Amazon lets advertisers send targeted messages for first time

Dive Brief:

  • Amazon is piloting a service to let sellers on its e-commerce site contact shoppers directly by email, a shift from the company’s strict oversight of consumer data. U.S. companies that belong to Amazon’s Brand Registry can ask shoppers to follow them to receive emailed notifications about new products or promotions, CNBC first reported.
  • The new software tool, called “Manage Your Customer Engagement,” is geared for marketers who seek to stand out on Amazon’s marketplace, to urge to their customers to make repeat purchases and to build their brands, as the company explains in a video. Amazon will keep people’s contact information private, and only show merchants aggregated data such as how many emails were sent out and metrics on response, CNBC reported.
  • Amazon’s quiet rollout of its email marketing tool comes as advertisers look to expand their one-to-one targeting and reach consumers directly. Audience targeting is expected to become more challenging as tech companies restrict data-sharing amid growing concerns about privacy.

Dive Insight:

Amazon’s pilot program for email marketing is significant for brands that have expanded their presence on the e-commerce platform in the past few years. Amazon already has a fast-growing advertising business to help brands stand out and for marketers to reach consumers when they’re most ready to shop. By letting marketers build a following on Amazon as they do on social media, the company is helping to support brands’ efforts to build loyalty that lasts after an initial purchase. Marketers can use the software tool to target consumers in their email inboxes with information about new products or their latest promotions to drive repeat purchases.

Amazon introduced its Brand Registry in 2015 as part of an effort to crack down on the sale of counterfeit goods. Since then, more than 350,000 brands have signed up for the registry, and Amazon has expanded it to provide other services. Amid the demand for features that help to build ongoing relationships with consumers, Amazon also introduced Amazon Stores that act as a landing page for marketers and is testing Amazon Posts that show a feed of lifestyle product images, per CNBC.

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The email marketing pilot also is notable as brands face the loss of behavioral targeting technologies as companies including Apple and Google take steps to give consumers more control over their personal data. Apple this week will update the software that runs devices including the iPhone to notify customers when apps want to track their online activities. The move worries marketers who rely on device identifiers for ad targeting. Likewise, Google will end support for third-party cookie tracking in its Chrome browser by 2022, though it continues to develop an alternative ad targeting technology that also provides more privacy measures. Amid this push for tighter data privacy, Amazon can help marketers reach their loyal customers directly with its email marketing program.

More brands have taken notice of Amazon’s marketplace in the past few years. The percentage of U.S. brands that sell on Amazon’s marketplace grew to 78% this year from 55% in 2020, according to Feedvisor, which consults businesses on how to advertise and sell on Amazon. With millions of people stuck at home during the pandemic, online shopping surged and boosted Amazon’s sales 38% to a record $386.1 billion last year. Brands that advertise and sell through Amazon participated in that growth, and the company’s email marketing program gives them more ways to engage consumers.

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