Veterinary Marketing Planning for 2021 – The Road to RecoveryReading Time: 4 minutes
By Linda Kaplan, MHA, President
This time of year is when we often take a moment to breathe with our clients and carve out strategies and tactics for the coming year. This year, we’re in a bit of an abyss due to the changes that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought to the veterinary industry.
Since we don’t know what 2021 will bring us, we are moving forward with the assumption that we, of course, must continue marketing services, but we must adapt and lead with the best practices we learned over the past nine months.
Our number one recommendation for veterinary marketing practices over the next year is: Optimize Your Digital Front Door.
The end goals are the same as other years where a mix of strategies was in play, however for the foreseeable future, your digital front door must be wide open and welcoming – especially for new clients.
Specifically, that means:
Make Searching, Selecting, and Scheduling Appointments a Breeze
- Is your practice easily found online? Are you at the top of a search?
- When someone lands on your website, are you clearly and quickly differentiating your practice from the competition? Are you presenting solutions to a searcher’s problem?
- Is it simple to schedule an appointment via an online option or via phone, email, text, an app? Is it just as simple for a new client as it is for an existing client?
Triage Pet Patients and Navigate Clients to the Right Care, Quickly
- Especially for emergency veterinary clinics, whether on the phone, via video chat, or in the parking lot, can you quickly assess what type of care a client’s pet needs and direct them seamlessly to the next step?
Easy Access to Virtual Veterinary Care
- Telehealth options are here to stay. It is imperative that every practice have a telehealth option not only for safety reasons but as a reflection of the practice providing leading-edge care.
- Note that telehealth is never intended to replace a preferred in-person visit. Rather it is an option that’s better than not seeing a patient at all.
Additionally, here are trending, leading-edge digital marketing channels that are must-haves to successfully compete in the digital landscape:
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Program
- SEO is tangible work being done to your website to strengthen its foundation and make it more appealing to search engines. As a result, the website will rank higher and is more visible to prospective clients on search engines such as Google and Bing.
- In addition to veterinary specific keywords (emergency veterinarian, veterinary surgery), conversational keywords must be weaved into your SEO efforts, meaning your website’s copy must be written to mirror the way a pet parent may search for your service, rather than using clinical or technical language.
- A successful SEO program is updated and optimized monthly. Long gone are the days when you could launch a website and have it found via a search just because it was online. In today’s competitive landscape, websites must be tended to regularly.
Local Search/Local SEO
- While traditional search focuses on improving your site’s visibility on a national or global scale, local search allows you to capture local search territory to connect with searchers in your area. For example, “emergency animal hospital near me.”
- Local search is the process to claim and optimize online directories including Google My Business, Yelp, Foursquare the list goes on and on. It is vital to ensure these directories are updated and include the correct contact information as they are often a source both pet owners and Google search factors.
- Local search is a strategic process that focuses on emphasizing the online optimization efforts of local brick-and-mortar businesses. It is separate from traditional SEO.
Email and Short Message Service (SMS [texting])
- Marketing automation allows us to send emails and texts as reliable tools to communicate with an individual client or with our entire list of clients as needed and in real-time. Regularly communicating (push notification) with appropriate and customized ‘Calls to Action’ can significantly impact your bottom line.
Easy Online Tools
- Consider having these essential, easy to use options on your website (and ensure a trained staff member is at the ready to respond and/or process requests promptly):
- New Client form
- Appointment scheduling
- Payment options
- Prescription refills
- Emergency pre-registration
- Emergency “Reserve your spot”
- DVM patient referral portal
- Live chat
- …is not going away anytime soon, with usage up during the pandemic and the major platforms continuing to grow their user bases every year.
- The key to 2021 will be to continue to build awareness through organic posts but to also invest in paid content to reach the customers physically closest to your practice and thus most likely to “convert” or actually use your services.
Lastly, make sure your digital strategy is unified. Create consistent campaigns across all platforms through messaging, imagery, timing, calls to action, etc. Develop a plan ahead of time and spend 2021 focusing on implementation and adjusting, rather than creating.
We hope you have found this information helpful. If you would like assistance with any of the above items, please do not hesitate to contact us at 949-756-8071 or firstname.lastname@example.org.