Copywriting Email Marketing Online Marketing

Amazon’s Personalized Marketing — They’re Spying on You Like Every Good Marketer Should

netflix and amazon marketing (1)
Written by Josh Rueff

Like you, Preston is a real person.

His sweat is sticky and it stinks.

It’s a cool and overcast day in Seattle, but the darkest cloud is the cloud of stress building over his head as he reads his overdue bills.

Preston, an already-balding 30 year old, paced in his socks on the concrete floor of his garage.

It took everything he had to block out the doubts and fears that clamored for his attention.

They tried to convince him he’d lose the money his parents had lent him.

They’d nag day and night, and he knew all too well that 90% of all Internet business start-ups end in failure within the first 120 days. 

But the worst thoughts were, “what will your family do when you go out of business?”

“How will you explain to your wife that your business is growing nothing but debt?”

“What will your friends and family think when you file for bankruptcy?”

“What will they say?”

One of the biggest enemies of the entrepreneur is social fear; the fear of making the wrong impression, and losing respect, love, acceptance.

But Preston responded well.

That’s why he’s a billionaire.

WWJD (1)

This is what he said:

“You have to be willing to be misunderstood if you’re going to innovate.

That response made Jeff Preston Bezos the proud owner of Amazon, one of the greatest companies of this age.

Let’s take a look at Bezos, our modern day marketing messiah, and ask ourselves, “what would Jeff do if he were in my shoes?”

If my business was Amazon, what things would he change?

Spy on Your Customers Like the Digital James Bond You Are

black widow marketing

Black Widow — just after blowing up Amazon’s website conversion rate optimization (obviously).

Check this out.

One of Amazon’s most effective marketing superpowers is spying — like James Bond, or Black Widow.

But they’re very discreet about it.

Amazon marketing (1)

We’ll revisit subtle psychology soon, but for now, just keep in mind that Amazon never goes over the top with their marketing observations and capitalization.

They keep things subtle and simple.

Do yourself a favor and closely observe Bezos’ brain child — the result of years of spy marketing.

amazon marketing

This customer account management system reveals Amazon’s secret weapon: Digital orders tracking, your personal wish list, feedback, returns, and much more.

I hope you’re wondering how you can spy on your customers like Amazon does.

Because I can help.

We’ll cover the spy marketing gear and tools of the trade in a moment, but before we launch our secret agent marketing, we’ll need to know the ins and outs of customer communication.

Consistent Communication is Key

If you say something long enough and loud enough, people will eventually believe it.

Even a lie becomes truth if you repeat it enough (think Hitler and his political campaign).

Amazon’s marketing takes advantage of this brilliantly. Plain and simple, Jeff Bezos isn’t scared of emailing his customers.

A lot.

This is what Amazon does that makes them arguably the most powerful email marketers on the planet:

They Make Their Emails Look Exactly Like the WebsiteVS

Email vs Website — can you tell the difference?*

Why is this brilliant? Because when you read an email from Amazon, you’re already familiar with the website, and comfortable with it.

The comfort level of shopping on Amazon has invaded your inbox — it feels safe, secure, and again, familiar.

By the third or fourth email, your no longer reading an annoying, “please read me” email from a pestering salesperson — you’re reading a personal letter from a friend who wants to help.

Their Emails are “Everything But” Emails

This seemed kind of counterintuitive to me at first. Amazon doesn’t really send their customers special discounts and sales.

In fact, only rarely do they send you anything remotely close to a discount. Instead they send everything but discounts — requests for reviews, newsletters, competitions, cart abandonment reminders, personalized product recommendations, and reminders to sign up for Amazon Prime, to name a few.

They Email in Seriesamazon email marketing

Can you imagine Lord of the Rings crammed into a single, hour long DVD? Or every Marvel comic packed into one movie? That would be ridiculous right?

Same goes for marketing. Sometimes we try to fit all of our marketing for the month in one or two emails. Or worse, we scatter a Lord of the Rings plot across 999 randomly selected emails.

Does that make sense?

Basically, your marketing needs to be organized into relevant series to get Amazon-like results.

