Digital Marketing Tips for Veterinary Practices
Kristen Coppock, MA, Editor
Troy Leonard, Director of Sales for Doctor Multimedia discussed modern marketing strategies for promoting veterinary practices, during a presentation at the NY Vet conference in New York City.
Digital marketing is changing the way veterinary practices promote their businesses. It is a new frontier for some practice owners, and other entrepreneurs may not be reaching as many tech-savvy clients as they would like. In a presentation at the NY Vet conference held recently in New York City, presenter Troy Leonard, Director of Sales for Doctor Multimedia discussed modern marketing strategies for promoting veterinary practices.
According to Leonard, 78% of internet searches are conducted through a smartphone, and speed matters. People are often looking to call the practice and see what services are offered or for directions, he noted. Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) is especially important with the addition of mobile site speed to SEO rankings.
“Make sure it loads quickly,” said Leonard. “It should be below 5 seconds.”
Leonard recommended utilizing a free Google service (testmysite.thinkwithgoogle.com) to test a mobile site’s speed. The Google website also provides suggestions for speeding up load time.
Secure and Accessible
Websites that are not secure will lose SEO points and are susceptible to being hacked. A solution is an SSL certificate, which better protects sensitive information, such as payments and passwords, Leonard explained.
Leonard directed the audience's attention to web addresses, which he said indicates whether or not a website is secure. A closed lock should show in front of the web address of a secure site. The web address should also begin with “https,” rather than “http,” Leonard said.
“If you have a lock pad, you’re good,” he added. “If its locked and secure, no one can put a pop-up (ad) on your website.”
Websites should also be ADA compliant, Leonard said. Visitors with vision conditions, including those who are colorblind, need the capability to change colors and font sizes to view the information.
According to Leonard, becoming ADA compliant is a change that should come at no cost from a website service provider. Website security and SSL certification requires payment. “It should not cost you more than $200, annually,” Leonard said.
Snack Pack and Reviews
“The most important section on Google, in my opinion, is going to be your snack pack,” said Leonard, referring the short list of businesses shown with a map that tops the first page of search results.
By being seen at the top of the first page, Leonard said, you’re showing customers that you’re a local authority in the industry.
The probability of getting featured in a snack pack can be boosted by customer reviews. Leonard suggested making it as easy as possible for customers to review a veterinary practice, in order to boost its profile. An example would be to text customers a link to a web page, where they can submit a quick review.
“Thumbs up and thumbs down. Red light, green light. Just to the point,” he said. “You can do 1 through 10 or a star system.”
Many of those in attendance during the presentation indicated they already utilize Facebook to promote their veterinary services, but Leonard recommended expanding social media presence with a business page on Instagram. According to Leonard, Instagram is becoming more popular than Facebook, and allows businesses to develop a more entertaining and personal connection with clients.
Social media tools are available that allow users to cross-post on both platforms at the same time, and that could work well for practice owners with little time to spare. However, Leonard added, diversifying posts will help boost engagement because clients that use both platforms are more likely to give 2 clicks with different posts, rather than clicking twice on the same post.
Videos and Photos
Google owns YouTube, and businesses are 53 times more likely to be at the top of the first page of search results when there is a custom video posted to a website homepage, Leonard said, although there are no guarantees.
“A lot of people just don’t have a video,” he said. “It really separates you from your competition.”
While there is a cost involved with creating a professional video, Leonard said, the reach pays for itself. Photos and video allow potential customers to see what they’re getting with the business, including equipment and treatment areas, as well as staff images. Video also tends to do well with social media, increasing engagement.
Owning a Website
Despite owning a domain name, business websites are often housed on templates owned by outside companies. However, those websites can no longer be accessed when a subscription expires or in the event of other situations.
Ownership of the website includes its templates, and allows a business owner to be in control of it. “All the files, the entire look and feel, the entire house is licensed and registered to you,” he said.
Veterinary practices have long paid for advertisements, and Google ads are a modern alternative to phone books. Google ads gives business owners access to a wide internet audience, and allows them to track every click, Leonard said.
“It’s scalable. It’s flexible, and its measurable,” said Leonard. “You can turn it off for a quarter, and always go back.”
Leonard recommended setting a minimum budget of $300 a month, but the average is $500.
Invest in an App
A mobile app that ties into a veterinary practice’s software allows clients better access to the business. It should be free for clients to download, and provide relevant services. For example, clients may be able to use the app to schedule or view appointments, or keep track of vaccines.
An app can also offer rewards to clients, such as a points system that can result in a free service. “It’s a great tool for keeping your best clients, and keep them coming back,” said Leonard.
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