Dave Baker from Petful

Welcome back to this new section of interviews to businesses using WordPress. I hope you did not miss the first interview we had with Hamilton Kia III of FastSpring. This month’s guest is Dave Baker. Dave has more than 20 years of experience in the media industry, including work with The New York Times and The Nation magazine. Driven by his passion for improving animal welfare, he founded one of the leading pet websites, Petful (formerly Pets Adviser). He also runs a business proofreading service, and works from his home office in Brooklyn, New York, where his 14-year-old cat, Hillary, keeps a close eye on him. But let him explain his experience. Let’s welcome Dave Baker from Petful!

Thanks for joining us to share your experience, Dave. It’s a pleasure to have you here! For those who might not know you, tell us a little bit about yourself.

As the publisher of Petful.com, a pets website I founded in 2009, I’m responsible for ensuring that our editorial team has the best tools within our budget to get their jobs done efficiently.

Dave, regarding Petful, what are the biggest challenges that you face with your customers?

We publish content multiple times daily, targeted to people who have pets and crave information that can help them give their pets healthier, happier, longer lives. All of the content on our site is completely free, and we earn revenue from advertising alongside that content. Our “customers,” then, are our readers. Our biggest challenge is building and retaining a base of loyal readers who keep coming back for more.

As you know, at Nelio we specialize in WordPress and we often write about it on our blog. Your business uses WordPress on your site. Could you tell us why you chose WordPress among the different CMSs available in the market?

WordPress is cost-effective and easy for anyone to use.

Many of our readers are plugin developers like us. One of the problems we all have is reaching our target audience, as the plugin marketplace is huge. What process do you follow to find the plugins you’re looking for? Any recommendations on how to help developers reach potential customers?

The best advice I can give is to make sure to focus on customer service. I love it when I see that plugin developers are replying to support threads and making sure those questions are answered. It’s a hugely positive sign.

Speaking of how to reach your target audience… You’d probably agree with us that, first and foremost, you must offer a product or service that deals with a pain your customers have. So, let’s help our readers here: what problem(s) do you have right now with WordPress? Is there anything you’d like someone to improve (or even create from scratch)?

I would love a way for our editorial team to “talk” in one central place on the WordPress back end without having to resort to emailing one another. One of the shortcoming of Nelio Content for me is an ineffective Editorial Comments function — I’d love the ability for one editor to leave feedback to a writer on her post, where the writer automatically gets an email notification of that feedback or question, and perhaps another editor also gets a copy of that message (with notification by email). This way no one has to search for email addresses, etc. It’s all in the back end.

Besides that, as far as other potential plugins go, we are always on the lookout for anything that helps us better engage with our audience, both on site and off site. For example, one of our strong points is our great engagement with our Facebook audience. We are constantly replying to comments and chatting with our fans on Facebook. A tool that allowed us to see those comments more quickly so we can respond more quickly would be valuable to us. Likewise, we’re always interested in any tool that lets us keep our finger on the pulse of what our audience craves—maybe that’s a better, more engaging commenting system or forums on our website, or a way to see what kind of content is really hot with our audience right now.

In Nelio we aim to help our customers succeed with their marketing goals. To do so, we offer two services: Nelio A/B Testing and Nelio Content. You’re currently using Nelio A/B Testing on your own website, but that’s only one part of the equation. How does our plugin help you? What other marketing actions do you take to increase the effectiveness of your campaigns?

Nelio Content is cost-effective and simple to use. It does not suffer from feature bloat. It is visually attractive, and does exactly what we want it to do: help us manage the flow of content from “draft” to “ready for the copy editor” to “ready for a final proofread” to “scheduled” and finally to “published.” It’s brilliant. And I love that you can set colors—we have ours set to the default red » yellow » green. We can see at a glance where any piece of content is in our process.

You learn more from failure than from success. There’s plenty we might be doing wrong with our marketing campaigns and it’s quite common to carry out marketing actions that are less effective than what we’d expect. Could you share one of your worst experiences on this subject with us?

I find myself always trying different things to see what works and what doesn’t. What wasn’t working for me was CoSchedule’s editorial calendar. It had become bloated with undesired features, and they suddenly jacked up the price on me. I knew it was time to search for a new solution, and I’m so happy to have found Nelio Content, which is now a valuable part of our editorial processes.

Well, thanks, Dave, for your contribution and answering our questions. Of course, we take note of your suggestions to consider as future improvements to our service. And thank you all for following us and reading these interviews. Stay tuned for the next one!

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