Pets have been part of our lives since times immemorial. And in recent days, they have become an integral part of our families. In fact, we tend not to differentiate between pets and human family members.
And with all this, the need to make them feel better and live in good conditions has made pet owners invest heavily in their pets.
Even in the midst of a crisis, pet shops often remain open as they are considered essential businesses. Yes, we love our pets and we can’t fathom not being able to get their favorite food — no matter how hard the times we are going through.
In turn, these needs have made the pet industry grow exponentially. According to the American Pet Products Association, the U.S. pet industry expenditure is estimated to hit $99 billion in 2020 up from $95 billion in 2019.
This sustained growth alone gives you a clear picture of just how lucrative and competitive the pet industry is hence the need to branch into the digital market.
But with the stiff competition, unforeseen business challenges, and crisis, how can your pet store compete with other players and grow?
Well, one effective not to mention cost-effective way is through digital marketing.
Digital marketing is a section of marketing that uses online-based technologies such as computers, mobile phones, and other digital media platforms to promote products and services.
In the wake of digital marketing, the pet industry has not been left behind. Pet stores at all levels are putting in work to ensure customer satisfaction via digital marketing. Perhaps the biggest benefit of digital marketing is the chance to properly align your sales and marketing departments through integration like Salesforce to Mailchimp.
Ready to take your pet business to the next level? Why not start your ascension for free? Take a look at our integration solutions — specifically designed for the pet industry and with a proven success track record.
In this article, we look at how pet stores can leverage digital marketing to grow their online presence and, as a result, improve their businesses.
What’s The Cost of Digital Marketing in Growing Your Pet Business?
After successfully setting up your pet store, the next thing is to think of how to effectively market your business far and wide.
While other traditional methods do still work, digital marketing presents far-reaching opportunities and return on investment at a fraction of the cost to your business.
Simply put, using digital platforms can turn your small local pet business into an international store.
But most people are scared of going the digital way.
Because they think that going digital is a costly affair. But that is not the case. What they don’t know is that you can start marketing your pet store on your mobile phone. The beauty of digital marketing is that you can start with any budget and slowly work your way up at your own pace. It’s that simple.
It cost you absolutely nothing to take a picture of your shop or create a funny cat video and share it on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Start with what you have and start engaging your customers and prospect on the devices they spend most of their time on.
On the other hand, as your business grows, your digital market budget is bound to increase. At this point, it’s a good idea to engage the services of digital marketing vendors. Remember that digital marketing is an ongoing process, and different levels of your marketing strategy require different budgets.
Why invest in digital marketing to grow pet store online presence
To understand why you, as a pet business owner, should think of using digital marketing to improve your online presence, let’s look at some statistics.
According to the Pet Manufacturers Association, the UK, for instance, is a nation of animal lovers. With a total of 54 million pets spread across 12 million households, these pet owners spend an average of $5,315 (£4,611) per household in 2015, according to the UK Cards Association.
Of all the purchases made online in 2016, the Pet Magazine records that 8.3 percent were of pet products in terms of dog and cat food only.
Still, want to know why you are doing your pet business a disservice by not investing in digital marketing?
Research conducted by Ipsos and Google shows that the internet is the primary source of information for baby boomers. This is the main reason why pet care brands are scrambling to create a digital presence.
According to a report by Statista, e-commerce pet care sales grew by around $3.4 billion compared to roughly $317 million for bricks and mortar.
Now with the statistics above, you can’t still be questioning whether you should or shouldn’t invest in digital marketing as a way of growing your business.
Top Digital Marketing Strategies Pet Store Owners Can Use to Increase Their Online Presence
As a pet store owner, you mainly deal with pet food and other pet supplies. So how do you use digital marketing to enhance your online presence, which in return increases your sales?
Below are some tips on how you can use the strategies discussed here, and with proper planning, you will be able to leverage digital marketing to increase your sales and eventually grow your online presence.
One last thing before we dig in: digital marketing is a process that is conquered one step at a time. So do not expect to see the difference overnight. The good news is that once you have cemented your online presence, all you need to do is keep the momentum going and enjoy your return on investment.
How to Increase Your Store’s Online Presence
1. Always create a great impression
You have heard that the first impression matters a lot. This is a statement told to people who are looking for jobs. But it also applies to pet businesses — and any business for that matter.
The way you treat your customers one-on-one will determine if they come back or not. Remember, these are the people you will need when you launch your digital marketing platform.
Get involved in community activities and present yourself as the best option in pet supplies and care. This can be done by providing your customers with unique pet products that can only be found in your store.
