Ten years ago, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos launched Amazon Prime, a special service for Amazon customers that offered unlimited two-day shipping for an annual fee.
Amazon Prime is now more successful than even the most optimistic Amazon executive ever could have predicted. This case study should be an inspiration to every digital marketer.
The fabulous success of Amazon Prime
According to consumer intelligence research partners, Amazon Prime has become extremely popular in recent years. Demand has grown by 35 percent in 2015 to an estimated 54 million users (Amazon hasn’t released the actual number).
The company's executives admit they're pleasantly surprised: “In all my years here, I don’t remember anything that has been as successful at getting customers to shop in new product lines,” Robbie Schwietzer, vice president of Amazon Prime, told Businessweek.
Schwietzer is hardly the only Amazon executive delighted at the rapid growth of Amazon Prime. Analysts initially predicted that the service would take two years to break even, but the company reached that goal in only three months.
What can digital marketers learn from Amazon Prime?
Amazon has always been a leading example for online business owners, but the company really outdid itself with Prime. Why is the service so successful, and what can digital marketers learn from it? Here are some key takeaways:
1. Keep your message simple.
Any entrepreneur knows that it’s easy to overcomplicate things. But this can create significant problems when trying to grow a business. After all, how many customers can you expect to acquire if they don't clearly understand your business model?
One of the main reasons that Amazon Prime is so successful is its simplicity. Amazon can easily communicate the benefit of Prime: Customers receive unlimited two-day shipping for a flat annual fee.
Digital marketers would be wise to learn from this feature by making sure that the central message of their marketing campaign is clear and to the point.
2. Organize special events.
Special events can make a huge difference with any digital marketing strategy. Amazon organized Prime Day on July 15, 2015, to draw attention to the deals customers could get on Amazon Prime.
The one-day shopping event, exclusively for Prime members, turned out to be one of the most successful marketing tactics Amazon has ever employed. Hundreds of thousands of Amazon customers joined Prime, and the site had more sales than Black Friday.
The success of Prime Day shows that special events don't need to be reserved solely for a new product launch or grand opening. Digital marketers can also organize special events to promote an existing product.
You’ll be more successful if you get creative when organizing your own events online. Facebook contests and sweepstakes are great ideas that have stood the test of time, but the trick is to be original and offer something of value that incentivizes customers to participate. The fantastic deals that Amazon offered on Prime Day are a great example of this.
3. Capitalize on winning strategies.
Amazon Prime works well with Amazon devices. In fact, many Amazon services complement one other, which is one of the reasons that Amazon has always thrived as a brand.
Keep this in mind while creating your digital marketing strategy. If you find something that works, brainstorm new ways to expand on it. For example, if one of your pieces of content goes viral, look for ways to replicate it. Digital marketing is all about scalability, just like Amazon's growth strategy.
4. Don't sweat any initial criticism.
Prime Day was an enormous success for Amazon. However, you wouldn't know it if you followed the event on Twitter. A number of customers complained about the lack of deals available, using the hashtag #PrimeDayFail.
Like Amazon, you can't expect to get everything right the first time you try something new. That isn't to say that you shouldn't try to make sure things run as smoothly as possible -- you just need to accept the fact you can’t please all the customers all the time, so don't write your strategies off as failures if feedback isn’t 100 percent positive.
5. Learn from the mistakes of Amazon Prime.
Studying the winning elements of a marketing campaign, such as the launch and growth of Amazon Prime, can be very valuable. But, remember that it's equally important to learn from what didn’t go right.
It's still too early to tell whether Amazon has made any significant errors with Prime. George Anderson of Forbes noted that the company may have made some mistakes by growing too quickly and making promises that it might not be able to keep.
For example, shipping times have become somewhat of an issue. As Anderson pointed out, Amazon had to start offering credits toward Amazon Instant Video for Prime members willing to wait longer than the two days promised in the delivery contract.
Overall, Amazon Prime appears to be doing remarkably well, but digital marketers should pay close attention to successful new developments (or failures) with this paid service and use this information to guide their own marketing strategies.
What lessons have you learned from the success of Amazon Prime? Are they applicable to your own digital marketing strategy? Please feel free to share your thoughts below: