Pet owner surveys - labradors that pull
Pet owner surveys that create unqiue content & value for customers 1024 683 RachelRodgers

Pet owner surveys that create unqiue content & value for customers

Back in March 2019, Hairy Dog Marketing carried out pet owner surveys on behalf of our client, k9 bridle, asking recent k9 bridle customers three questions:

  • Was the k9 bridle successful in stopping your dog from pulling on the lead?
  • What breed of dog did you buy the k9 bridle for?
  • Would you recommend the k9 bridle to friends and family?

The results of the survey were outstanding, with 94% of respondents saying that the k9 bridle was successful and 96% would recommend it. The breed for which most customers bought the k9 bridle was the Labrador. When advertising or promoting a product, it helps to segment the audience right down to target advertising directly to a small sector of customers and potential customers. Focusing on a small target market means that we could create very specific content that would be of value to this audience.

Targeted campaigns focusing on specific breeds

Having carried out promotion relating to the excellent survey results, we began to think about a new campaign that would focus on owners of different breeds of dog, starting with the Labrador. This would enable us to send very specific knowledge-led information out to owners that would add value and not be “just advertising”.

The k9 bridle is an aid to help dogs to walk on the lead without pulling, and we want the brand to come across as a knowledge leader in the field of training dogs to walk on the lead. We therefore decided to create an article that would give Labrador owners exclusive breed-specific information about how to train their dogs not to pull. However, we didn’t want the article to become just another dog training article to match the hundreds of others currently available online.

Pet owner surveys to create unique content

So how could we make it different? Then it became clear – social media makes it possible to reach hundreds of people very quickly and also enables users to create pet owner surveys and polls as well as invite comments. Using information obtained using a combination of polls and questions directly to Labrador owners on social media, we were able to get the opinions and useful comments, hints and tips from owners, walkers and trainers. We had well over 500 respondents and we decided to make the article more valuable to readers by presenting the results of the polls and expanding on the information given to us by respondents to the polls and questions. We investigated the training methods they described to add more detail and also looked into a number of other issues, including the dangers of dogs pulling on the lead and why dogs pull in the first place.

Ebook – how to stop Labradors pulling on the lead in 2019

The result was a 20-page ebook entitled “How are Labrador owners in 2019 managing pulling on the lead?”. This would be unique content, unavailable elsewhere online and would present the results of a survey about how other Labrador owners stop their dogs from pulling. We included quotes, hints and tips from owners, professional dog walkers and trainers, training methods that owners find successful and details about training aids that other owners have used that worked. The document is an up-to-date, relevant, partly user-generated guide to stopping Labradors from pulling on the lead in 2019.

The ebook is now available online and we will report the results of this campaign as they come in. We can then focus on our next target market – spaniel owners!

Social Media for Pet Businesses - which social media
Social Media for the Pet Industry in 2020 940 788 RachelRodgers

Social Media for the Pet Industry in 2020

Using Social Media To Promote Your Pet Product

There is a lot of information available online about how to use social media for marketing purposes and we don’t want to simply repeat that. However, we do have advice after our years of experience running pet business social media accounts that you may not find online.

These are the key points:

Be Social

Social media is all about being social. To be social, you don’t just stand talking about yourself and how great you are. You also chat to people, talk about how they are doing, offer advice is needed and react to their news. The same applies to social media – react to, and engage with, other people.

Social media accounts that aren’t social won’t thrive.

Be Nice

If you are ever in any doubt about the suitability of a post, then DON’T post it! Always be nice to people. Avoid politics, religion, sex and anything else that could be controversial.

Be careful with humour. Always ensure that it isn’t at someone else’s expense.


Define why you want to use social media and what you want to get out of it More sales? Good reviews? Brand awareness? Do you want to be seen as experts in your field? Decide on a couple of objectives and keep these in mind whenever you use your selected social media platforms. Ideally make these “SMART” objectives to measure ROI.

