Plenty of e-commerce sellers do business on Amazon, and for good reason. Almost half of all product searches online begin on Amazon. Their massive customer base is amazing for businesses trying to get off the ground and market their products.
But selling on Amazon has a major drawback. Being very protective of their customers, they limit individual sellers’ ability to contact buyers. In particular, they have special terms preventing sellers from accessing their customers’ email addresses. As email marketing plays a huge part in the growth of online businesses, this is a significant hindrance if you’re trying to take your sales to the next level.
But never fear!
In this article, we’re going to take a look at how Amazon sellers can collect customer emails and use them for growth while staying fully within marketplace terms of service.
Getting customers from Amazon’s search results can sustain a small business. But ignoring email marketing will result in a big missed opportunity for growth. Not to mention, passively riding the wave invites the risks of selling exclusively on Amazon.
Integrating email marketing into your business’ strategy will help grow your sales on Amazon, and set you up to survive and thrive independently of them.
Any ambitious Amazon seller should be driving external traffic to their listings. External traffic helps you get a leg up on the competition. Most believe it also gives you a boost in organic search rankings.
How do you know which sources to use?
Social media, for example, might be enticing, as platforms such as Facebook and Pinterest have a large active user base to market to. You wouldn’t be wrong if you choose to market on these channels. Ads on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest should definitely be a part of your marketing strategy.
Email marketing, however, has been proven to give the best bang for the buck in digital marketing. A 2016 study showed email marketing was over 4x as effective as any other marketing strategy for study participants, with a median ROI of 122%. Another study shows that on average, every $1 invested in email marketing made a $48 return. A stark contrast to the cost of increasingly competitive social media ads.
Email marketing is not just for new customers. Repeat customers are the heart of any business. An Adobe Digital Index report showed US e-commerce businesses received 40% of their revenue from repeat customers (who represented just 8% of total visitors). According to the same report, businesses have to bring in 5 to 7 new customers just to match the value of 1 repeat customer.
As an Amazon seller, without emails, your chances of having repeat customers are slim. You have to hope that customers find your products via search rankings again, or happen to remember you from their previous purchase. This is not a strong strategy to rely on.
With an email list, you’re able to maintain long-term relationships with your customers, and encourage them to buy again. Studies show with each purchase, the likelihood of customers buying again increases. If you can encourage customers to come back once or twice, you’ve drastically increased the chance of them staying loyal to you long-term.
You can use a much more personal touch with email marketing, one that is not possible on your Amazon listings.
Amazon has a brand too, and they want to push their brand on customers (ahead of yours). So you need another way to make shoppers familiar with your brand if you want to build a sustainable, recognizable business.
Selling solely on Amazon is risky. There’s the chance you could get kicked off Amazon or squeezed out if you end up competing against their private label products.
When someone buys from your listing, they’re not technically your customer. They’re Amazon’s. That means if you’re removed from the marketplace without an email list, you have no more customers. Zero.
Even if you stay on Amazon’s good side, it will still benefit you to also sell off-Amazon. While they introduce you to a huge base of customers ready to buy, you also have their fees to deal with. These fees add up and take away a decent chunk of your profit. By making the same sale on your own site, you pocket a much larger slice of the sale.
And finally, if you reach the point of wanting to sell your business (through a marketplace such as Empire Flippers), you’re going to get a better valuation if you have an email list to go along with it.
So now you know why you should do it, and we can get right down to it.
As we already mentioned, Amazon wants to protect their customers and grow their brand. Their terms specifically forbid “attempts to divert transactions or buyers” and “unsolicited emails to Amazon customers”.
That might make it tricky to capture your customers’ emails while staying on Amazon’s good side, right? Not if you do it the right way.
This is key to building an email list without upsetting Amazon. Let’s look at the terms again:
“Unsolicited emails to Amazon customers (other than as necessary for order fulfillment and related customer service) and emails related to marketing communications of any kind are prohibited.”
This means that once a customer goes to Amazon, they are off-limits. Any external communications you have with that customer outside of regular service related to their order will get you in hot water.
If you collect a customer’s email before they go to Amazon, you’re fine. You’re well within your rights to engage communications with them.
