On July 11, Amazon hosted its third annual Prime Day, a day of exclusive deals for subscribers to Amazon’s membership service, Amazon Prime. If you opened the Internet that day, odds are you knew about it.
News outlets from Forbes to Buzzfeed posted “What to Buy on Prime Day” lists, while outlets like Reuters News Agency, a division of Thomson Reuters, stuck to harder news. Facebook friends shared their recent purchases and television stations shared their tips and tricks for deal hunting. Wherever you were reading, the media was abuzz with the wonders of Prime Day.
“Yes,” you may be thinking, “a global company like Amazon is bound to cultivate media exposure. But how do I compete with that behemoth?” Rest assured, there are a few takeaways from Amazon’s marketing strategy that any business could adopt to capitalize on word of mouth.
You Scratch My Back, I’ll Scratch Yours
Amazon Associates is an affiliate program used by Amazon to generate web traffic from external sources. The program is relatively hands-off for Amazon, allowing users to earn cash through the creation of their own affiliate links. Anyone can sign up and begin sharing their favorite products with their readers and followers. A win-win for Amazon, it allows trusted sources to add credibility to Amazon’s products and increases third party exposure. Nothing builds customer loyalty like getting rewarded while you shop.
Amazon may be a massive marketplace, but it is just as easy to leverage influencers in your own local market. Outside of Amazon Associates, social media is a great way to utilize influencers to generate word of mouth. For example, you could host a contest: if you’re in the restaurant business, publish posts advertising that one lucky customer who shares an image of their meal will win a free one. On the other hand, think of offering a percentage off of purchases for each person that checks in during their visit on Facebook or Yelp. If you do business online, consider offering a referral program. Online contests using your own social media are also a great tool.
These actions might seem unnecessary, but each photo, check-in, or share is viewed by the friends, family, and followers of customers who love your product. All of the viewers are potential customers that likely trust the sharer’s taste. Many influencers will also offer their own opinions about your product or service, adding a credible recommendation to the impression and crowdsourcing feedback that you can use to improve your business.
Discounts for a Reason
Amazon chose to build sales momentum leading up to Prime Day by offering extra deals ten days in advance. Discounts were offered for first-time users of Amazon’s affiliate services like Audible, the world’s largest library of audiobooks, or Prime Video, Amazon’s answer to video streaming services like Netflix and Hulu. Customers were invited to utilize the many perks of Amazon Prime leading up to Prime Day to encourage them to join the subscription service before and during the event. It paid off in more new Amazon Prime signups than any other single day in history.
The tactic is easily imitated if you offer subscription services, where your customers pay monthly. Free trials offered directly by you, or discounts offered through sites like Groupon or LivingSocial, allow a potential customer to utilize the perks of a subscription for a limited time before deciding to purchase or not. If you lay out the benefits of subscribing during the trial like Amazon did leading up to Prime Day, you could have similar results.
The advance deals sales tactic can also be easily adopted from Amazon to your own business. Maybe you are participating in a sidewalk sale, a day when you will have a lot of competition for a finite number of customers. Think of offering a smaller deal before the sale, allowing customers to grab an item they want in advance instead of finding it sold out on the day of the sale. It could also ensure a purchase when there is less competition for buyers’ attention.
Don’t forget that recommendations may result from any advance purchase and could turn into business on the day of the larger event. Doubly so, teasing deals ahead of the main sales event is marketing in and of itself, keeping shoppers on their toes and encouraging them to come back later.
Make it Memorable
What is the most ingenious thing about Prime Day? It’s entirely made up. Amazon picked a seemingly arbitrary summer day and, in three years, built it into a sales frenzy that MarketWatch, published by Dow Jones and Co., dubbed Black Friday in July. This year’s installation was the biggest global shopping event in Amazon history, growing more than 60 percent over 2016 with sales surpassing even the most profitable Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping holidays.
Prime Day is an ample illustration of how any day can be a success story, so long as you make it memorable. In the days of the Internet, you don’t need to use your own money or even your own brain power to create a special day for any product or service you may offer. Simply type this phrase into Google, “National [your product/service here] Day.” If nothing comes up replace national with international and, odds are, you just found a date you can publicize. A little PR goes a long way here. Let your local media outlets know what you’re offering and why. Make it an event you can come back to year after year, and you could be on your way to your best sales day.
Still skeptical? Here’s an example from Fortune of how donut chains celebrated National Donut Day on June 1.
So what did Amazon do to earn media attention on Prime Day?
- They offered perks to their customers and news outlets through the use of affiliate links and the Amazon Associates program. Affiliate links are an everyday tactic for Amazon that boosted media coverage on Prime Day. Check out some of those “What to Buy on Prime Day” lists. Odds are, they’ll have a notice in the article text stating the presence of affiliate links, and that they may make a profit from your click-through purchase of any suggested item.
- They made news before the news. Advance deals gave media outlets material to publicize before Prime Day. The more coverage these advance deals received, the more coverage Prime Day received in the days leading up to the event.
- They gave Prime Day a name. Without the name Prime Day, it’s really just a sale. The name offers a rallying point for journalists and shoppers alike, and plants curiosity in the minds of non-subscribers who might otherwise miss out on an exclusive event.
You don’t have to be Amazon to take advantage of their strategies. After all, if it works for one of the most successful online retailers in the world, there’s something in their technique to take note of.