VetNetwork Newsletter February 2011

Welcome to VetNetwork's Monthly eNewsletter
Welcome to our eNewsletter from Dr. Mark Feltz and VetNetwork

In this issue:

Eight Ways to Attract
Pet Owners to Your Website

Never Underestimate the Value
of Client Feedback

Big Five Marketing Strategies

Smart Mobile Apps for the
Smart Vet

Simple Steps for Effective Blogging

Website Report: Is Your
Site Failing?

Other Articles of Interest

Welcome to VetNetwork's February 2011 eNewsletter

Nourish Your Practice with
Fresh Veterinary Marketing Ideas

Day in and out, you dedicate yourself to providing excellent care at your veterinary clinic.

You're committed to delivering top-notch services through continued education and keeping pace with current trends.

You wouldn't dream of neglecting the health of the animals you treat. But are you neglecting the everyday health of your business?

In today's competitive climate, your veterinary practice needs attention to thrive. Communication is critical to the success of your business. From old-fashioned word-of-mouth and referral, to leading-edge efforts like effective use of the Web and developing technology, how you market your business is directly related to how well it thrives.

Neglect to nourish your practice with a steady supply of fresh ideas and knowledge, and it will falter. Feed it a healthy diet of balanced, well-thought-out initiatives, and it will flourish.

Spreading word about the good work you do needn't be a daunting challenge. With small-yet-pointed efforts, it's easy to stay in front of the pack. That's where you want to be when you bring your best efforts to your veterinary practice every day. Why give any less to your business?


Mark Feltz, DVM,
and the Creative Team at VetNetwork

Attract clients to your veterinary website

8 Ways To Attract Pet Owners
To Your Veterinary Hospital Website

A website for your veterinary hospital is a must-have in today’s world. That much seems obvious. However, just having a website is not enough to pull in visitors and convert them to clients. Your veterinary website must be good at drawing pet owners in and then encouraging them to become clients.

The following website for veterinarians attributes will help you do that:

1. Localize It – Your veterinarian website needs to be geographically relevant to potential visitors because they want to find local practices. The best ways to do this are:

  • Add geographic content such as Google maps, your address on each webpage, sprinkle in names of nearby communities;

  • Keywords with local terms;

  • Include a veterinary blog and update it regularly;

  • Ensure location is included in the snippet that appears with your link in a Google search results list.

2. Newsletters/Email Updates – Make sign-up boxes (for subscribing to your newsletter, practice updates, and blog) prominent. Also, sweeten the deal by letting visitors know these things will include periodic discounts and specials.

3. Branding – Make sure your website content and design consistently express your brand across all pages.

4. Social Media – Promote social media connecting points to increase your points-of-contact with pet owners.

5. Online Sales – Using your veterinary hospistal website to sell services and products can generate revenue, increase client loyalty and draw in new pet owners. You become more than a yearly exam, but a trusted source of preferred pet products.

6. Keep it Fresh – Regularly update your content to provide new pet information, specials, services, etc.

7. Smartphones – With approximately 150 million smartphones in the U.S., making sure your veterinary website loads properly and can be used on smartphones are important.

8. Avoid Gimmicks – Most people do not want to navigate through an introductory page to get to your homepage. Make it easy for your visitors to find the content they want.

Feedback from veterinary clients

Never Underestimate the
Power of Feedback

Do you know what your veterinary clients are saying about you?

If you think you do but are not set up to monitor online feedback about your business, you might be surprised by what you are missing in knowing your veterinary online reputation.

User reviews on websites like Yelp and CitySearch are powerful. They boost your profile and visibility. And they do so whether the feedback is positive or negative.

Of course, positive feedback is likely to draw business to you. And negative feedback will repel it.

Wouldn’t it be good to know ahead of time what people are likely to Yelp about? As a business offering services to the public, you need to be proactive about collecting client feedback. This is easy to do and often free.

The number one way to find out what clients think about and want from your veterinary practice is to ask. Here are a few ways to open up the lines of communication:

  • Host An Advisory Panel: Invite a group of valued clients to your office and give them a few focused questions to discuss. Have someone record or take notes from the session. Call in an outside representative to mediate; someone who won't be tempted to defend against negative comments. Be sure to provide refreshments and offer a discount or other incentive to participants. You will be surprised to discover how many people want to help you succeed.

  • Provide Comment Cards: It’s an old idea, and it still works. A stack of comment cards in the waiting area with an old-fashioned “Suggestion Box” elicits valuable feedback. Keep comments anonymous. Offer prompts to get the suggestions flowing, questions like: "Is there anything you didn't get from our service that you were looking for?"; "Did staff treat you with care, attention, and courtesy?"; "Are you getting good value for your money?"

  • Utilize Client Surveys: Online surveys aren't free, but are easy to set up and email or embed into your website, e-newsletter or Facebook page. Online providers like “SurveyMonkey” and “SurveyGizmo” offer services to get surveys up and running. Keep the questions short and focused. Don't expect anyone to take more than a couple of minutes to complete it. Results are tabulated automatically.

