Increase the Value of Your Veterinary Hospital Website

0 Comments Posted by Vet Network in Blogs, General, Marketing, Social Media, Websites on Friday, June 29th, 2012.

How to Increase the Value of Your Veterinary Hospital Website

by Mark Feltz, DVM
VetNetwork, LLC

Your veterinary hospital website serves as an open-door into your practice, and speaks volumes about you and the services offered at your veterinary hospital. When used correctly, your website can serve as the most efficient, valuable, and cost-effective advertising and marketing tool on the market. Yet, more often than not, veterinary hospital websites, in particular, are not used to their greatest potential. In understanding the value and increasing capabilities of your website, you too could be getting more bang for your buck when it comes to online marketing.

Below are 15 effective ways to make your veterinary hospital website more valuable to both you and your clients:

1. Offer videos and online seminars on simple animal services

Your practice website can double as a “how-to” site, which dramatically increases your viewership from your active hospital clients to the pet-owning community at large. For instance, short clips on how to administer a pill, give a bath, perform an exam and brush your dog’s teeth, can easily be recorded, and make ideal clips for your online visitors. If you record the videos yourself, you can also upload them to YouTube where there is potential to attract a wider and more diverse audience. Below the video you can add a link to your hospital website, just as your website can provide a link to the YouTube clip. If you don’t record the video yourself, there are several services where you can access videos free of charge or for a small fee. VetNetwork has excellent professional pre-made videos that can be linked from your website.

2. Take videos at local events and include them on your veterinary hospital website

If you are speaking at a school career day, a local trade school, or other community function, make sure someone is taking a video that can be included on your website. Or, if you work or volunteer at a local humane society, make sure this information is also recorded and set up for your website visitors to see. Community members appreciate your volunteer work and there’s no better way than adding it to your website to spread the word that you and your hospital are committed to the community you serve.

3. Engage in online pet discussions

Holding regular chat sessions is an excellent way to communicate with your audience. This not only draws people to your website, but also helps distinguish you and your hospital as experts in your field. You can hold sessions once a week, and answer simple pet-related questions. This can be done through Twitter, Facebook, or even through your own primary website. Wherever and however you decide to hold the chats, make sure the discussion takes place at a specific and consistent time and date and on the same platform.

4. Create a newsletter signup box on your hospital website

It is worth investing in a monthly or quarterly (seasonal) newsletter that you can email to your clients and visitors who sign up on your website. The newsletter can be as simple or complex as you want – spanning everything from recent hospital or pet-related events, new technologies and medicines, or simple hospital announcements. This not only builds prospective client lists, but also attracts new clients and strengthens already existing relationships.

5. Create a special offers signup box on your website

If you don’t want to spend the time or resources to create a newsletter, there are alternatives. For instance, you may want to include a similar signup box where people can opt into receiving special promotions, information about new products or service announcements.

6. Distribute free product samples

It may serve your hospital well to distribute sample products or promotional items to a limited number of people who sign up for the newsletter or come in with a coupon from your website. Many pharmaceutical companies and distributors will work with you to provide free product samples.

7. Add a blog to your hospital’s website and start blogging

With unlimited opportunities to join the online community, you should not be missing out! Blogging is an especially easy and an important way to build your credibility and relationship with the community. It can also provide a space for customer feedback, as well as attract new clients to your website. If your name or hospital appears in various blogs, this will instantly increase your veterinary hospital’s web presence, and ultimately provide more free advertising. As a veterinarian, you have a tremendous amount of credibility in your community, and blog topics are limitless.

8. Write and publish press releases in your local newspaper

Write a press release when there is something new, exciting or interesting happening at your hospital, such as a new veterinarian, state of the art equipment, new treatment or even a success story. Local newspapers include press releases in their publication free of charge. Newspapers may also include your press releases in their online editions. Make sure that every press release has your hospital’s website address and location information.

9. Take out a small advertisement in your local newspaper or an ad on their website

Alternatively, you can get your name in the local paper through advertisements. Include a call to action or incentive for pet owners to visit your website. Everyone is searching for a deal, so the ad should state that discounts, coupons and free samples can be found regularly on your website.

10. Integrate other social networking sites into your primary website

When people visit your hospital website, you also want them to be exposed to the other social networking sites you use. Allow people to see articles, photos or postings from your Facebook page, Twitter post or blog on your website. This will increase exposure to your hospital and provide clients with a host of options for obtaining information.

11. Tweet about your website, but don’t abuse it

Tweeting can be a major advantage when used correctly. Try to avoid verbose and redundant postings, and instead use short and concise tweets only when there is something interesting for your clients or prospective clients to see. For instance, this may include a how-to video (with a link), promotions, announcing the pet of the month, interesting surgical or medical cases, or simply something cute that appeals to basic human interests.

12. Use SEO to better rank your website on search engines

The importance of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) can’t be stressed enough. SEO allows your webpages to be discovered and indexed by search engines, ultimately bringing your content to the top of relevant searches. When you are looking for something, how often do you make it to page 4 of your Google search results? It’s likely that your prospective client doesn’t either.

13. Add a coupon page

Add an area to your website where people can visit and print out specials on a regular basis. Change the coupons at regular time intervals (monthly or seasonally) and use Facebook and Twitter to announce each time they are changed or about to be changed. This is a sure way to create incentives for visiting your site.

14. Promotional offerings

In addition to coupons, mix up your promotions. Daily, weeklong, and month-long product promotions help bring people to your website on a regular basis and increase business. Only promote relevant products that can be purchased at your hospital, and make these announcements over your website, Twitter, and Facebook page.

15. Keep your website simple, attractive, updated, and easy-to-read and navigate

There are plenty of bells and whistles to help attract people to your website, but ultimately, the most important and simplest component is often the most overlooked. Once you have attracted someone to your website, you don’t want them to leave. So, make sure your website functions well, with simple, easy-to-read information and attractive images. Don’t let your visitors get swept away by the clutter.

A website is more than mere words on a screen. In fact, it can be your new best friend – but only if used correctly. Once you begin thinking of your veterinary hospital’s website as much more than a one-dimensional informational board, an entirely new world of marketing opportunities presents itself. Your veterinary hospital’s website should not only be informative, but also interactive, enticing, and ultimately, your most effective advertising and marketing tool in your kit.

Copyright © VetNetwork, LLC / Mark Feltz, DVM.

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