Website as a central online “hub”

It’s important to remember that all social media accounts should refer back to your website where possible. One of the main aims of social media is always to get people to visit your website. Use links to your site, point people to relevant information, keep your website blog updated and link to it on social media.

Your website should always be the “heart” of your business online with everything else (social media, e-newsletters, blog posts, online forums, pay per click adverts) linking back to it.

ocial Media for Pet Businesses

Diagram borrowed from Mark Brinker & Associates

Engagement or Followers?

As a general rule of thumb, it is better to aim for high levels of engagement than judge the success of the account by the number of followers. Engagement means that people aren’t skimming by your posts without reading them. It means that they are stopping and thinking about them, before moving on.

Which Social Media?

Social Media for Pet Businesses - which social media
Based on an infographic by CNBC

Don’t try and use every platform. We recommend selecting 2 or, at the very most, 3, to concentrate on. Research which demographic groups use which platform and select according to your target market.
If possible, select platforms that you enjoy using. This will help to ensure that you are motivated to keep them updated.
If you’re not familiar with the platform, create a personal account and follow brands similar to your own. Observe the type of posts they are sharing and how they interact with their audience. Pick out the ones with the highest engagement and see who they are following. Follow the same accounts.
Watch to see who are influencers in your target market. Influencers are people with very high numbers of followers and high levels of engagement. These are the people that you should particularly aim to engage with.

Keeping on Brand

You will need to give some thought to how you want your brand to appear on social media to ensure that you keep the same “tone of voice” throughout your posts. If you are a sole trader then it is easy enough to be yourself. If you have a number of different people running your social media accounts then you will need a brief guide and a social media policy to ensure that everyone knows what you are aiming to achieve and what the boundaries are.

Social Media Policy

Talking of social media policies, if you haven’t got one, then write one. There are plenty of suggested policy wordings online and it’s important to set guidelines and expectations for employees.

A social media policy should include what people post in their private personal social media profiles as well as company accounts. It should make clear how you expect staff to comment about the business, what, if any, internal images can be shared and what action will be taken if these guidelines are not followed.

Post Content: What To Include


The first golden rule to remember is to never post anything without an accompanying image. In the big sea of social media posts out there, unless you have an image that illustrates your point, your post will be practically invisible.

Use images that look as professional as possible. Learn how to edit photos and always crop off any unnecessary part of the image. Keep the main subject central. Use filters if they brighten the image or improve it in some way.

Images from customers, photos taken at events or snaps taken when out and about are fine to share just as they are. There is evidence that people also like to see “normal”, everyday images as well.


Video is great for demonstrating a product or service or showing how something works.

If you can manage to persuade a customer to do a video review of your product, then use it as much as possible.

Pet videos are wonderful for amusing or cute video clips. Browse around and find the best accounts that share these videos and follow. Share whenever you a find clip that appeals.

If you are not directly sharing, but “borrowing” the video, always credit the original source.


By far and away the best posts are always reviews and comments from happy customers. If you receive an email or any other form of communication from a customer thanking you for your product or service, ask their permission to post it on social media and ask if they can send a photo of their pet to accompany it.

Video reviews from customers, if you can persuade them to do it, are a wonderful way of promoting your brand.

Try and find out the name of the pet and the owner’s social media profile names so that you can tag them in the post. This will make them more likely to share the post with their contacts.

Other ideas for content

  • Updates from shows and events; visitors to your stand, pets wearing/using/eating your products, views of the show, location of your stand on a show plan, updates on what is selling well. If you do feature pet visitors, make a note of their name and their owners social media profile name if possible.
  • Top tips/advice/helpful information – these posts always go down well. Helpful information is often shared, extending your reach beyond your followers, which is great!
  • Pets reacting to your products
  • Your own pets and their day to day lives
  • New products/services – and if they are selling well, make sure that people know.
  • Remember – be social. Share good content from other accounts, especially those that you wish to engage with, such as influencers or potential customers.
  • Competitions to win a prize that require sharing a post or other engagement that will meet your objectives
  • Offers exclusively to social media followers, encouraging people to sign up to a newsletter for further offers.

