Do you know what some of the top searches are for pet business owners, like dog walkers and cat sitters, who want to promote their business? It’s things like flyers and business cards. These items get many more searches than website designers, copywriters, social media and SEO related to pet businesses. This isn’t right!
It’s not that flyers or business cards are useless – they’re still excellent tools for marketing a local business. In fact, print materials hold a lot of power and can do things that online marketing techniques can’t. Even still, pet business owners can’t neglect the power of being online. People search for products and services online now, even when they’re looking for local businesses.
So you need to know how to market your pet business online if you want to grow your company. But where do you start?
Know Your Audience
Before you get started on any online marketing, it’s a good idea to think about your target market. Who are your customers and where can you find them? How do they search for the products and services that they want and need for their pets? Are they professional people who spend a lot of time on LinkedIn? Do they post on Mumsnet? Are they likely to search for what they want using a search engine, or randomly click on an ad on Facebook? Do they love reading blogs for pet advice? These kinds of questions will help you determine the best methods to use for digital marketing.
Every business needs a website. If you want to be found online, it’s a good idea to have somewhere on the internet that’s yours and yours alone. While it’s also good to list your services on other websites and have social media pages, you have full control on your own site.
The first thing you’ll want to do is decide how to build your site. It all depends how much functionality you need, how much you want to be able to do yourself (and have to do yourself), and how much money you want to spend.
It’s not just the practicalities of building a website that you have to work out. You need to decide what it’s going to look like, and what it’s going to say. If you haven’t already, it’s a good time to start developing a proper brand. If you already have a name and a logo, that gives you somewhere to start. Think about what style you want your site to have, from the colours to the layout. It could be bright and colourful, and very visual, or it could be clean, smart and have plenty of white space.
I recommend making good use of images on your site. It’s a pet business, after all, so you can use lots of cute pet photos! As your business grows, you can have photos of your clients (the animal ones) for a touch of authenticity.
Your site needs some text, and you’ll need to think carefully about what you want it to say. When you’re writing copy for your website, you might want to think about:
Your brand tone of voice (what you sound like)
Your audience and what they respond to – who are your customers and what do they like?
Essential information you need to provide – what do your customers need to know?
Calls to action – encouraging your site visitors to perform actions like buying a product, sending an enquiry or joining your newsletter
SEO – optimising your website for search engines to help people find you
SEO is an important part of creating a website that people can find using search engines. You might pay for some advertising, but the more your site shows up in organic (non-paid) search results, the better. There are lots of “on-page” SEO techniques to use on your site, from including keywords in your copy to creating optimised metadata (what search engines see and show when they look at a page).
Blogging and Content Marketing
Once you have your website set up, keeping it updated is an excellent way to improve its SEO. Blogging and content marketing can also help to promote your pet business in a number of other ways, like giving you content to share on social media or providing useful material for your customers to read.
There are lots of fun and interesting things that you can write about on your site’s blog. Try topics such as pet care advice, client stories and case studies, and news items. If you’re promoting a local business, make sure you talk about your local area because it’s great for SEO. Talk about your favourite dog walks nearby or local animal charities that you admire.
Content marketing also includes creating other types of content, such as infographics and video, and sharing content off your site too. For example, you might write a blog post for someone else’s website. Or you could have a free PDF brochure that you send to people who sign up to your newsletter or enquire about your services.
Getting your business listed online is a great way to improve your online presence. If you provide a pet service, you might choose to create profiles on some big sites, like Care.com. Another thing you should do is list your business on sites like Yelp, or specialist pet business listing sites like nationalpetregister.org. These listing sites help to improve SEO for your business and give you good visibility. Listing sites often have a lot more power to get to the top of search results, so it can benefit you to feature on them. Many of them also have rating and review features, which you can use to encourage clients and customers to leave good reviews.
Social media is another excellent tool for marketing your pet business, but a lot of business owners aren’t making use of it. However, many small business owners will set up social media profiles before they make a website. This is because it allows them to start marketing to friends, family and others in their area for nothing, perhaps while their business is just a side hustle.
Before you do anything with social media, think about which platforms could work for you. They all have their benefits and drawbacks, and you don’t want to be juggling five different platforms. Instagram is great for sharing images, which is fantastic if you want to showcase daily life for you and your clients – I definitely recommend it for people like dog groomers and walkers, pet sitters and boarders, or anyone else interacting with pets daily. You can have your Instagram gallery on your website too.
Other options include Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google Plus and YouTube.
Paid Advertising Networks
If you’re willing to pay for some online advertising, there are some options that you should look into. Google Ads (formerly Adwords) is one choice, giving you options for displaying text and image ads on search result pages, as well as various websites. There’s also social media ad networks on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and more. You might also want to look at some sites offering private advertising. Look for relevant websites that sell advertising space. If you register with any business directories, you can often pay to have your listing highlighted too.
Tying Together Your Offline and Online Marketing
Marketing your pet business online is essential, but that doesn’t mean that you should completely give up on offline, more traditional advertising. In fact, you can tie the two together for even more promotion power. If you’re making flyers or business cards for your brand, you can include your online information to help make it easier for people to find you online and get in touch.
Include your email, website URL, social media handles and other info on your print materials. You can even get business cards that people can tap with their phone, which will immediately take them to a link or an app that you have chosen.
Take a look at my pet business marketing page to find out more about how the right online content can boost your business.