Amazon to give marketplace sellers greater email access to its platform’s users – RetailWire

SIGN-UP FOR RETAILWIRE NEWSLETTERS! DON’T MISS OUT! introduced a new “Tailored Audiences” tool that allows sellers on its platform to send emails to repeat customers, recent customers and high-spend customers at the Amazon Accelerate conference last week in Seattle.
Previously, sellers could only send emails to brand followers. The tool will be available at no cost in Seller Central, Amazon’s online portal for sellers.
Amazon said brands have expressed a need for improved tools to increase customer lifetime value. Sellers will be able to send loyal customers “reminders of things like your hot deals or your new product launches,” said Carla Vernón, VP, consumables categories at Amazon at the conference, according to Geekwire.
Sellers will be able to monitor the impact of their email marketing campaigns and customer engagement with performance and reporting metrics, such as open rates, click-through rates, emails delivered, opt-out rates, sales and conversion.
Tailored Audiences is currently undergoing beta testing with plans to make it available to all U.S. sellers in early 2023. Amazon’s sellers are responsible for more than half of Amazon’s physical product sales.
Bloomberg described the Tailored Audiences tool as “a risky bid to boost sales that could inundate inboxes with spam,” noting that customers won’t be opting in for the email messages.
The move marks a break with Amazon’s historic reluctance to let independent merchants connect directly with customers for fear of alienating them,” according to the report. “But online sales have slowed from their pandemic highs, and antitrust investigators are probing the power Amazon holds over millions of third-party vendors.”
The tool comes as the value of email marketing seems continually questioned with its reputation for spam and the continued expansion of social media, including the popularity with short-form video content on platforms such as TikTok and Instagram among younger consumers.
Email marketing surveys in recent years have continued to show its cost effectiveness. A 2018 survey of from Smart Insights and GetResponse found 47 percent of marketers rating email marketing’s effectiveness as either “good” or “excellent,” ahead of social media marketing, 39 percent; SEO, 33 percent; content marketing, also 33 percent; and social pay-per-click, 31 percent.
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What do you think of Amazon’s Tailored Audiences tool and the effectiveness of email retargeting campaigns? What advice would you have around frequency and engagement tactics around email marketing?
16 Comments on “Amazon to give marketplace sellers greater email access to its platform’s users”
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Amazon’s Tailored Audiences tool is definitely a value added service for sellers which will help increase seller loyalty. As Walmart and other marketplaces court sellers, Amazon continues to find ways to maintain seller loyalty. However from a consumer perspective, I am not fond of the idea of getting more unsolicited emails.
This is very valuable for sellers, especially at a time when it is becoming more difficult and costly to reach customers. Such a tool strengthens Amazon’s value proposition and may help to drive third-party sales. That said, it will have to be carefully managed to ensure consumers are not bombarded with messages. At the end of the day, people sign up to Amazon and not necessarily to receive emails from third-party brands – even if they have bought them on the marketplace.
Providing additional analytics to sellers is a smart move by Amazon and, if executed and monitored effectively, will create wins for all parties involved (seller, consumer, and Amazon). The degree of success, however, will be highly correlated to the level of execution and governance. For instance, if Amazon’s guardrails aren’t strong and sellers don’t adhere to email frequency guidelines, then one can easily see how this goes awry quickly and turns into a spam-a-slammer, generating significant consumer outrage.
Any additional opportunities to connect with customers will be beneficial to Amazon sellers. Tailored Audiences will be most helpful.
Bloomberg has a point about the potential for email boxes being inundated with spam. A seller’s good customers might also be good customers to hundreds of other Amazon sellers. Still, I like that Amazon is opening how sellers are able to interact with their customers. It’s a positive step in the right direction.
Tailored Audiences is a brand marketer’s dream to drive engagement, sales and loyalty. It shortens the path to purchase. Relevant, personalized content makes it easier for consumers to discover products that satisfy their needs.
Respecting customers’ low tolerance for spam, and desire for useful, unique marketing will boost sellers’ success.
Do I detect a little “sleight of hand” going on here? Superficially this might be an email tool and process, but the real issue bubbling under the surface is “who owns the customer relationship.” Look for more tools and techniques from Amazon to delay the inevitable transfer of relationship from the platform to the retailer.
This may be viewed as a value add for the sellers but I am not sure the recipients of the email campaigns will feel the same way. I would be more in favor of it if the customers were being asked to opt in. I see one advantage of buying through Amazon as being the lack of emails from the vendors whose products I buy.
From a marketing perspective this makes sense and I’m sure it will generate ROI for the brands. From a customer perspective, this makes me angry. When I buy something from Target or Walmart, the brands do not get my email. When I buy the same products from Amazon, I’m going to get spammed based on my purchases? No thank you. I do wonder, how will Amazon feel about brands that use Amazon purchases to solicit DTC business, bypassing Amazon?
I don’t see this helping anyone except Amazon against the antitrust investigations for its third party brands. For one thing, email is a dying medium for marketing messages. Ask any room full of college students and they use email for school only.
Second, the connection between a consumer and an Amazon reseller is different than that of an Etsy seller. Amazon lets so many resellers on to its platform that are merely U.S. dropshippers of product made in China, with no connection to the product itself. This means the marketing messages can only go as deep as to slash prices, which can be effective but they get noisy quickly.
Third, I completely agree with Dion Kenney’s comment about sleight of hand. Amazon is a data company. You don’t think there is a way that they can monitor and track which resellers are sending out emails and whether that corresponds with price drops, so as to better time the sales of its similar third party brand products?
This is a great opportunity for those who sell through Amazon’s marketplace. The question has been posed in the past: Who does the customer belong to? Amazon or the retailer selling through Amazon? This will give third party retailers the opportunity to cultivate a relationship with their customers.
I am sure the sellers are saying, “Yes! Yes! Yes!”
My email inbox is saying, “No! No! No!”
This is a smart concession on Amazon’s part because it gives sellers something they’ve wanted for a long time, without the likelihood of it changing consumers’ buying behaviors all that much. Email marketing is not something consumers tend to value or pay attention to.
I suspect Amazon would be monitoring the frequency of communications by the sellers and wouldn’t hesitate to put a cap on spamming sellers. The question becomes for people who are high volume shoppers, how many of the transactions are from marketplace sellers? It would be interesting to have a dashboard tool to see how many marketplace sellers I have bought from for the past year to see how many sellers I can potentially get emails from.
This program is spectacular, and is going to do what so many businesses wished for. I’d say this is the best news for sellers in a very long time.
Amazon would do well here by creating an opt-in for customers, as opposed to potentially allowing an open field day of vendor emails. Amazon has built and owned the customer relationship from scratch. So it is incumbent on them to make sure the experience lines up with what customers want in the long run. There could be a percentage of customers who will allow targeted vendor emails in exchange for offers and discounts, and so letting them opt-in could be a win-win.
Wired: Making Sellers happy. Tired: Consumer inboxes overloaded with Seller Spam.

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