Did you know that Amazon uses direct mail as part of their marketing strategies?
This may surprise some marketers who stay focused exclusively on digital marketing strategies. After all, Amazon is one of the world’s largest internet companies. So what does Amazon know about printed marketing materials? And what is there for a small business owner to learn from the marketing methods of a giant corporation like Amazon?
When one of the world’s largest internet companies makes a change to their marketing, are there wider implications marketers can use to their own advantage? Absolutely!
One of the benefits of being Amazon is that they have a lot of data on their customers. They can use this information to gain a lot of insight on what works to drive sales. Amazon uses this data to inform their marketing decisions.
While they certainly won’t share what they find with the rest of the world, their actions can tell us a lot about what may work for other businesses.
How Amazon Has Used Printed Marketing Materials
One of the major ways that Amazon decided to invest in a printed marketing campaign was through sending a toy catalog to their customers. They gave no information about how they selected who would be receiving a catalog, but it can be surmised that they chose customers based on their purchase history. They would have enough information about their customers to know who would be most likely to spend a specific amount on the products they filled their catalog with.
Remember that while Amazon has a great deal of information that many businesses do not, you can always use the information you have to better inform your own marketing campaigns. What products are your best sellers? What do you know about the people who love them most? Like Amazon, you can use this to create marketing materials that appeal to them.
The catalog they created was fairly standard for a catalog. It was something that in today’s world, any business owner could create for themselves online. The format was similar to catalogs popular before the rise of internet businesses, except in their ordering standards.
Instead of asking customers to call a phone number to make a purchase or mail in a form, consumers were offered scannable codes within the catalog so they could be directly linked to make a purchase on the website.
What did Amazon know?
They understood the value of combining their print and digital marketing strategies.
You’ve likely heard marketers suggest that a customer needs to come in contact with a product or company seven times before they make a purchase. Some studies have suggested this average number is growing as consumers have more choices.
What does printing a catalog offer a giant like Amazon?
Another touch point with customers.
With a printed catalog, there is the opportunity to stand out in a customer’s mind. They have seen advertisements online, they’ve likely browsed products on their computer, and they have talked about Amazon with their friends. What have they not done yet? Flipped through a paper catalog. This is a new way for them to connect with the brand and the products they might want to purchase.
Another thing of note was that the Amazon catalog focused on the holiday season.
Today, thanks to pay-per-click campaigns online, marketers have a more common understanding of how important it is to create personalized campaigns. This can mean targeting your audience based on their interests and location. It can also mean crafting copy that speaks to their needs.
The toy catalog Amazon created was sent during the holiday season, exactly when many of their customers would be needing to purchase toys as gifts.
These customers would also be looking for a stress free way to find the products they needed. During the holiday season, many consumers are overwhelmed by the number of choices online. They don’t even know where to begin their search. The toy catalog offered them a curated collection of options, making their choices simpler.
When Amazon sent out their direct mail, they knew what their customers needed and crafted a marketing campaign that met that need.
This is how successful marketing campaigns are built.
How Direct Mail Engages With Consumers
Like any kind of marketing materials, they must be done well in order to truly connect with consumers and lead to a conversion.
This means smart copy with a thoughtful message. It means graphics that grab the eye. A quality cardstock will capture attention better than a flimsy sheet of low-quality paper.
The materials need to be smart.
When they are, they can provide a different way to engage your audience, add credibility to your business, and create a memory with your customer.
Today, consumers see advertisements online all day, every day. While this is still effective marketing, it’s not the only marketing. Millennials, the first digital generation, are very familiar with online advertisements. They also have been shown in studies to love physical mail more than other generations. We can only guess that this is because it’s something different for them. They go through their mail and they read it.
One of the big keys to a successful print campaign is a strong call to action. This is your best opportunity to combine your print and digital marketing. Like how Amazon used scannable codes to direct their customers from the products they liked in the catalog to their sales pages, a great piece of printed mail can include a next step that leads the customer to their online presence.
Why connect with customers online as well?
So you can continue the conversation. So you can lead them to a next step that might gather their information via them following you on social media or signing up for your newsletter.
When a potential customer chooses to take the next step to build your relationship, especially through a different medium, you have a stronger connection with them. Every time your customer makes a choice to take the next step, they’ve chosen to trust your brand a little more.
While it is great when a print campaign leads to immediate sales or conversions, most people you connect with the first time will just be for brand recognition. The more they see your branding, the more familiar they’ll become with your business. By urging someone to connect with you online as a next step, you have the opportunity to strengthen your relationship with the customer and funnel them toward becoming customers someday.
If Amazon Thinks It’s Worthwhile…
Small businesses can’t do everything a large corporation has within their marketing budget, but printing marketing materials is entirely possible for businesses of all sizes. By watching what large companies choose to do with their marketing information, we can learn a lot about marketing techniques that work with today’s consumers.