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How to Use Your Customer Data Like Amazon

Last week, I read an article in Fortune about how Amazon is using personalized recommendations to help drive their business. If you’ve ever shopped online, odds are that you’ve made a few purchases from Amazon and marveled at their personalized recommendations, suggested additional purchases and highly targeted emails. Amazon may not know more than other retail giants about their customers, but they are certainly using what they do know (your browsing history, past purchases and reviews) to maximum effect. They call their unique algorithm, “item-to-item collaborative filtering.”

The company refuses to comment on how successfully these recommendations are for the company’s bottom line. An Amazon spokesperson told Fortune, “Our mission is to delight our customers by allowing them to serendipitously discover great products. We believe this happens every single day and that’s our biggest metric of success.” Well, if the company’s growth over the course of Q2 is any indication, delighting customers is paying dividends. Amazon reported a 29% sales increase to $12.83 billion during its second fiscal quarter, up from $9.9 billion during the same time last year.

Reading about Amazon’s success, I realized that this level of personalization could be equally successful to businesses well outside of the retail space. Imagine being able to send a prospect the exact piece of content they were looking for at just the right time. Think of how beneficial it would be to already know a prospect’s concerns, interests, and pain points before even picking up the phone. This level of personalization in your sales and marketing is already possible and doesn’t require a complicated algorithm. It is baked straight into marketing automation solutions.

Sales Intelligence the Amazon Way

Use Browsing Data Effectively

Marketing automation solutions allow you to view the recent activity of prospects on your site in the same way that Amazon is able to keep track of their customer’s recently viewed items. This is incredibly valuable information that your prospects are giving you about what most interests them in your company.

These valuable insights can be used to personalize your sales approach. If you are comfortable calling a prospect directly, make sure you touch on the features and benefits they most recently viewed — but don’t be creepy! Nobody will ever be receptive to the sentence, “Well I’ve been watching your online activity and…” If your prospect is not yet ready for a direct phone call, email them a relevant piece of content that matches up to their interests or place them on a drip program that demonstrates how your product can address their pain points and overcome their concerns.

Optimize Based on Interactions

Amazon rigorously studies standard engagement metrics like open rate, click through rate, and unsubscribes to make sure they are only sending the emails that will garner the best responses. According to an Amazon employee ” if a customer qualifies for both a Books mail and a Video Games mail, the email with a higher average revenue-per-mail-sent will win out.”

Marketing automation users have the ability to tailor their email campaigns in the same way, with detailed reporting on all relevant email metrics. Easily A/B test your headlines, content, links and more to make sure that you are only emailing your prospects the information that is most likely to prompt action.

While the complex and often shockingly accurate algorithms employed by Amazon may seem outside the grasp of your company, it may be time to start looking at marketing automation. It might be just the thing to start delighting your audience and experience some of Amazon’s success for yourself!