Remember, feedback is useless if you don't do anything with it. The point is to learn how clients view your business and how effectively your business is operating. When you take a hard look at feedback, you need to be prepared to change. Be responsive. Act.

The goal is to improve your customer’s experience. In turn, you are likely to get more positive user reviews and raise your online profile with clients who are Yelping your praises.

Veterinary marketing strategies

The Big 5: Top-of-the-Line Veterinarian Marketing Strategies for Your Veterinary Practice

You probably still lure in some new clients with the old standby marketing method commonly known as "word of mouth."

Yet, you probably are becoming increasingly aware that this once-reliable strategy is not nearly as effective as it used to be.

Blame the economic climate or the Information Superhighway: Certainly there are many factors at play. What’s most important, however, is understanding that even a great veterinary reputation and location can’t guarantee that your practice will continue to thrive and grow in this competitive market.

So what can you do to build visibility and promote your business? Here are the Top 5 Vet Marketing Strategies:

‘DO’: Top 5 Vet Marketing Strategies

1. Have a Veterinary Marketing Budget: It’s a painful truth. You must spend actual dollars on veterinary marketing. It costs money to properly promote your practice. Be prepared for the expenditures with a reasonable, well-planned budget that amounts to about 8 to 10 percent of your net sales. Sound exorbitant? Consider this: That’s what your smart competitor is spending.
Bottom Line: With the right marketing plan tied to your budget, you’ll get enough new business in a year to defray the cost.

2. Develop a Veterinary Marketing Plan: Strategy is necessary when marketing your veterinary practice. Without a plan, you invariably spend more money for less effect. Map out your strategies on a calendar. Decide which audience to target each month. Assign a budget and goal for each activity.
Bottom Line: Don’t go down the veterinary marketing road without a reliable map.

3. Focus On What’s In It For Your Clients: If your glossy, expensive veterinary brochure has content about your state-of-the-art surgical equipment for anterior cruciate repair, you may be missing the point. Clients don’t care. The message of all your veterinary marketing materials should focus on “what’s in it for clients.” Inasmuch, they must feature information that is accessible to clients. It’s great that your surgical suite is well-equipped, but it may be more important to say that your staff is friendly, pets receive world-class service, and the rates are affordable.
Bottom Line: With every single vet marketing material, above all, answer this question for the client: "What’s in it for me?"

4. Include A Call To Action: Even if your ad yells out “We’re Here and We’re Great!,” you still might not get the calls you’re hoping for. Why? You haven’t given your potential clients a reason to pick up the phone. That’s where the “call to action” comes in. For example, a discount coupon on your website says, “Cut this out, bring it in and receive a free pet examination.” Notice, too, that this call to action helps you track where the new client came from and in turn, which marketing efforts are paying off.
Bottom Line: When pitching your practice to potential customers, you must tell them what you want them to do with the information you provide by asking them to take action to do business with you.

5. Use An Experienced Marketing Company: A good marketing company will save you time and money. Your expertise is in animal medicine, not marketing. So why not call in the experts? If you think a marketing company will cost too much, you are wrong. These firms know how to work within your budget to efficiently accomplish your goals.
Bottom Line: If you go it on your own, chances are good that you will get caught in some common marketing mistakes.

In our next e-newsletter, we’ll help you avoid the Top Five Veterinary Marketing Mistakes.

Smart phone apps for veterinarians

Smart Mobile Applications for
the Smart Vet

Smartphones are everywhere. With them comes an ever-expanding array of applications. Smart vets are taking advantage of them.

Here’s how you can use Smartphone technology to advance your business:

Applications for Veterinarians

  • A Vet Tool ($6.99): Provides five separate tools to help make life easier. Includes a complete small-animal drug formulary; a list of common blood-value lab results; conversions for common weights and liquids; fully featured calculator with memory function; and a searchable notepad.

  • Dropbox (free): Automatically syncs files on your Smartphone, desktop, laptop and any other Internet-enabled device. Allows you to make a change or create a file on your smartphone, and updates it on all of your other devices.

  • Veterinary Dictionary by Blacks ($7.99): A complete, searchable veterinary dictionary. Goes wherever you go.

  • All Recalls (free): Allows you to follow recalls from five government agencies for everything from products to drugs.

  • VTNE Exam Prep ($6.99): Contains a targeted curriculum of 400 simulated exam questions for veterinary technicians. A great tool for a vet tech seeking certification or wanting to keep knowledge up-to-date.

Applications for Clients – Recommend These to Clients

  • Paw Card (free): Create profiles of pets to track medications and weight, save veterinary contacts and vaccine history, and keep other notes. Your clients also can create appointment reminders and shoot off emails to the dog walker, groomer, sitter and others.

