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How Patasbox Grew Healthy Dog Food & Treat Sales by 49%

The monthly subscription service used segmentation and Instagram to stay connected with their audience when it mattered the most.

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  • Industry: E-commerce
  • Location: Madrid, Spain
  • Company size: 8
  • Year founded: 2016

Published: February 11, 2021

Last year felt like a rollercoaster for Marcos Álvarez, Aida Martinez, and Cristina Ferreiro of Patasbox (which translates to Pawsbox), a monthly subscription service that has been providing folks with boxes full of organic, healthy, and fun products for their dogs since 2016. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdowns in their home country of Spain, the co-founders weren’t sure what the future held for them. “We thought we were going to close our business,” says Marcos, “and then, around the same time as the lockdown, we got a lot of sales—better than any other year.”

As lockdowns went into effect across Spain, people around the country started adopting dogs to keep them company at home—and as a way to go outside for quick walks without breaking the law. This increase in dog ownership suddenly put Patasbox in high demand, bringing about exciting new opportunities—and a handful of unexpected obstacles, too.

The challenge: Juggling demand, growth, and visibility during a pandemic

While the Patasbox team knew that the sudden jump in demand was a good problem to have, Marcos admits that they weren’t quite ready for it. “We are a subscription box, so we need to plan months in advance for how much we’re going to sell. In April, we sold all of the boxes we had for the month by the 10th or 11th, and we couldn’t supply more product to meet the demand because of the lockdown.”

In addition to the supply chain and logistical issues, Marcos and Aida knew that, in order to sustain their growth, they needed to continue generating awareness of their brand and their products. And through it all, they felt a responsibility to find new ways to help their beloved canine community.

The tools: Instagram, segmentation, and creativity

Marcos and Aida have tried several different marketing channels over the years, but they've found that a streamlined approach works best for their business. Mailchimp’s CRM includes powerful segmentation tools that help them communicate directly with their customers and target folks based on past campaign engagement or purchase history. In just a few clicks, they can send a tailored message to share the contents of an upcoming box, provide important company updates, solicit feedback, or let people know when their subscription has expired.

When they need to connect with their audience or reach new folks, they turn to Instagram. There, they can make announcements, run contests, promote upcoming boxes, and even have a little fun while supporting una buena causa (a good cause).

In addition to creating their own Instagram filter—each time someone takes a selfie with their dog and uploads a story using the hashtag #Echaunapata (take a paw), Patasbox donates 1€ to a local shelter. Instagram was also the home of Patasfest, a multi-day live event featuring presentations from veterinarians, trainers, pet nutritionists, and more. “When we were on lockdown in Spain, there was quite a lot of confusion surrounding dogs,” Marcos explains. “So we focused on posting useful information about how COVID-19 affects dogs and creating the first online festival for dog lovers with presentations about nutrition, recipes, dog training, sessions with vets, etc.”

The result: More engagement, transactions, and revenue*

  • 49%

    increase in revenue

  • 21%

    more transactions

  • 23%

    higher average order value

The increased demand for Patasbox’s products and the team’s ability to adapt to and make the most of their circumstances proved to be a winning combination. Their email engagement rates jumped by 24% during the first month of lockdown alone, nearly 3,000 people tuned in to Patasfest, and their Instagram filter had more than 125k shares. By the end of 2020, their revenue was up 49%, transactions were up 21%, and their average order value rose by nearly 23% over their 2019 totals.

*Results were provided by Patasbox. Mailchimp did not independently verify these results

Looking ahead: Goals for 2021 and beyond

The success they experienced throughout 2020 motivated Marcos and Aida to move up the timelines for other products they’d been considering. They just launched new accessories at the end of last year (toys in September, beds in December), and they’re planning to launch a brand new vertical—their own dog food, complete with a sibling subscription service to Patasbox—this year.

They’re also looking for new ways to keep their marketing costs down while increasing customer longevity. “Our main goal is to keep our customer acquisition costs as low as they were in 2020, which is going to be hard because we have an increase in demand that we weren’t expecting,” Marcos says. “And quite a lot of new people know us, so we also want to increase the time they spend with Patasbox. We want to increase the number of months they keep their subscription active.”

One marketing tactic they’re hoping helps them reach that goal (and broaden their reach) is establishing co-branding partnerships. In 2020, they teamed up with Ford España to help promote the release of a new, dog-friendly car with a “MegaBox” of goodies for subscribers. They already have a few collaborations lined up for 2021 as well. “The campaign with Ford was not about the sales for us; it was about prospecting for new users,” Marcos says. “We’re still a small company, and putting us on the same level as Ford gives us access to a lot of different products or brands. Another business might see the campaign and say ‘Wow, we want to work with Patasbox.’”

“Everything you were used to might disappear, but you can find other ways to overcome it. These barriers create an opportunity.”

Their advice for other small businesses

For Patasbox, 2020 was a year defined by perseverance—and a little bit of luck. “We were lucky enough that people liked all the things we did this year,” says Marcos. “We were in the right place to find the people at the right moment.”

But perhaps the biggest key to the success of Patasbox has been their ability to adapt amid the uncertainty of the pandemic. And that’s what they encourage other business owners to do, too. “Try to keep calm and breathe,” says Marcos. “Everything you were used to might disappear, but you can find other ways to overcome it. These barriers create an opportunity.” “Focus on new marketing channels, try new things,” Aida adds. “Work, then let’s see what happens.”

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