Your practice website and making it work for you.
When it comes to marketing, it can be difficult to cut through the noise and buzzwords to find realistic, innovative ideas and practical strategies that drive revenue and customer connectivity.
First Impressions Count
It is often said that first impressions count and in our 'always on' digital world, your website will often be the first experience a pet owner has of your practice, before they have even set foot over the threshold. Your website is a vital shop window for your practice, so will you really want that first impression for potential customers to be a good one.
But what does good look like? Three good starting points include digital strategy, user experience and search engine optimisation.
The importance of a website for marketing extends to every aspect of your digital marketing strategy. This sounds complicated, but it really isn't. If you are new to digital strategy, just think about what you want your digital presence to be, what do you want to achieve? You may wish to create awareness in animal owners about your service, encourage appointment bookings or be a source of education to pet parents. Whatever your digital objective(s), they will help to decide on the functionality your website needs.
Your practice website will be the backbone of your online presence, nearly every type of communication, piece of content, or advertisement that you put online should drive the customer back to your website, so that they can further engage with you.
For most independent practices, you don't need to go crazy with a website - a nice, clean and modern design featuring the most important pieces of information customers will want to see, for example, opening hours, how to find you, contact information and smiling staff photos are enough to make a decent website without over engineering or a hefty price tag.
If you have defined service values or a customer charter, consider using your website to explain these to potential and existing customers. Knowing how much you care for your patients may make the difference when it comes to a prospect customer!
Not only should your brand values and services be clear, but the user journey should be flawless. You don't want your customers to see a 'book online' button and then be guided on a long-winded and unnecessary journey just to get to the page they wanted in the first place. As we said before, first impressions count, therefore no one wants to put off a potential customer, when it could easily be avoided.
Spend more time getting to know your website. Pretend you are a client wanting to get in touch. How easy is it to find the phone number? The postcode for your sat nav? Could you get to the page you needed quickly? Do the page links work?
Consider using your digital objectives to help you set website objectives. Setting a defined key objective(s) will help you when building your website. For example, if the main objective of your website is to have customers book appointments, a call to action (CTA) should be aligned to that. You can keep this your main objective throughout your website by adding CTA for booking appointments on each page of your website, whether this is in the footer, header or main body of the page.
Search engine optimisation (SEO) is about increasing the quality and quantity of visitors to your site, by ensuring your website appears for relevant searches. SEO is a topic in its own right and deserves more coverage than this article will allow. There are many, quality training courses available. For beginners, Google offer a series of short courses to get you up and running for a reasonable cost.
A great starting point can be thinking about what potential customers might search for an spending some time making sure your website is visible for those searches. For example, does your website appear on the first page when an animal owner searches 'vets in x town'? If not, you might want to think a little more about your SEO.
It is easy to forget about maintaining your website when you are busy keeping the nations animals healthy. Just remember to have a clear objective and a member of your team with a small amount of time dedicated to updating the site monthly and it will make all the difference.