Oh Crap: Fuelling a brand mission with marketing automation

Gaining visibility across a retail client pool along with personalising customer communications led Oh Crap towards an all-in-one digital marketing platform

Oh Crap CEO, Henry Reith
Oh Crap CEO, Henry Reith

Oh Crap is a brand on a mission. What began as a lightbulb moment in the park has become a thriving business with numerous copycat brands keen to acquire environmentally conscious dog owners. And driving this ongoing brand messaging and customer connection is an increasingly refined email and social marketing approach.

It all started back in 2014 when company founder, Bruce Hultgren, was in the park with his rescue dog, Brady, and realised trying to dispose of dog poo in a plastic bag was a bad habit for the environment. Oh Crap was born, focused on a goal to eradicate 4 per cent of dog poo wrapped in plastic bags from landfill ‘one poop at a time’.

While the initial business model began as B2C, retailers started asking about selling the dog poo bags in stores, extending Oh Crap’s path to market. Today, there are more than 170 small shops and businesses selling the Oh Crap bags. It has also charged all dog shelters in Australia to start using non-plastic bags and is currently Australia’s number one dog poo bag.

“We’ve saved over 23 million dog poo bags from landfill,” said Oh Crap CEO, Henry Reith. “It’s just cool to wake up every day and know that everyone in the Oh Crap family is making a difference.”

The power of email

Oh Crap’s marketing automation platform, ActiveCampaign, has been central to success since day one. Having originally brought on the digital marketing tools in 2017, Oh Crap has more recently adopted ActiveCampaign CRM to manage retailers in its pipeline and gain the visibility it needs to track and manage all retail clients.

Reith noted the platform offers both B2C and B2B customer management capabilities. “You don’t find many CRM platforms that do both sides really well,” he told CMO.

One of the challenges Reith faced with the brand was how to keep customers long-term. B2C sales were solid, but the challenge was to keep customers coming back and buying again. He was able to meet this challenge using ActiveCampaign automations and personalised emails.

Depending on what size package a customer ordered – 45, 180 or 375 packs – Reith could estimate when people might need to buy again. So he built automations based on those check-in predictions and improved them over time.

“I think the first two years were really about getting our B2C communications right,” he said. “One thing I absolutely love is using some of the ActiveCampaign automations to orchestrate time-based emails, so we know someone from our team is going to be in the office at that point. When customers reply, we can actually be there to reply to their message.”

Another impetus is generating an authentic experience with the Oh Crap family. “When people order over the weekend, it would be odd to get a personal message back,” Reith said.

By using text-only emails, with no graphics or header, Oh Crap’s emails come across as more personal and have gained great open rates.

“We’ve implemented a thank you email when people first purchase, which has a 73 per cent open rate. That is insane,” Reith commented. “Loads of people reply as well, and just say, `Thank you, we’re really happy to be part of the Oh Crap family.’”

The company recently moved to the ActiveCampaign Enterprise Plan to accommodate continued growth, gain access to features such as split testing and predictive sending. With 40,000 people flowing through automations, Oh Crap is quickly able to test subject lines and find out what content makes a difference.

“I just drop the split testing in ActiveCampaign and off you go. We’ll try both emails and leave it in there for a month to see which one works. It’s really cool because you can pull an email really quickly if it’s not working,” Reith said.

Integrated data objectives

To keep retailers on message, Oh Crap uses a 45-day check-in to connect with clients and educate them on the differences between compostable and biodegradable.

“I think it’s really important to educate retailers so they can explain the product properly,” Reid said.

On the prospecting side, Oh Crap is using a separate CRM pipeline to track new leads interested in purchasing. For its business customers, ActiveCampaign has helped predict when deals are going to close.

“We’ve got the deal value, time and all the rest, plus what actions to pursue and who we should be calling when,” Reith explained.

By transferring those deals into various segments in the prospecting pipeline, Oh Crap is able to use sales pipelines to stay up to date on open deals so nothing slips through the cracks. With clear steps in the sales cycle and next best actions, the business is better prepared to turn prospects into Oh Crap customers.

The enriched ecommerce data Oh Crap gets from a Shopify integration provides further key information the team can use to effectively engage and follow up with customers any time after they purchase.

“This is especially helpful when it comes to our B2B deals and having the ability to view order activity right on the contact record,” Reith said.

Another component to Oh Crap’s advertising strategy is Facebook Custom Audiences. When it’s about time for a customer to reorder, the teams syncs customer data from its CRM to Facebook Audience in order to serve up a few ads and other information on Facebook and Instagram for a few days before prior to sending an email. According to Reith, this again brings more of a personalised touch to the communications process.

“We can do a lot of subtle marketing by using that Facebook integration with ActiveCampaign. It has completely changed the way we do marketing, allowing our emails to be family to family,” he said. “We don’t have to sell so hard in the email, because they’ve recently seen us on Facebook.”

As the Oh Crap brand has grown, it’s been able to apply more features and grow through the platform. Overall, the business has generated $3.46 million in revenue, most of it in the last two years, of which 62 per cent can be attributed to returning customers – that is, those returning after receiving emails post first purchase.

Its latest email campaign celebrating the #OhCrapFamily of more than 72,000 dogs nationally, the company saved 25 million dog poop bags from landfill and generated about $50,000 in revenue in seven days.

Looking ahead, there’s a website refresh on the agenda and continuing with its mission of educating customers about the difference between biodegradable, which means very little, and compostable, which actually breaks down, keeping as plastic bags out of landfill.

“In terms of marketing, the education part is huge and pushing the mission is a massive part of our marketing because that’s really important,” Reith said.

And there’s just having fun as well. “We get to hang out with our dogs and we get to talk crap, but we’re also partnered with the RSPCA and I really want to highlight that because we’re trying to give back to charities too,” he added. 

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