Not all that long ago, just having a website was enough to set you apart from the competition online. The veterinary practices with a site had a leg up over the clinics that were still advertising in the yellow pages. Being online meant you were exposed to more prospects.
But times have changed, and simply having a website is not enough anymore. It’s highly likely that every other veterinary clinic in your area has a website as well, and chances are good that potential clients are looking at several clinic sites before they decide on a practice. With this increased pressure and competition, how your website presents your practice is crucial. You need to stand out from the other practices clients are considering. Your site has to present your practice in the best possible light and make you appear knowledgeable and credible to pet owners before they entrust you with their pet’s health. Here are 13 ways to make that happen.
Pay attention to appearances
Appearances matter. It’s unfortunate, because how your website looks has nothing to do with your ability to effectively care for patients, but it’s true. If your website appears unprofessional, that will imply that your practice is less than professional as well.
Appearance refers to two things: your design and your content. If your design is unattractive, that will count against your practice, and if your content contains grammar and spelling errors, that also matters. The design of your website has more of a subconscious effect – it suggests what your practice will be like, whether that’s cheerful, holistic, down-to-earth, professional, etc. The accuracy of your content has a more direct effect– it implies that if you can’t take the time and care to ensure that your content is correct, you might not take that time and care with your patients. If you want your clients to trust you, you have to put in the effort to appear trustworthy.
Use real photos
What sounds more relatable and friendly: a cluster of people in stark white lab coats fake-smiling into the camera, or a member of your staff smiling and hugging one of your amazing patients? Stock photos are often easy to spot and can feel somewhat devoid of real emotion. While stock photos do have their place, real images your practice are almost always a better choice for your website. It demonstrates that you don’t need fake people to sell your practice for you because the real deal is so great. Not a photographer? No problem. Check out our blog post on taking great photographs of your practice.
As the saying goes, “It means more when someone else says it.” You can tell pet owners how awesome you are, but hearing it from your clients will be much more effective. Enter testimonials. Create a testimonials page, or even better, place testimonials strategically throughout your website. If you find asking clients to provide testimonials uncomfortable, check out our post on 4 painless ways to ask.
Not all testimonials are created equal. If you want to make your testimonials even more credible, consider asking clients if you can use their full name, include a picture of them, or even video-tape their testimonial. The more information you can give about who provided the testimonial, the more believable that testimonial becomes.
Include an About Us section
Most of your website should be geared towards your clients and what you can do for them. However, you also want to include some information about yourself, to be transparent with clients about who you and your staff are. This is where your About Us section comes in. You should include information like your practice philosophy, mission, history, and most importantly, your story. Make an emotional connection with visitors, and they’ll think of you the next time their pet needs to see a veterinarian.
Create a Team Page
In addition to an About Us section, you should also provide a team page. Because pet owners will have to interact with you in person when they come in for a visit, they’re going to be curious about who they’ll be meeting. Show them your faces on your team page. Choose photos that make your staff look friendly and approachable, and don’t be afraid to show a little humor and personality. After all, “people do business with people they like.”
List your credentials
While you’re filling out your team page, make sure you’re including the credentials of your team members. School, experience, certifications – these all reinforce the fact that your staff really knows their stuff.
Establish yourselves as subject matter experts
The more helpful information you can provide to your clients about their pets’ behavior, needs, and healthcare, the more they’ll trust you with their fur babies. A blog is a good place to start, with informative seasonal posts that both help pet owners and show potential visitors that you really know what you’re talking about. Another good way to establish expertise is with ClientEd Online. This comprehensive online library provides visitors with over 1,600 veterinarian-authored articles. It’s a credible and reliable source of information on any pet health topic your visitors can think of, and establishes you as a go-to for any questions they may have.
Offer a tour
Give clients a video tour of your practice on your site before they ever step through your doors. This tour allows you to show off how high-tech and clean your facilities are. It will also put pet owners at ease and show them what to expect the first time they come for a visit.
It might be second nature to you to talk about soft tissue surgery or cardiac ultrasound, but clients may feel like you’re trying to pull a fast one on them with complicated language. Be as clear as possible, and use simple language. Avoid using complex medical terms in your navigation, and when you do have to pull out the medical language, make sure you take the opportunity to explain what you mean immediately.
Link to external sources that mention your website
If your veterinary practice has been featured (positively) in media or blogs, be sure to reference that and link to it on your website. The more exposure you’ve had from other websites and media outlets, the more trustworthy and popular your practice will look to potential clients.
Share any awards you’ve won
Similarly, if your practice or anyone on your team has been recognized for their excellence, make sure to provide a shout out to it, preferably on the home page of your site. Awards let new clients know that you are so awesome, you were publicly celebrated for it. It also provides social proof that other pet owners love your practice and the great work that you do.
Mention your years in business
If your practice has been in the area for a while, it can be really effective to mention that on your website, whether that’s in the header with your logo or in the banner image on your home page. It can be as simple as “Serving [local area] for more than 20 years!” If your practice is fresh off the ground, you can still get some of those precious experience points by mentioning in your staff bios how long your staff has been in the industry.
Show off your accreditation
Is your practice AAHA accredited? Make sure to include that on your website – and be sure to explain what it means and why it’s so important. When you mention that only 15% of practices are accredited (7% in Canada), pet owners will be impressed and consider your practice a step up over the competition.The nice thing about these tips is that most of them take a little effort to implement, but once they’re set up, you can sit back and reap the benefits. Don’t let visitors pass over your practice because your website didn’t fully sell how trustworthy your practice is. Make these changes and see the clients come streaming through the door.
Want to learn more about creating an effective website for your practice? Check out our 5 Steps to Veterinary Wellness Guide for more great tips.