For a premium brand, trust is crucial for loyalty and retention. Especially when your customers are animal lovers and the health of their animals is at stake.

But how do you gain trust without face-to-face contact? For Pferdegold, the answer is phone-to-phone contact.

Florian Keller, Pferdegoldd CEO

Florian Keller, founder, Pferdegold


better open rates in WhatsApp than email


average revenue per recipient on Black Friday


revenue earned with Black Friday sendout

"Trust is something you don't get easily. On WhatsApp you're identified as a friend right away because you're there on the phone next to friends."
Florian Keller, founder and CEO, Pferdegold

edit Challenge: overcome final doubts

As a successful ecommerce brand, there’s usually a point where you want to keep scaling but find yourself at a plateau. What next?


For Florian Keller, CEO of premium horse supplements brand, Pferdegold, the answer was to extend its reach to a new type of customer: “We already have the innovators and the early adopters. Now we want to gain the trust of the ‘middle average.’”


However, selling to this audience isn’t so easy as Florian explains: “These people may have heard of us but still aren’t 100% sure whether or not to buy. They need more proof.”


Bringing customers within earshot

Even though Pferdegold is a brand that creates high quality products (in a market where some producers are not so scrupulous, adding additives and excess sugar), it still needed to prove its high ethics to the “early majority” customers. For this, it needed an easier way of bringing this large potential customer base closer and communicating with them regularly.


“We are a real premium brand. We try to do the best possible product we can do for an affordable price, and we’re price leading in our industry. If you have a product placed like that, you need to communicate your USPs, what differentiates you from the competitors, to really build up trust. Nobody is willing to pay a higher price if you can’t underlay your arguments that you’re better than the rest. It’s about education.


“But the competition is quite heavy. You find a lot of big brands that have big magazines and other stuff and you have to compete with them.”


Pioneering conversational commerce

Pferdegold wanted to use the latest technology to compete with these bigger brands and get even closer to people: WhatsApp.


The company is an innovator in its field and this mindset follows through to its marketing. Where most of its competitors use only email and an online shop to reach customers, Pferdegold had built a strong following on social media, on channels like Facebook, Instagram and TikTok. This is key to its success.


“I’d already heard about WhatsApp being used in the US,” says Florian, “We wanted to test it out to see if it could be something for us.”


To start with this new “conversational commerce” approach (using messenger apps to communicate with customers) Pferdegold came to charles.

edit Why charles? Easy to use and talk to.

According to Florian, the decision was about ease of entry. 


“We did a search to see if we needed software to do WhatsApp and came across charles. I liked how easy it looked, how straight it was. 


Trust also played a big part in the decision. 


“When we talk about trust: I need to trust my stakeholders and my direct business partners. I don't want to be just a number. With charles, we had personal and direct communication. I’m happy I have Malte [Customer Success Manager], he’s doing a great job.


“I also looked up Artjem [founder] and was impressed. Someone who’s already had success and is eager to do something again… there’s got to be something good happening there.”

chart-network Goal: increase open rates, build trust

One key goal was building trust with customers in an easier, more direct way than social media and email.


Florian says there are 3 steps to doing this:


“First, give the business a face. Show people, that’s who we are, that’s what we stand for and that’s what you can expect when you buy with us. For this, customer reviews are very useful.


Second, have the right offer. Early adopters are ready and willing to try new things. To get the early majority, you need an irresistible offer. An extra gift or special discount. So they see value and don’t feel they’re risking their money.


“Third, communicate regularly and relevantly. This is where charles comes in. The most important place you can build trust are the people who already bought from you. To really gain their trust, you need to talk with them, get them where their attention is, make it as easy as possible to ask questions and take action.”


So WhatsApp was initially to be used primarily as a retention channel. Once it had customers into the channel through its website and email, it could have conversations, send offers and build trust.


More eyes on the prize

An essential part of achieving this goal was to ensure more customers saw its content.


“In email we get 25-30% open rates,” Florian says. This is a good number, but it’s still small when you consider how few people then go and click on the email. And this number drops even more when you look at how many go on to buy. This could ultimately be as low as 2.5-3%.


“Even with a huge customer base, you only get a small circle to reconnect and rebuy even if you have good numbers. And yet this is a really big part of our revenue."

“We were looking for something that people are more likely to open.”

Implementation Technology: contact center and marketing

Pferdegold started with two charles features: Conversations – charles’ easy-to-use, web-based chat interface – together with Campaigns – for setting up, sending and analyzing WhatsApp marketing campaigns. 


This is the starting point for many charles clients. It enables Pferdegold to carry out customer service chats easily in WhatsApp and at the same time send out regular marketing messages (competitions, offers…) to boost engagement and sales.


