During the month of July it was nearly impossible not to hear talk of Amazon Prime Day, either through the press or the numerous emails the company sent to its customers. Now that Amazon Prime Day has come and gone marketers and consumers are left assessing their views on the manufactured retail holiday. It is easy to focus on the negative. Consumers berated the brand on social media and much of the post-Prime Day press suggested that the event was a dismal failure.
But was it?
Amazon announced Prime Day on July 6th just nine days ahead of the sale, to celebrate the company’s 20th anniversary. Prime Day was a one-day shopping event on July 15, 2015, with Amazon promising “more deals than Black Friday.” The real goal of Prime Day was to acquire new Prime customers. (Industry experts estimate Amazon has somewhere between 30 and 40 million Prime customers.)
We all know Amazon to be a ubiquitous mailer, having sent out 1 billion emails in the 9 days following announcement of the sale, with an average read rate of 23%. Of those emails 78 million promoted the Prime Day sale by using subject lines that referenced the sale. Many of those emails were intended to build excitement about the event. Subject lines included, “Prime Day is coming soon!” which prompted 41% of the recipients to read the email.
A major goal of Prime Day was to encourage members to be more engaged with their accounts. Free shipping might be the most well-known benefit of Prime but members also get instant streaming video, unlimited ad free access to music, unlimited storage of photos, early access to deals and free books on Kindle.
In an effort to encourage customers to benefit from the full value of the Prime Membership a big part of Prime Day was about getting customers to utilize its streaming music service. More than half the emails sent to promote Prime Day encouraged customers to play any Prime Music song for the chance to win $25,000 in Amazon Gift Cards. While Amazon’s music and video services aren’t on the same scale as competitors Netflix and Apple the real strategy might be in the devices that Amazon sells to work in conjunction with its services.
According to the media Prime Day was panned in social media with many shoppers frustrated that the most coveted items either weren’t on sale or sold out too quickly. Many best-selling items were not included in the sale, making consumers skeptical of the company’s claim that Prime Day deals rivaled Black Friday deals. The social media numbers tracked tell a slightly different story. On July 15th there were over 500K mentions of Amazon, a 78% increase from the day before. Of those mentions, over 60% were positive. Despite complaints, customers focused more on shopping. Amazon said that by 1 p.m. the speed with which customers were ordering had surpassed 2014 Black Friday.
If nothing else, Prime Day communication increased brand awareness and attention making Amazon top of mind for online shoppers. Another win for Amazon comes from being first-to-market. Being the first to offer this type of one-off holiday gives Amazon an edge as consumers tend to tune out quickly.
Amazon’s big event creation was also a juicy opportunity for some consumers to voice disappointment, skepticism or plain ol’ snark on Twitter. The hash tag #PrimeDayFail was at one point trending more strongly than was the official #PrimeDay. According to a report in Adweek, negative tweets spiked 241% from July 14 to July 15, while positive tweets rose 108%. Still, the number of positive tweets was nearly twice that of negative ones.
Amazon embraced the opportunity to turn spilled milk into strawberry milkshakes by joining in the fun by asking Prime members to tag their Instagram photos with #AmazonPrime to “share your Prime story.” After #PrimeDay disses, hilarity ensued. Judging from the photos Amazon has selected, the majority of Prime members enjoy putting their pets and children in the boxes. It’s somewhat of a brave social-media move after the e-tailer was skewered on Twitter for its deals on Prime Day.
But if the goal was to win business rather than win Twitter Amazon should be satisfied. In its own press release from July 17, Amazon announced it sold more units on Prime Day than on Black Friday 2014 (which had been its “biggest Black Friday ever”). The company sold more than 34 million items worldwide equalling 398 items ordered per second. The company also had more new members try Prime worldwide on July 15 than on any other day in its history.