Customer loyalty and repeat purchases are the lifeblood of successful businesses: their cost to acquire and lifetime value make them a key target for the marketing efforts of eCommerce stores. Naturally, retaining your customer's information is invaluable, because you need to ensure you can actively market to them. This can be a conundrum for sellers who are sharing their wares on Amazon.
Third-party platforms are great for getting your products into the hands of new buyers - Amazon in particular has over 150 million loyal Prime customers - but they can also be costly. Third party sites will take a percentage off every sale you make and charge hefty fees if there are returns due to customer policy violations or any other reasons at their discretion.
At first, this can seem like a tough choice to make: do you focus all your marketing efforts to drive traffic to your site, but miss out on an extensive potential customer base, or do you sell your products on Amazon but miss out on the opportunity to build your brand identity and get loyal customers?
The answer is simple - you don't have to make the choice! Although Amazon has some rules to adhere to, it's by no means impossible to generate a buzz around your products on Amazon but eventually draw them to your storefront. Keep reading and you'll find out how to turn this dilemma into an opportunity, and attract Amazon customers to your website - without breaking any rules.
Why is marketing on Amazon difficult?
Access to the Amazon marketplace obviously has enormous benefits, but it can also be incredibly restrictive. You aren't allowed to directly refer customers to your site before they can use their purchase, and you're also unable to retain valuable customer information such as email addresses, names and other customer data.
In April this year, Amazon actually deviated from their policy slightly, and are testing allowing brands access to email addresses for support queries only. Whilst this may look like a step in the right direction, it's unlikely Amazon will continue to trend in this direction - the cut that Amazon takes from brands who use their platform is a key part of their model, and keeps customers coming back to the Amazon site.
So as it stands, customer data is scarce and you can't explicitly direct customers to your site as part of an Amazon marketplace listing. Luckily, all that means is you just have to be a little more creative about how you direct people to your website. Check out our solutions below to make sure you can list your products on Amazon without compromizing your retention strategy.
How to turn Amazon customers to direct customers
1. Don’t put your whole product catalogue on Amazon
One way to create an intrigue around your brand is to only list a few of your products on Amazon. This means that once customers have bought from you they will be curious about what else you offer and want to find out where they can get it.
If at all possible, your products should suggest the existence of adjacent products. If you can release a few parts of a set, for example, your customers will likely be curious as to where they can find the rest!
This tactic can interestingly also work in the reverse! That tactic would be:
2. Bundle your products
Sometimes you can create intrigue by not sharing the entirety of your wares in one go, but you can create a similar effect by packaging your wares into bundles too. For example, you could sell a skincare bundle on Amazon containing moisturiser, day and night cream, face masks etc., but only sell the individual products on your own site.
Both of these approaches are an attempt to encourage the customer to search if they can find your missing products, or bundled products individually. The aim is to have them Google search for your products, leading to them organically discovering your store.
While these approaches can initially frustrate your customers, the satisfaction they have for your product should still drive them to search for additional products, meaning they are likely to buy from your own website if it's offering them what they're looking for.
One thing to be careful of is that you cannot explicitly state that bundled or missing products CAN be bought on your site. If a customer asks, however, whether these items can be purchased separately or if there is more on offer, you can state that you have no plans to sell separately on Amazon anytime soon, subtly encouraging them to check elsewhere.
3. Leverage your packaging
It’s not a violation of Amazon’s policies to include brand name, website and socials on packaging but it IS a violation to explicitly include and insert with this info directing them to your website. That's why it's super important to make sure that your packaging is well-branded and memorable. We've made a handy guide to nailing the unboxing experience, so make sure to check it out for some tips on this.
It's also absolutely fine to use inserts directing your customers to extra, supplementary content. This is a great opportunity to use a QR code to showcase content in ways you can't through your packaging!
For example, Scribeless works with a winery, allowing them to add personalized handwritten notes to their orders. On the reverse side of the note is a QR code, taking them to an interview with the winemaker when scanned. This is a great way not only to enrich the experience of your product, but to get your customers onsite without breaking the rules!
4. Be social!
Whilst directing to your own eCommerce site is obviously in direct violation of Amazon's terms and conditions, they are open to you encouraging traffic towards your social media channels. This makes sense: social media accounts aren't a direct way of pulling customers away from Amazon, but it's only natural that your social accounts will have links to your website.
Consider combining this approach with the above suggestion and add a small card with all your social media channels on. As long as they are aligned with your site, you'll likely be drawing in new onsite customers in no time.
5. Don't neglect Amazon reviews
Even though you naturally want customers on your own site, it's important not to neglect your Amazon customers. After all, if you're using the above tips and tricks, some of your loyal onsite customers may have started out on Amazon too.
Amazon will be where a lot of customers find your brand for the first time, and it's important to offer them an excellent service so that you can nurture them into loyal brand-evangelists.
Customers will always be more passionate about brands that give them all the support they need. Respond to your Amazon reviews and deal with any customer service issues as quickly and efficiently as possible. Once a customer falls in love with your products, it's only a matter of time before they find their way onto your store.
In short: make Amazon work FOR you
It's easy to look at Amazon as a 'win some, lose some' situation, but that doesn't have to be the case. Amazon has everything you need to build a successful business: traffic, brand recognition and customers. The only thing you have to worry about is how to get those Amazon customers onto your own website so that you can turn them into loyal repeat customers.
If you're smart about what you're doing, Amazon can be an incredibly powerful acquisition channel for your business. As long as you stick to the rules and follow our tips, the Amazon marketplace can be an invaluable tool to grow your native customer base.