As a veterinary professional, maybe marketing isn’t your favorite thing to do, but it has all kinds of benefits for your veterinary practice. It’s a key part of bringing in new pet owners, building relationships with existing ones, and—the bottom line—building your business!
Why build an online marketing strategy for your vet practice?
Your online marketing strategy should be a cornerstone of your practice. It’s how you present yourself to the world, and how you spread the word about your team and your practice. It’s how you bring in new customers, and how you keep existing clients loyal and engaged.
Online marketing in particular can be advantageous for multiple reasons:
1. It’s affordable
For years, marketing meant expensive media buys and printing. And even more affordable routes of advertising still cost money. Thanks to digital marketing, you can advertise your practice for free using strategies like social media and content marketing, and SEO. Sure, spending money will still get you further, but you don’t have to break the bank to get the word out there about your practice.
2. You can specifically target audiences
Advertising has gotten very accurate. It is now possible to target a specific audience through very narrow parameters, to the point that you could market to just cat owners, if that was the goal of your ad campaign. This highly specific targeting makes it easier than ever to reach people who will actually visit your practice, and to ensure that your marketing dollars aren’t going to waste.
3. You can measure results
With traditional media, sometimes the only way to measure if something was working was to give out a survey asking people how they heard about your practice. It was very hard to measure if your advertisement was gaining any traction with audiences, because you couldn’t see their reaction to it. Tracking the results of digital marketing isn’t perfect either, but there are far more tangible ways to determine if your marketing is working. Analytics can tell you whether people interacted with your post or where they ended up on your website. The ability to measure whether or not people are responding to your website and content is huge. It makes measuring the effectiveness of your marketing that much easier, and it also ties into our next point…
4. You can make real-time adjustments
That advertising campaign you launched on Facebook isn’t working? No need to keep spending money on it. Stop the campaign and save your dollars for something more effective. People are clicking more on one of your advertisements than the other? Put all your money into the campaign that works the best. Not only is digital marketing more affordable, it also allows you to determine what’s working (and what isn’t) and redirect your money towards the best opportunity. You can also track the things you’re doing for free, like how many people are landing on certain pages on your website or which Facebook posts are getting the most clicks. These simple analytics can go a long way to helping you craft a strategy that brings more people onto your practice website -and through your practice doors.
5. You can develop deeper connections with your clients
Thanks to the rise of social media and content marketing, your clients are more connected to your practice than ever. This gives you a chance to be open and authentic with your clients about who you are, what your practice stands for, and what you can offer them. Clients have the opportunity to see on a regular basis how much you care for your patients, and establish a deeper bond with your practice through regular interaction. Digital marketing allows you to foster relationships that lead to greater loyalty and keep your clients coming back for more!
6. The clients are coming to you
The beauty of inbound marketing is that you form a relationship through your marketing with your clients, one where you offer information of value, the information that you’re an expert on, and in return, your clients trust you more, see you as a leader in your field, and want to bring their pets into you. No longer are you forcing intrusive ads onto a captive audience.
The marketing relationship has become more valuable for both sides, and both clients and practices benefit as a result. Whether it’s your favorite part of the job, or the part you dread, there are still plenty of reasons to add digital marketing to your list of things to be thankful for this year. Marketing your practice will always require some work, but thanks to the digital age, it’s never been so easy.
How to build the best veterinary marketing strategy?
1. Find your audience
The first thing to do when planning for your online presence is to know whom you’re speaking to. Yes, the general answer will be “pet owners”–but there’s more to it than that. You’ll want as much detail as you can get—including things like where they’re from, what they like talking about, and even what kinds of pets they prefer—because this translates into better luck reaching that audience.
This is where buyer personas can come in handy. By developing a generic representation of the people you’re speaking to, it becomes much easier to keep them in mind when you’re developing content.
2. Find your channels
Marketing is not a one-size-fits-all endeavor, which is why it isn’t always easy to figure out. It’s important to know what works for you and your audience. For example:
- If you’re targeting a more mature demographic in a suburban area, Facebook would be a safer bet than Instagram or Twitter.
- If you’re targeting millennials, which is one of the largest overall pet owner demographics, it may be better to lean more toward Twitter and Instagram.
Experiment with different approaches to see what works best for you.
3. Cover your bases
Once you know whom you’re trying to reach and how you’re going to do it, it’s time to make sure you cover your bases. Include the essential information (like phone number, address, and email address) on your website, make sure your social media accounts are consistent and filled in, and be ready to be responsive!
4. Provide educational materials for pet owners
When it comes to superior pet care, nothing improves your practice’s effectiveness quite like awesome client education. It’s essential to establish your veterinary team as knowledge leaders to become the go-to resource for pet owners.
That way, you can decrease or eliminate client exposure to the inaccurate information they find online. When you provide clients with takeaway educational handouts that support the why behind treatments and recommendations, they’re more likely to follow through. This serves to improve patient outcomes and attract new pet owners from happy clients spreading positive word-of-mouth advertising.
Client education information establishes your practice team as knowledge leaders and a go-to resource for pet owners, which builds and strengthens trust—a cornerstone element of repeat business for improved practice profitability.
5. Open up the lines of communication
Today’s pet owners love to be involved in the healthcare process, but are often as busy as you are—so effective communication is crucial. From answering questions thoroughly in the exam room, to developing your clinic’s online presence—seek genuine connections with clients at every chance you get.