Amazon doesn’t shy away from rolling out a series of relevant emails at warp speed when they’re working off of personal data.

This is a series that came after a customer bought a DVD:

They Keep it Stupid-Simple and Somewhat PrimalScreen Shot 2015-05-14 at 2.22.31 PM

The tunnel-vision call to action keyword is mentioned 15 times in this email. Can you spot it?

Make sure your customers don’t have to think. I know that sounds condescending, but bear with me for a moment.

Pretend your customers are really, really dumb children who like shiny new toys and run around on emotional fuel.

Of course that’s not who they really are — treat them with respect — BUT understand that your marketing is appealing to a different creature than the individual as a whole.

In sales and marketing, you’re dealing with a primal, instinctual child who doesn’t get to play enough and is influenced almost entirely by emotion.

This applies especially to your site navigation and call to action. EVERY Amazon email, series of emails, and even site pages is centered around a single call to action. 

Amazon Clings to Their Customers Like a Persistent Parasiteamazon marketing email

Amazon’s clever opt-out link brings you to this page, where they respect your right to unsubscribe, but manage keep most of the people on their email list by letting those people unsubscribe from specific email subjects.

Mobile is Turning Into a Marketing Monolith and Amazon Knows itmobile marketing amazon

They’ve recently modified their email marketing to reflect the change.

This is one of many examples of their email marketing turned mobile.

Their Psychological Tactics Are Subtlepsychological marketing

No one will ever trust a salesperson who tells people exactly what she’s doing.

It’s not that we have to be sneaky — we just need to NOT mention things that don’t need to be mentioned.

Want to know the fastest way to get shot down on EVERY one of your dates?

Tell your date what you’re trying to do.

Tell them you’re trying to impress them, trying to get in their pants, or — oh this would be great — tell them you’re trying to marry them.

I’m not going to spend much time on this, because every Amazon example I’ve shared with you above demonstrates the subtle nature of Amazon’s marketing psychology.

Luckily, keeping psychological tactics subtle happens to be stupid-dumb-simple, because most people aren’t looking for it.

But it’s still worth bringing up. You’d be shocked at how many copywriters make the single most moronic mistake imaginable.

They tell their reader what they’re doing. It kills the buying mood faster than anything.

They say stuff like, “okay, I really shouldn’t tell you this, but hey, let’s be honest with each other — I’m trying to sell you something, and I really hope you’ll buy from me. Whew, glad we got that out of the way, that felt good. Moooving on…”

Sounds cute right? Kind of endearing maybe?

Guess what.

It’s freaking not.

Don’t do it, pretty please.

Okay, now we can get to the tools of the trade.

Tracking Customers Like Amazon — The Tools of the Trade

We may not have billions to spend on marketing and big idea teams, but you know what, we’ve got brains, creativity, and the internet.

That counts for something.

These are the customer-tracking tools my clients use to get Amazon-like results:

 For website analytics and tracking consumer behavior: Google AnalyticsKISSmetricsWoopra.

 Product recommendation engines: Directed Edge or LiftSuggest.

 For home and landing page optimization: Spinnakr.

 And for email marketing: Aweber, Vero, and Mailchimp.

Armed with Jeff Bezos’ most deadly marketing tactics, you can take the statistic,

“90% of all Internet business start-ups end in failure within the first 120 days,” 

and make those numbers obsolete for you and your business.

Because you can innovate and you do innovate and you will innovate.

And who knows — with this intel you may be the next Jeff Bezos of your industry!



*The top is the email, bottom is website.

Black Widow Image Source

Brain Image Source

About the author

Josh Rueff

Josh Rueff is a digital marketer, copywriter, minimalist nomad, fisherman, literary nonsense poet, Marine Corps vet, lover of every form of chocolate, and keeper of very large dogs. He believes that specialization is for monkeys and insects. He's recently published a book called Rock Paper Root, and has two other pieces in the works: Minimalist Living in Ancient and Modern Culture, and a children's poetry collection in the writing genre of literary nonsense, Periwinkle Yetis and the Yvinosiop.