I have asked a friend of mine, Dr. Michael Warren, to write a blog about the positive impact a good webpage can have on a vet practice. When I asked him for a bio he supplied this following, “Dr. Warren is a practicing veterinarian and certified online strategist. As Managing Director of the website development company DVMelite he writes, speaks and consults internationally on how the veterinary industry can improve client communication and engagement through online media.”. All that is correct but what he didn’t mention is that he is concerned, as I am, about the veterinary profession. His website efforts are part of his desire to help vet practices survive and prosper in these challenging times. This is first in what, I hope, are several blogs on the value on websites. Thanks Michael.
1. New Client Acquisition – Arguably the most important, and definitely the most dramatic, way a new or improved website can impact a veterinary practice is in the area of new client acquisitions. After implementing a beautiful marketing driven website, on average we are witnessing new client intakes increase up to – and sometimes in excess of – 30% just 1-2 months after the new websites go live. That’s pretty spectacular, but why is this happening?
In our opinion, the jump in new client acquisition can be attributed to two different yet related factors. The first is due to the increased visibility the practice now has online. A properly programmed website (which is surprisingly rare) will appear towards the top of the page on search engines, thereby placing the practice on the radar of clients who are searching for veterinarians online (and the vast majority are). Where a practice was for many prospective clients invisible online, it is now easily found.
The second way a new/improved website can boost new client growth is via an increase in word of mouth referrals. This initially puzzled us since at first glance there is no direct correlation – in fact, ‘word of mouth’ and ‘online’ referrals seem to be two distinct sources. What we ultimately came to appreciate was that word of mouth referrals rarely happen in isolation these days – it is by far the norm that people run everything past ‘google’ before taking action. Therefore, word of mouth referrals PLUS a new beautifully designed website EQUALS increased new clients – a winning combination. This phenomenon is covered in detail in the following article: http://www.dvmelite.com/2011/09/21/the-new-reality-of-veterinary-word-of-mouth-referrals/
2. Increased Client Engagement – The typical clients response to a beautiful new website is invariably positive. Client’s suddenly begin utilizing the online communication options through booking appointments online, refilling prescriptions online, and reading the practices blog. Inevitably within the first week an old client will walk in through the door and say “Great new website Doc!”.
Further, clients are now reading all about the practice’s veterinarians, staff, services and are becoming engaged in ongoing articles which the practice is publishing on their blog. If you are a practitioner you will immediately sense the subtle change in how clients look at and feel about you. I felt a real connection one day as I was sitting down for lunch in a local cafe when a lady approached me and said “You’re the veterinarian right? I read all about you on the website!”. This is exactly the sort of client engagement that practices should seek to cultivate, and a new website is the way to do so.
3. Increased Staff Engagement – An interesting spinoff from a well developed website is how it is embraced and utilized by practice staff. We have found that staff let out a sigh of relief when introduced to a clean, easy to use interface, and very quickly rally behind the promotional opportunities a well designed website affords. Whether it’s to write pet related articles along their areas of interest or to post cute clinic pictures, staff become engaged. It is personally very rewarding for team members to see their name published under an article on the website – furthering their sense of pride and participation within the practice.
A veterinary practice’s website is the cornerstone for all communication and marketing efforts. Through implementing a smartly designed, programmed, and supported website, everything becomes so much easier. From new client generation, to social media participation, to client communication, & even to leadership within the community, everything is enhanced. I always like to compare it to the Star Gate; once you step through the portal, you can never imagine trying to grow a successful practice without it.
If you have any questions on the subject please click on the comments link. Thanks