(This article is a 5.3-minute read)
THREE THINGS YOU’LL LEARN FROM THIS ARTICLE
1. Why advertising emergency treatments is self-defeating
2. Why it takes time for content on your website to work for you
3. How people source information about you
Are there some days your clinic feels like an emergency ward? People are bringing in animals at advanced stages of illness, or requiring immediate treatment. In some cases, it’s clear the animal has been unwell for some time. It’s not that their owners are negligent. They just didn’t know what to look for. That’s why finding vet content online is so important. They can educate themselves about all aspects of their pet’s health and wellbeing.
But even if you are putting a lot of content on your website, it still seems to take a long time for people to book. And when they do turn up, it’s with an animal requiring triage.
It’s probably not the fault of the content you have there. At least, not directly.
The type of content you publish on your website in many ways ‘creates’ your patient base. And the most valuable content takes the longest time to work.
Let me explain.
To understand how content works, you have to understand how people use it. If someone sees a piece of content on your website, they’re going to understand that it will relate to you, or your services. That just makes sense.
There is even a good chance that they are inclined to use your services, or book an appointment. No-one goes onto a vet website looking for groceries.
So we can assume that at some stage in the future they are interested in making a purchase from you.
All buying decisions exist on a spectrum from ‘impulse’ to ‘considered’. Impulse buys are fast and emotional. There is virtually nothing you can buy that you genuinely need immediately. Possible exceptions include emergency care for your pet (if it appears to be a matter of life-and-death).
But many of the services you could offer are more considered purchases. They are things that people want to think about before they buy. They may be something as straightforward as grooming or desexing. Or they may be something complicated, like understanding a cluster of symptoms that just aren’t quite right.
Also, a lot of treatments you offer are seasonal purchases—but most people don’t keep track of when flea and tick season is. They’ve got other things on their mind, and fleas and ticks don’t bother them in the same way it bothers their pets.
A considered purchase requires education. Up until about 10 years ago, there weren’t many places the average consumer could educate themselves. Back then, whoever had the most memorable brand would get the customers, because remembering a brand was a valid source of information.
But now we have Google. And Facebook. We can quickly and easily seek expert opinion and social proof online. And we use them to educate ourselves when we’re making a considered purchase.
So the reason your high-quality content takes a while to get customers in the door is because it’s working. People are reading it, educating themselves, and building more trust in you. As time goes on, that good information helps them make more conscious decisions about the things they care about, like their pet’s health.
When those people do become customers, they are more loyal and less price sensitive than someone who has turned up in an emergency situation. Over their pet’s lifetime, they are more likely to return to you, so they become a much higher-value customer.
The way vet content works online is by educating people when they are making considered purchase decisions. It can help with impulse decisions in that it improves your search engine results. But it is most effective as a way of creating a loyal customer base.
It’s effective because the majority of purchases people make from you should be considered. They are based on need, and fed by research. If you don’t supply the information for people when they’re researching, they’ll go do business with someone who will.