  • Eukanuba Unleashed (free): Type in your Zip code and find the nearest parks and open spaces to let dogs run without a leash. Great for traveling with a pet or simply looking for a new place to explore.

  • PetMD Dog/Cat Symptoms ($2.99): Provides cat and dog owners a range of medical, behavioral and nutritional information.

  • PetMD Services Finder (free): Locates veterinarians, groomers, pet stores, pet-friendly hotels, and other information based on location.

  • MiPets Pet Info Organizer ($2.99): Like Paw Card, stores and emails important pet information. Also integrates with Facebook and Twitter, allowing users to share photos and more. Features a service locator function.

Veterinary Blogs

Simple Steps For Effective Veterinarian Blogs and Blogging

In today's Internet connected climate, it's impossible to underestimate the power of communication. Your veterinary website is one important tool for opening up dialogue with clients. A veterinary blog is another powerful resource.

What Are the Advantages of a Veterinarian Blog?

  • Allows you to talk about and brand your practice.

  • Lets pet owners talk to you through comments and questions.

  • Positions you as the expert in your field.

  • Improves your practice's ranking on search engines like Google.

What Makes a Good Veterinary Blog?

  • Keep it short and succinct. Get to the point in the first sentence.

  • Don’t start by saying you haven’t posted in a while.

  • Spellcheck.

  • Keep it simple. Avoid medical jargon.

  • Don’t talk down to readers. Respect their intelligence.

  • Be personable. Let people connect with you.

  • Be friendly. When stating opinions, respect those of others.

What Are Good Topics to Write About?

  • News about the practice.

  • News about you and your staff, such as new degrees or certifications, but also personal items like new babies, new pets, engagements and weddings.

  • Trends in pet care - new studies, disease outbreaks, developing procedures, and so on.

  • Answers to questions you've been hearing.

  • Employee interviews.

  • Guest pieces.

  • Opinion pieces on animal-related issues, legislation and regulations.

Veterinary website report

Website Report: Is Your Veterinary Site Failing?

There are a number of inexpensive, quick ways to draw potential customers to your veterinary hospital's website and enhance it to increase traffic.

Utilizing online tools allows you to optimize search engines, for instance. Additionally, if you adhere to suggested online accessibility regulations, you will improve your visibility. And perhaps most importantly, once you have drawn readers to your vet website, you want to keep them coming back with ever-changing news stories on pet-related topics, products and technology.

It's easy to monitor your Internet profile, set up searches that comb the Web, and identify information of interest to link to your veterinarian website. However, there are a number of things that can go awry.

Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Veterinary Search Engine Optimization: If your site doesn’t float to the top of major search engines, you are missing an important opportunity to increase business. To see how your website performs in a search, pretend you are a client looking for your veterinary hospital on the Internet. What words would you type into the search box? Test different search terms, including your location, and see how your vet website appears in the search results. A search for “Mayberry veterinarian” will list websites for vets in Mayberry in order of how relevant each site is to the search term. Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools are two free online tools that can help you find the best search terms and other methods to optimize your veterinary website with SEO.

  • Meta Data: Meta data are behind-the-scenes coding snippets that title your pages and describe the content. “Robots” read this data by perusing the Internet and indexing websites. When a user searches for “veterinary,” for instance, meta data containing the word “veterinary” helps the search engine find related veterinary websites. This means words contained within your site – words related to your location, areas of expertise and other selling points, are very important in helping your page rise to the top of search engines for potential customers.

  • Broken Links: Linking to useful news articles on topics of interest to your customers is a great idea. However, news organizations often move these stories to an archive after publishing them. This can quickly result in a broken link, meaning your customers are led to a blank page when they click on a story of interest. To avoid these broken links, be sure to delete news stories when they are no longer “news.” Keep fresh, updated content to keep readers coming back.

  • Accessibility Regulations: Section 508 of the U.S. Rehabilitation Act set up website accessibility standards for vision-impaired individuals to help them navigate, read and hear descriptions of the content. Compliance with these regulations helps with search engine results, even though the standards are not yet binding. To learn more about the Section 508 standards, visit the government website explaining what website owners need to know about accessibility.

VetNetwork offers free analysis of your veterinarian website to help identify problematic areas for your practice. It includes a report on broken links, coding errors, meta data, accessibility issues and veterinary search engine optimization.

Whether you decide to hire outside an specialist or undertake the job yourself, it’s important to analyze the effectiveness of your website to make the most of online opportunities for your business.

Call VetNetwork today for your free veterinary website analysis: (800) 564-4215.

Veterinary Blog articles

Other Articles of Interest

How Do Prospective Clients Find Your Veterinary Practice?

Choosing the Right Domain Name for your Veterinary Hospital’s Website

How Your Veterinary Website Blog Increases Your Hospital’s Search Engine Rankings

Writing Good Articles For Your Veterinary Hospital’s Blog

Website Statistics and your Veterinary Practice

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