Is building a customer list worth for FBA businesses? A lot of Amazon sellers take the view that it’s literally a waste of time. In this article, I will explain why they are wrong, how you can benefit from having a list and how to build it.
The strategies below are demonstrated on building/using an email list, but the majority of them should work with any other kind of customer list, e.g. ManyChat list.
3 Reasons To Have And Use A Customer List
Rock Your Product Launches
Product launches may be hard, but using a customer list can help significantly.
I will show you its impact on a real-life example.
*To avoid disclosing any information about my client, some information below is adjusted.
Recently I was working with a client who had a customer list of “only” 1000 people. He was collecting emails over the past two years through insert cards, but he never leveraged them. A few weeks ago, he was about to start selling a new product and I suggested we use the list he already has to support the launch. I’ve created a simple promotional email using MailChimp, included a 20% coupon and a 2-step super URL. We’ve sent the email out to all those 1000 people who already bought some of the client’s products before. Approx. 50 people bought the product. You might argue that we probably didn’t make much money from this effort. That is true because by giving a 20% sale we sold those 50 units with almost no margin + we spent some time working on it.
However, those 50 sales significantly helped us to rank the new product for keywords we wanted to.
Would we be able to achieve the same rank without the email? I believe we would but the client would have to spend a lot more money on PPC and other marketing activities.
Things that are worth mentioning:
The email list was never used before - the client was not communicated with his list at all. If he used to send out an email here and there, the conversion rate of the promotional email would likely be higher.
The client didn’t really believe that the promotional email will have any mentionable impact so I had no space to optimize the email. If I would invest 10 hours into the email creation instead of 3 and created an impactful copy and design, the conversion rate would likely be way higher.
We used a 20% coupon - the conversion rate is highly dependent on the offered sale. A general rule of thumb is that the worse the email copy and design is, the bigger sale you have to offer to make it work.
Overall, using an email list for a product launch proved itself as a great, cost-efficient strategy.
In case you would like to read more about the best way to launch a product on Amazon in 2021, check out the article here.
Increase Customer Long Term Value
I suppose you pay quite a lot of money to get customers to buy your product. If you are using PPC in the right way, you have your numbers in line and you know that even though you spend X amount of dollars for client acquisition (suppose you included the listing conversion into the equation), you’ll still make money on that.
But what if I tell you, that you can increase your profitability by not focusing only on the one point in time sale that you are currently chasing?
If you get customers through your door once and provide them with a great experience (your communication as a brand, product itself, customer support, providing valuable emails...), they will likely get back to you and buy some of your product in the future. And guess what, some of them will do it with no additional incentive - without you having to spend another dollar for the sale acquisition.
Having a customer list and communicating with them may significantly increase the chances they will buy from you again.
I’ve recently written an article partly focused on differences between general branding and branding on Amazon (you can find it here). The truth is, that on Amazon it’s much harder to build relationships with your customers than it is on e.g., Shopify. Meaning, that even some big successful brands have only about 5% of repetitive customers on Amazon - the LTV of a customer is limited just to that one point in time sale in 95% of cases.
Maning that focusing on the long-term customer value should not be your priority when selling on Amazon - there are a lot more impactful things you have to/can do.
Nonetheless, if you want to take that extra step and get ahead of your competition, this is definitely a viable strategy.
Get To Know Your Amazon Customers
Do you know who your actual customers are? Maybe you’ve done the hard work, defined your target customer, and created a customer avatar, but do you really know your customers?
Maybe you know their demographics (these are easily accessible through the Seller Central in the Brand Analytics section), but what is even more important than demographics are their interests, goals, motivations… usually referred to as psychographics. But why do they matter?
It’s simple; if you know what it is that your customers are interested in, what are their goals and motivation, communicating your brand message, and, ultimately, selling them your products becomes much easier.
After all, it’s not a coincidence that major social media platforms like Facebook steer you towards interest targeting of your ad campaigns - it simply works better.
How can you use a customer list to get to know them? Genuinely engage with them, chat with them, get them on the phone and ask them.
The following strategy worked well for me:
Send out an email to your existing email list asking for honest feedback (don’t ask for a review on Amazon, that would directly violate their policies!) - consider offering a 5-10% discount or e.g., 1 out of 5 Amazon gift cards drawing. Add a checkbox for a follow-up phone interview at the end of the email.
