How much marketing can you buy for $2.99?

How does about 46,000 page views, 2000 Facebook recommendations, 675 tweets and 98 Google+ recommendations sound?

I know, that sounds impossible. But that is exactly what Amazon.com did in late 2012. One of their customers was doing research on the movie Casablanca, during which he frequently customer centric marketingpaused and restarted the video. Amazon’s systems interpreted this as a playback problem, and proactively refunded him the $2.99 rental fee. He blogged about it at http://www.businessinsider.com/why-amazon-is-one-of-the-most-successful-companies-in-the-world-2012-12, and that is the traffic that resulted (as of the time this blog post was written).

Many of the other articles that referenced his blog post discussed the importance and value of Amazon’s customer-centric approach. And I’m sure that’s very important and very interesting – but it’s not what caught my eye.

Remember – I’m an engineer, and what interested me about this was that Amazon KNEW that there was a problem. That great customer service couldn’t have happened if it weren’t for the fact that Amazon obsesses about data.

I was talking the other day to a friend of mine who does sales for his company. I was asking him how he markets to contacts. I asked if he knew when a contact downloaded a white-paper or responded to a web form. He replied that sure – it was probably recorded somewhere. But I pressed him – when that happens, is a sales rep notified? Is the contact assigned to someone for review or follow-up? Is there even status on the contact so that they could track the current level of engagement? He had no answer.

I’m not a sales guy, and would not presume to guess the best way to reach your customers or manage your sales team. But as an engineer, I can tell you one thing – without solid and accurate data, you’re just guessing.

The real lesson from Amazon isn’t just about the importance of customer service. It’s about the importance of obsessing over data, and figuring out new and better ways to use that data effectively.

Dan Appleman

About Dan Appleman

As Full Circle Insights’ CTO, Dan Appleman brings a broad technology experience to our customers. In addition to having supported over 30 Salesforce.com implementations with technology solutions, Dan is also the author of the book "Advanced Apex Programming for Salesforce.com and Force.com" and has been a speaker at Dreamforce since 2012. Previously, he was the founder of Desaware, Inc. a developer of add-on products for Microsoft Visual Studio, a co-founder of Apress publishing, and the author of numerous books and articles.