Producing consistent, high-quality content isn’t always easy – especially when you’re trying to balance a business that puts the health of animals first. Establishing a concrete plan before jumping straight into the creative process can help.
While it can be tempting to skip the tedious stuff, content strategy tends to make the writing process a heck of a lot easier – which saves time in the long run and leads to better return on investment (ROI).
Consider all of the clients turning to Dr. Google for information on pet health. What if they could find those answers elsewhere? What if your veterinary practice could take back the monopoly on client education?
Just like you wouldn’t rush into a complicated pet surgery without a plan, you can’t expect a positive outcome on marketing if you don’t have a strategy in place.
So how can you get started, and is it really that important? Here are five steps to plan your best content yet and how each one can benefit your veterinary practice.
Know Your Audience
This might seem like a given, but the concept goes a bit deeper than you may think. Sure, your target audience is pet owners – but that’s a pretty general group. Who are the individual clients behind their furry friends? What are their needs and concerns?
Consider developing a few “personas” for your veterinary practice to keep in mind while you’re planning and producing content. Think of it like a profile that highlights the background, pet care habits, and pet health concerns a hypothetical client may have.
So where do you get the information to build such a persona? There are a few easy ways to approach your research, and they don’t have to take up a ton of your time!
Dig for data
This is as simple as search engine optimization (SEO). Find out what keyword searches your clients perform to get their information online. Once you know these, you can start to season your content according to exactly what topics pet owners are interested in.
Scour pet forums
Forums are one of the most readily available online resources for pet health questions, much to the frustration of many a veterinarian.
As much as you may not want to read the activity on these forums, you can gain valuable knowledge into the mindset of real-world pet owners. Their questions and concerns are likely being left unanswered – or worse, answered inaccurately.
Try inputting something along the lines of “pet health advice” “forum” into a Google search and see what you can find!
Study pet magazines
Magazines do a great job of keeping their finger on industry trends, and specialty pet publications are no exception. This can be as easy as just checking out some headlines to keep tabs on what pet owners care about.If you’re still stuck on ideas, our blog post on The 4 Types of Dr. Google Pet Owners could be a good place to start.
It may take some extra research, but once you know the types of questions your clients are asking, you can better anticipate their needs to provide the best service possible. As you improve communication with pet owners, increased client compliance will follow – which is a big win for everyone.
Mix It Up
Based on what we know about pet owner personas, different clients will come to your website for different reasons.
John Smith, the middle-aged school teacher with an old and ailing Labrador, may seek urgent answers to a pet health question.
Rebecca Smart, the twenty-something owner of a newborn rabbit, might be looking for a new veterinarian who caters to small animal exotics.
Whatever the reason for their visit, you need to have a variety in content on your website – not just to reach different types of people, but also to keep things fresh. Include a variation of every day ideas, entertainment pieces and educational materials.
The aim of any veterinary practice website should be to create content that engages, informs, and adds joy to the lives of pet owners. By that logic, any content on your website needs to be relevant to the client experience – which is impossible to do well without a plan.
Your marketing strategy should go beyond just launching a big campaign or advertising a small promotion at your clinic. These types of content are great, but all too often they are followed by prolonged periods of inactivity – whether on your website, social media, or otherwise.
What will keep your clients coming back to your website if there is nothing else to engage with? A blog is a great way to maintain a following, because it allows you to deliver a perfectly mixed variety of content on a regular basis.
By delivering content on a more frequent basis, pet owners will come to expect regular updates from you, which will entice them to keep coming back. This is not to say, however, that just any content will do. A website can easily become flat if what you publish in between “the good stuff” is subpar.
Sweat the Small Stuff
The trick to engaging new clients and maintaining loyalty online is to produce consistent, high-quality content – no matter the scope.
As it turns out, small moments are actually pretty powerful in today’s mobile-first world. Pet owners turn to their smartphones for immediate information on pet health, where they engage with media within fragmented moments and short bursts of attention.
What does that mean for your veterinary practice? Not all hope is lost! By taking advantage of the Google-coined term “micro-moments,” you can learn to understand, anticipate and meet the needs of clients within short, fragmented moments of attention.
Within a micro-moment, a typical pet owner turns to their device with a specific intent such as:
“I want to know… how to trim my cat’s claws without snipping the quick.”
“I want to go… to a new veterinary clinic in my area.”
“I want to do… something new with my dog’s walking routine.”
“I want to buy… a dry shampoo for my cat, but I’m not sure what the best brand is.”
During these moments, snap decisions are made and opinions are shaped. So how can you adapt your content to reach pet owners within a micro-moment?
If you’re planning to reach a pet owner wherever they turn to most, your website, blog and social media need to be mobile-responsive. If your content won’t load properly or takes too much effort to navigate on mobile, you’ll lose the client to Dr. Google in no time.
Address pet owner pain points
One of the most effective veterinary marketing strategies within the micro-moment realm is to identify pain points that pet owners experience and offer a solution. When done well, this plan will target an immediate need and provide an immediate solution.
For example, you could write up a post on social media regarding the overabundance of inaccurate web resources on pet health. At the same time, you can refer back to your own website as the ultimate place to find accurate, up-to-date information about pet health.Using a tool like ClientEd gives your clients immediate access to thousands of trusted, accurate articles written by pet experts – right on your website. You’ll be able to print off resources, send content via email or let clients find answers on their own – all without worrying about the influence of Dr. Google! Plus, it’s even optimized for mobile use!
Make the most of every micro-moment by incorporating smaller content strategies into your overall plan. Since small ideas are the glue of your marketing strategy, try to resist the temptation to take it easy on this type of content.
It may seem like you simply don’t have the time to sit around conceptualizing, but it actually takes longer to churn out content if you haven’t done adequate planning first. A content calendar will be your not-so-secret weapon.
A content calendar is one of the most essential content planning tools you need to implement at your veterinary practice. They are a great way to visualize your content posts in an organized space where you can see any potential gaps in information or any places that are lacking variety.
You can build your own content calendar, just using a spreadsheet program like Excel. Or, you can find a pre-made template online to fit your specific needs. Whatever you choose, your content calendar will become the blueprint of your veterinary content marketing – and you’ll be well on your way to success.So if you want to increase your ROI, take back client education from Dr. Google and improve client compliance, get planning! Investing in the right kind of content can help build upon the success of your veterinary practice.
How do you plan content for your veterinary website? Share your best strategies in the comments below!
Want to get the most out of your veterinary marketing strategy? A custom WebDVM website could help. You’ll get access to all the essential marketing tools you need to engage with new clients, improve customer compliance and encourage pet owners to keep coming back for more!