How Pets at Home uses email marketing to gain customer loyalty

Like many others facing an existential crisis throughout the pandemic, I got a puppy.

It wasn’t an entirely impulsive decision. I’d wanted a Cavapoo for a while and was waiting for a litter to be available nearby. When I got an email alert that six Cavapoo puppies were available 20 minutes away from me, naturally I enquired to have a look…

‘Having a look’ turned into handing over an eyewatering amount of money on the spot and going home with a dog. Come on, who’s ever made a rational decision around a bundle of fluffy puppies? I fell in love with Stanley straight away.

I didn’t have a bed, poo bags, toys, a bowl or any food. We were off to a good start.

Eventually, I did my first sensible thing and stocked up on essentials from the Pets at Home website. I bundled it all in a basket and chose the click and collect option, which meant everything I needed was ready to pick up at my local store in three hours.

I didn’t think anything of it at the time but Pets at Home has cemented itself in my brain as THE pet essentials brand. I can’t even name another one. They’ve educated me, made me laugh, inspired me and gained my loyalty…all through their clever email marketing strategy.  

Here’s how Pets at Home has built a loveable brand through email marketing, and how you can do the same for your business.

1. The right data capture

Pets at Home asked me for four bits of data about Stanley when I signed up:

  • His name
  • His age
  • His gender
  • His breed.

Simple enough. They used this data to send me relevant information at every stage of my journey as a new puppy owner.

2. A warm welcome

The first email I received upon signing up contained a free, helpful resource for new puppy owners like me.

It welcomed me to the ‘VIP club’ (a clever name for their free email community) and directed me to some helpful links, along with the downloadable guide. It’s good practice for automated welcome emails to contain something of value, or at least links to different pages on your site. This way, you’re capturing the reader at a time they’re highly engaged with you – remember they JUST signed up – and helps generate engagement.

3. Timely communications

When I signed up to Pets at Home’s emails, Stanley was a young puppy. If you’ve been a dog owner before, you’ll remember how tough the puppy stage is! With the data they collected, Pets at Home knew Stanley’s exact age and their emails came at significant points in his development.

I started getting email content containing training tips, ideas to keep him entertained and advice on what food to give him based on his age.  

It was like they were reading my mind. I’d be thinking Stanley was playing up and couldn’t understand why when like magic, I’d get an email – “At sixteen weeks, Stanley’s going to be teething. Here’s some ways to help soothe him.”

Imagine if you could target your customers at the exact time of their pain point like that?!

Along with using my data to offer personalised, valuable content, Pets at Home also remember Stanley’s birthday every year. Now I know not everyone throws their dogs a dinosaur-themed birthday party with accompanying balloon arch and Pawsecco – no idea who would be weird enough to do that – but most of us are partial to the odd dog-friendly cupcake when their special day rolls around.

Of course, the birthday emails contain discounts and birthday-themed treats to inspire purchases. Birthday emails actually have a 481% higher conversion rate than standard promotional emails, so if you can think of any relevant offers to send your customers on that day, start collecting birthday data.

4. Staying one step ahead

By collecting the right data and having an in-depth marketing automation strategy in place, Pets at Home are able to stay one step ahead of their customers and secure purchases before they even reach the consideration stage.

Take the email 👉, for example.

By knowing the age of my dog when I signed up, they were able to predict my upcoming considerations like neutering. This email leads with helpful information, but they didn’t miss the chance to promote their products towards the end, too.

They gave 15% off a heat pad to provide comfort and warmth after the operation and shared a range of toys to help cheer your dog up. There’s a fine line to tread when it comes to using emotion to sell, but Pets at Home did it subtly. Asking things like ‘have you considered X?’ rather than ‘buy this now’ offers a softer approach.

5. Little details

Have you noticed that all the imagery in the emails I’ve shared is of Cavapoos (or some sort of ‘Poo’), the breed of my dog?

Now, this could be a coincidence, and perhaps they’ve just chosen Cavapoos as models because they’re the best dogs ever. But given how slick Pets at Home’s automation is, I don’t think it’s by chance.

Visual elements of your marketing should never be overlooked. Relatable imagery helps people connect with your brand, and you’ll see higher engagement as a result.

6. A strong brand identity

I wanted to make this point last, because none of the above would be possible without it. We all know Pets at Home, it’s a household name in the UK and probably the first brand you think of when asked where you’d get pet supplies.

Visiting their website and signing up as a customer was a no-brainer for me, because their brand already existed so strongly in my mind.

That doesn’t happen by accident. Building a brand takes consistency, dedication and commitment. Email marketing is a tactic, a piece of the puzzle – brand always comes first. You need to build awareness of your brand so that people know about you and want to sign up to your emails to receive your content.

What surprised me with Pets at Home however, was the value they offered me AFTER signing up.

They’ve prioritised nurturing and retention over promotional emails, and regularly work towards building a community – an outstanding example of email marketing automation.

Inspired to think about using marketing automation to retain customers?

Get in touch for a no obligation chat and we’ll talk you through the best place to start.

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