Think about why you chose a career working with animals. Was it because you love business management and marketing? Probably not. It’s much more likely you were inspired by a great love for biology, medicine, and of course—pets. But marketing is an essential part of attracting new pet owners to your practice and keeping the regulars coming back for more.
The ultimate goal of any veterinary practice is to build a business recognized by pet owners as the best place to go for pet expertise and superior animal care services. That’s why it’s important to raise your practice’s profile—without drawing consistent attention to your practice, how will pet owners know you’re there?
A little effort goes a long way when it comes to marketing your practice. It doesn’t need to cost a ton of time or money to stand out from your competition online—and we’ve got a few tips to help.
We’ve created a list of simple yet effective ways that can help you draw in pet owners at your veterinary clinic, and keep them coming back. With the right tools and strategies, you can build your way to a better business not just for yourself, but for pets and pet parents too.
Prioritize great customer service.
This might seem like a given, but it’s all too easy to get absorbed in caring for pets and forget that human clients are there too. Pet owners are the ones footing the bill for their pets, so it’s important to keep their needs front of mind.
Providing excellent, efficient and friendly service to pet patients and pet owners alike is not just good business, it’s also great marketing. When a client walks out of the clinic feeling satisfied, or even wowed by their veterinary experience, they are likely to share the news with friends and family. Good customer service speaks for itself, and it saves loads on the marketing budget!
Showcase the people behind your practice.
Providing exceptional customer service is a great way to improve marketing from within your clinic, but what about reaching pet owners who may not yet be clients?
Most veterinary practices know they need to build an online presence, but it can be hard to stand out against the competition. Showing who you are as a business can help.
The trick is to find that balance between running a business and maintaining a personal touch to pet care. Pet owners want to know their veterinarians, and they want to connect with your staff on a personal, friendly level to build trust.
How’s it done? Step 1 is to have a team page on your veterinary practice’s website, but make sure you’re optimizing it for the greatest chance of success. Go beyond the basics and share your personal story of what brought you into medicine. Show some character and cultivate a likeable bio that pet owners will be drawn to. You can include humor, heart-warming anecdotes, or fun facts—just remember to keep it friendly and professional.
If pet owners can get to know and like the person(s) behind the practice, they’ll want to engage with your services—and maybe even recommend you to others.
Start a veterinary blog, or post more often.
Writing a veterinary blog for your practice can seem time-consuming, but the payoff is well worth the investment. A blog is the ideal place to educate and entertain clients even after they leave the exam room—plus it’s a golden opportunity to engage new pet owners too.
When you develop a loyal following online, your online presence becomes more defined. You can showcase yourself as an expert in your field, setting your clinic up as a go-to source for pet health information. A blog is also a great way to add value to the lives of pet owners, for the overall improvement of their pet’s health.
So if you want to improve client communication and compliance, considering starting a veterinary blog if you haven’t already! And if you have started one, when was the last time it got updated?
Need a home for your blog? WebDVM websites come with an easy-to-edit blog platform built right in.
Simply having a blog may not produce the results you want. The success of your veterinary blog depends on the consistency and frequency of your posting. As the old saying goes, “out of sight, out of mind,” so try to keep it updated to avoid being forgotten when the next new thing comes along.
Reward customers with promotional merchandise.
Everyone loves free stuff. Investing in some affordable promotional merchandise may not be a new marketing trick, but it holds up. Giving out free merch bearing your veterinary practice’s name, logo and contact information serves a couple great marketing purposes that can improve brand recognition for your clinic.
Realistically, it doesn’t have to be big—it could be as simple as packing up some treats into individual bags with your business card attached, or having pens with your logo on them at the front desk for when someone inevitably forgets one.
This has two benefits: One, you get to thank the pet owner for their business (who doesn’t love free pens?); and two, the client carries out a mini-billboard advertising your practice wherever they go (who doesn’t love free advertising?). With any luck, they may even choose to share your merchandise on social media if it’s a little something different.
The key here is to find that sweet spot between how much you spend on the merchandising versus the quality of the product. While you want to avoid overspending on something frivolous, do try not to cheapen the product too much—this will reflect poorly on your practice and defeat the entire point of the exercise.
Get on board with online videos.
