The American Kennel Club: A Case of Monetizing Fun

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May 02, 2014


The AKC knew it wanted a vendor whose product was dynamic and fun, engaging the users in a personal way. It turned to Cleverbug for its CleverCards product to help dog lovers create unique and personal greeting cards with their own canine images.

"It was a no-brainer for us to allow our customers to put images of their dogs on cards," explains the American Kennel Club's assistant VP for social media outreach and communications, Christopher Walker.

CleverCards is a hybrid e-card and greeting card product. Users create original cards using CleverCards' templates and their own pictures from smartphones or Facebook. There is the option to use canned text or personalize it. A card can be sent digitally using a mobile or Facebook app via SMS, email, or Facebook for no fee and instant receipt-or via snail mail from one of CleverCards' 75 printers for a fee, which is currently about $3 plus postage, the same cost as a drugstore greeting card.

Surprisingly, Clever­Cards' user-preferred delivery method is not overwhelmingly digital, as one might think. "The split between print and digital varies by market with the Irish/English markets having about a 50-50 split while the Asian market is almost entirely digital at this point," shares Nick Ruotolo, CMO for Cleverbug.

That split made Cleverbug's CleverCards a good option for the AKC and its new WOOFipedia site and brand. It would simultaneously provide a revenue stream and satisfy the organization's requirements for an engaging, interactive, and fun component. As such, the AKC did not consider any other vendors to fulfill this purpose.

CleverCards' "is digitally savvy and forward-thinking-it realizes the new marketing model: Focus on engagement and the revenue will come. They were the only marketing partner for us in this market segment," says the AKC's Walker.

What is unique about this partnership is that it is the first of its kind for CleverCards, which has never before provided branded or sponsored content for another entity like this. CleverCards provides the AKC with its technology through the social mobile application, the product supply chain, customer service, and content development, while the AKC brings its hundreds of thousands of WOOFipedia users to the CleverCards product.

Turning WOOFipedia-branded content into CleverCards took approximately 8 weeks. During that time, CleverCards designed and created the WOOFipedia-branded (dog-centric) material content to add to its application as well as the product navigation.

"Everything was positive. The trickiest part was testing and optimizing the marketing efforts as we have a very passionate audience and optimizing the messaging took a few efforts," admits the AKC's Walker.

Cleverbug's Ruotolo agrees that getting AKC users to the CleverCards content was the biggest challenge: "We solved the problem by creating a promotional banner on the CleverCards start page that brought customers directly to the WOOF content. For a more elegant solution, we are enabling deep linking from promotional links directly to the WOOF content."


Since the launch of WOOFipedia, the AKC has had wonderful responses to the new site and brand. According to the AKC's Walker, the site's "unique visitors have grown by 75% month-over-month, and we now have approximately 250,000 unique visitors per month in only our third month of existence."

The AKC has already seen revenue from CleverCards' pay component since the implementation. However, in these early days, the focus is on ensuring that they are engaging the users and providing a positive experience to bring pooch-loving users back to both WOOFipedia and the CleverCards application. Both companies understand that this is the foundation for the long-term success of this venture.

CleverCards and the American Kennel Club plan on continuing to experiment and fine-tune their marketing techniques to find the optimal methods to drive visitors and users to both the WOOFipedia site and the WOOFipedia unique content that is part of the Clever­Cards application. Plans for the near future focus on increasing this traffic and usage for both of these organizations, as well as identifying new opportunities to cross-market this unique partnership as both companies grow and expand.

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