Pet insurance marketer gets better returns through e-mail

A carefully planned e-mail marketing campaign helped Pethealth produce sharp increase in customers.

Paul Demery

Marketing pet insurance is complicated, but a carefully planned and tweaked e-mail marketing campaign by Pethealth Inc. has led to a sharp increase in the number of prospects joining as customers, vice president of marketing Susan Arts says.

Pethealth, which operates multiple web sites for pet supplies and services, specializes in selling pet health insurance policies through animal shelters that use its complimentary shelter management software to consumers who have recently adopted a pet. With policies ranging from $15 to about $50 per month depending on the scope of coverage, the company typically offers an introductory 30-day free policy.

To win over recipients of the complimentary policy period as permanent customers, it used to send e-mail messages for 12 straight days to a new pet owner following the adoption. But the e-mail blast strategy didn’t produce much of a response, Arts says. “We were inundating them and using up our e-mail database quickly,” she says.

Clickthrough rates inched up to only the 2% to 3% range, she adds.

Beginning last fall, however, Pethealth started working with e-mail services provider Delivra to run e-mail campaigns that contain more personalized content, such as the names of both the pet and pet owner. In addition, each e-mail is coordinated to match the particular step a recipient is at in the insurance review process.

For example, within an hour after leaving a shelter with an adopted pet, the new pet owner receives an e-mail from Pethealth’s ShelterCare Pet Insurance program. A second e-mail encourages them to enroll their pet in an insurance program with the introductory 30-day free period. If recipients haven’t signed up within 30 days, they receive a third e-mail that extends the free period. A final e-mail arrives at the end of the free period with a final request to sign up for insurance.

When Pethealth first started to personalize the content in its marketing e-mails, it produced an open rate of 50% and a clickthrough rate of 13%, Arts says.

But when the second phase of the Delivra campaign also coordinated e-mails with each step in the insurance offer and review process, Pethealth produced an open rate of 70% and a clickthrough rate of 60% to support a strong increase in policy enrollments, Arts says.

Key to the campaign’s success, she adds, was Pethealth’s willingness and ability to continue improving its marketing strategy. “E-Mail marketing can be fun with creatives, but if you don’t clearly lay down objectives, measure results, and apply what you’ve learned to new campaigns, you don’t really get anywhere,” she says.