How Petco boosted emails and customer experience with a new CRM
To support the new tool, Petco also used AI to build modules which helped scale personalization.
National retailer Petco were hoping for the best when they implemented a customer relations management (CRM) solution to drive a new customer-first strategy. They got it. In the first two years of implementation, email opens rose 30% and click rates jumped 50%. Here’s what they did.
“We implemented Salesforce Marketing Cloud and the platform alone is great, but it’s not going to do all the hard work for you,” said Andrea Mathews, Petco’s vice president of CRM, at The MarTech Conference. “Those things are paying off for us, and the campaigns that we’re building are over-delivering on engagement goals, on click rates and ultimately revenue.”
Hyper-personalized email campaigns
In 2021 and 2022, Petco built out a hyper-personalized email program that sent monthly “health reports” to pet parents in their CRM. Early in the implementation, they also ran standalone personalized campaigns for some quick wins, Mathews said.
“What we hear continuously is parents want to do a good job, but half of them don’t know what that means or what that looks like,” she said.
The health reports include areas where pet parents are doing well, as well as education on areas for improvement.
“The fact that we have such a rich database allowed us to really use that data to inform this communication and really make it completely relevant from top to bottom for the customer,” said Mathews.
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Using data in the CRM to run campaigns and experience
Petco partnered with Jam, a CRM-focused agency, to get the most out of its CRM. Customer data comes in from user interactions (making purchases on the app or website, for instance), gets aggregated in the CRM, and then used in Salesforce Marketing Cloud for activations like email campaigns or digital experience on Petco’s properties.
“It all starts with data, and on the Petco side there’s a rich data set from multiple platforms,” said Brad Bettinson, vice president enterprise solutions, Jam. “We can bring that platform data directly into Marketing Cloud, but ideally it goes into a central CRM or CDP, and then we get that aggregate data every day into Marketing Cloud.”
He added, “On the back end, there’s development language in Marketing Cloud, and anyone on your team who’s a developer who knows pretty much any standard language could pick it up pretty quickly. But we’re also making templates and content blocks that are really smart, and that makes them reusable…Now Andrea’s team, or our team, as they’re building that next message, they can just drag, put in [the reusable blocks] and then all of a sudden their email has huge chunks of personalization that have already been tested and worked out.”
Using the rich data from customer interactions, Petco no longer looks at emails as a single message. Instead, they are building conversations through a series of emails and digital experiences.
“We just keep adding to that library of really smart modules that we have,” said Bettinson. “Some of those modules include AI.”
He added, “Using Einstein to do product recommendations is one of our really smart modules. And then you can end up with this complexity. So we’ve got these great messages, but now there are hundreds of thousands of versions. So how do you actually test those?”
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The Petco and Jam teams use a preview tool so recommendations generated by the AI can be vetted by humans.
“Our humans could look and infer when Einstein’s getting it right and when Einstein needs a bit of help,” Bettinson explained. “And then in scenarios where we thought Einstein needed a bit of help, we could see that in the data and we would override those recommendations. Maybe 80% to 90% of customers will get our best performing Einstein profile and then 10% will have a manual override, where Einstein has a blind spot from maybe some data issues.”
Having good customer data to back up the AI is crucial.
“The modules that have Einstein in it are very well performing because you’re talking to a customer about what they purchased and what makes sense for them,” said Bettinson. “So it’s really helping that level of personalization and relevance that clients are learning, hey, I should open Petco emails because there is something in it for me.”
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