CFO World

How VetShopMax automated customer engagement to boost targeting and sales

Online pet business deployed new email marketing automation platform and saw an immediate uplift in conversion

VetShopMax is one of many brands increasingly looking to shift away from ineffective ‘batch and blast’ email campaigns. And thanks to a more personalised approach, it's now chalking up double-digit revenue growth.

The online pets supplies retailer was established in 1999 by veterinary surgeon Dr Mark Perissinotto, and prides itself on offering pet supplies and medication at low prices. With a growing database, it realised potential revenue was being lost by not targeting the right customers at the right time with the right product. 

According to marketing manager of digital, VetShop Group of Companies, Naomi Szabo, the existing platform didn’t offer functionality to personalise.

“It didn’t have any automation whatsoever,” Szabo explained to CMO.“We felt we were very limited in how we could access our database and provide information for our customers. It’s the reason we moved over to dotdigital.”

In today’s competitive online retail space, generic, blanket emails to an entire customer database just won’t cut it anymore. For VetShopMax, it knew valuable sales growth was going missing and it wanted to hone messaging to grow its business.

“We wanted internal control over our emails and knew the best way forward to grow was to really personalise and segment our customers and communicate with them one to one” Szabo said.

The brand also wanted to encourage customers with abandoned online carts to return to their purchase. To achieve these objectives, the business needed to adopt more advanced segmentation practices and implement a cart recovery program. The pet supplies business also required something that would integrate with its backend ecommerce platform - Magento - but allow it to gain all of the personalisation and responsive functionality it was currently missing. 

It was an easy integration, according to Szabo, after doing all the leg work of researching other solutions.

“We compared the platform [dotdigital] to other email service providers and it came out the winner,” she said.

Smart messaging hits the spot

Since August last year, VetShopMax has been using dotdigital for automated customer engagement programs such as a welcome series, abandoned cart notifications and birthday email campaigns. In terms of the process, the onboarding phase took a month, and the first eDM was sent shortly after this was completed. Subsequent testing of eDMs was done for the next week and then the first promotional email was sent just after this.

“It was seamless, as seamless as integrating an email platform can be, although you always run into something. You introduce something from a solutions providers and it breaks something else, which has to be fixed. Along the way we were," Szabo said. 

The connection with Magento was one of the key features that appealed in dotdigital’s solution as it provides the intelligence framework for personalisation.

“This allows for a near-real-time sync of all our customers, subscribers’ data and their transactions. This data is leveraged when building automation rules that help us target the required customer segments, without the need for any exporting and importing,” Szabo said.

Related: Why Showpo switched to a new customer management platform

How Coopers Brewery has used shipping experience to bolster customer loyalty

Magento CEO: Make in-store staff part of your omnichannel retail brand

Another feature which propelled VetShopMax's intelligence is integration with Google Analytics. Szabo explained this allows the team to easily build dashboards and widgets to track email visits, conversion rates and revenue.

“And the automation template library gives a journey flow that can be easily tweaked to suit our needs,” she said.

Conversion brings growth

Thanks to its new approach to email marketing and range of marketing automation campaigns, VetShopMax cited fantastic growth - from welcome series to first purchase series activities.

“What it’s done, the marketing automation, is helped us create real-time relationship-oriented approach to our marketing campaign. Our productivity, our efficiency, our lead generation, our bottom line,” Szabo said.

Since implementing dotdigital into its platform, the site has already seen a 33 per cent increase in gross sales revenue over the first quarter of 2019. A re-email exercise, which ran in April, saw a conversion rate of 11.3 per cent in the first run and 15 per cent when resent.

VetShopMax has also grown its customer database, representing further potential business growth.

"Email and marketing automation drives 25 per cent of revenue for this website," Szabo said. “It’s a channel that we believe is key to our growth and to communicating with our customers. The sticky identifier where you can market one-to-one with customers.”

The journey hasn’t stopped and VetShopMax is now looking to add a new product recommendation feature into the mix to help the brand market to its customers in a dynamic fashion. The recommendations are created as dynamic content blocks that update automatically according to the products customers are buying and viewing on the website. 

It’s just one of numerous levers it now has to meet its consumers where they are and respond to their needs and interests, Szabo said. 

"It takes personalisation to another level and that’s what today’s consumer wants and expects,” she added.

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO conversation on LinkedIn: CMO ANZ, follow our regular updates via CMO Australia's Linkedin company page, or join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia.