BARKBox product display, showing the box with bags of pet treats and pet toys.
As BARK sought to keep track of its customer relationships across multiple business lines and identify opportunities for new sales, it implemented a customer data platform. — BARK

Why it matters:

  • As companies increasingly acquire customer data from a variety of sources, from mobile interactions to in-store purchases, they need to ensure that relevant data is readily accessible to marketing teams.
  • Research from Gartner shows that marketers are seeking a more holistic, “360-degree view” of their customers through data and companies that achieved this complete view were more likely to use a customer data platform rather than a customer relationship management platform.
  • By pivoting to a customer data platform that facilitates personalization, pet brand BARK boosted revenue per user exponentially.

As brands increasingly explore multichannel sales and marketing opportunities, or expand into new product lines, the view of their customers can become increasingly complicated. They need to ensure that they are aware of each customer’s activities across various channels — from smartphones to stores — and product lines, so that they can optimize communications with each customer based on that individual’s activities, and churn sales.

That was at the heart of the challenge faced by BARK, the pet products brand that has expanded from a subscription service offering dog toys and treats to other products, including canine meal and health and wellness plans. As the company formed sub-brands for each new line of business, it needed to be able to seamlessly coordinate its communications with customers across those divisions. This had proven cumbersome at first, in part because of the way its operating systems had evolved.

“BARK had been speaking with its customers on multiple different systems and with multiple datasets,” Ed Walloga, vice president of lifecycle marketing at BARK, told CO—. “As we’ve expanded our offerings into food and health, all of those conversations were expanding. That also meant that we were having three or four conversations with the same customer, rather than one conversation addressing the right questions at the right time.”

Acquiring and leveraging customer data continues to be enticing to business leaders, as consumer behaviors are forced to change via adoption of channels such as digital commerce.

Gartner

Mining untapped sales by ‘leveraging insights from one product line to tailor offerings in other product lines’

Founded in 2012, BARK grew to become a national brand through BarkBox — its themed, customized toy and treat subscription boxes. It also offers a subscription box with more rugged chew toys and treats called BARK Super Chewer, personalized nutrition and meal plans through BARK Eats, and health and wellness products through BARK Bright, in addition to retail product lines sold in more than 33,000 stores, including Target, and on Amazon.

As BARK sought to keep track of its relationships with its customers across those business lines and identify opportunities for new sales, it needed a robust solution that could help it integrate its multiple data sets. The company turned to Simon Data for a customer data platform that unifies the business inputs from its disparate sub brands and systems. It also readily makes that data accessible and relevant to BARK’s communications platforms.

“This allows us to have a unified conversation with each customer, and also to leverage data and insights from one product line to tailor offerings in other product lines,” said Walloga.

[Read: Preventative Care Emerges as Lucrative Niche in Booming Pet Business]

 Dog sniffing a bag containing dog food products from BARK Eats.
Through its outreach and check-ins with BARK Eats customers, the company is gathering information about specific health concerns that can then be used to tailor product offerings. — BARK

Personalized customer data — like sending targeted emails to pit bull owners — boosts revenue per user 97%

Research from Gartner shows that marketers are seeking a more holistic understanding of their customers through data. Only 14% of organizations surveyed feel they have what Gartner described as a “360-degree view” of their customers, while 82% said they aspired to that goal. Companies that achieved this complete view were more likely to use a customer data platform, rather than a customer relationship management platform, Gartner found.

“Acquiring and leveraging customer data continues to be enticing to business leaders, as consumer behaviors are forced to change via adoption of channels such as digital commerce,” the report stated.

While BARK previously relied on time-consuming tech engineering to help its marketers make sense of complex data, the new customer data platform has enabled the company to access relevant customer data seamlessly across the organization. The result has been a 97% lift in revenues per user.

By leveraging a centralized hub for all its communications — including email, text, and app notifications — BARK was also able to suppress certain messages to specific customers, or combine multiple messages, to help ensure that it isn’t overwhelming its customers with too many notifications, Walloga said.

One example of how this more unified view of each customer is helping BARK personalize its customer outreach is reflected in its efforts to introduce BarkBox and BARK Super Chewer subscribers to its food and health products. The company has been able to customize the emails it sends based on the data it has about its subscribers’ dogs, Walloga said.

“We’re able to easily target audiences based on breed, age, and size, and also to customize the content of these emails based on those insights,” he said.

For example, BARK recently ran a test with owners of pit bulls that improved conversion rates six-fold for BARK Eats.

“Personalization … is particularly important here at BARK, because we all know how much our dogs mean to us and our customers,” said Walloga. “No two dogs are alike, and every dog parent’s relationship to their pup is unique and special.”

Going forward, as the company seeks to expand its offerings across all its business lines, it continues to gather data that will help with future communications, he said. For example, through its outreach and check-ins with BARK Eats customers, the company is gathering information about specific health concerns such as skin conditions or weight problems. That data can then be used to tailor content or product offerings from other business lines.

“Increasing what we know about each of our customers to better serve them is a major focus this year, and the ability to quickly turn those insights into relevant communications for each customer is going to be critical,” Walloga said.

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Published April 19, 2022