Digital Marketing on a Shoestring Budget
Online marketing is a must for practice success today. Here’s how to get started when you don’t have a lot to spend.
The success of your practice depends on attracting and retaining clients. If you’re Trelying on word-of-mouth to win new customers, then you’re probably missing out on big revenue opportunities. In today’s digitally driven world, there are more ways than ever to reach new pet owners and entice them to keep coming back. If you’re not ready to commit to a full marketing plan, try a few inexpensive digital tactics first to see how they work for you.
For veterinary practices, video can give prospective clients a glimpse into your personality, techniques and facility; provide a platform to educate pet owners; and promote services, events and special offers. You can embed videos on your website, share them on your social media accounts and link to them in emails.
You don’t need high-end equipment; a mobile phone with a decent camera and sound will work just fine (just be sure to use a tripod to avoid shaky production). Make your videos engaging, professional, informative and fun.
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YouTube offers built-in analytics, so you can see how many times a video was viewed, how long people watched and viewer geography.
If you have a Facebook page, that’s a good start, but did you know that only a small percentage of your followers see the content you post? That’s because Facebook wants you to pay to boost your posts in the form of advertising.
While ads can help you reach a wider audience, you want to be sure you’re getting in front of the right people. Facebook allows you to target who sees your content based on specifications such as location, interests and likelihood of pet ownership. Using the Facebook Ads Manager function, you’re able to identify who sees your content based on those same specifications.
Facebook advertising costs are scalable based on your budget, so you can be very target-specific in reaching prospects for little cost. All metrics are shared directly with you by Facebook to help you optimize your budget and campaigns for best performance.
If you already have a database of client email addresses, then you’re on the right track. If not, start collecting this information now. Free tools like MailChimp enable you to design and issue emails easily, and they provide data so you can measure what’s working and how to optimize the emails you send.
Email is a great tool for reminding clients about upcoming appointments, requesting customer reviews, promoting your services and promotions, or simply wishing your patients a happy birthday. It’s also a great way to educate your clients about pet health care.
Pay per click is a digital advertising tactic intended to drive search engine users to your website. You choose the keywords with which you want to be found so your ad appears at the top of the results based on what people are searching. This can help attract pet owners who are actively searching for veterinary practices or services. Google’s Keyword Planner enables you to determine which terms are commonly used in searches by pet owners.
Pay-per-click can capture new customers at their point of need with a clickable website, phone number, address and online appointment setting (if your website has this functionality). You can set your maximum daily budgets to ensure you’re spending efficiently.
Measuring Your Success
The key to successful digital marketing is measuring its effectiveness. For whatever strategies you execute, evaluate how they performed against your goals and then modify your approach to improve your business results.
I hope you caught the word “goals.” Before launching any type of marketing program, be sure to identify what you hope to accomplish so you can measure and determine whether your program was successful.
Don’t get discouraged if you don’t hit all your goals — it doesn’t mean you should pull the plug on marketing. Rather, see what you can do differently next time. For example, are you narrowing in on the right keywords to show up in a search? Are you giving readers a clear call to action to visit your site? Is your content engaging enough to make readers stop, read and click through? Are you effectively communicating the value of email communications to your clients in order to get them to disclose their addresses?
The alternative is doing nothing at all to market your practice — and in today’s competitive and digitally focused marketplace, can you afford not to invest in marketing?
Mr. Panebianco is chief marketing officer at Bankers Healthcare Group (BHG), the leading provider of financial solutions for health care professionals. For more information, contact Chris at firstname.lastname@example.org.