Want More Traffic? Time To Let The Dogs Out

I love animals. I try to incorporate them into my work whenever it’s appropriate. I’m also not alone in my obsession. Animal pictures are constantly being shared and there are whole sites dedicated to cute animal photos.

This got me thinking – will animal pictures and references bring more traffic for non-animal businesses? I thought it would… and I was right.

Operation: Animals = More Traffic

As a writer for a marketing blog, I realized I couldn’t go too overboard. People aren’t subscribing for cute animal pictures; they want marketing advice. So last year I developed a plan to create a few blog posts that tie marketing advice to cute animal photos. I would compare the traffic to those posts with the traffic to other posts in that time frame. And so it began…


Post #1: Animals in Email Design: The Trick to Grabbing Your Readers’ Attention?

It made sense to kick off with a post presenting the theory to our readers. I pulled examples from both big and small businesses to show how they use animals in their email design.

The Results: The post received 40% more traffic than average that quarter.



Post #2: I Can Has Subscribers? 10 Things LOLCats Can Teach You About Email Marketing

This post was a fun one to create. I took images from LOLCats and turned them into lessons about email marketing.

The Results:The post received 28% more traffic than average that quarter.



Post #3: Anatomy of a Compelling Email from Dog’s Best Life

I was able to get creative with this one thanks to AWeber customer Sara Hansen who runs the website Dog’s Best Life. I noticed she had cool emails, so I shared one and compared it to the anatomy of a puppy.

The results: This one had the biggest response with 112% more traffic than average that quarter.



Post #4: What Our Pets Teach Us About Marketing Relationships

This post was similar to the LOLCats post, but I used personal pet photos from my fellow AWeber team members.

The Results: This post received 14% more traffic than average that quarter.



The Science Behind My Theory

In January 2013, Yahoo! published an article called “‘I Wanna Eat You Up!’ Why We Go Crazy For Cute.” The article reported on a study where participants were given bubble wrap and watched a slide show. Whenever a slide with a super cute animal came up, more bubbles were popped.

Maybe these popped bubbles can relate back to my results. If people are eager to move their hands and do something, maybe on the internet that equates to clicking to share it?

So Am I On To Something?

It’s tempting for me to declare that I’m 100% sure the results I got were directly related to the animals. But, alas, I cannot. Some factors that may have played a role:

  • My writing tends to improve when I’m writing about something I’m excited about
  • People may be more interested in one topic over another
  • Certain subject lines are more catchy than others

Rest assured, I’ll continue to monitor this. And here’s something to take the cuteness level of this post up a notch:

What Do You Think?

Is this something you’d try in your own marketing? Are you more likely to read a post with a cute animal in it? And how cute is my cat Sassy?


  1. Tim Brennan

    4/8/2013 9:38 am

    I put a picture of two dogs playing chess in the front of my Kindle eBook, with a request for people to leave reviews of the book. I think it is a great idea. People love to talk about 3 things – themselves, their kids and their pets!

  2. Niki Spence

    4/8/2013 9:42 am

    Absolutely I will use this. I have a cane corso and eight cats so i have lots of home made material that I can use. Thanks for this article.

  3. Cathy Stucker

    4/8/2013 9:45 am

    We know that people respond to images. And that the Internet was created so we could view cute pictures of cats. ;o) Therefore, it seems only natural that you would get more clicks using cute animal photos.

    Thanks for sharing your results, Crystal.

  4. Randall Magwood

    4/8/2013 7:00 pm

    I have a few cats in my yard, but never considered using them as part of my marketing. The thought never occured in my mind – until now. Thanks for the inspiration with this clever marketing idea. This is easy to put into use.

  5. Bryce Propheter

    4/9/2013 8:44 am

    Clicks are great, but not if they are unqualified traffic. The real measure of this expiriment would be to measure the number of leads these posts helped generate. Otherwise the increase in traffic is meaningless. You could just be getting people who view the photo and move on.

  6. Tom Treanor

    4/9/2013 12:40 pm

    Great post Crystal. I think they keys here are to stay creative and to give your subscribers something fun/different to boost the engagement and clicks. I’m going to try some of these in my next campaign!

  7. Will

    4/9/2013 1:36 pm

    Nice article. I will have to start getting my dog involved in my main site. She already has her own blog, but I clearly need to get her guest posting for me on my main site 😉

  8. Julie

    4/9/2013 1:50 pm

    Oh definitely! she is. I am. And I just did!

  9. Curtis

    4/9/2013 1:53 pm

    Very cute! I would love to make some blog posts using animals. Especially the LOLCats. Who doesn’t like them right? 🙂

    Crystal, I was wondering though, does the website (icanhascheeseburger) give away rights to their photos really easily? I mean, did you just write them and ask if you can use their images for your few blog posts examples or was there a lot more to it?

  10. Andy Morgan

    4/9/2013 2:03 pm

    It is incredible the amount of traffic that pet pictures can get to your site. Use the same concept on Facebook and Twitter with funny caption will get you more followers and fans.

  11. Crystal Gouldey

    4/9/2013 2:33 pm

    Bryce- Good point. That’s why I encourage people to incorporate animals in a way that makes sense and is relevant to the topic. If you just throw in a picture of a cute animal, people might not care what else you’re trying to communicate.

    Thanks, Julie 🙂

    Curtis – As long as you give credit (link to their site) and you’re not using the images for profit, there shouldn’t be a problem with using LOLCats images. ICanHasCheezburger thrives on people sharing those images.

  12. Randy Dixon

    4/9/2013 4:58 pm

    Hey Crystal,

    I read your blog and this makes perfectly good sense. You can incorporate animal or pet pictures into probably any marketing campaign. A great picture will be a good attention grabber.