Call those who checked the box and get insights on the following:
Context - where do they live, what do they do for work
How does their standard good vs. bad day look like?
Where do they want their life to be in 10 years?
What is their relationship with the product category?
What role can your brand play to help them to reach where they want to be in that 10 years?
In any case, be polite and don't push the customer to answer your question if they don't want to.
Although this worked well for several clients I worked for, be aware that some of the steps above may violate Amazon policies or be in the so-called grey area. I suggest you do your research on this topic beforehand.
How to use this data to get more sales and maximize profit is for a whole another article.
Building A List
Ok, I believe now we agree, that having a customer list comes in handy. But how to build it?
Polish Your Packaging
You’ve probably heard that a thousand times, but I will say it once more: product packaging is extremely important! Have you ever opened an Apple product? It all looks so clean, polished, professional… Do you also remember your feelings when you were opening it?
I am not saying be like Apple, packaging like they use comes with a hefty price tag, and spending your whole margin on it is not a good idea. Nonetheless, do your best to deliver a packaging that at least fulfills the expectations your customers have based on your online presence on Amazon. Ideally, exceed those expectations.
Although having great product packaging doesn’t help you build the email list directly it makes a huge difference in the mind of the customer - believe me that even if you have the best insert cards in the world, you’ll lose a lot of people who would otherwise (meaning if your packaging was great) opt-in to your list if your packaging is bad.
Use Insert Cards
Insert cards are the cornerstone of customer list building when selling on Amazon. I strongly recommend (of course, if your budget allows it) hiring a professional graphic designer to create an insert card design that complies with your branding (most importantly with your product packaging). Alternatively, you can create the design yourself, e.g. using software like Canva, but unless you have a decent experience with graphic design, I don’t recommend it.
Now, what about the insert card copy - what text should be there? There are various strategies on what to include, I will share the one that proved to work for me and my clients.
Offer additional value - give them an incentive to give you their email address
This can be anything that makes sense for your product. You can offer a free downloadable educational guide, or simply a coupon for the next purchase with you on Amazon (I don’t suggest you try to get them out of Amazon, e.g. to your Shopify store). If you decide to use a coupon, be aware that the bigger the sale, the bigger the chance the customer will opt-in to your list. Because this is the most important part of the insert card, it has to stand out! Make this text bigger, visually distinctive from the rest of the card, etc.
Consider using wording like this:
“Get XY% OFF Your Next Purchase With Us On Amazon”
Use a clear CTA and create a sense of urgency
Clearly state what they have to do to get the value you offered. I guarantee that if there would be any confusion, you’ll lose a lot of those who would otherwise opt-in. Also, you have to create some kind of urgency. If you give them an unlimited time frame in which they can claim the additional value, the conversion rate will drop down significantly because they will likely think about registering later and then forget about it.
Consider using wording like this:
“Go To yourwebform.com To Claim Your Coupon NOW” in bigger words, and
“within XY hours of receiving your order” in smaller words on a separate line under it.
I don’t recommend using any thank-you or “we are family business” kind of phrase. There are two reasons for that. The first one is a distinction - don't use the same phrases 90% of Amazon sellers use. The second, maybe even more important reason is clarity - you have limited space so make every word count and the most important things stand out, don’t flood the customers' brains with any unnecessary clutter. Oversimplified inserts work the best.
Set Up A Form To Collect Emails
You can use MailChimp, MailerLite,... it doesn’t matter which provider you chose. Setup a simple opt-in page. Once again, make it crystal clear what your customers have to do to get the value you offer on your insert cards and avoid any unnecessary clutter - this is an opt-in page, not a brand website.
You can also collect some additional customer information through the form, but be careful not to overdo it. If you demand too much, the likelihood they will successfully opt-in is dropping down.
Once you have the list you can use it in the cases written above, but also for various other purposes like occasional promotional deals, getting feedback for new product designs, etc. Overall, it's a really valuable asset.
A customer list comes in handy in various situations, for example during product launches.
Genuine communication with customers on your list gets you some highly valuable insights you can use to maximize profit.
Insert cards are the best tool to build a list of customers who bought your products on Amazon.