Flexibility is a vital component of your communications system. While some clients prefer email communications, others prefer two-way texting in addition to a client request system for prescription refills and patient updates. Effective practice marketing means reaching pet owners where they consume information without spending more time doing it. And that’s what the ALLYDVM Communication + Retention System was designed to do.
As one of the veterinary industry’s most powerful software solutions for improving client communications, engagement, and patient health, the ALLYDVM solution includes a convenient client-facing mobile app and an optional, engaging Loyalty Program.
How to update your veterinary website for better marketing results?
1. Use SEO to Answer Pet Owner Questions
When pet owners search online, they tend to use natural-language phrases like “local veterinary clinic.” Or they may search by full and specific questions like, “Where can I find a veterinarian within a 10-mile radius?” Effective use of keywords in your website headings and content to improve discoverability is about putting yourself into the minds of pet owners, thinking about how they ask questions, and using those words in your SEO. And this includes seasonal adaptation.
While pet owners may search “tick protection for dogs” or “heartworm prevention for cats” in spring, their focus may shift to “veterinary clinics that board pets” when summer rolls around. Maintaining optimal SEO involves adapting website keywords and phrases as the thoughts and needs of pet owners change throughout the year.
- Optimize Your Website Load Speed
Search engines like Google are businesses. To keep people using their services, Google wants to provide the best user experience possible, and people do not enjoy slow websites.
- According to the Aberdeen Group, a one-second delay in web page load time causes 11% fewer page views, a 16% decrease in customer satisfaction, and a 7% loss in customer conversions.
So, Google is always adjusting its algorithm to rank faster-loading websites higher while dropping slow-loading websites down the page.
Compressed images and style sheets, configured ETags, and clean code all optimize website load speed to keep your practice website ranking high on search engines.
- Design Builds Pet Owner Trust
It’s one thing to attract more pet owners to your website by ranking higher on search engines but design is key to keeping pet owners engaged once they arrive.
- According to Stanford University, 75% of people surveyed said they made judgments about a company’s credibility based on their website.
Take a few minutes to make an honest assessment of your practice website and ask yourself some hard but important questions:
- Does your website include the latest website design trends?
- Does it reflect the distinct style and personality of your practice while adhering to user experience best practices?
- Does it have user-friendly navigation?
Is there anything about your practice website that you perhaps meant to change, or someone once suggested that you change, but you just never got around to it?
4. Be mobile-friendly
Speaking of trust, wouldn’t it be great if you could ensure that pet owners were getting the right information online? Thanks to the Goldfish Effect, some clients are turning to Dr. Google now more than ever.
Microsoft surveyed over 2,000 smartphone users to discover that 50% reach for their cell phones when nothing else is keeping them occupied. They are likely using their phones to get pet information too – possibly to the detriment of their pet’s health.
So how do you know they are getting accurate information? To start, you could provide it for them. Using a resource like ClientEd Online can help pet owners remember after their attention spans direct them elsewhere by providing trusted information in emailed links. Plus, ClientEd Online content is optimized for mobile use.
Since quite a few Dr. Google culprits are searching on mobile, your website absolutely needs to be mobile-friendly. If it isn’t, pet owners will go elsewhere.
Your website should also drive pet owners to your social media, and vice versa. That way, you create a loop of trusted information to reclaim client education from Dr. Google.
5. Declutter your website content
Cluttered content takes effort to sift through, especially when a client is looking for specific information. Pet owners want answers fast, so your content needs to be efficient if it’s going to be effective.
How can you do this? There are a few ways:
Keep it short. Shorter paragraphs mean mobile users don’t have to scroll through massive chunks of text – because they probably won’t stick around long enough to do so.
Keep it simple. Most pet owners won’t understand veterinary jargon, so try to avoid using it without explanation. Stick to more general terms and explanations.
Keep it catchy. Technology is designed to make our lives easier, but because there’s so much to keep track of, it can be difficult to focus on just one thing. Breaking up text with images and graphics helps make it easier for readers to understand and stay focused.
Tip: If you’re struggling with decluttering your content, ClientEd Online may be the resource you need. Articles use all three of these techniques to keep short attention spans engaged.
6. Engage clients within a “micro-moment.”
One of the more effective responses to the Goldfish Effect is the Google-coined idea of engaging clients within “micro-moments.” A micro-moment refers to that instant in which a person turns to their cell phone with a specific intent to find an answer. Clients expect an immediate response, whenever they want it, however they want it.
So if pet owners are most attentive within short, intent-rich moments like these, then we need to create a message that works fast to reach clients before they move on.
Using a call to action (CTA) is a great way to create urgency and evoke an emotive response. A good CTA will always address a pain point for pet owners – this way, it inspires pet owners to act, and it won’t just be because they were told.
For example, instead of writing a Tweet reminding clients to get their pets spayed or neutered, take a moment to address possible aggression and other pet health concerns that may result from non-compliance. Engagement is not all about client education, though. Make sure to incorporate some fun, entertaining content into the mix to encourage pet owners to stick around. By using variations of mixed media, your content stays fresh and is more likely to maintain the attention of pet owners.
Upgrade your veterinary practices with LifeLearn experts!
A veterinary practice is a complex business, with many moving parts that all need to work together efficiently to provide the best possible care for your patients. LifeLearn can help you streamline your operations and free up your time so you can focus on what you do best: caring for animals. We offer customizable software and marketing solutions and educational content that are tailored to meet the specific needs of your veterinary practice or animal health organization. Contact us today for a free consultation; we’ll be happy to show you how our products and services can help you thrive.