Paid Search Purr-fect Fit for Local Pet Shops

Competition with big-box retailers is not limited to discount chains and general-merchandise outlets today. Businesses operating in niche markets – like pet supplies, for instance – have plenty to contend with from the well-funded national chains. Beyond carrying rare animals, exotic fish and organic animal feeds, many local pet-store owners are left wondering how they can stay afloat in the sea of bargain basements.

Fortunately for these neighborhood entrepreneurs, technology is working in their favor. Even without a Web site, pet-shop owners can benefit from the Internet and its connection to their local audience. Using a relatively new paid-search mechanism called pay-per-call, pet retailers and pet lovers are just a dial tone away from each other.

Like its closest relative, pay-per-click, the pay-per-call model is designed to direct online searchers to specific retailers, usually in their area. The difference between the two comes when ads are displayed on search-results pages. If a pet owner searches for keywords like “fish tanks” or “cat toys” on Google┬«, the pay-per-call ads they are shown contain only a brief description of the business and a toll-free phone number; whereas the pay-per-click ads link the consumer to a vendor’s Web site.

With pay-per-call, the toll-free number automatically redirects to the pet shop’s phone, while the pay-per-click consumer must find contact information on the next site. Each option has its benefits: pay-per-call immediately connects the consumer to a live voice at the pet shop; however, pay-per-click gives the consumer a way to get detailed information and answers 24 hours a day through the Web site.

Like pay-per-click, pay-per-call advertisers still can track ad performance through monitoring and reporting data collected by the service provider. From there, they can alter campaign strategies, including bid maximums and keyword selections, accordingly.

Before engaging in any paid-search campaign, pet-shop owners should consider connecting with an experienced search-marketing firm that can help determine:

— the appropriate geographic area in which to advertise: local, regional or national;

— an adequate, competitive budget for participation;

— the duration of the initial campaign; and,

— a specific keyword list.

With flexible Internet-advertising options like pay-per-call and pay-per-click, pet retailers have more than a fighting chance to take a big bite out of the big-box competition.