  13. yarrow

    4/9/2013 5:18 pm

    Well ok. Im not into cats so i wouldnt open the cat ones but am into dogs, birds, gardens…just sayin’. M
    Some info for you. I luv all the aweber newsletters and read them regardless of header.

  14. Keith

    4/9/2013 6:57 pm

    Kids & pets they say. Whats a corso cane, Niki?

  15. Soumitra Ghotikar

    4/9/2013 8:20 pm

    Crystal, can you suggest me in what way I can make use of this idea ?

    I have people who are businessmen & budding businessmen wanting to start a mineral water bottling plant.

    You can see the website

  16. Peter Netz Lassen

    4/10/2013 5:52 am

    Hi Crystal,

    Pets are fantastic attention getters but it has to relevant to the business and message as Bryce has posted and Tim is spot on with the 3 things.

    I rarely use pets hence Bryces point but maybe I will be creative and twist it a bit as long as the traffic converts or get shared and is relevant too

  17. Crystal Gouldey

    4/10/2013 1:55 pm

    Soumitra – Not everyone will have an easy time working animals in their content 🙂

    Suggestions: Even animals enjoy mineral water, animals as virtual tour guides showing off photos of the plant or even something like “what these animals can teach you about running a plant,” if you’re feeling creative. To stick with the whole “water” theme, you can use fish, turtles, ducks, frogs, otters or other animals that spend time in water.

  18. Tony Brayley

    4/11/2013 1:46 pm

    Excellent tests and ideas. Cute animals are definitely interesting to people. My daughter in-law has a Facebook page that centers around cool pics of Canada and when there’s animals involved, the numbers go way up.

    Now I just have to incorporate it into my real estate business, somehow. Maybe a homeowner cute pet contest!

    Thanks for the idea.

  19. Virgil

    4/11/2013 1:54 pm

    I would say that you are definitely on to something. Grabbing a persons attention quick will inspire them to read on, from there on it’s up to your content, I always use a pic to get attention, have not used the cute little kitten approach yet though.

  20. Martin

    4/11/2013 3:40 pm

    While anything that drives additional traffic / interest is not to be sniffed at, it would be more revealing to understand (a) whether the extra traffic resulted in additional revenue and (b) what the gender / age mix of that extra traffic was? (e.g. guessing that the increase was predominantly female and that the age groups of the extra traffic may also have been skewed). If the end-game was selling stuff to guys, the bottom line impact of the additional traffic may have been negligible.

  21. Jenn Gonsalves

    4/11/2013 6:09 pm

    Thanks for both a laugh and an informative post! I haven’t tried this tactic, but I’ll definitely keep it in mind! I absolutely agree with the point made by several people that it MUST be related strongly to the content or it will be useless…but if it works with the point you’re making, why not?

  22. David Beroff

    4/11/2013 9:17 pm

    Crystal, I *really* hate to be negative, and I am not a lawyer, but your entire point here is that cute animals yield greater click-through and thus more traffic and subscribers and income, so of course the intent is to use the images for profit.

  23. Brad Castro

    4/11/2013 9:50 pm

    You guys are breaking my balls – last month it was about no tricks and being honest and telling people straight up what they could expect from opening your emails.

    Now I find myself trying hard to figure out a creative way to associate our 7 year old’s chiweenie puppy with trading stock options.


  24. Crystal Gouldey

    4/12/2013 7:49 am

    Martin – You’re right. It’s important to test to find out what works best for your business and your bottom line.

    David – I’m sorry I wasn’t more clear. If you are charging people to view your content (they buy an ebook or a paid subscription service) and you are using other people’s work in that content, that’s when you run into potential problems. The images on free blogs and emails are open to the public, just like the images themselves. To be safe, Google has an advanced search for images that allows you to find ones that are free to use commercially.

    Brad – Using animals in your design should not be a trick or dishonest to your subscribers in any way. If you feel it is, then you shouldn’t be working it into your content. In my examples, I wove animals into marketing advice, which is what our subscribers signed up for. Think of it as finding fun, relevant ways to engage people.

  25. MichaelJ

    4/13/2013 12:28 pm

    My honey puts lots of pictures of our 2 boxer puppies on FB and gets lots of comments. This definately works. However, I’m not a cat person and I have a buddy who hates dogs (and cats). This becomes a turn-off for those that don’t like/hate the animals.
    For me, though, cute does still work. Kittens and puppies are usually cute.
    Just be aware that adult cats and dogs may not be cute and might turn off/away prospects!

  26. Koundeenya

    4/14/2013 3:05 am

    Whoa! Most unique strategy I’ve read in the last days.

    Experimenting with the marketing strategies really, is fun.

    I never thought one could experiment with CAT pictures. Great! Really glad to see such results.

    Thanks for sharing.

  27. Ryan O'Meara

    4/15/2013 4:19 am

    I guess I’m pretty lucky in that my entire business is in the field of publishing about pets! It’s just a matter of split testing between which breeds get the best click through rates. So far, I can say it’s Patterdale terrier puppies!

  28. Dewey Weber

    4/17/2013 8:04 am

    Great article, it was very fun to read. The animals just made it more fun to read. I learned a lot of things today about increasing traffics. Thank you!

  29. HG

    5/2/2013 11:35 am

    This is such an interesting topic. I’ll use this idea on my blog and pay close attention to my reader’s response. Thank you for sharing it, Crystal.

  30. Shahadath Hossain

    1/6/2014 2:49 pm

    Interesting topic. Somehow like it. Thank you, Crystal.

  31. Tam

    6/5/2014 2:03 pm

    Nice post. I love baby animals, kittens, puppies, etc. Just not sure about when they are older. 🙂

    I don’t think it would work for my topic though, but it’s still nice to think about and good to recommend to clients.

    Thanks again. 🙂