This is a guest blog written by our friends at Broadly.com
Pet ownership continues to grow, and based on a Forbes report, millennials are leading the pack. With this growing demand also comes more competitors. Whether you own a dog daycare, boarding kennel, pet store or pet grooming salon, it can be a challenge to stand out from the crowd.
Most consumers use the internet to find, research, and hire a service. Your online presence and reputation matter, so where do you start? In this guide, we're going to provide you with several marketing ideas that can help you grow your business.
Build Your Online Presence
The power of the internet to grow your business cannot be ignored – you need a responsive, mobile-friendly website that can serve as an online office for your business. Your website helps your potential customers find your services amongst a sea of competitors (via SEO indexing). A good website also is a valuable resource for existing customers to interface with your pet care brand.
1) CREATE A PROFESSIONAL WEBSITE
Just like having a quality outdoor sign or storefront, having a well designed website for your business can help you look professional for your customers. A website is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to answer the most common questions potential customers will have that will save time for both of you.
2) CREATE A BLOG & SOCIAL MEDIA PROFILES
Having a blog and social media profiles has several benefits for your business. Both of these mediums allows you to connect directly with your customers.
The blog posts allow you to go in depth on specific topics. For example: 5 Dog Behavior Tips for Kennel Technicians and Dog-Daycare Attendants is a blog we created to help increase traffic to www.gingrapp.com. Blog posts that relate to key searches for pet-care, pet health and related topics end up ranking and gaining new visitors to your site.
Leverage your social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram so that your customers can be reminded of your business in their feeds, which can help lead to repeat visits. With these social profiles you can also chat directly with your customers to answer questions, resolve concerns, or help an unhappy customer.
Local Search Results
3) OPTIMIZE FOR LOCAL SEO
For most pet care companies it's not about how your company ranks for global terms (dog kennel or pet store), but rather how your rank for terms in your city (‘dog kennel Chicago’ or ‘Seattle dog grooming’. For this reason, it's absolutely essential that you optimize your business to rank for the city that your stores are located in.
A big problem that a lot of businesses run into is inaccuracies in their NAP (Name, Address, and Phone Number). If you have a business name on Yelp and a different name on Yellow Pages it can confuse Google and end up decreasing your rankings.
Local search engine optimization (SEO) is a whole other topic-area. Learn more: here is a great guide to get you started.
Referrals & Partnerships
4) SET UP A REFERRAL SYSTEM
There's a reason why referrals are often become the best customers. Why because people trust their friends who refer them. You can build online and social referral program by asking customers for feedback on your company. Those that leave a positive review then you can request to share that feedback online, where their friends and others can see it. If someone has negative feedback you want to handle that offline first to hopefully turn them into a happy customer that gives you a positive review online.
Getting feedback from your customers is a great way to get to know them better and make sure that you are meeting their needs. One of the best ways to get feedback is to simply ask, but how do you go about getting reviews? Here are three ways to do it.
5) LEARN HOW TO ASK
You can quickly start gaining feedback from current customers by asking them for their feedback. A request can easily be printed on a receipt or ask online after the checkout process. You may feel like asking is too forward, but seven out of 10 customers who are asked will write a review for your business.
6) GET CREATIVE WHEN ASKING
There are a number of ways that you can ask a customer for feedback without being too aggressive. Use your software’s survey features to followup automatically. Additional programs like Broadly will help you reach out via text and email, and make it easy for your customers to write positive reviews and get them posted in the right places.
7) LEARN WHAT DOESN'T WORK
As we’ve discussed, getting online reviews can greatly improve your business, but getting them in the wrong way can actually lead to getting a penalty. Some things to avoid when asking for reviews include:
Buying fake reviews that are not actually from customers.
Bribing customers to leave a positive reviews.
Spamming your customers with review requests.
All of these may seem like good ideas, but they are not going to provide true reviews for your business. Google & Yelp are getting better and catching these fake or forced reviews and penalizing the company by removing them from their platform. Also potential customers are likely to see through these reviews and go to another business for their pet care needs.
There are two ways to show up online, by organically showing up using SEO tactics, or by paying for advertisements. Investing time and energy into SEO (as we discussed above) will help you in the long run. Paid advertisements can help you get noticed right away, but efforts will disappear as soon as you stop paying for them. If you have extra budget to spend on marketing, paid advertising can be a great way to rank quickly on several platforms and grow your online presence.
8) UTILIZE FACEBOOK ADS
Facebook is a popular place for animal lovers, so you can target your audience specifically with various types of Facebook ads including video, image or carousel ads (using multiple images). Use these ads for branding or even for lead generation, by adding a form directly into the ad! Different from Google Search Ads, Facebook Ads can target people based on age, income, and interests which can be extremely powerful.
9) TRY GOOGLE ADS
This is a great way to take advantage of the popularity of Google, which handles over 70% of all internet searches. Google Ads will pop up when someone searches for pet care services. These ads are generated based on keywords and can be filtered to only show when people search who live around your location.
10) IMPROVE TRAFFIC WITH RETARGETING ADS
This is a method that can be useful when someone comes to your website but did not actually sign up for your services. Through the power of cookies, you can target that site visitor with advertisements whenever they visit other websites too! These are called Retargeting Ads because you are targeting people who have already visited your site, which makes them more likely to purchase from you.
We hope this guide has given you some ideas on ways to better market your company. If you have some more tips please let us know them in the comments and if you need help managing your pet business and easy marketing, check out GingrApp’s software.