Nothing sells a business better than word-of-mouth and great recommendations and reviews from your loyal customers.
2. Invest in digital marketing
Sure, digital marketing is great. But where to start?
It’s such a vast field that you can’t possibly conquer it all. Let’s take a look at the most appropriate channels for companies in the pet industry.
If you can convince your customers to buy verbally, how about you do that in writing too? You can start a pet blog where you talk about different types of pets, how to care for them at various stages of their lives and, of course, the products and services that you offer in your pet store.
b. Business listing sites
It may cost you some money, but at the end of the day, it’s a worthy investment. Have your pet store listed on business listing sites to gain exposure. Examples of leading business listing sites are
- Apple Maps
- Google My Business
- LinkedIn Company Directory
c. Be active on social media
The power of social media can not be ignored if you are looking to create an online presence. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest are among the most popular social media sites that you can tap into to reach the market for your pet products and services.
Social media not only provides you with a platform for you to advertise your products, but it also enables you to interact with your customers on a personal level too. This lets you understand their needs better through text, pictures, and video sharing.
Social media has disrupted the way we do business and live our lives today in a phenomenal way. According to a report done by Oberlo on social media statistics:
- About 45 percent of the total population is social media users and the number is still growing
- Facebook is the lead marketer by 68 percent of adults’ users in the U.S. alone
To simplify all this according to Emarketer:
- 90.4 percent of people social media users are millennials
- 77.5 percent are Generation X
- 48 percent are baby boomers
d. Use email newsletters
Another equally effective way to market your product via digital marketing is through newsletters. A monthly newsletter can be emailed to your customers as a way of keeping them engaged as well as informing them about upcoming activities.
In the newsletter, you can include the products and services you offer, any upcoming sales or even inform them about special events like holidays and sales. A picture page showing your interactions with pet owners will be an added advantage.
e. A website is a must-have
Creating a website is another extremely essential vehicle for your digital marketing strategy. The good news is that you can create one using a free website building service. For example, you can use Squarespace, JIMDO, or WIX.
(But do take into account that a free website will never look as good as a professionally created one. If your budget allows it, hire expert web developers and designers.)
Through your website, you can invite members to sign up for exclusive discounts and newsletters. With a website in place, it is easy to know the member’s information, which will help you plan well for future marketing strategies.
Another thing you can do on the website is to educate your members on various pet issues, products, and the latest in the fur friend world.
Use flyers and business cards, which you can display in animal clinics, vets, animal training schools, and pet groomers. Also, allow them to advertise on your website; this not only increases your clientele it also increases your online visibility and sales.
Take, for instance, Thos Baker, leading home furnishing and décor eCommerce company that needed to save time and energy by integrating Mailchimp with NetSuite. They also needed to see what their prospective clients, customers, and leads are clicking or buying when they open targeted emails sent by their marketing team. Their main challenge was that they could not see what visitors on their site were clicking on when they received targeted emails from their marketing team.
Solution? Syncing Mailchimp to NetSuite meant their marketing and sales teams would work more intelligently together.
f. eCommerce integration
Is your website powered by Shopify? Then you can automate most of your business operations through SyncApps’ Shopify to MailChimp integration. This will help you keep your prospects engaged at all times through relevant newsletters and email campaigns.
Other eCommerce sites you can use are Amazon (where you only need to pay a fee after you have made a sale) and Etsy (where you can sell products that you have created yourself, making it an excellent platform for homemade trinkets for the pet industry).
Both Amazon and Etsy offer support to their clients and easy to use platforms. This means that you don’t have to be an expert for you to hack it on Amazon or Etsy.
How to use social media to increase sales for pet store
As discussed earlier, social media is the real deal when it comes to digital marketing. People are now shopping online like never before. Remember when outbreaks and pandemics shook the entire world and people were asked to stay put? This and many other scenarios made people turn to online shopping than ever before.
So as a pet store owner, the sooner you build your online presence the better it will serve you in the event of a crisis.
So, how can you use social media to boost your pet store sales and online presence?
1. Create social media accounts
There are so many social media platforms on the internet today. As a pet store owner, it is essential you choose the right ones for your business for maximum impact.
How do you know which platforms are good for your business?
Well, look at your target audience – their age will most likely tell you which ones they are on. Once you are on social media, engage your followers with relevant and informative content.
2. Advertise on social media
Product posts, pictures, and funny cat videos are a must but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t advertise as well. Advertising on social media advertising provides you with an opportunity for people that are interested in your products and services.
These people do not necessarily follow you on social media. According to AdWeek, over 65 percent of adults in the U.S. use social media. This statistic alone gives you an idea of how effective social media advertising can be if utilized.
