of a room. The same goes for folks regarding Christmas in July, Twitter and maybe even the Pet Rock. But Amazon has established itself as a regular harbinger of what’s to come. Success marketers can learn from Prime Day that being a pioneer and taking chances definitely pays off.

For marketers, incorporating the lessons and successes from Prime Day, such as investing heavily in customer engagement for those who are further down the funnel, capitalizing on opportunities presented by vertical search, and being willing to blaze one’s own trail, will build significant bottom line results for their companies.

About the Author: Jeff Navach is the Vice President of Marketing for MediaAlpha where he is responsible for leading all marketing activities, including customer insights, brand development and demand generation. MediaAlpha operates the leading technology platform for the real-time buying and selling of high-intent, vertical search media. The MediaAlpha platforms power over 25 million annual transactions across insurance, travel, education and other vertical-specific sectors. Jeff holds an M.B.A. from The University of Chicago Booth School of Business and a B.S. in Business Economics from UCLA. 

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