Answers to Your Top 7 Digital Marketing Questions
By Sue Kim, Digital Project Manager
We receive a lot of questions from our clients on how they can either incorporate digital into their overall marketing plan or improve their current digital marketing. Trends, tools, features, and algorithms seem to be changing constantly so we understand it can be challenging to keep up with the latest and greatest ways to promote your practice. Based on conversations with our clients and our recent Assessing the Future of Marketing in Veterinary Specialty & Referral Service survey, we’ve compiled the top seven digital marketing questions we get asked the most and answered them here. These questions are in no particular order.
Before we begin, it’s important to remember that your digital marketing tactics should align with your brand goals and overall marketing plan. With digital marketing, you are working to reach potential clients online through various digital channels like social media, websites, ads, email marketing, etc. But, remember that digital marketing is just another tool in your marketing toolbox. It should not replace traditional forms of marketing including goal setting, branding, relationship building, offering an exceptional experience to all of your clients, direct marketing, advertising, community fairs, media relations, etc. Digital marketing should be a part of your marketing initiatives…not all of them. Both your online and offline marketing strategies should complement each other.
1. How do I get started with digital marketing?
If you are just venturing into digital marketing, we highly recommend that you set up Google Analytics for your website, if you haven’t already. In fact, if you have a website, you should have Analytics set up even if you aren’t ready to dive in just yet. Google Analytics is a free web analytics software that allows you to view your website traffic. It’s a great tool to see where customers are coming from and how they interact with your website. Furthermore, if you plan on doing any digital advertising through Facebook Ads, Google AdWords, or other 3rd party advertising platforms, you will be able to get a good idea of how those ads are performing through Analytics.
It is also critical that you have a good handle on what your top competitors are doing digitally so that you know how and where to compete against them successfully. Not all digital tools are the same. Do some homework on which tools are best used to reach certain audiences.
2. When I search for my business on Google, I see a brief description under my website URL. Where did that come from and can I customize it?
The short descriptions you see are called your meta descriptions. The descriptions are usually 150-160 characters long and provide an explanation about what that particular web page is about. A good meta description is inviting and will include top keywords, or key phrases, for its page. Think of it as snappy, advertising copy meant to attract people to click on the link to read more. Most content management systems (CMS) like WordPress will have an option for you to create custom meta descriptions for each page.
3. What is SEO and why is it so important?
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. It is the practice of increasing your website’s visibility on search engine results, and thereby, increase the quantity and quality of website traffic (or visits). A search engine’s job is to provide answers to what users are asking. When someone types in “how to clean my dog’s ears” in Google, Google’s job is to provide links that potentially answer that question. The link with the “best” answer will most likely show up at the top because it has a strong history of people clicking on that link. Having a strong SEO management plan is critical to ensure that your practice shows up high on the list of searched terms.
4. How can I improve my SEO so my website shows up higher on Google?
Search engines are pretty good at pulling information from websites, but they need a little help too. That’s where SEO comes in. There are many different aspects to SEO, and it’s important to remember that SEO is an ongoing process – not a one-time activity. Here are are some basic things you can do to optimize your website now for search engines.
- Create content that is useful for your clients and potential clients on a regular basis. People use search engines to find answers. Writing content to answer questions you clients may have will give your website a better chance of appearing in search results higher. For example, let’s say you are a surgical practice and receive many CCL cases. Writing a pet owner-friendly blog post on CCL can help those who are looking for more information to land on your website. Refresh with new topics regularly. Static sites tend to do poorly with SEO.
- Optimize your content. Some of the basic ways to improve SEO is to optimize your content, copy headings, URLS, image titles, alt tags, meta titles, and meta descriptions to include top keywords and key phrases.
5. How can I use Facebook more effectively? Should I be advertising on Facebook?
One of the great benefits of incorporating digital marketing is the ability to target a specific audience and gather data on your efforts easily. Facebook offers great ways to run ads targeting a specific audience based on their hobbies, likes, interests, age, geography, etc. Not only can you target ads, you can run ads that direct people to your Facebook page, a specific post, and even to your website.
6. Should my practice be on Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, etc.?
We get this question. A lot. There are a few things to consider before jumping on a new social media.
- Who is your audience?
- What is your company culture?
- What are your strategic marketing goals for the year?
- Do you have the resources to manage an additional social media account?
If you have a slightly older clients and your staff is relatively shy, Snapchat would not be a good fit. Companies that do great on Snapchat usually have a younger demographic (about teens-34 years old) and because this platform is great for showing a behind-the-scenes or raw unpolished content, it relies heavily on the personality of the staff running the account.
To see a breakdown of the demographics and stats of the major social media platforms, check out the Social Media Cheat Sheet. Whatever you choose, stick to it and do it well. You will have more success “going deep” with one or two types of social media rather than “going wide” with many that you can’t manage well. You do not need to be all things to all people.
7. What digital tools can I put into my practice right now?
There are many new tools that can be connected with your project management software that make communication easier and faster. Don’t make it difficult for clients to contact you. An upset client that can’t get in touch with the hospital manger is more likely to post a scathing online review. Set up multiple opportunities and avenues for clients to reach out to your business – both offline and digital. Look into an automated survey that gets sent to clients after their visit. If they rate their visit as neutral or negative, give them a call to see what happened. No one likes being put on hold on the phone; a text messaging service can help cut down on the amount of phone calls as well reduce the number of no-shows. With text messaging, clients can confirm or cancel their appointment quickly and easily. You can also send text updates to a client on their hospitalized pet. Another great software is a client portal where clients can sign in to see a record of all services and lab results of their pet. Millennial pet owners are spending more money on their pets than previous generations. They are also Internet savvy, educated in their shopping habits, and expect more from business. Having these communication channels in place will not only give your veterinary business an edge, but we anticipate that having these tools in place will soon become the norm.
There are many facets of digital marketing and we wish we could squeeze them into this blog post, but we hope you found answers to a few of your questions in this post. BluePrints offers a wide range of digital marketing services – a few of which you can view here. If you would like to schedule a consultation or need assistance with establishing/improving your digital presence, please contact us today.