The pet services industry is huge. Sixty-five percent of U.S. households own at least one pet. And it’s no secret that pet owners are pet lovers. But caring for—and spoiling— our furry friends isn’t cheap—in 2015, Americans collectively spent more than $60 billion on their pets. In such a booming industry, it’s also not surprising that there’s plenty of inspiration in email marketing geared toward cat and dog lovers and beyond.
Let’s take a look at how pet industry emails stack up and what design cues we can draw inspiration from and apply to our own email campaign design.
DogVacay dominates email design best practices
DogVacay is a home boarding service that helps dog owners connect with local pet sitters. The brand’s visual identity is modern, friendly, and polished. Often, emails employ a clever combination of illustration, photography, and handwritten font features. Here’s a recent email from DogVacay:
First, the hero image couldn’t be sweeter. Email marketers in the pet industry certainly have an advantage when it comes to cute material! DogVacay does a great job of making a simple image aww-worthy with on-brand text and illustration overlay. We also love the clean, simple single-column design that bypasses potential clutter from a navigation menu or multiple calls to action. The body of the email is live text against an HTML background color, so it will reliably render across email clients and devices. Plus, the CTA button is bulletproof, passes the squint test, and uses compelling copy (no boring “Click here” messages).
Here’s another example of how DogVacay’s template is streamlined and effective:
The longer version is well organized. Even though this second email is much longer, it’s easy to read and navigate, thanks to the modular layout and repeated inverted pyramid format for each section. The secondary CTAs are also visually distinguished from the primary CTA, and the text for each section is kept to just a few sentences.
Bottom line: DogVacay checks just about all the boxes when it comes to great email design. Brava!
Rover reels in responses with in-email surveys
Similar to DogVacay, Rover is a dog boarding and walking service helping pet owners find caretakers for their fur babies. Rover’s visual style is approachable and warm. Emails include stock and user-generated photographs, illustrations, and live text.
Notably, Rover uses an ongoing email marketing strategy to engage its subscriber base: in-email one-question surveys. Surveys are a smart, fun way to engage readers. Sending a single-question survey means readers can respond via email without having to go to a landing page. Here’s an email example (look at the poll, about two-thirds of the way down):
After each survey, Rover shares results in a subsequent email campaign, giving readers a fun, ongoing way to participate and connect with the pup community. What else is there to like about Rover’s email design? Lots! It’s super easy to read and navigate, with the gray HTML background color appearing between modules to delineate the sections. The color tags on each blog category make the content easy to scan, too. The colorful, illustrated icons at the bottom of the email are perfect, branded secondary CTAs. Plus, this email has a section of cute dog photos, just for the heck of it—a definite crowd pleaser!
Here’s another Rover email, this time with an illustration as the hero image. You can also see how poll results look midway through the message.
If you’re deciding between a single or two column design, comparing DogVacay’s blog content layout to Rover’s is a nice way see the difference. Rover also chooses text links for its secondary CTAs instead of buttons. See how your audience responds through testing.
BarkBox buries the competition with belly laughs
BarkBox is a monthly subscription service that allows members to sign up to receive ongoing goodie boxes for their pets. Goodies can include toys, treats, and chews. A pretty sweet deal for the pups, isn’t it? BarkBox’s visual brand style (and brand voice) is playful, fun, and—importantly—funny. BarkBox loves to be lighthearted. A recent email started off with this animated GIF:
You can’t avoid smiling! 🙂 Here’s the rest of the email:
In most emails, BarkBox relies heavily on photos and on their brand font to convey messages. Often, this means they break a few email design best practices by bypassing plain text and neglecting a healthy text-to-email ratio. However, we have to assume they know their audience best. If their click-through rates are high, more power to them. (Though, please BarkBox, try to go with a bulletproof CTA button!)
BarkBox occasionally breaks away from the image-heavy design approach to have a little fun, too. Here’s a message sent last year from “your dog.”
Using only a logo header and live text, the email is fully responsive. The subject line is smart, and the letter-style approach is super clever and laugh-out-loud funny. With an email like this, it goes to show that, occasionally, turning email design on its head can totally work for your brand. Content should come first, after all.
Wrap-up: Takeaways from pet lovers
It’s not all about dog memes and puppy puns. Email marketers in the pet services space know their stuff. Try a few techniques from these brands:
- Make stock photos your own with text and illustration overlay.
- Try a pale HTML background color to reinforce your brand ID (and help content organization) in email.
- Pair illustrations with photos to achieve a lighthearted, approachable aesthetic.
- Don’t forget to use compelling copy for every CTA button (never tell readers to “click here”).
- Improve navigability with modular design (and inverted pyramid layouts).
- Engage readers with in-email one-question surveys.
- Send more animated GIFs! Even if they’re user-generated.
- Be true to your brand voice.
- Have fun! If there’s one thing we’ve learned from these pet-friendly brands—and our canine friends—it’s to embrace being silly sometimes.
Design your next pet-friendly email and go Pro!
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