Marketing Campaign for Semester Project E-Commerce Site of Scott Crump

I have friends who supplement their income by pet sitting for the 1% in our area.     Not a bad idea, though in practice it has its draw-backs for both the sitter and the pet parent.  For my friend, she is always on call without actually being paid for it until she schedules an appointment to pet sit.  Essentially she has sacrificed her personal life to make up for where her actual job fails to pay a living wage.  When she has already booked an appointment and another interested pet parent wants to schedule for the same time frame, she has to gracious decline which is a loss of money in the sense that the other person very well may not call again for a different time period.  For the pet parent, in the instances their preferred, regular and trusted sitter is unavailable are left either finding someone new or not going out.  If they do go with a new sitter, then they have to write down all the details that sitter needs to know for their pet and then explain it to the new sitter, which in and of itself is such a hassle.  There has got to be a better way!

That is where my idea for my semester project stems from.  Would it not be great to have one place where you have a profile established and all of those pesky details already saved and a selection of vetted, experienced sitters available to choose from that have reviews from previous pet sitting appointments where the pet parents rate their experience with that sitter?

A community of pet parents that are from the same area who understand the travails of caring for a pet and the ordeal of having to leave them with someone else in order to run errands, visit a friend that for one reason or another bringing the family pet is not a viable option or being away for extended periods of time due to a business conference or traveling where pets either are not allowed or would be so uncomfortable that taking them with you really is not a healthy choice.

This is where my academic concept for my semester project offers a possible solution. In the instance of my friend, if she were interested in participating as an affiliate sitter she would be able to offer the services of this site to her existing clients as a way to help keep track of their family friend’s food allergies, medication regimens, dietary and therapy or other schedules.  Having the veterinarian they have established a relationship with listed in the profile for medical emergencies is a valuable asset to both the pet parent and the sitter.   As these customers come to understand the benefits of such a community, they become repeat customers.

In the instance of a pet parent who doesn’t happen to already have an existing relationship with one of the affiliate sitters, this site would be a valuable tool to finding respectable, trustworthy and experienced help when they need someone to watch their family pet.    Just having a community of other pet parents to communicate with in and of itself is a remarkable weight off the mind of many individuals.  As these new comers become familiar with the community site and read the reviews of other pet parents in the various experiences they had these unfamiliar friends can find a good pet sitter to schedule an appointment with and in so doing become new customers themselves.

Pet parents come in all walks of life, salary ranges and ethnicity.   Sometimes, it is worth the cost of pet sitter for a predetermined appointed time frame in contrast to the hassle of boarding at either the local veterinarian or kennel.   How many times have you ever dealt with the aftermath of a flea infestation or just the nervous responses after the fact of boarding your family friend.  Having someone to stay with your pet in the surrounding they are familiar with and without the risk of being exposed to insect infestation or communicable disease adds to ones peace of mind immensely.

Having a forum on the community site for pet parents to share their experiences adds a social aspect that has its own value.  Sure there are a ton of social media community groups and pages on the internet, but how many of those are local to the area in which you live.   Having the solidarity of being in the same geographic area gives the community the unification of experiencing the same weather, seasonal allergens, veterinary, pet store and grooming options among others.  Having a community to discuss their experiences at any one of these would be a huge help in the hectic professional and personal life so many of us endure.

I guess the site I propose is an amalgamation of a blog, social network, community forum, appointment scheduling, contact list.  It is the strength of the community that benefits each of the pet parents who come to a site such as this for information, for guidance, for friendly communication or just to be a part of a larger community of like-minded individuals and families as themselves.

From a technical standpoint being an electronic commerce website, the manner in which I could measure whether or not such a site is successful, operating optimally and is meeting the needs of the community would be a mixture of utilizing analytical tools to review the bounce rate on the various pages, site traffic flow charts and the many other analytical tools available from Google Analytics.   If a page has a high bounce rate, then it would be worth reviewing what the possible reasons behind that might be.  Are people looking up a particular search term and coming to a particular page of the community site in error or are community members looking for something in particular and not finding it easily and leaving out of frustration.  All of these are worth looking into as a website administrator.

Another metric that is helpful in determining the health and usability of a community site’s functionality is the commentary and opinions provided in the forums areas.  Are they positive, negative, neutral.  Are they relevant to the community page in which they are being discussed?  Are the comments helpful to other community members reading these opinions, concerns, recommendations or general advise.  All of these are key in ascertaining if a pet sitting and pet parent community site is worth while.

Ultimately, what I would want to develop out of such an electronic commerce website would be something that improves the lives of the pet parents who come to it for either information, guidance, assistance or just a sense of community.   If having a place for parents of dogs, cats, birds, fish, reptiles, amphibians and so forth to discuss what concerns them and are able to find competent, experienced, reliable assistance when they need the services of a by appointment sitter then I would feel comfortable considering such a website a success.