The Amazon-centric SAAS space has no shortage of enterprising endeavors. There does appear to be a fine line, however, between providing excellent value and attempting to squeeze every ounce of profit out of your customers as possible.
To be less ambiguous, when I say this I am specifically speaking of email appends and the companies that offer them. For those of you who don’t know what email appends are, this is a service where the provider takes your Amazon buyer data and then matches it to scraped data from around the web to attempt to ascertain a real email address.
The primary reason services pushed this feature was so that sellers could use the information to create custom audiences in Facebook for advertising. Some services that offered this have since been asked, politely no doubt, to cease operation by Amazon themselves. First, we’ll discuss why Amazon doesn’t like these services. Then we’ll discuss why you don’t need them anyway.
Now more than ever I see people requesting a good resource for email appends.
What’s Wrong With Appends?
Let’s first answer this question by looking at Amazon’s carefully crafted terms regarding email addresses. Not only does Amazon not provide real email addresses, they also prohibit the exchange of email addresses between buyers and sellers. The reason is clear; Amazon’s customers are not your customers. They want to keep it that way. So it stands to reason that Amazon put this policy in place for a reason, and any attempt to skirt it would be frowned upon.
Now let’s look at other implications this has. Whether we like it or not, buyers on Amazon ARE Amazon’s customers. That means that, outside of Amazon’s messaging system, we sellers do not have a right to email these people. Any attempt to do so would be in direct violation of the CAN-SPAM Act. The implication here is that by scraping real emails you give someone, potentially, the ability to break the law.
Combine these two powerful factors and it is no wonder Amazon took swift action. There is simply no place for email appends in the Amazon ecosystem.
Why Does Everyone Want Them?
Most sellers simply want an easy way to match buyer data in Facebook so they can create a targeted custom audience. Facebook even makes it clear that emails are one of the easiest and most reliable ways to find those matches.
Email append services pushed this feature too, especially when they offered the ability to match audiences, because it gave them an easy way to make a decent profit. That’s because they could charge per email. Even at a mere couple of cents, hundreds or thousands of emails add up. So the hype machine was fed, and sellers bought into it (understandably).
Now more than ever I see people requesting a good resource for email appends. This is because, dictated by human nature, we want what we can’t have. And the reason people can’t have appends is because Amazon sent a clear message a few weeks ago when they sent a cease order to the popular service ZonPages.
The interesting thing about the ZonPages case is, Amazon asked them to cease both appends services AND Facebook match services, nipping all issues they may have with the service in the bud with one fell swoop. This led many, including ZonPage’s founder Leo Lemin, to be convinced Amazon was shutting down all audience match services. Thus chaos ensued. Everyone was convinced that they could no longer leverage Amazon data for laser targeted advertising.
Why You Don’t Need Appends
The good news is, you can still create custom audiences from your Amazon buyer data. And no, you don’t need appends to do it. In fact, email appends are likely the most inefficient way to create these audiences anyway.
While emails are extremely effective at audience matching USUALLY, in this case they under-perform compared to other data. See, many people don’t even use their Facebook email address anymore. And it makes sense why. They signed up with Facebook back in college. Likely they used their .edu email address to do it. They certainly don’t use that anymore.
Yet that’s the only email address Facebook has access to. They don’t have any idea what a person’s Amazon account email address is. So these matches are potentially fewer and farther between. Compare that with a physical address, for example.
Physical addresses tend to not change nearly as frequently as email addresses. Further, your physical address is usually something you’re willing to update within Facebook (because you want to be able to check in and let your family know where you are, etc). That means, matching by address information is MUCH more effective.
Is This Good News?
If you are venturing into Facebook ads, then yes, this is good news. It means you can load your buyer data into Facebook and still create custom audiences full of loyal buyers.
You may be wondering though, “how is this different from email appends?”
It’s different because the information is still anonymous. Once the data is uploaded into Facebook, matching and creating a custom audience doesn’t give you the ability to reach out to the customer outside of Amazon. At least, not privately. The only thing this process allows you to do is target these buyers with advertisements, which they will only see based on Facebook’s performance-dictated algorithms.
Most sellers simply want an easy way to match buyer data in Facebook so they can create a targeted custom audience.
Buyer data in aggregate only serves to benefit everyone involved. Being able to target them on Facebook with advertising likely will send them right back to Amazon (yay Amazon’s happy). The ad will be seen more frequently if it performs well, which means the offer is relevant (yay Facebook’s happy). Relevant offers give customers more options they LIKE (yay, customer is happy). These offers, when redeemed, benefit the seller (yay, you’re happy).
The other HUGE benefit to Amazon-buyer-data based custom audiences is the ability to create insanely relevant lookalike audiences. These are people who AREN’T currently your customers. Brand new prospects that you can introduce to your brand, and thus increase the pool of buyers of your products, and of Amazon’s.
And you can facilitate this manually (I’ve written about this process) OR you can automate the custom audience creation process at the click of a button by using Bridge by SixLeaf. Bridge offers the most robust segmentation and filtering options, so you can separate exactly the type of buyer you want to target. It also allows for the creation of LTV (lifetime value) lookalike audiences natively within the app.
There is no better way to expand and grow your brand than being purposeful and highly relevant on paid advertising platforms. Here’s to the future of ecommerce.