Pam Foster is a certified SEO copywriter and web consultant and the founder of ContentClear Marketing. She specializes in the veterinary industry and leads a team of professional writers. Learn more at veterinarycopywriter.com
You evaluate patient wellness using a checklist: physical exam, presenting signs, test results, age, weight and so forth. And from there you know how to advise clients and address health issues. It’s part of your daily protocol, right?
But what about the wellness of your hospital’s online marketing efforts? Do you have a daily protocol to make sure you’re following the best practices for attracting and retaining clients?
If not, we have great news for you. We’ve created a handy checklist that your team can use to assess your marketing prowess. And, we’ve included easy tips for fixing any gaps, plus insights from these two practices that are doing a great job:
- The Veterinary Hospital of Davidson in Davidson, North Carolina, which in just four years is up to four doctors, $2.5 million in annual revenue and is insanely busy.
- The Animal Medical Center of the Lowcountry in Beaufort, South Carolina, which has enjoyed steady growth and a year ago opened a second location. Quite impressive in a community of just 13,500 residents.
You’ll want to follow all five checklist items to get your name out there in an attention-getting way
1. Make Sure It’s Mobile Responsive
Seventy-five percent of Internet use in 2017 will be through mobile devices, according to a Reuters report.
If your website isn’t mobile responsive, meaning it doesn’t automatically adapt for easy viewing on mobile devices such as smartphones, you’re missing countless opportunities to attract new business. That’s because Google is starting to favor mobile-responsive websites in search results, and people will quickly move on if a website’s hard to use on the phone.
A veterinary hospital website that is mobile responsive shows the name and location of the practice, prominently displays a telephone number, and includes social links and a mobile-friendly menu.
Check your website on a smartphone. Is your primary information at the top? Is it readable? Is the navigation clean and simple?
Tips for an easy fix:
- Convert to a different design theme using WordPress or a similar tool.
- Consider switching website companies if yours doesn’t offer mobile responsiveness. Certain veterinary website systems are automatically mobile responsive.
2. Put Your NAP Everywhere
NAP stands for name, address and phone number, the No. 1 thing people and search engines look for on local websites. They want to know, “Who are you, where are you and how do I contact you?”
I look at veterinary websites every day, and most of them surprisingly don’t include NAP on every page. They’re forcing people to hunt for the information. I’ve even heard a practice owner say, “We want an attractive site, and that information clutters the design.” Ouch.
Here’s what a terrific NAP looks like. Check your website to see if people can instantly see your NAP.
Tips for an easy fix:
- Add your practice’s name, address and phone number — even an email address — to the top of your website header and on your Google Places business listing, social media pages, Yelp and other directories. Make sure it’s consistent everywhere.
- Go through every page of your website and make all your content local when talking about veterinary care, grooming, boarding and other services you offer. For instance, “Our [city] grooming services include …”
3. Be a Social Butterfly
To get the most attention (“likes”) and engagement (comments and shares), go beyond factual information.
“Social is so cheap and easy,” said Davidson veterinarian Nicole Sheehan, DVM. “We share positive stories about patients when we talk about education. I was worried in the beginning about privacy, but not one person has been upset with their pet being posted. We have a sign in our exam rooms: Do you want us to post your pet on Instagram? People actually ask for it. They love it.”
Tip for an easy fix:
- Identify staff members who love social media. “Five of our staff members can post things,” Dr. Sheehan said, “and between us, we add slightly different content and approaches. We made one staff member our Instagram manager. She enjoys this role; it gives her an extra purpose with our practice.”
4. Bring It to Life With Video
Think about the way you scroll through your Facebook feed. What gets the most attention? These days it’s video.
Wordstream, an online marketing authority, revealed that social video generates 12 times more shares than text and images combined.
“We present educational topics in a creative way,” said Lowcountry receptionist
Gina Szarek. “For instance, to educate pet owners about the dangers of hot weather, we recorded the team walking on hot pavement to provide just enough of a visual impact to pull people in. If I do an educational post with just text, we get about 10 likes. If we add a video, we may see 1,000 likes. And when we won’t do a Friday video, people at the grocery store ask for that. It does connect clients with us.”
Tip for an easy fix:
- Pick a topic and create a video idea. Be sure to consider how it will appear with the sound turned off. (Eighty percent of Facebook video now plays with the sound turned off.) Then, create captions that help tell the story, and always ask viewers to share the video or call for an appointment (depending on the topic).
5. Keep Those Positive Reviews Coming
“Reviews are huge, Dr. Sheehan said. “What people say about you is sometimes the only thing new clients have to go on. When a pet owner can look at three different review sites and we have five stars, that seals the decision.
“When people do a review for us, we give them a credit on their account. It’s a thank you that shows we appreciate them, which prompts more activity. But we don’t advertise this; it’s only after we get the reviews.”
Tip for an easy fix:
- Make review requests an automatic part of your client touchpoints. The Animal Medical Center of the Lowcountry asks using signs in several locations of the hospital and at bottom of invoices: “Did you have a good experience today? Please like us on Google+ reviews.”
If you take every opportunity to have people see and hear your practice’s name and team, with your NAP, personality and services front and center, you’ll soon see a big difference in business.
Show the real you
If your website uses stock images of smiling models, replace them now so potential clients can get to know you.
Dr. Nichole Sheehan of North Carolina’s Veterinary Hospital of Davidson said: “In my community, we have several veterinary practices, and I want people to think of us. Our website is the face of our business.”
Gina Szarek of the Animal Medical Center of the Lowcountry noted: “You’re going to see every single one of us when you come in, so we make sure that’s reflected on our website.”