The Tangled Web

Melody McKinnon explores the mindset of today's Web savvy pet parents to improve consumer relations and develop effective marketing strategies.

Using the Internet to help offline petfood customers

The majority of shoppers now turn to the Internet for product information, and it's important to accommodate them as we build and promote our brand. However, it's vital to remember that they often take the information they find online and apply it to offline activities, including shopping. It's also essential to consider those consumers who don't use the Internet at all. Utilizing the Internet to better serve offline or mobile shoppers can have a major impact on your bottom line.

How your website can help offline and mobile consumers

When your customers move or travel with their pets, one of their main concerns is where they will find your brand in their new location. People who have recently heard good things about your petfood may also be searching for it in their area. Include a directory of merchants that carry your brand on your website, with the name, address and phone number of local retail stores. This will also boost your website traffic when people perform localized Internet searches, since the format of these searches is consistently "brand name, city."

  • Make sure your website is compatible with mobile devices.
  • Provide QR (quick response) codes on your packaging so consumers can obtain information about specific products with their mobile device.
  • Having recall information on your website, including lot numbers, reassures pet parents while they're shopping. They can quickly use their mobile device to verify that the food on the store shelf isn't part of a recall.
  • Include printable materials on your website. This can help the person on the road, while also assisting retail stores when they're asked about your petfood brand. They can easily go to your website and provide information to consumers, even if the customer doesn't use the Internet. You'll reduce printing expenses if you normally send information sheets or brochures to stores, many of which may be wasted.
  • Provide online training videos and other materials for either customers or stores training their staff. Take it a step further with education about petfood in general, weaving your brand advantages into the material (but take great care not to mislead anyone).
  • Printable coupons on your website will provide an incentive to try your petfood and remain loyal to it. Motivate consumers to print them by offering coupons over a dollar in value. Increase subscribers to your newsletter by offering subscriber-only coupons in every issue. Notify retailers and encourage them to print the coupons for their customers. Send an e-mail to top "couponing" website administrators who are always eager to promote valuable coupons.

Having brand materials at the fingertips of consumers and retailers offers a competitive advantage. Pet parents are demanding more and more information about each brand before making their choice. The brand providing the most helpful, honest information can win their purchase and loyalty. Conversely, if your brand is too difficult to locate or research, it may cause your customers to find a brand of food that is more accessible.


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