APR, Fellow PRSA
Now that millennials have surpassed baby boomers as the largest pet-owning group, there’s more reason than ever for your veterinary practice to up its online game. Any marketing-savvy practice knows that this objective requires the dedicated resources of a knowledgeable practice team member or a competent outsourced service.
But once you have that go-to person and are focused on social media, did you leave your website to languish? With social media algorithms, SEO rules and internet privacy making headlines, it might be time to take stock of your website, which is still your practice’s online front door. You probably will need to tidy up the basics and improve the content. Enriching the educational offerings will raise your website’s ranking and can deliver clients to your actual front door.
Get Back To Basics
Website best practices change every year. If you haven’t reviewed your website lately, do it now.
Here’s a quick checklist:
- First and foremost, is it mobile friendly? Most of us search for information these days using a smartphone or another mobile device.
- Is the navigation easy?
- Is the design aesthetically pleasing?
- When was the last time a complete website traffic analysis was conducted?
- Is all information up to date?
- Are the photos, hours and staff bios current?
- How fast does the site load?
- Do you have a contact form?
- Can website visitors schedule appointments?
Even if potential clients can find you on social channels, they ultimately will look to your website for more information. A well-managed site audit can tell you what needs to be fixed, how fast and at what cost, and if it can be done in stages. The first order of business is to get the site going in the right direction.
Telling Your Story
Once you know whether your website requires an overhaul or just a tweak, and you have a roadmap to follow, it’s time to look at original content you can develop — your story. You own your website, so visitors can be assured that what is on it represents your practice in the best way possible. But does it?
While facts and figures are important, storytelling has proven memorable through the ages. Pet owners can get basic information anywhere online today, but you want them to come to you. After you’ve provided the basics, it’s time to tell your practice’s story.
Interesting pieces about your veterinarians and the health care team are all part of the practice’s story, and educational content related to their specialties is important. Special programs, awards, events and the hospital’s history round out the story. Then, it’s time to tell the patient success stories. Make sure to use ample photos and, if possible, videos.
After you’ve decided how much original content you can develop, don’t forget to look at outside sources. A tremendous amount of material is readily available to celebrate veterinary and pet promotions throughout the year. Unfortunately, not every practice takes the time to repost this information or link to it.
Review what is available from your local, state and national veterinary medical associations in advance of pet holidays and celebrations. Plan a monthly calendar. Do any of the veterinarians or team members belong to a specialty organization that offers online materials suitable for practices?
Manufacturers often provide ready-made content that can be repurposed for your website and social media channels. This includes infographics, photos, videos, charts and supplemental social media posts. Be sure to add personal touches that fit your site.
Drive Website Traffic
Once your team has plans for both internal and external content, it’s time to schedule all the information so that the website is completed in a timely manner.
When your website is updated with all the original and repurposed content, remember to post the web address on all appropriate marketing materials, emails and social media posts. Schedule social media posts to drive traffic to the site for timely promotions.
In order to determine the effectiveness of a website enhancement, ensure that measurements are built into the program. These include setting benchmarks for the number of visitors and page views. Of course, when items such as quizzes, online scheduling and email forms have been added, you can more readily tell if the site is being used, but you still need statistical analyses.
Sprucing up your website and adding educational content will improve your search engine optimization (SEO) rankings in no time at all, and that means more potential clients will see your site. Google puts a higher value on educational content and a lower value on branded and stagnant content.
So, it pays to freshen your site. With the right approach to updates, content and analytics, you should see dividends.