Ideal Anatomy of a Post

Ideal Anatomy of a Social Media Post
Ideal Anatomy of a Social Media Post
  • Image/Video
  • Main message
  • Tag in anyone that might be involved or might want to know about something specific
  • Call to action
  • Link to website
  • Add location/”check in” if appropriate
  • Add relevant hashtag/s

Dealing with negative comments

Try and keep the conversation online. If people can see that you are going out of your way to help, they will see that when things go wrong, you will provide good customer service and ensure that the issue will be resolved.

If someone is clearly being unreasonable and just posting to be spiteful or provocative, (known as “spamming”) then it is often better to ignore the post. Your followers are human and will be able to see the comments for what they are. Replying can inflame the situation and prolong the effects.

Pet Accounts

There are a number of pet social media accounts where the pet is supposedly the one writing the posts. If you can pick out a specific pet account with a high number of followers and high engagement, with a pet that is very likely to use your product or service, then this is an ideal opportunity for promoting your product. Contact the “pet” and ask if you can send them a sample of your product to review.
A positive review from such an influencer, talking in the voice of the pet, can be a highly powerful promotional tactic.

How Often?

Aim to post at least every couple of days, but if you have nothing to post, then don’t. There is no point posting boring content that people won’t find relevant or interesting.

Search Engine Optimisation for Pet Businesses
Search Engine Optimisation For Pet Businesses Explained 640 260 RachelRodgers

Search Engine Optimisation For Pet Businesses Explained

So what is SEO or Search Engine Optimisation? It’s a phrase that us marketers use a lot and it’s extremely important if you want to be found anywhere on the internet.
So, to explain a little. It’s Google’s main aim to return the best search results for every person that searches online. To do that, it “crawls” or examines each and every website, blog or other web page on the internet to find out what all the “content” (words and images) is about. It then “indexes” this information to use when people search online.

The Google “algorithm” is the formula that Google uses to determine which page is the most suitable match to the user’s search query and where each page will rank in the search results. This exact formula is always changing and is a closely guarded secret at Google. There are hundreds of different ranking factors that make up the Google algorithm but it’s not possible to meet every single one of these requirements.
However, it is thought that the seven most important in 2019 are:


In order for a page to rank well in Google you should aim for a minimum of 300 words. The content needs to be interesting and be based around the key phrase that you wish to target for that page. This is not simply a case of “Keyword” stuffing and adding the keywords or phrase as many times as you can manage. It is about writing around the subject for which you wish to optimise.

Search Engine Optimisation for Pet Business - SEO 2

For example, if your page is all about pencils then you could describe the pencil, you could write about all the different uses of the pencil, you could feature some images of pencils and some examples of work written with a pencil. You could write in detail about how to use a pencil, list where you will sell them, write about how your pencil compares to other pencils and so on.
Really good, well-written content will always rank well in Google and is far superior to using SEO tricks and tools. How you lay out the content is also important but we’ll come onto that in another ranking factor below.


Acquiring “backlinks” or links that lead to your site from other sites is another very important ranking factor that is often underestimated. The “higher quality” the site that Google thinks is linking to your site, the better. Links to your site from, for example, the BBC, any university or any national newspaper are far superior to links from less well-known websites.
The other criteria regarding backlinks is that they must be relevant. If you are a website selling pencils and a taxi firm links to you, that will not be particularly valuable. However, if another pencil manufacturer or retailer selling pencils links to you, that would hep to bring you higher up the search results.
Keep thinking “Content” as the main reason why any relevant sites would link to you is because they wish to share your content. They would not do this if the content was poorly written, unreliable or insufficient.
There is nothing wrong with asking companies to link to your site, such as your customers, product advocates or suppliers. This will all help to optimise your site and improve your ranking in the search engine results pages.