3. Create events
On social media, you can create activities that involve pet owners and service providers. You can grow an amazing community just by sharing pet-related advice and encouraging people to do the same.
Through social media, you can also create and promote events that will offer your potential customers a place to come together, mingle and learn from each other. You can also organize for animal doctors to come and give a free consultation and give handy tips on how to take care of pets.
Other events ideas: adoption days, puppy training, pet shoots, classes for older dogs, and dog socialization.
4. Post stories consistently
When it comes to social media, consistency is key. Your followers have become accustomed to what and when you post. Stick to that schedule as much as possible. The moment you deviate even a little, you will definitely lose some followers and that is not good for business.
So, make sure you post consistently in order to keep your target audience engaged.
One thing to remember is that people love their pets and will do pretty much anything for them. Posting relevant content consistently will keep your brand on to of your followers’ minds at all times. This way, they are more likely to buy from you, which is what you want.
Advantages of Digital Marketing in growing your pet store online presence
1. Higher conversion rate
With digital marketing, you can monitor your conversion rate quite easily. You can also identify prospects or leads who get converted and eventually make a purchase. Some of the highest converting methods are social media and email marketing.
Your website traffic may not convert well and so investing in diverse digital marketing platforms offers new ways to get more leads and more buyers.
2. Better growth options
With digital marketing, you can be assured of the growth but only if done the right way and with the right strategy. With a well set up, the website, you can learn how to use search engine optimization channels to increase your visibility on Google.
If you manage to put your website on the first page of Google, then you can be seen by thousands of pet owners in your area.
This means that you will have a significant number of clicks that will eventually convert into sales.
3. Solving customers’ problems
Through social media, your website, or newsletters, you can be able to answer your customers’ pet issues as well as recommend the right pet products that will solve their problems.
Allow your clients to ask questions via comments or even live chats. Make sure you answer the questions on time. This will leave the customers with a positive attitude towards your business and hence increased sales.
4. Brand reputation
Through digital marketing, you can position your brand favorably and even stand out. Your reputation as a pet store should be second to none, and digital marketing offers you that opportunity.
Take advantage of digital marketing to cement a personal relationship with your client base. Most customers want to be associated with businesses that have a clean track record in the way they run their businesses.
5. Mobile customers
With the proliferation of smartphones and other mobile devices, more people are now conducting business on the go. The mobile phone has since become an important tool that consumers use to research products and services.
Digital marketing allows you to take advantage of perfect timing. For instance, what if you could advertise your bio-degradable waste bags for dogs precisely when their owners are walking them in the park?
Geo-targeting plus choosing the right time of day can help you do just that — offer a product that is made aware that they need at that very time.
6. It is affordable
Compared to other marketing avenues, digital marketing gives you value for your money. Digital marketing gives you ample time to look for customers within your budget.
You can start with the few people who are in your area and capitalize on word-of-mouth and then scale up when your budget allows.
8. Easy to maintain and track records
Traditional ways of keeping records make it very difficult for you to keep tabs on your customers and sales from a given product. But with digital marketing gives you a real-time recording.
It shows you how many people viewed your products, how many shared, and how many bought your products. Also, it is easy to retrieve your sales records in case of complaints from your clients.
This makes it easy for you to know where to improve your marketing strategy.
9. Easy to understand and deploy
Digital marketing can be done by anyone. It is easy to understand and its strategy and tactics equally easy to deploy. Armed with a computer and a smartphone, you can kick start your digital marketing journey without too much hustle.
For example, if you are sharing pet pictures or pictures of an event, you simply upload them on your social media platform.
You can also share your blog posts by copying the links and pasting them on the platform with your target audience.
10. Go beyond borders
With a solid digital marketing strategy in place, you can also market your pet store internationally. Digital marketing provides you with an opportunity to sell to prospects that are in other regions as well. And with an eCommerce site, you will be able to grow your pet store and build a name for yourself while at it.
All you have to do is be very active and creative in your online marketing strategies, have the right products that are customer-centric and solve your customers’ problems.
Just like any other business that is trying to leverage digital marketing to boost their online presence and sales, pet stores are no different.
Some pet companies have embraced technology-driven marketing and are now the leading suppliers of pet products in the world.
As a pet store owner, its time you embrace digital marketing because it’s the only place you can compete effectively. Digital marketing presents you with plenty of opportunities to reach your target audience, showcase what you have to offer and engage with them.
As a business that is trying to position itself as the go-to pet store, you need a strong digital marketing strategy coupled with the right integration solution to be able to compete effectively.