July 23, 2013
Case Study

Email Personalization: 750% higher CTR and more revenue for e-commerce site

SUMMARY: "Personalized" emails do not always have to target a person. Marketers can "animalize" them and see great results.

This flash sale website for dog owners targets emails to its subscribers' pets and even wishes them a happy birthday. We explain the unique ways the team gathers data and how they use it to increase clickthrough rates and revenue, to provide an example of how marketers should look beyond personalizing emails solely based on the recipient and consider what other factors affect purchase decisions.
by Adam Sutton, Senior Reporter

Doggyloot is a flash sale site that helps dog owners spoil their beloved canines. The marketing team at the company segments and personalizes emails based on "doggy data," not people data.

For example, subscribers receive emails customized to the size of their dogs. Someone with a Rottweiler is offered different products than someone with a Chihuahua.

"We can send a customized email for large dogs to a customer, which should have a better conversion rate because it's more relevant," said Jeff Eckerling, CEO, Doggyloot.

Doggyloot even triggers emails to wish dogs a happy birthday. A few results of that email include:
  • Open rate: 28.1%

  • Clickthrough rate: 750% higher than the team's average

  • Contributes up to 16% of daily total revenue

The team's emails targeting large dog owners also have good results:
  • Open rate: 10.2%

  • Clickthrough rate: 410% higher than average

  • Contributes up to 13% of daily total revenue

Below, we describe the tactics Doggyloot uses to power these campaigns and a shopping cart abandonment email that added over a day's worth of revenue to the company's monthly average.

Tactic #1. Segment new subscribers

Email is an important channel to Doggyloot and the team needs data to power its segmentation and personalization. In some cases, the marketing team collects doggy data before it collects an email address.

Here's how:

Homepage/landing page combo

Doggyloot's homepage is dedicated to generating subscribers. Other than the header, the main text is a headline and sub-headline emphasizing the value of joining the list:
  • Headline: "Daily deals for dogs and their people"

  • Sub-headline: "Discover chews, toys, treats, and more at up to 75% off"

The first question of the sign-up process, "How big are your dogs?" greets visitors as soon as they arrive. The second and final step requests an email address.

New visitors to Doggyloot cannot view products or offers before signing up for the email list. Once they register, the site reveals the current flash sales.

Radical test, radical result

The homepage may be unconventional, but it works.

"We did some A/B testing on whether or not people were more likely to buy after initially joining Doggyloot if we asked for that information, and the results indicated that subscribers were having no problem providing it," Eckerling said. "We ended up rolling it out to everyone."

Tactic #2. Segment current subscribers

Doggyloot had a large list before it began to segment and personalize its emails. The challenge was to persuade current subscribers to provide the doggy data.

"We knew if customers gave us more relevant information, we could deliver better products to them at the right time," Eckerling said.

Offer a treat

The team added a "My Dogs" page to each subscriber's account profile. There, subscribers could enter data for each of their dogs, such as:
  • Name

  • Breed

  • Size

  • Gender

  • Birthday

Next, the team launched an Email campaign to offer subscribers a $5 credit to share their dogs' birthdays. The call-to-action links of the email directed traffic to the My Dogs page.

"By continuing to learn more about our customers, we'll be able to deliver more relevant products to them, which should lead to better conversion rates and better sales," Eckerling said.

Tactic #3. Personalize by "style"

Since it does not make sense to offer a 10-pound bone to a five-pound dog, the marketing team segments its email list into three groups:
  • Small dogs (under 20 pounds)

  • Medium

  • Large (over 40 pounds)

The team uses this data to select products for promotional emails. In a typical campaign, the marketing team sends the same email template to every subscriber and the products vary by the size of the owner's dog. For example, only the email for owners with a large dog will offer a three-foot duck chew.

As mentioned above, the promotional emails that are targeted to large dog owners have clickthrough rates 410% higher than the company's average.

"The results have been really good," Eckerling said. "We've been pleased, which is why the direction we're going in is to provide our customers with more and more personalized offers."

Tactic #4. Happy doggy birthday email

Wishing someone's dog a happy birthday may seem bizarre, but not at Doggyloot.

"This gives our customers another way to spoil their dogs, which is what we're trying to help them do," Eckerling said.

Once Doggyloot has the birthday of a subscriber's dog, it schedules an automated email to deliver about two weeks before the date. The email features birthday-related products, treats and toys under a "happy birthday" header.

"Customers love it. One of the products we had last month was a pet cake mix. You could literally make your dog a cake," he said.

Clickthrough rates on these triggered emails are 750% higher than the team's average.

Tactic #5. Emphasize urgency to abandoners

Like many e-commerce companies, Doggyloot earns great results with shopping cart abandonment emails. By automatically reaching shoppers who add products to a cart and leave, the team has earned an additional day's worth of revenue each month.

The emails have done "phenomenally well," partially due to the company's flash sale approach, Eckerling said.

"Customers know that there is a chance that the product is going to sell out and they need to respond quickly if they want to buy. So, there is this additional sense of urgency," he explained.

The team's abandonment email reaches subscribers about one hour after they leave the site. It aims to win a sale with these features:
  • More urgency — a sub-headline mentions that the products in the shopper's cart are "almost sold out."

  • Clear call-to-action — two large orange buttons encourage visitors to "restore my cart."

  • Product images — items from the shopper's cart are featured with the lower "Doggyloot price" and higher "retail" price.

Speaking of the 750% increase in clickthrough rate, Eckerling said, "I did not expect to see the numbers we're seeing in terms of the open rates, clickthrough rates and conversion. It's been really impressive."

Creative Samples

  1. Homepage — signup step 1

  2. Signup step 2

  3. "My Dogs" page

  4. Email campaign for data

  5. Large dog email

  6. Dog birthday email

  7. Cart abandonment email



Related Resources

MarketingSherpa Email Summit 2014 Call for Speakers — Bonus: Enter Email Awards 2014 using the same form

MarketingSherpa Lead Gen Summit 2013, Sept. 30 - Oct. 3, San Fransisco

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New Chart: What it takes to personalize email

Email Marketing: 5 tactics to personalize your email message for better results [Webinar replay]

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Email Marketing: Your questions about personalization and length

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