A strong web presence is essential for any local service-based business. If you have a veterinary clinic, you know that your website plays an important role in attracting and retaining clients. Beyond providing information about your clinic, your website needs to communicate the high level of care and service you and your staff will provide to people’s beloved pets. This is no small feat when you consider the passion and protectiveness of many pet parents!
Veterinary clinic websites, like any other organization’s website, will be most effective when they follow best practices of website design such as intuitive navigation and an aesthetically appealing presentation of material. Whether you are celebrating your grand opening or have served the community for years, we have some tips that will help you take your web presence to the next level. Here are some essential elements and strategies that can help you offer the most effective website possible for your veterinary clinic.
Your website should help you establish and build your brand. A modern and relaxing website design can help convey the exact feel and personality of your vet clinic. Since new clients haven’t seen your actual location, it’s important for your website to convince them to make an appointment and enjoy the animal-friendly environment you offer.
A simpler layout will best present information in a user-friendly way. A visual hierarchy will help existing and potential clients make sense of your website. Intuitive navigation also positively impacts the user experience of your site. A bright, easy to find, and easy to use call to action can help increase conversion rates. Style choices aside, your website layout is not the time to get unique. A site that meets viewers expectations is a safer route to take.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a blanket term for strategies used to help a website rank higher within search engine results. Search engines rank and display websites according to an always evolving algorithm. While specific components of search engines’ algorithms are not always made public, we’ve learned many vital aspects over the years as search engines, like Bing and Google, continue to share more detail with each major update.
Each time a new iteration of the algorithm comes out, your website may need some tweaks to make sure you are giving yourself the best opportunity to rank well in the search results. If you are unfamiliar with SEO best practices or simply need a refresher, we’d recommend these articles:
Responsive Site Design
Visitors to your site will expect a consistent experience in regards to viewing and navigating around your website, regardless of what type of device they are using. They will quickly leave your site if it doesn’t meet their performance expectations. The best practice today is to offer a website that is device responsive.
Responsive design is entirely flexible regardless of the type of device being used to view the site. Websites that are responsively designed literally respond to the screen size of a user’s device, unlike mobile optimized sites that react to the specific browser or device type. Responsive design utilizes a combination of reformatting and re-optimizing to present all aspects of the site.
Responsive design provides amazing flexibility and usability for all site visitors. Website hosting platforms like Squarespace offering responsive design website templates. This allows businesses and web designers alike the opportunity to place their focus elsewhere without having to worry about what their site will look like on variously sized screens
Social Media Links
Social media platforms are effective channels through which your veterinary clinic’s efforts and content can be distributed. Be sure that links to your social media accounts are featured in either the header or footer of your website. Include those links in your email signatures, newsletters, and blogs too. Social sharing buttons allow your supporters to forward your content to others within their own networks.
In addition to making sure people can get to your social media profiles, it is important to be active and interactive on your social media accounts. Encourage people to share their pet videos and photos on your feed by using a clinic specific hashtag. Ask visitors to link to your social media profiles and optimize your content so bloggers and social networkers can easily embed your content on their sites and profiles. This sort of networking attracts new sources of traffic, helps to keep visitors on your site and interacting with your social profiles by building a sense of community around your clinic.
Your website content should include “About Us” sections that offer a brief biography, training, education, and areas of expertise of your staff. It helps to humanize your efforts when your website shows visitors the people behind the organization. Highlight the aspects that make your veterinary clinic stand out from competitors and help visitors to your site understand who you and your staff are as people.
Have staff members record a video that lets them tell first hand their passion for animals and why they are in the field of veterinary medicine. People readily connect with other people on an emotional level and digitally “meeting” the people with whom they will interact will help many prospective guests feel more comfortable with utilizing your services.
Provide the Option to Book Online
Consumers would rather book an appointment online at a time that is convenient for them. This may often be at a time outside of your regular operating hours. Online booking should be a quick and comprehensive process and consumers should be able to identify appointment availability during the booking process. ‘Make an Appointment Now’ buttons should be prominently featured throughout your website. The use of online booking software also allows front desk staff more time to interact with customers at your physical location which increases the level of customer service you provide.
Your contact information should be readily available
The footer of your website is an excellent place to provide multiple means of contacting someone within your business. You build a sense of trusts when you make accessibility a priority. Offer a phone number (that will be answered), an email address, physical mailing address, and information on any other channels through which a potential client might contact you. Be sure to assign a staff member to manage all of those channels so customer communications are answered in a timely manner.
Offer opportunities for website visitors to connect to your blog
A blog is a valuable tool for sharing the latest news in the world of veterinary medicine and information about the goings-on at your veterinary clinic. When visitors sign up to receive your quarterly or monthly email, they can also indicate their interest in receiving your blog posts. The trick is to commit completely to offering regular blog posts. Whether it is weekly or daily, create a posting calendar that covers content and timelines for your blog articles. Because hosting a regular blog adds pages to your website, it also helps with your rankings for search engines.
Include a Service Menu
Today’s consumers would rather research online than call to obtain information. By offering an online service menu, you will help convince site visitors to book appointments at your clinic. Avoid using a PDF file for sharing information about services. Many people use their mobile devices to access the Internet and PDF files not only require the additional step of downloading, but they are also difficult to view on a mobile device.
On your services page, make sure to include all the services that you are offering, as well as prices for each separate service or for a package of services. Include customer reviews of your services as well as products and packages of services that offer the best value to your customers.
Include Customer Reviews
Positive reviews from existing customers are an excellent marketing tool to help generate new business. Satisfied customers are the best promoters of any business. Customer reviews provide reassurance to potential customers and should be prominently featured on all of your web pages. Offering social proof is an excellent way to build consumer trust and convince site visitors to use your veterinary services. BrightLocal found that 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
In addition, external online reviews and ratings are major factors that influence online consumers. Reviews posted on sites like Google allow customers to compare services based on other people’s experiences. More than 50% of consumers often or always read online reviews and 97% read online reviews for local businesses.
The content in online reviews can be the difference between the success and failure of a small business. 62.7% of consumers believe online reviews are important or very important when choosing a local business. On the downside, reviews tend to over-represent extreme views and are highly polarized. Just remember that frustration leads to negative reviews so being proactive in how you deliver your services will be well worth the effort on the front end.
Look at your website from the visitor’s perspective. Ensure that the design of your site is centered on your target audience. Keep your organizational goals in mind but create a content flow that speaks to visitors’ needs.
Feature the most important content in prominent places and offer intuitive site navigation. Ask site visitors to complete a survey to help you gauge from your target audience’s point of view the usability level of the website. Make sure every action you want a visitor to take on your site is three clicks or fewer away as research has shown you can lose 40% of visitors with each click.
Your veterinary clinic’s website is your most powerful asset when it comes to attracting and retaining clients. The experts at Strategy Driven Marketing have extensive experience in the development and creation of engaging websites for businesses of all sizes and across a number of industries. We understand the important role a website plays for a veterinary clinic and would love to learn more about your business so we can help you offer an effective and engaging website that will let you maximize your revenue potential. Contact us today – let’s get started!