According to a recent Google study, 50% of smartphone users look for online videos on mobile when deciding whether to engage with a brand. We already know that pet owners are increasingly more reliant on their cell phones to find information, so why wouldn’t you jump in on the video action?
Part of what keeps small businesses afloat amidst throngs of competition is by staying on trend with different platforms for sharing. Videos are a quick and easy way to communicate with pet owners, whether you’re looking to educate or entertain. If you can anticipate pet owner questions, you’ll be able to address their concerns in an online video—a medium more and more clients are coming to expect.
Plus, videos are extremely sharable. With just a few clicks, you can change things up on your veterinary practice’s social, blog, and even your website. By curating a variety of media types, you will appeal to a wider audience and by extension, grow your brand awareness too. So there you have it, five ways to help attract and keep pet owners at your veterinary practice. Armed with these strategies, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a household name.
Provide Client Testimonials on Your Website
Showing something to someone has a greater impact than telling someone about something. You can tell pet owners that you provide the best quality pet care but claims alone (however true) are not evidence. Claims require people to take your word for it and make a leap of faith, and the accompanying sense of risk often stops people from taking an action, such as booking an appointment with your practice.
When you evidence claims with accompanying client testimonials, you reduce the sense of risk and encourage a high level of trust, which encourages action. According to recent findings from BrightLocal Research, 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. This helps attract new clients and improves engagement with existing clients by reminding them of why they originally chose your practice.
So how do you go about getting testimonials?
- Offer rewards to people to incentivize feedback.
- Add a comments section to your website and ask clients for feedback.
- Ask for feedback through email, along with permission to use any feedback on your website.
- If you receive a particularly good review on social, drop the person a message and ask them if you can use their testimonial on your website.
- Don’t be shy. If people are happy with your practice, they’re usually happy to share their experience so that other pet owners (and their pets) can benefit from your practice.
Review the Curb Appeal of Your Practice
Real estate agents know the importance of a home’s curb appeal—the attractiveness of a property when viewed from the street. When a home looks clean, fresh, and well-tended from the outside, prospective buyers are more apt to put the home on their shortlist of possibilities based on the expectation that the interior of the home will be as appealing as the outside. When a home looks dingy, outdated and in need of repairs, they’re more apt to keep right on driving. And the same applies to veterinary practices.
You may have the most immaculate, warm and inviting of reception areas to welcome both walk-ins and repeat clients. Yet those walk-ins may decide not to walk in if your practice exterior lacks curb appeal. So, make a careful and honest review of your practice’s exterior aesthetics.
- Is your signage clean, fresh-looking, and in good repair? Do the colors jump out or do they look faded and tired?
- Are there exterior materials like cracked boards, damaged bricks, or broken metal that need repair?
- Do landscaping elements like trees, shrubs, and grass look healthy and inviting, or are they forgotten and dying as a dry implication to pet owners of what may await inside in terms of pet care?
- Are the windows facing the street clean and open to minimize the mystery of what awaits pet owners once they step through your door, or are they dingy and off-putting?
- Is there a trash bin sitting by your door or nearby curb to give foot traffic a reason to keep on walking, or is your trash stowed neatly out of sight?
Overall, the exterior of your practice is like another room in your practice. The more inviting you can make it for pet owners to walk in, the more they will walk in.
Use Your Lobby at a Practice
(Image courtesy of BDA Architecture)
Clients in your waiting room are a captive audience for reading materials, videos, electronic presentations, and other media to educate them about pet care and incentivize them to book a repeat appointment. So, use your waiting room to your full advantage.
During tick season, for example, set educational handouts on tables and place tick prevention posters on your walls and inside exterior-facing windows, and focus on immediately grabbing the attention of pet owners.
An example headline: “Don’t wait until summer to start your flea and tick prevention.” The implied urgency generally causes pet owners to ask, “Why?” Then quickly inform pet owners about the dangers of Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases before encouraging pet owners to speak with your practice right away about tick protection for their pets.
Utilize Free Marketing Tools for Vet Marketing
These tools make your veterinary marketing more effective and easier, and they’re all free, so you don’t have to write them into your marketing budget, pitch them to your boss, or look at them longingly from afar. Just follow the links and get started right away.