Reducing effort across brands

A big benefit is that charles is easy to roll out across teams and brands.


Pferdegold’s sister brand, Hundpur, also uses charles. Two agents service customers of both companies through WhatsApp, while Florian creates the WhatsApp marketing campaigns for both brands. Even though chats are carried out by different people, everything appears in one customer WhatsApp thread, and any tags are saved centrally in the customer’s name. 


“When we create a campaign for one brand, we usually take the template, already approved by WhatsApp, and adjust it for the other brand. It saves us a lot of time.”


As a CEO, Florian is busy looking after his brands. But he likes to be involved with the WhatsApp channel and appreciates how little time it takes. 


“I spend just a couple of hours a month creating marketing campaigns. We do two every month. One is an offer, and one is an experiment. We’re constantly testing out new things.” 

route Results: small effort, huge impact

The company began slowly and carefully with WhatsApp in July and Pferdegold has been impressed with the results.


“In October, we started to really see the potential. charles has proven to be the perfect tool to really reach your loyal customer base and to give them what they want in an infrequent way, in the easiest way possible.”


Pferdegold is seeing 90% open rates, increased sales and very few unsubscribers compared to email.


It has managed to build a WhatsApp subscriber base of 5,000 customers, a number that’s growing all the time thanks to chat bubbles, seasonal offers and popups and buttons on the website. 


A golden Black Friday

Black Friday was a big event for the company, which drew in many new subscribers and boosted revenue significantly. By closing its online shop in the days leading up to Cyber Week, the company achieved 1,500 subscribers on one day."




In addition, Florian says: "In email on Black Friday, we had a 27.8% open rate and a 5.8% click rate. The open rate on charles was 90% and the click rate was over 50%. This is a huge advantage."


What about trust?

Does the channel live up to its exceptions of building trust with customers?


“Without a doubt,” says Florian. "Trust is something you don't get easily, and I think that on WhatsApp you're identified as a friend right away because you're there on the phone next to friends' messages.


"You can build a history with the customer, look at the order, support them a bit earlier, and get more trust."


Standing out with simplicity

WhatsApp is making Pferdegold more noticeable too: “Right now, when it comes to emails or ads, or influencer formats, we've seen it a thousand times. It’s easy to gloss over them. With a WhatsApp message, we see them, we open them and we do something with them.”


Marketing campaigns are easier to create than expected, with Florian finding that, contrary to expectations, messages without images work even better than those with images.


A happy side-effect is that, thanks to charles, Florian has learned that sometimes less is more, and has actually made his life easier in the process.


“I used to be a high frequency, high relevance guy. Fast was never fast enough. As I’m getting older, I realise that being patient pays off. charles has been a big part of teaching me that.”


stars Pferdegold can now:

Send marketing campaigns easily

Pferdegold 1

Pferdegold sends 2x WhatsApp marketing campaigns per month to thousands of subscribers.

Offer instant support across brands

WhatsApp support, Pferdegold

Chat agents answer questions instantly and chat with customers for two brands using the charles’ web-based Conversations interface.

Keep adding WhatsApp subscribers

Pferdegold 2

Several “Chat-ins” on the website, including a chat bubble, buttons on landing pages and seasonally focused popups funnel visitors into WhatsApp.

💛35 What's next?


Let customers shop directly in WhatsApp with charles' Commerce tool


Use tags and segmentation to be more relevant


Start with charles' Journeys tool to automate flows, save time and boost revenue

Florian is delighted with the results and ease of WhatsApp and believes the app will play an essential role in business: “I think In the future it will be like in Asia with WeChat. We’ll have one app where we can buy, browse, talk, watch, invest, whatever you want.”

For this reason, he’ll be rolling it out to his new cat supplements brand, to launch in 2023, and is working on replacing email as the company’s principal channel.

“I really want to get my 130,000 email subscribers into WhatsApp. I’d like to have as many, if not more, newsletter subscriptions as Klaviyo.“

Email is good for some journeys, like the first buyer journey, but for things like special offers, surveys, straight questions, WhatsApp is much better. It’s quicker, more direct and the statistics are simply better. 4x the open rates, 10x the click rates.”

In addition, Pferdegold will add charles' Commerce tool so customers can buy directly in WhatsApp through its Shopify store, and Journeys to automate conversational flows.

And Florian’s continuing to take things slow for better results.

"I have a lot of ideas, but I know I have to hold myself back. You have to play a tool by its own rules, not by yours, and WhatsApp needs a measured, thoughtful approach. It’s working, and our customers are happy, so I’m happy.”

Ilaria Carofiglio charles

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