When it comes to making your way safely through that jungle, who better to turn to than the ultimate content marketing warrior, Amazon.com? After all, they are not only brilliant e-commerce players but they are just about the best at connecting with their customers.
Arguably, Amazon.com changed the rules for all online retailing but is a certainly changed the rules for bookselling. Since Amazon’s founding in 1995, the brick-and-mortar Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association has dropped from 365 stores to just 188. Even the venerable Seattle-based Elliott Bay was forced to leave its 40 year location in Pioneer Square or cheaper quarters elsewhere.
Amazon.com leverages the long tail phenomenon of selling zillions of product units all the way from best-sellers to books and other products that would never make it into a brick-and-mortar establishment. they do a brilliant job of logistics and supply-chain management, stacking just what they need, organizing print on demand where appropriate, and enabling overnight delivery for the vast majority of the productsthey sell.
All of that is exceptional and essential, but I believe they really shine by doing a superb job of connecting with their customers so that those customers want to keep doing business with Amazon.com year in and year out.
In fact, Amazon.com is a superb content marketer. You probably don’t have their size and scale but you can certainly emulate their approach to their customers in the following ways:
Six Ways to Put Amazon.Com’s Approach to Content Marketing to Work for Your Company
- Offer free samples. Even before the advent of the Kindle, you could sample books online before you actually ordered. Whether you’re selling products are offering services, you can certainly take advantage of this time-tested approach to getting customers to begin using you on a regular basis. Your free samples will prove the quality of your merchandise or the value of your services. Afterward, it becomes a no-brainer for your prospects to begin buying from you.
- Know your customers. Amazon.com tracks your browsing and buying behavior. They know what you like and are delighted to help you get more of it. If you are a regular user of Amazon.com, you have your own individual page with lots of recommendations that become more relevant as you buy more products over time. they are now even recommending MP3 music which you can sample, of course.
It is vital to have the same kind of understanding of your customers so that you know what they really value. Armed with that knowledge, you can position your products and services perfectly for their needs.
- Stay in touch with relevant information. Amazon doesn’t just wait for you to show up at their website. With your permission, they send out regular e-mails informing you of what’s hot and happening within the product areas that are of interest to you. They don’t waste your time sharing the latest hip-hop selections, if you are a classical music lover.
In the same way, it’s critical for you to maintain a targeted outreach to your customers sending them information that you know to be relevant to their information needs.
- Make it easy to buy…more. Amazon is a genius at exposing you to more relevant choices once you have made a purchasing decision. They know that once we are in a buying mode, it will be easy to sell us more as long as they can provide an easy path to purchasing products that they know we will like.
Similarly, on your website, you can make suggestions for related products and services once it’s clear that your visitors a right to make their initial positive buying decision.
- Create communities of interest to energize and engage users. When you browse the pages of Amazon.com, you will find a wealth of user participation with product ratings, reviews, and Listmania. This last item consists of book or other product lists created by enthusiasts who love a subject or product area and are willing to share their knowledgeable enthusiasm with other Amazon customers.
You can easily open your site or your blog to participation by your prospects and customers. And, any air of social media, you can certainly establish groups of enthusiasts on Facebook or twitter who’ll pay careful attention to the goings-on of your organization , your products and your services. This is a great way to keep your customers engagedso that they are much more likely to remain loyal and long term buyers of your products.
- Help your vendors connect with your customers. Amazon makes it very easy for authors to establish a presence on the Amazon site or blog posts and other timely information can be added easily.
If you are selling other people’s products and services as part of your business, make it easy for your customers to connect with those vendors. For example, you could pull in RSS feeds from vendor blogs that are relevant to your customers. In tough times, maintaining close vendor relationships may make the difference over time in your survival. So it only makes sense to help them look good in the eyes of your customers.
As it is so often with content marketing, you can emulate the best practices of the really big players with a fraction of their budget. Most of the time, big ideas don’t require big budgets.
In the case of Amazon.com, they began in 1994 with a tiny initial investment of $250,000. In the end, it was big ideas not big bucks that put them over the top. Many of those ideas are all about brilliant content marketing. And so it can be with your company, too.
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