- Bit.ly URL shorteners are pretty unexciting but they actually do play an important role in your marketing. Use bit.ly as your URL shortener and get analytics about how many people are clicking on your links around the web.
- SimilarWeb Want to check in on the competition? Use this awesome tool to see how much traffic your competitors are getting.
- Mobile-Friendly Test Google’s Mobile-Friendly and Speed Test Tool can tell you if your site passes muster on mobile devices. If Google approves your site, it could give you an SEO boost in mobile searches.
- Free Stock Images There are too many sites to list them all here, so check out our complete list of free image sources to find stock photos you can use on your website, social media marketing, or wherever you need them.
- Typeform Create beautiful forms and questionnaires to share on your website. For free, you get 100 responses per month and 10 questions per form.
- Google Analytics Get comprehensive analytics at who’s looking at what on your website with Google Analytics. The interface can be a little intimidating when you first get started, but the numbers are invaluable!
- Hot Jar This tool also offers analytics on your website, including heat maps so you can see where people look on your site and conversion funnels to help you figure out how to optimize your website. If you have under 2,000 pageviews per day, you can get a limited version of Hot Jar free forever.
- MailChimp This awesome marketing email platform is free for 2,000 subscribers and 12,000 emails per month. Use it to build beautiful emails to help you stand out from the crowd.
- SubjectLine How compelling are your email subject lines? Find out in seconds with this tool. Just enter your subject line and it’ll give you a score out of 100.
Social Media Marketing
- Viralyft This simple tool will analyze your Facebook page and let you know what you can do to improve. Just enter your Facebook URL and it will assess and rank your page for you, including recommendations for improvement. It’s quick and effective.
- The 2018 Pet Holiday Calendar There are too many social media pet holidays to keep track. So we did the work for you! Download our pet holiday calendar so you’ll never miss a holiday again!
- After the Deadline This Chrome app will analyze your grammar, spelling, and writing style to ensure you’re always producing top quality blog content.
- Hubspot Blog Topic Generator This blog topic generator is by no means perfect, but it can be a fun way to try and generate ideas for your next topic. Just put in three nouns you want to write about, and it will come up with potential headlines.
- LifeLearn’s list of 100+ blog topics for veterinary practices Blog topic generators don’t cater to the veterinary industry. So we came up with a huge list of veterinary-specific blog ideas for every month of the year, so you’re never stumped again!
- Readability Test Tool We always emphasize readability in your blogs. Keeping things simple can help you connect better with your clients, who don’t know nearly as much about pet health as you do. Test out your blog posts for readability with this simple tool.
- Piktochart Create attractive infographics for free using Piktochart’s easy-to-use tools.
- Canva We know, we love Canva and we talk about it often. But that’s because we use it every day ourselves! Create amazing designs with this free design tool that anyone can use – even complete design beginners.
- Powtoon This is too cool! Create an animated video, for free. The free version includes a watermark and outro, but it might be worth it, to create an attention grabbing video for your website or social media accounts.
Maximize Your Appointment Reminders
Practices often don’t think of appointment reminders as marketing. Many view appointment reminders as an administrative task that happens after marketing efforts have been completed to acquire a client. Yet companies of all types devote significant and ongoing marketing efforts and resources to track existing customers and keep them engaged because repeat business is a significant driver of profitability, and that’s where many appointment-tracking systems fail.
Whether through appointment-tracking systems designed by companies that are less than optimal, or appointment reminders lost to manual email systems, veterinary practices on average have over 1,091 active clients who are missing reminders, and 19 chances per day to schedule additional appointments.
In other words, many veterinary practices (whether they’re aware of it or not) do not have the tools in place to optimize one of their most important marketing assets. All that’s missing is the right system to fully track daily appointment opportunities and make it easy for staff to send out reminders, and that’s exactly what ALLYDVM was designed to do.
Trusted by organizations like Zoetis, Elanco, and Merck Animal Health, the ALLYDVM Communication + Retention System is one of the veterinary industry’s most powerful and customizable software solutions for improved client communications, engagement, and profitability.
ALLYDVM’s industry-leading Retention Calendar automatically tracks appointment opportunities, and built-in system prompts make it simple for your staff to send out appointment reminders with automated email, text, and postcard communications.