How Mobile Is Changing the Pet Care Industry

Whether we like it or not, we’re living in the future. We have voice-activated computers in our pockets, cars drive themselves, and we can buy stuff with the computers in our pockets while sitting in a car that drives itself.

Automation is the wave of the future, and the future comes at us fast and furiously today, especially in the pet care industry. Goods and services come to us instead of waiting for us to come to them. You can get health care for your pet in your own home. You can outfit that home to cater to your pet’s needs when you aren’t there. You can feed your pet via robot or app. And for anything else? Yeah, there’s an app for that.

Automatically adapt your plans

The way that customers interact with their favorite products and services is changing as quickly as the app stores add apps. Is your marketing plan keeping up? The “customer journey” is changing, and you need to be changing with it, finding new ways to meet your audience in their conclusion-finding travels. Brick-and-mortar storefronts and traditional advertising just aren’t enough anymore. Pet health customers want products and services that come to them, so your communications have to come to them as well. After all, if they clamor for products that make their lives easier, your messages certainly shouldn’t cause extra effort for them.

But what does it mean to meet today’s customers “on their journeys”? Does it mean going full-on digital? Developing an app? Offering more and better automated services?

Good questions. And while we might not have specific answers to your specific queries, we do have a list of things you can ask yourself that can help guide you on your own journey to find your customers on theirs.

How easy is it for your customers to find you?

Obviously, you have to be online. But with billions of URLs out there, yours might not be obvious. This means that you MUST have quality organic search results, and that’s no easy feat in the increasingly crowded pet markets. Unless your product is so unique that there literally isn’t another like it on the market, you have to invest in an integrated digital strategy that includes SEO, paid search, SEM and other variables (apps, for example). You need to make it so that when someone does a Google search for a product you offer (and products that are merely kind of like what you offer), your name flashes in front of their eyeballs. Or better yet, you are ALWAYS in front of their eyeballs in the form of an app icon on their phone.

The easier you are to find, the easier you’ll be found. And often, being found is the thing the makes you rise to the top. Wherever your audience’s eyeballs are, you need to be there because – let’s be honest – people will take the path of least resistance. If they’re on Twitter, be on Twitter. If they peruse the app store, you need to be in the app store. If you wait for people come to you, much of the time you just won’t be found.  The primary difference between Coke and RC Cola is that Coke is everywhere. So do everything you can to be everywhere in your audience’s eyes.

The other way to stand out in the crowd is to stand out in a crowd. Come up with a new way to communicate. Just like people love an innovative new product, they love an innovative new communication tactic. If you create an app, make sure that app does something that no other app can do. It’s not an easy ask, but that’s why it will stand out. And that’s why your audience will remember it.

Is it easy for your customers to interact with you?

The rise of automation tells us one thing. Well, it tells us a lot of things, but for the purposes of this section it tells us this: Instant gratification is the bee’s knees. But only if the bee has knees that are always in front of its own eyeballs, because bending down just takes too long.

The days of a customer filling out an online form and awaiting a response or (egads) posting something to a forum are probably long gone. The biggest change in customer interaction lately has been a dramatic turn toward the art of conversation. It’s no longer a question-and-response system. Customers expect real-time discussion with a real person. Twitter @ replies, Facebook comments, Google Chats; these are the tools you use to talk to customers after they’re your customers. Do you have the personnel to handle this kind of interaction? Do you have an engagement strategy for those personnel to refer to? Real-time conversation tools can be a great way to connect on a personal level with an audience, but if you’re not prepared for all possibilities, it can go south.

What will keep them coming back?

You’ve made yourself easy to find, and you’ve proven that you can provide an unparalleled customer experience. They should be hooked for life. Right? RIGHT?!?!

If only it were that easy.

We’ve discussed the need for instant gratification at length. But now we have to talk about continued gratification. Today’s audiences are loyal to the brands they trust, but with all the brands competing for eyeballs, you need to offer a carrot in a brighter shade of orange than the next guy. You gotta keep them coming back. Maybe it’s a loyalty program, like Target’s Cartwheel, that literally rewards customers simply for walking through the door. Maybe it’s playing on your audience’s emotional needs by donating a certain percentage of proceeds to a cause they love. Maybe it’s continuing to update apps and websites with fresh, engaging content.

Whatever your eventual method may be, a strategy for retaining an audience is in many ways more important than the strategy that hooks them in the first place. People are brand loyal, but only so much.

Easy peasy (with new and improved Lemon Squeasy)

It’s not easy being…easy. But ease is what people are looking for, especially when they’re juggling jobs, lives, kids and pets. The instant consumers smell something that makes their lives just a little easier than the version they’re currently using, they will jump one ship and hop on board the next.

Your products need to be easy to use. Your communications need to be easy to find. And your brand needs to be easy to love.