With mobile searches now far outweighing desktop searches, it’s vital that your website is “responsive” or mobile-friendly. This means that your website will respond to different screen sizes by adjusting the layout to ensure that mobile as well as desktop users can see all the content on your website.

Not only is this important because mobile users will just leave your site if they can’t read or use it, it is also vital because it is now a very strong ranking factor in Google’s algorithm.

A Secure Website (HTTPS)

You can make your site secure by ensuring that an “SSL certificate” is added. SSL stands for “Secure Sockets Layer” and adding one creates a secure connection between the user and the server so that information can be exchanged safely without risk of being intercepted.
Once the SSL certificate is added, your website URL will be preceded by “HTTPS” rather than “HTTP” and your site will be classed as secure.
Not only is this an important ranking factor, the message “not secure” that appears in the URL bar if your site is not protected could well be enough to put visitors off visiting your website.

Search Engine Optimisation for Pet Business - SSL Certificate

User Experience

Often abbreviated to UX, user experience is an important ranking factor as well as an important factor for people visiting your site.
If your site is laid out badly and information is not easy to find, then people won’t hang about. They will move on to another site, in which they can find the information they need to find. Google crawls your site and it is intelligent enough to understand when a site will not be user friendly.
Long sections of text should never be used as studies have shown that people don’t read it. Break up the text with images, different coloured backgrounds, lists, subheadings, anything that doesn’t look boring. You should also ensure that all your key points really stand out.
Remember, it all comes back to content. Google wants to return the best search results and keep people coming back for more. If the pages it displays are confusing, difficult to read, untidy or just boring, then people will lose faith in searching.
So the general rule is, visitors to your website should be able to find every single page on your site within 3 or 4 clicks and it shouldn’t take them very long to get to where they want to be.
Interestingly, most search engines will factor “dwell time”, which is the amount of time a user spends on a website before clicking back to the search results. Sites where users don’t return to the search results, indicating that the user found what they were looking for, will rank better than sites where users quickly return to the results pages.

Page Speed

In the days of wanting everything here and now online, particularly on mobile devices, people have much less patience than previously. If a site doesn’t seem to be loading very fast, people will exit and try another site instead. A recent review by the Telegraph found that a 4 second delay when a site is opening reduced page views by over 11%.
Google knows this and it is less likely to rank slow websites. Remember, it is aiming to give users the best website experiences possible.
There are lots of tools that measure website loading speed for you to test your site on, such as https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/
Take the advice offered and, if you aren’t a website whiz-kid, get someone who is, to help cut back your website’s loading speeds.

On-Page Optimisation

This is where you can use the code in your website to communicate directly to Google and the other search engines. Companies frequently report more than 60% increases in traffic just by changing their h1 headers (the main heading in the code of each page).
Meta Data: In most Content Management Systems (CMS) these days, there are fields in which you can enter meta data. If you don’t have this option, ask your web developer to add it for you.
You can use meta data to tell Google what each page of your website is about. Title tags should be a brief summary of the page and meta descriptions, although not part of the indexing process, are the page descriptions that appear under the title of the page in the search results.
Alt tags are a way of telling Google what is contained in images. All meta data should contain the keyword or phrase you wish your page to rank for.
Schema: Schema markup is another “hidden” element that can be added to a website to give search engines more information about a site’s content. Schema are almost like instructions to a search engine about how to display information in the search results and there is a lot of evidence that using schema markup can improve engagement.

In Conclusion…

So, there you have it. Hopefully you will understand a bit more about the fascinating topic of SEO. Ensuring that a website’s SEO is as good as it can be is always the first thing we look at. It involves doing keyword research to find out what key words and phrases to target – more about that in an imminent blog post. Once we know which key words to optimise for, we can get everything in place. Google will then do its job and start to display your website much higher up the search rankings, bringing you extra traffic almost immediately while we start looking at other ways of helping!
For more information about how we can help, or for training to enable you to do this yourself, please contact us.