Brisbane-based agency Liquid Interactive recently partnered with RSPCA Queensland to help the charity solve a costly and distressing issue: the excessive number of pets being surrendered by owners each year.
Liquid Interactive managing director Michael Burke said the charity was being inundated with surrendered animals, which was draining human and financial resources.
“The RSPCA was receiving nearly 5,000 surrendered pets each year, which was not only filling up its shelters, but draining its resources by more than $3.5 million,” he said.
“After interrogating the problem, we found many of the reasons for surrender were preventable – all we had to do was equip customers with the right information, at the right time, to successfully intervene.
“We know from experience that using a marketing campaign to change customer behaviour is hard, expensive and difficult to sustain, so we explored alternative options that would achieve the same result – and the concept for the Surrender Portal was born.”
The RSPCA Queensland Surrender Portal is a data-led digital solution that creates contextual answers relevant to each owner, their pet and the specific reason for surrender.
Pet owners are asked to select their animal and the issue they are experiencing – for example, a dog that won’t stop barking – and are then provided with helpful solutions and resources to address that specific issue and empower them to consider alternative options to surrender.
“Twelve months on, the portal has decreased surrender rates by 22 per cent, kept more than 1,000 pets with their owners and saved the charity more than $800,000 in animal care costs – all without a single dollar spent on advertising or capital infrastructure,” Burke said.
“The best part is that RSPCA Queensland only invested $60,000 in the project, which equates to a massive 1000 per cent ROI on marketing dollars, which is great for a charity that relies heavily on donor dollars.”
RSPCA Queensland CEO Mark Townend said people who donate to the charity can be assured that their dollar will go further.
“Charities need to ask themselves how they can take one donated dollar and get it to do $100 worth of work,” Townend said.
“The best part is that we’re now looking to sell the IP to other RSPCAs and animal shelters around the world, with a view to recouping every dollar invested.”
Liquid Interactive creative director Andrew Duval said this is a good example of using a service design, instead of a campaign, to influence an audience.
“If you look at this as a straight marketing problem, you come up with campaign ideas targeting attitudes towards pet surrenders, but you’d never be able to cover all the permutations,” he said.
“This is one of those situations where designing a genuine digital service solves the problem more effectively.
“Marketers are creative people. You can extend the skills and creativity learned in developing campaigns and apply them to developing products.”