Altruism and eCommerce >

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I’m an email marketing strategist at BrightWave Marketing. But I also have another life as a therapist. That’s right, a ‘talk-about-your-problems’ therapist. I’m used to hearing jokes around the office like ‘what does this dream mean, Sweitzer?’ and the like. Rarely do my two worlds meet.

But recently I received an email from Amazon that brought the two worlds together and it’s worth highlighting. The subject line was this: ‘Your review helped another customer shop for ‘StarTech.com MUHSMF2M 2m 4 Position…’.

The subject line alone definitely got my attention and stood out among all the marketing messages I’m bombarded with. Why? Because it touched on a psychological concept called ‘social interest’. Alfred Adler, a student of Freud that later diverged from his mentor’s relentless focus on sex, coined the term to describe that internal motivation we all have to belong and to help our fellow human beings. This social interest motivates us to do things that help others, which in turn helps us because we feel fulfilled.

Amazon email marketers were uber-smart to make use of data that may at first seem useless.

You see, several months earlier I had bought an extender cord for a microphone I had purchased so that I could use my iPhone for video recording. I couldn’t get it to work and almost returned it, but checked the manufacturer’s website and discovered you had to plug the mic into the extension cable first before plugging the extension cable into the phone.

Since other customer reviews left on Amazon had been helpful to me from my previous purchases, I decided to give back to the community to help others looking at buying the cable.

So when someone read my review and clicked ‘yes’ answering ‘Was this review helpful to you?’, it triggered the email I received. The email reinforced a sense of fulfillment and motivated me to review other products. More than that, the email reinforced my loyalty to Amazon, increased my propensity to contribute user-generated content, making the site more useful to customers (win, win, win for Amazon)

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So what are some implications for you as an email marketer?

1. Customer reviews engine Bazaar Voice provides this ‘was this review helpful’ functionality out of the box, so this data should be accessible to use to trigger a similar email if you use their platform.

2. Send out a special thank you email or offer to customers who have written more than one review.

3. Think about other ways you could make use of data you’re already collecting to tap into the ‘social interest’ of your customers to help fellow customers, and increase loyalty to your brand in the process.

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