Your website is rubbish - here's how to fix it - Veterinary Practice
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InFocus

Your website is rubbish – here’s how to fix it

Paul Green continues his series with a look at the online space and how practices need to get the plan, look, tone and analysis of their websites right to maximise their usefulness.

THE internet is the biggest and most exciting marketing opportunity you have right now. And it probably will be that way for the foreseeable future.

In April 2014 alone, there were 47,050 Google searches in the UK for words such as vet, vets, veterinary, vets practice, vets hospital, and emergency vets. Doesn’t seem like a lot, but that’s ignoring the thousands of people who do specific searches, such as “vets Milton Keynes”, for example.

If you don’t know how many people are looking online for a practice in your area, then search for the phrase “Google Keyword Planner”. This is Google’s own free tool that reveals amounts of search traffic. You can even search in specific geographical locations. Google has a good incentive for giving you this information, as it hopes you will go on to buy “pay per click” advertising from it.

These figures get bigger year after year … after all, we’re in the middle of a communication and information revolution.

Some 58% of people start a major purchasing decision (which includes picking a veterinary practice) with a Google search, according to Yell.com research from last year.

So in a world where everything is Googled before it is purchased, your website deserves more of your resources.

You see, even if your website was last refreshed a couple of years ago, there are probably a number of strategic or tactical changes you could make that would help you generate more new clients, and up-sell existing clients onto schemes such as your health plan.

I look at a lot of practice websites. And these are the most common mistakes I see.

Your site is not sufficiently different to competitors’

A number of vets’ practices use similar stock images, the same text and similar website themes. There is nothing to suggest that their business is unique or any different from other vets in their area. For the uneducated client who doesn’t know how to tell one vet from another (that’s most of them), they are not given any clear reason why you are a better choice than the other practices.

The answer is to make your website as personal to you as possible. You have pretty much the same services as all other vets and, from the public’s point of view, you have similar facilities, so you use the one marketing advantage you have that no other vet has… you – and your staff. That means lots of photos and lots of storytelling.

Everyone loves a back story, and potential clients are more likely to connect with you and your team if they can read emotional accounts of why you all decided to dedicate your life to saving animals.

You don’t have a plan to get website traffic

It’s not 1999 any more. Just because you have built a website doesn’t mean that anyone will either care or visit it. There are just under a billion websites online now. Yours is just part of the noise.

So you need a traffic plan. The easiest way to get traffic to your website is through Google. Both natural searches driven by a better position when someone searches for a practice in your area; and pay per click advertising. This is rapidly becoming a must do, especially since Google changed the way adverts are displayed, making them more likely to be clicked without people realising they are clicking adverts.

Press releases, blogs, website articles, adverts in local magazines and highly targeted postcards are also great ways to drive traffic to your website.

You don’t use compelling headlines

The headlines on your website should highlight just how unique you are. Communicate the benefits that clients can expect to receive from you. Does your website grab the attention of your clients and persuade them to take action? Think about the AIDA rule of marketing content:
A: Attention
I: Interest
D: Desire
A: Action

The Attention part is the headline. If you don’t grab their attention right at the start of a web page, they won’t read it and therefore won’t do what you want them to do.

You don’t have a way to capture people’s data

Registering a pet with you is a perceived high commitment. You need some low commitment way of finding out who’s on your website. Competitions and the offer of free upgrades are great ways to capture data. Make sure you get their name, e-mail address and phone number if possible.

Make sure there is a follow-up sequence that goes back to them and keeps you fresh in their minds. People only register when they’re ready to register, and the vet who’s in front of them at that point gets the business.

You don’t tell people what you want them to do

Tell clients how they should register or book their appointment. Should they send you an e-mail? Book an appointment over the phone? Or should they visit your practice? Your phone number should appear at the top right of every page, and your address at the bottom.

You don’t interact with your website visitors

Social media is an easy way for you to interact with clients who visit your website. Widgets allow visitors to see your Facebook and Twitter feeds, so ensure they are visible on your website.

You don’t analyse how people use your website

Google analytics will help you to track how people use your website. You’ll be able to see the number of unique visitors to your website, where they come from, the page they land on, the pages they leave from and where they go after they visit your site.

You don’t have a good mobile version of your site

According to Google, 28% of your traffic right now is from a mobile device. It’ll probably be 50% by the end of next year. Having a mobile-friendly site is now critical.

You don’t use video

Make the most of video using your smartphone to collect client testimonials, your team in action and a full view of your practice. Put all your videos on YouTube as this can help your Google ranking.

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