(This article is a 10.5 minute read)
THREE THINGS YOU’LL GET FROM THIS ARTICLE
1. 11 tactics to market your practice right now
2. An explanation of what goal each idea will achieve
3. The proper way to use blogs, websites and social media for marketing
I’ve noticed a lot of online advice about veterinary marketing ideas is either vague or outdated. Many suggestions for how to market your practice predate the great growth in digital media. Over the last few years, social media, mobile internet access and software automation have all changed.
They’re a lot more sophisticated than they used to be. But the marketing advice hasn’t changed.
The difference with this list of 11 vet practice marketing ideas is they are all concrete things you can do today. They are reasonably easy to execute, and result in a measureable result for your marketing goals.
One of the two key factors in increasing your ranking in search engine results is having a lot of backlinks to your site. Not just any backlinks, but backlinks from sites with higher domain authority and page authority than yours. Backlinks are really hard to get from those sites, and often involve a lot of hard work. However, there are ways to get them. If you do a Tools of the Trade review for Vet Practice magazine, you could also request a backlink to your site in your byline. Or a short book review or article for the AVA journal. Both would be easy to write, and both could result in backlinks.
The second key factor in improving SEO is blogging regularly. Having a blog greatly increases the number of pages on your site. This in turn increases the chances of you being found in long-tail keyword searches. Committing to a regular schedule of publishing original content gives people a reason to come back to your site. It increases your authority as you’re spreading helpful information.
Back in the good old days, to get lots of attention on Facebook, all you had to do was get someone to ‘like’ you. Facebook has changed its algorithm since then. Even if you are posting lots of things about your practice on your Facebook page, you are not reaching your full audience. The only way to reach a large number of people on Facebook now is to pay. So it’s a good idea to set aside about $30 a month to boost any posts you put up there. For what is a very small investment, you will get much more attention.
Not all promotion has to be online to achieve a good online result. One off line place where your community still gathers is at community sporting events. And all of your local community teams are keen for sponsorship. Keen enough that it seems reasonable to request a link to your website from theirs and a logo on the jumpers. This doesn’t just give your brand visibility every weekend, but has the added bonus of adding to your backlines (see point number 1, above).
Over 90 per cent of the emails your practice sends out are being ignored. Don’t reply that you’ve got great open rates, because open rates for email aren’t a meaningful metric. Lots of email programs will preview messages by opening them in another window. Doesn’t mean the people receiving them are interested in them. If you keep sending email to these people, their ISP will start tagging your emails as spam, and just deliver them straight to spam filters or junk mail folders. And when you send more emails in the future, they will all be treated as spam.
By limiting your email list to people who have BOTH opted in AND interacted with previous emails, you’ll get much better click through rates. They’ll be easier to track and judge what’s working and what isn’t. And you give future emails a much better chance of getting to where they’re meant to go.
If you're among the most sophisticated marketers in the veterinary profession, you may use personas to organize and understand your customer base. Using basic character types to describe groups of your best customers is smart practice, and helps you target marketing effectively. If you don't do it you should start doing it now. But do one more thing. Cross match your personas with pets. You already have patient data that will help you do that. That will paint you a picture of exactly who your best customers look like, what motivates them to use your services, and which services you offer that will draw similar people in.
Facebook wants you to use Messenger instead of SMS. That’s because Facebook wants to take over the world. And they’re probably going to, so you may as well roll with it. So go ahead and log into the Facebook Messenger account tied to your Facebook page. Once there, you can get a Messenger tag that you can add to posts, web sites, blog posts and anything else that will let people contact you with a single tap. Anything that makes it easier for people to get in touch will increase engagement rates.
Newsletters are a bit of a pain. But you don't have to put them together manually. There are apps you can buy that will integrate with your RSS feed on your website and send out a newsletter containing links to your most recent blog posts. A bit of coding help from a web design agency can get you a template that will always include certain details, but give you the choice of adding other content. Not only saves you time, but guarantees your marketing message will get out even when you're too busy to think about it.
You see pets when they're sick. But why not celebrate them when they're well? Create a landing page on your site that is just dedicated to a cute animal competition. Put a form on it that allows people to submit their own cute animal pictures. Offer a prize each month for the cutest. The prize can be a voucher for some free service, or something supplied by one of your suppliers (some pet food, for example). Promote it on your Facebook page and in your newsletter. It gives people a reason to just feel good about you, and reminds them that you like their pets nearly as much as they do.
Your community, both online and offline, is filled with groups of people who love their pets. The groups range from general pet pages to specific breeds. Join them. See what they're talking about. Add to the discussion when you have something to say. Just the fact that you're interacting with them will build your authority and trust among the group. And when they have problems, it's you they will turn to.
The Holy Grail of modern marketing is to have a piece of content about you, or by you, go viral. And like all similar dreams, for 99.99 per cent of us, it's never going to happen. The viral model of distribution can happen, but hardly ever does. What does work is ‘diffused broadcasting’. This is where you broadcast a blog post, for example, to one defined group of people, and every one of those people shares your post once.
To get the best reach for any post, then, you need the largest possible initial group who can be guaranteed to share it. You have that group. It is called your staff. You can either politely ask them to share something, or you can ask them for their log ins for social pages, and post on their behalf using automation software like Hootsuite or CoSchedule.
Some folk may be uncomfortable with this at first, as they use social media to lurk rather than interact. But if their friends are that bugged by learning something about pets once a month, they are probably ill suited to be friends. Think about it. Looking after animals is a large part of your staff’s lives. Why wouldn't they want to share?