3 Hot Marketing Trends for 2018
Amanda Carrozza is a freelance writer and editor in New Jersey.
As you create your practice’s marketing campaign for 2018, consider these three low-cost yet highly effective trends.
The start of a new year is an opportune time to analyze how your veterinary practice performed over the past 12 months. Even more, reflecting on your business’ hits and misses allows you to pinpoint which marketing tactics worked well and which you may need to refine or replace as you plan for the year ahead.
While goals, budgets and resources will ultimately dictate the types of campaigns you can run, there are already emerging trends — and some improvements to longstanding methods — for 2018 that could benefit your practice.
There’s a strong chance that at some point throughout your day you will interact with a chatbot — an interactive application capable of robotic responses that mimic natural human conversation. Think Siri, Alexa and Google Assistant.
Once accessible only to large corporations with savvy tech teams, a variety of chatbot programs are now available to businesses of all sizes to provide customer service assistance at a low cost. ChattyPeople, FlowXO, BotKit and Telegram are some of the top chatbot tools that business owners can install themselves.
For veterinary practices, chatbots connected to a website or integrated into Facebook can provide users with answers to frequently asked questions, assist with appointment scheduling and even file complaints — leaving office staff available to assist clients in the waiting room and respond to emergency calls.
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As Instagram’s popularity rises, it has become an even stronger tool for paid and earned marketing campaigns. The image and video platform exceeded 800 million monthly active users in 2017 and its stats continue to grow exponentially year over year, especially for businesses. In fact, brands are reporting nearly four times as much user engagement on Instagram than they do on Facebook.
In 2016, Instagram had 200,000 advertisers and 1.6 million business accounts. By mid-2017, the company reached 1 million monthly advertisers and 8 million business accounts. For business owners, this generates more opportunity for engagement with current and potential customers. Even without paying for a targeted advertising campaign, an Instagram profile allows you to create a visual story that provides insight about your company that a website or blog might not.
For veterinary practices, this could include photos of adorable patients and tender moments between staff and animals that live on your profile indefinitely. Beyond profile photos, the Instagram Stories option allows users to develop related content that will only remain available for 24 hours. The more stories you post, the more likely you’ll appear at the top of someone’s Instagram feed while they’re on the platform.
Video is one of the most powerful tools available to marketers — and it has the numbers to back it up. One hundred million hours of video are watched on Facebook every day, and marketers who use video are seeing 49 percent faster growth in revenue.
Although cost and lack of experience tend to top the list of reasons why small businesses haven’t made their directorial debut, it’s important to recognize that video is not a fleeting trend. And now that it has become commonplace among businesses and favored by users, creating and distributing video is easier than ever — no expensive equipment required.
For starters, don’t forget about the camera in your pocket. Today’s smartphones are equipped with high-quality cameras that can capture excellent videos for web and social media. And there are easy add-ons, like tripods and camera lenses, to make videos shot on your phone look even more professional. Many computers come equipped with editing software that allows you to manipulate your videos as desired. This software, like iMovie for Mac, allows for basic editing, transitions and effects that can greatly enhance the quality of an amateur video.
Stumped by what content to create? Keep it simple. If you’re creating a video for your veterinary practice for the first time, start with an introduction of who you are and what makes your practice unique. Client testimonials and expert advice from you and your staff will also translate well on screen.
After you’ve created your first few videos, don’t forget to promote them frequently. Harness the power of YouTube, which has over a billion users — almost one-third of all people on the Internet — to house the complete library of your videos and create segmented playlists of related content. From YouTube, you can share the links to your social media channels or embed the videos directly to your website. Best of all? Everything is completely free.
Lastly, don’t forget about live videos. This more recent trend continues to gain traction and experts predict that its impact will continue to grow in 2018. Live-streaming video, such a Facebook Live and Instagram Live, allows you to interact with viewers in real time to create excitement about practice-related news and events, receive instant feedback and increase your clientele.