3 Things Amazon.com Can Teach Us About Marketing Automation

It’s an honor to pen this first column of mine for ClickZ, in what will be a journey on the road of discovery focused on marketing automation.

Marketing automation is the system and process (the technology and best practices) which enable businesses to automate, in full or in part, the repetitive tasks in their marketing and sales processes. It is often triggered when a prospect or customer takes some action that the business owner wants to lead to a result.

The action could be the prospect (or lead) asking for a free report. The automation functions could be a series of emails, a video, a survey, mailing them a box of cookies from a fulfillment center or some other nurturing function. The goal might be for the prospect to call, schedule an appointment or buy something.


We can learn a lot from Amazon.com about marketing automation. What’s ironic is that there are so many big retailers who have yet to make the online buying process as smooth and nearly effortless as they could.

I recently moved and since, have purchased thousands of dollars worth of “stuff” from Amazon.com — more than my usual amount. You’ll probably agree how seamless and wonderful Amazon.com’s marketing automation systems are. They cause you to buy more and more; a few examples are:

  1. Product surveys – After you buy a product from Amazon.com, they give you a few days to use the product, then they send you an email to rate how you like it (or do not like it). What a great way to gauge customer satisfaction, but to also provide content for their web site.
  2. Selling more of what customers want – Amazon.com is a master at suggesting items on the home page based on your recent purchases. Most online retailers I visit show the same (or similar) home page to all of their customers.
  3. Keeping up with the Joneses – We all want to know what our neighbors got for Christmas or other holidays. Amazon.com does a masterful job of telling you what other people bought. This helps you decide what else you might want to buy.

These are just three nuggets where Amazon.com excels and shows the power of marketing automation. What if you implemented marketing automation in your business, or did a better job at it? How many more sales could you generate this holiday season? How much more profit could your company make in 2014 with marketing automation?

As you’re looking to start (or improve) your marketing automation, consider these principles from Amazon.com:

  1. What can I do to give my buyers more of what they want? Instead of emailing all your customers the same thing, why not automatically segment your customer lists better so you have real time information on what your customers have bought. Using marketing automation, you can trigger more personalized marketing campaigns and have them buy more.
  2. What can I do to help improve my customer’s buying experience? Through your marketing automation, you can customize the landing pages, widgets and other elements of your web site. This customization will not only help your customers in their buying decisions, but will also help them buy more from you. Amazon.com has shown this.
  3. Listen to your customers and improve your own business. I interviewed Scott Hintz,the creator of TripIt and one of the founding team at Expedia. I asked him what the most important part of building TripIt was and he simply said, “We listened to our customers”. You can read the full interview here. Amazon are experts at listening to their customers through passive actions such as web browsing, to purchase history, to actual feedback through surveys and customer service.

Marketing automation is very powerful. If you implement it right, you will see measurably large results in your business, online or offline. Customers want to feel special and prospective customers want to be educated — marketing automation can help.

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