The Internet has changed the way we shop, stay entertained and connect with one another.
Here are five things that every business can do to win online and reach pet lovers.
Is Your Website Made for 2013, or 2009?
Your website is your “Open For Business” sign on the Internet, and a site that effectively attracts and engages people can turn your visitors into customers.
The first step to getting your website ready is making sure it helps visitors complete the actions that are important to you. If your goal is to drive online sales, put seasonal promotions front and center, and make it easy for shoppers to complete purchases in just a few steps.
If driving leads through an online form is key, put the form on all relevant pages, and create a simple submission process. Not having a website is like being invisible to potential customers.
Reach Potential Customers Online
Whether your goals are to drive in-store foot traffic, increase phone calls or spur online purchases, reaching new pet lovers is key. Online advertising on search engines can be a scalable and effective way to reach people looking for products and services like yours.
Having promised my children a dog in 2013, I’ll soon be searching online for dog-related products. For example, if I search for “organic dog shampoo,” I’m likely to see your ad if you have bid on those keywords selling your all-natural pet shampoo.
Search is getting smarter, too. Now instead of showing just ten blue links, when I search for products like luxury dog carriers, I can instantly see pictures, which nearby retailers carry them and how much they are.
Engage Customers On the Go
Consumers are walking around with powerful personal shoppers in their pockets these days, so every business needs a mobile-optimized site to win over on-the-go shoppers.
Mobile sites should load quickly, be easily readable and clickable on a phone’s smaller screen, and put information that mobile visitors care about front and center. Someone visiting your grooming salon’s website on a mobile phone is likely looking for your hours, driving directions or your list of services.
GoMo is a free tool that shows how mobile-friendly your site is and helps you build one for free.
Keep Measuring, Keep Experimenting
Digital marketing is uniquely measurable, so it can give you better visibility into the return from your online efforts.
Start by defining the customer actions that you value – like completing an online sale, locating your nearest store or requesting a quote – and then use free tools like Google Analytics to help you measure how effective your website and marketing initiatives are at achieving those goals.
Check back frequently and tweak your campaigns based on what’s working. There’s no one blueprint to winning with digital marketing, so measure and iterate to see what works for you.
Cultivate, Captivate Your Community
Many social and video channels offer free tools to build a presence and cultivate a community that’s passionate about your company, products and mission. Like me, many new pet owners may look for YouTube videos about how to care for a dog or teach them tricks, so relevant instructional videos created by pet lovers and businesses alike are particularly appealing.
The key is to share content that’s interesting to your audience, whether that’s exclusive deals or behind-the-scenes looks into your business. For example, a pet costume retailer could encourage customers to share photos of their pet’s holiday outfit, or create a video showcasing some hot Halloween pet costumes.
Think about the content your customers may find useful, and encourage them to get involved.
Ling Chang is the director, global customer services, at Google. He leads the Americas team that provides services to help small and medium-sized businesses grow online using AdWords. He has lived in seven countries across four continents, and recently relocated from Google’s Tokyo office to their headquarters in Mountain View, Calif.