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Plugging holes in customer retention

It’s not just who you know but also what you know about them. Lintbells’ Head of Direct to Consumer Georgia Carrano talks about the value of knowing your customers for accelerating growth and how addressing digital channels has been key.

Everyone knows that dog is man’s best friend. But to serve a man and his dog requires knowing a fair bit about both.

Lintbells knows lots about dogs. Founded in 2006, the Hertfordshire business has grown into the UK’s number one pet supplements player. Its brands YuMove, a leading mobility supplement for dogs, and YuMega, a supplement for skin and coat, have become well known and trusted. The products are clinically proven and visually effective, with 50% of Crufts winners using Yuderm. But with just a 35% returning customer rate in 2018 for a product proven to work, something wasn’t right.

“We had a leaky bucket – we were losing customers and needed to fix our retention,” says Georgia Carrano, Head of Direct to Consumer at Lintbells. Georgia explains ”We conducted some research which suggested we should build our retention strategies across email and develop a clear & unique proposition.”

The firm became aware their customers are a generation which tend to watch a lot of TV and read newspapers, and so are using this learning to direct upcoming marketing spend. “We now understand where our audience is, and this knowledge helps us plan – going forward we plan to test offline marketing channels as well as online.” And partnerships may help cast the net wider, she says “We are aware that many of our customers have dogs registered with the Kennel Club, and so we are aiming to partner with this organisation as well as other top brands.”

Lintbells is also using its customers to sell its products. “Customers, particularly new ones, need reassurance that others are on a similar journey so as to avoid buyers’ remorse.” Cue peppering the site’s ‘about us’ page with Trustpilot testimonials, a blog and the ability to join the Lintbells Club to benefit from discounts. “What a lot of marketers overlook is the 1-to-1 relationship and that can be done through email, your cheapest tool.” And creating a sense of community can pay off as well, with YuMove site subscribers having a 3x higher lifetime value for the company.

Getting to know their customers is paying off. “We know that 60% of our customer base has more than one dog. We have to offer value, because without that they will go to other suppliers. As they cannot offer a multiple-pet discount, we offer a unique proposition which our customers deem valuable.” It probably helps with the warm-and-fuzzy dividend too: Georgia estimates 25% of Lintbells’ customers would like to work for the company. 

Turn the tap on

Now the bucket’s hole was repaired, it was time to turn the tap on. “Our target was to double new customer acquisition year on year.” To set about pursuing this, Lintbells invested in performance marketing, with private equity investor Inflexion introducing a Digital Associate from its network who is now providing specialist online marketing support for Lintbells which is already paying off. Georgia commented “Performance marketing is highly measurable and you can see results instantly. We appointed a new agency with experience in scaling acquisition on pay-per-click (PPC) and Facebook (FB). We also adjusted spend to the new CPA target and refined our attribution model. This meant we could use PPC and FB almost simultaneously.”

It’s worked – in less than two months since the agency’s appointment, Lintbells has enjoyed a very healthy uplift of 43% in new weekly new customers. This was partly through more than doubling weekly new customers on Facebook.

Now the paid-acquisition side of management’s efforts are paying off, Georgia says their sites are looking to other digital strategies as well, “It’s very important to invest in the organic side as well since sustainable growth is so important. We’ve learned the value of investing in our site, CRO and SEO”.

The future is bright for Lintbells, accounting for an increasingly large share of the £100 million plus market in the UK . Lintbells partnered with Inflexion in January 2018 to help it raise awareness of the benefits supplements can offer, largely through enhancing the company’s digital presence. The firm has kicked the year off with a new website (www.yumove.co.uk), which is a great start.

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