There are some methods to convince customers to visit your site or sign up to your email list after they have purchased (such as physical product inserts). However, it’s unclear whether this is a violation of Amazon’s terms, and as such, is kind of risky.
Unless you’re ready and willing to cut the cord from Amazon, it’s best to try a few tried, tested, white-hat ways to grow your email list.
A simple, low-cost method to gain email subscribers is by adding opt-in forms on your own website. E-commerce sellers have been using opt-in forms since the dawn of time (or at least, the dawn of e-commerce). They are effective and need very little effort to put in place.
A lot of tools exist to help you add popups to your site. SaaS apps like Sumo, or simple WordPress plugins like Optin Cat.
The caveat with this method is that you need traffic coming into your website. So your email list is still reliant on content marketing and SEO to generate viewers. And your content or branding needs to be good enough to convince people to sign up.
People these days are quite protective of their emails. That’s why you need to give them a good reason to give it up and subscribe to your email list.
Offering a potential customer a piece of useful content does this. As an Amazon seller, you’ll want to offer something that helps the customer get more value out of your product. Thus, also making it more likely for them to buy it.
You might offer an e-book of recipes if you are selling cooking or food prep appliances. Or a PDF/video workout guide for fitness equipment.
The best way to provide content giveaways is by driving external traffic to a landing page, made with a tool like Leadpages. Get in front of interested viewers with a great offer, get an email signup, and encourage them to go on and buy from your Amazon listing. This way, they are your customer – and you get their emails – before they become Amazon’s customer.
A similar method, but easier and more effective, is to offer a discount on Amazon if the customer signs up. Monetary incentives appeal to everyone. It’s a great reason for the customer to give away their email. And it makes them more likely to buy from you, giving you a nice boost in sales (and search rankings).
Your sales funnel works the same as the previous method. An Amazon-specific landing page tool like LandingCube automates a large part of this process for you. Send potential customers to a landing page with all the information from your Amazon listing. The page prompts them to enter their email address, and they receive a discount coupon code.
Coupon codes are a great way to grow your email list, sales, and SERP rankings all from one marketing campaign.
You’ve put your sales funnel in place and built an email list. Great!
You’ve done the hardest part, but you still need to put your email list to good use. Engaging email campaigns will spell the difference between your Amazon business merely getting by, or growing into a strong, sustainable empire.
Getting a new product off the ground is tough work. Without any sales history or reviews, you might struggle to get traction in organic search results.
The best way to get a product launch off the ground is having a list of customers who have already bought or shown interest in your brand. We already know that repeat customers are more likely to buy. And loyal customers may be more likely to leave reviews for your new products, which is a vital step in your listing’s growth.
Similarly, encourage customers to view your other products. You already have some idea of what they’re interested in, so this is a great chance to offer complementary products.
Upselling is a great thing for any business to do. A consistent effort to push customers into paying a little more will add a lot to your revenue long-term.
Some product segments are geared towards repeat customers making consistent, recurring purchases. These purchases add a huge lifetime value to your business. Examples of these type of products could be supplements or beauty care.
The customer is eventually going to run out and buy some more, and obviously, you want them to buy from you again. If you have a good idea of how long the product should last or the customer’s purchase frequency, you can get to them just before they run out and encourage them to buy again.
Getting customers to recommend your brand to others is extremely powerful. Viral marketing, or word-of-mouth marketing, is so effective because people trust recommendations from friends or family more than regular advertising. Over 80% of consumers, according to Neilsen.
Craft a strong, multi-step referral campaign, with incentives for sharing. This lets your customers do the hard work of promoting and marketing your business for you.
These are simple, and effective in building long-term relationships with your customers. Sincere, human communication in which you aren’t asking for anything is a great way to make your customers trust you. Instead of seeing you as a faceless business entity only interested in their money, they will see you as a concerned party.
A few good examples might be:
Proactive customer service is always beneficial and helps you to get honest feedback that you can use to improve and grow.
Email marketing is tried, tested and proven to be beneficial for e-commerce businesses. And the benefits of an email list are even greater for Amazon sellers, who don’t have the security of their own customer base.
To grow your business and mitigate against the risk of selling on Amazon, it’s crucial that you know how to build a strong email list and grow your brand, without breaking Amazon’s terms. Take advantage of what they have to offer, but make sure you’re building your business into its own empire.
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