Think of your dog walking website as a digital flyer. The purpose of a paper flyer is to attract attention, provide relevant information, and facilitate communication. That's exactly what a website should do for a business as well.
Here are some tips to help turn your dog walking website into a fully functional marketing tool:
Your Dog Walking Website should Highlight Your Strengths
I'm currently redesigning my own website. As part of the design process, I recently asked myself "Why is my dog walking company the best choice for pet owners?" It may be a simple question, but answering it thoughtfully will provide a lot of insight into how you should be promoting your brand.
I live in Philly and our top industry is healthcare meaning lots of doctors and nurses working long hours. There's a lot of demand for dog walkers who can accommodate their erratic schedules. Allowing people to schedule dog walking at will, with no frequency minimums is rare among dog walking companies in the area, and it's been extremely lucrative for me. This is a major benefit of hiring my company. As a result, my new website will feature this benefit heavily on the landing page.
Handout Your Flyers
You need to pass out your flyers. No one goes through the process and expense of designing and printing flyers just to leave them in a box collecting dust. Right? Well, that's often exactly what happens with websites. Businesses pay a designer and developer to create a website, but it just sits there, in a box, hoping someone will see it.
There are a lot of different ways to "handout" a website, but I will stick to a few of the ones I have been successful with.
Blogging and content production are a great way to get your dog walking website noticed. Pets are really cute, and people are always asking my "expert" opinion about pet-related topics. This makes it really easy to produce content that will attract attention. My latest attention-seeking behavior is a GoPro video camera attached to a specialized dog harness. I record the walk, make a 30-second video set to music, and post it on YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram. I send the link or tag my customers. They, in turn, share it with their friends and family, or as I like to call them, potential customers.
Social Media is a great tool for businesses to get their content and websites in front of people but it can be over-saturated. You'll need to experiment with timing and subject matter to break through the noise. Another option is to use the service no one else is using. Every one of my competitors has a Facebook and Twitter account, so getting traction on those platforms can be challenging. Recently I've backed off those channels, and started using NextDoor. NextDoor is a very powerful marketing tool because it requires a 3rd party to be an advocate for your business. All I did was give my friends and neighbors some basic information about my company, and whenever they see someone looking for a dog walker, they point them to my website.
Search Engine Optimization or SEO is challenging because it's based on a secret algorithm that constantly changes and differs across search engines. Google may be the most popular, but it is definitely not the only search engine you should pay attention to. As difficult as it is to learn, SEO is by far the most successful method I use to market my website. Ranking on the first page of organic search results is extremely valuable. People trust that those results are relevant and they are highly likely to trust them when choosing to buy a product or service.
Communicate with Potential Customers
Back to our metaphor: if you've designed and distributed a successful flyer, people are going to want to contact you. On a flyer, you would print your name and phone number so a customer can reach out to buy your dog walking services. One of the most effective ways to do this on a website is using a form. We think using forms on your website is so important that we developed a tool for Scout customers to easily install one on an existing website.
A website is a great tool to let customers know why they should choose your business, but just having a website isn't enough. Like other, more traditional forms of advertising, you need to promote it and get it in front of people. Once a pet owner sees your website, they'll need a way to let you know they're interested in your dog walking services.
Definitely try out these tips, but don't be afraid to experiment on your own too.
Originally posted July 2017, Updated 12/2017