Industry Spotlight: Online Marketing for Pet Services
Pet services is a broad industry, covering pet supply stores, dog walking services, pet sitting, kennels, groomers, veterinarians, and others. Unlike many other industries, you aren’t always catering directly to people—pet owners want their cats, dogs, and other animals to be healthy and happy.
You need to deliver a high-quality experience for both customers and their pets. While this is the top concern for this type of business, you need to carefully consider your promotional strategies to ensure you are connecting with the right audience.
Challenges for the Pet Care Industry
With the Internet, consumers are more aware than ever before about where products are made and what goes into them. Many pet owners see their cats and dogs as family members, so they want products that will keep their pets healthy. People want to extend their pets’ lives, and they may rely on food, exercise, and vet care for this purpose. Many consumers are more concerned with the quality of ingredients that go into food products, and this awareness has extended to pet food products. In the past, many dog and cat foods contained more grain than any other ingredient, and natural-food brands have moved toward replacing it with meat. In addition, pet owners often favor products that were made in the U.S.
In addition, people are increasingly moving into urban areas, which changing pet ownership, especially when it comes to dogs. People need products to make their life with pets easier, and dog-walking services are taking off in most big cities because owners may not be able make it home from the office to let their dogs out in the middle of the day. People also may be on the lookout for products that help them take their pets on the go. With these trends, there is plenty of room for growth in the pet services industry.
One of the things that may prove to be a challenge for boutique pet stores is larger retailers and grocery stores have started to expand the product lines they carry. This means consumers can easily pick up their preferred brands of pet food or cat litter when they are out running errands, rather than making a separate trip to a pet store. Although these consumers will still rely on pet-specific stores for niche items, these businesses may potentially see a decline in a number of customers coming in for the essentials. However, members of Generation X and millennials tend to be more independent, and this may extend to their pets’ needs as well.
Another challenge that may present itself to pet shop owners is the continued growth of ecommerce. Many shoppers already use services like Amazon Prime to order pet supplies without having to leave the house.
Despite this trend, brick-and-mortar businesses aren’t going anywhere in the near future, and physical businesses may still have an advantage. Owners and employees of pet businesses need to have the expertise to educate pet parents. People with picky pets or those who have health concerns about their animals may be looking for advice. Many people may prefer to get this information from a real person instead of consulting contradicting opinions online. Quality customer service can still win out.
Many of these businesses may have a hyper-local focus or may face tight competition. For example, dog-walking services may only cater to certain neighborhoods. Because these businesses are all over, people only may be willing to travel a certain distance to pick up their pets’ favorite food or treats.
Online marketing is a great way to differentiate your business and make sure you’re able to attract the right customers. Although it may seem like a time-consuming prospect, marketing is essential for growing your business. However, it can often be technical, meaning you may need some help to get it right.
Increase Your Online Presence
With the local focus of many of these types of businesses, you can expand your Internet presence through online review sites. Because pets are such an important part of many people’s families, consumers want to be sure they are getting the best products and services for their furry friends. They may turn to people in their areas with pets for advice and be more willing to listen to people like them, rather than the information pet services companies put out about themselves. If other customers in the area can trust these businesses with their beloved pets, these services seem more legitimate.
Take the example of kennels and boarding services. It can already be stressful to leave town when you have a pet because you need a trusted caretaker while you’re gone. In addition, dog walkers enter the home while you aren’t there. Many of these businesses require a high level of trust on the part of the consumer. Having a positive presence on different review sites can improve your reputation and build trust with customers.
While most business owners are familiar with Yelp, there are other sites that are more specific to pet services. You can use these sites in addition to the more common review pages:
- Angie’s List
- Dog Sniffer
- The Dog Gurus
- Dog Boarding
- Pet Sitter America
- Pet Sitting Directory
- Find Pet Boarding
- USA Veterinarians
Business owners can incentivize happy customers to leave reviews or client testimonials for their websites. This can go a long way toward putting potential new customers at ease. Many business managers dread negative online reviews, and although they often can’t be entirely avoided, they are not the business killer you might be imagining. In fact, less-than-stellar reviews can be treated as an opportunity. As a manager, you can respond to unhappy customers and offer them a sincere apology and a resolution. Potential customers will see this on websites and be impressed by how much you care about your customers.
In addition to improving your trustworthiness, these listings increase your online presence and allow you to make sure all your contact information is consistent across all platforms. It’s easy for inaccuracies to crop up the more channels you use for promotion, so you need to remember to update contact information if your business moves or you change phone numbers. This helps customers continue to be able to reach you.
Online Marketing Solutions for the Pet Services Industry
Hopefully, you already realize how essential online marketing is to growing and promoting your business. Even if you are already marketing your business, there may be some gaps in your current strategy. Many small-business owners keep the same website over time, but the Internet moves quickly and trends change. A website you invested in a few years ago may already be out of date, especially if it isn’t mobile friendly. Your customers may not have the functionality they need for an ideal user experience.
A strong website serves as a foundation for all your other marketing efforts. Even if you are still using offline marketing channels, you should direct potential customers back to your website. However, if they get to your website and it doesn’t meet their expectations, they may not continue to interact with you.
Because pet services often have a local focus and can be highly competitive, depending on the type of business, pay-per-click advertising can be effective. These ads allow you to more specifically target your ideal customers. Because your business is most likely relevant to customers in your city or region, local marketing is an essential component of your online strategy. This form of marketing helps you engage with customers in your neighborhood who may not be familiar with your business.
Since education is another critical component of your marketing strategy, you should not overlook the power of content marketing. You can speak to questions owners may have, such as what kind of nutrition is best for your pet, how to crate train a puppy, or what types of human food are safe for your pet to eat. Blogging and creating other online resources can go a long way toward establishing yourself as a credible player in the pet services world.
Because pet ownership often brings people together, you can establish a sense of community among your customers through social media efforts. This can help your customers connect with other pet owners to discuss training concerns or other issues.
At Clickx, we understand how important it is to create a strong online marketing presence to bring the right customers to you. Our team of experts will work with you to craft the right strategy to grow your business and keep your current audience happy.