Inbound Marketing for Pet Retailers

Fresh off our quick write-up of one of Jet’s Favorite Freesources on HubSpot, we’re going to dig a big deeper into the world of inbound marketing. The folks at HubSpot are big proponents of inbound marketing, and nearly all retailers engage in some form of inbound marketing (whether they know it or not), including pet retailers.

So What is Inbound?

Inbound marketing is about creating valuable experiences that have a positive impact on people and your business. How do you do that? You attract prospects and customers to your website and blog through relevant and helpful content. Once they arrive, you engage with them using conversational tools like email and chat and by promising continued value. And finally, you delight them by continuing to act as an empathetic advisor and expert.
— HubSpot

Let’s dissect what HubSpot has to say on inbound marketing.

Based on that definition to the right, I think we can broadly generalize that as building a uniform experience for customers in the real world and in the digital world. As a pet store owner, you want pet parents to use your store not only as a place to buy products, but a place to share community news and events, share their lives and their pet’s lives, seek out further resources and advice, and more. You want your customer’s experience in store to be so good that they go from loyal customer to true advocacy and refer your business to other pet parents. Wouldn’t it be great if that same customer, or a new potential customer, first interacted with your pet store on your marketing platforms (website, social media, etc.) and came away with the same result? At Pet Engine, we think that’s the goal here: cultivating a seamless blend of quality interactions online and offline. If that seems like a conversation worth having, let’s get to it!

Fundamentals of Inbound Marketing

First coined by HubSpot CEO, Brian Halligan, inbound marketing is being adopted by thousands of retailers, who value attracting qualified leads by offering relevant, helpful, value-added content. This proven method of marketing is directly aligned with the buyer’s journey, and unlike often-costly outbound marketing techniques, inbound strategies won’t fight with each other for your potential customers’ attention. If your pet store is creating content designed specifically to address every need of your ideal pet parent customer, you will attract your revenue-driving demographic and build trust. You can do this through a 4-stage process:

inbound-marketing-stages.png

Attract

In retail, and even within the niche of pet retail, there are thousands of types of customers. Anybody can visit your website or your pet store, but you don’t want just anybody, and not everybody wants you. There’s a certain demographic your pet store appeals to, these groups of people are who we call buyer personas. Your pet store’s marketing strategy should be focused on attracting and engaging with these profitable personas.

How? Here’s some ideas for content that attracts:

  • Blogging about relevant and semi-relevant topics

  • Frequent and relevant social media posts

  • Utilizing the keywords your key demographic use in search engines

  • Developing websites and landing pages that address your target audience’s problems

Convert

Now that you attracted the right customer to your site, the next step is to convert your visitor into a lead. This can easily be done digitally on your pet store’s online assets, and we’ll show you a few ways on how you can do it:

Messenger Bots are powerful automation tools that can yield strong results.

Messenger Bots are powerful automation tools that can yield strong results.

  • Calls-to-action on your website

  • Email marketing

  • Contact forms

  • Online messaging and chats

Close

Some customers are going to be more trusting, or deeper in need, than others. Perhaps they’ve just picked up a puppy on the side of the road and getting a dog was completely unplanned. That type of customer might just be looking for the nearest available option. Another type might browse a few different local pet stores to see where they can find the best prices, the best experiences, or the best options. Or they might just browse those local pet store’s websites or social media feeds to see which appeals to them viscerally - another reason why a website and optimized social platforms are critical! Ways that you might close a potential customer:

  • Value propositions and differentiation

  • Product availability

  • Proximity

  • Responsiveness and engagement online and offline

  • Smart content

Delight

This stage is crucial but is often overlooked by pet retailers focused so intently on new customers. It’s critical to build and grow your customer satisfaction and retention rates. Your customers have higher expectations because of the level of respect you treated them with throughout their process to become a customer. Don’t fail them now. Here’s how:

  • Email marketing to deliver the right information to the right people at the right time

  • Conversations to align your inboxes with your teams

  • Create memorable content that your customers can share with friends and family

    • Photos, videos, testimonials, reviews, gifts

  • Surveys

  • Quizzes

  • Smart content

Conclusion

Lots to dig into right? Inbound marketing is less of a concept or project that you embark on, and more of a marketing mindset and philosophy, especially for pet retailers. Your pet store’s marketing strategy should employ a handful of inbound and outbound marketing strategy to create a balance that caters to new prospects as well as your top shoppers.

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