PetFlow finds Facebook footing

Chicago -- For pure play premium pet food and accessories retailer PetFlow, online marketing is a crucial component of its business. Initially, PetFlow used Google AdWords to direct consumers searching for specific pet products to its site. However, as PetFlow co-founder Alex Zhardanovsky told the audience during a morning keynote session at the Internet Retailer Conference in Chicago, initial efforts by the retailer to expand its online marketing activities to Facebook did not work so well.

“Google is not like Facebook, the consumer is searching with purchase intent,” said Zhardanovsky. “Facebook users aren’t sitting there with a credit card on their desk.”

After initial efforts to develop Facebook fans and convert them to customers wound up costing $300-$400 per customer, PetFlow found an answer in the Facebook Best Practices Guide. The company started targeting its core customers, who were higher income female animal lovers age 40 and older, by targeting consumers who had “liked” other retailers such as, Saks and Neiman Marcus. Within two months, PetFlow jumped from 10,000 to 200,000 Facebook fans.

To affordably and effectively convert those fans into customers and evangelists, PetFlow began running funny ads with cute animalphotos that customers voluntarily reposted, liked, commented upon and shared, vastly extending the reach of the ads at no extra cost to PetFlow.

“Facebook advertising lives on,” said Zhardanovsky. “We’re still generating sales today from ads we posted weeks or months ago. Less active users post an ad and it remains at the top of their page for a long time.”

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