I recently found myself on my veterinarian’s website, looking up their hours. Because I develop websites for a living and find myself in a constant state of ‘website critique’ when I am doing anything on the web, I found myself reviewing their website with a critical eye.
My vet’s website is a homemade affair, and could use some improvement. I was a little surprised, because of course they are highly skilled, caring vets. Curious, I started looking at some other veterinary clinic websites in my area to see what other vet clinics did with their websites. I ended up looking at over fifty websites for veterinarians and vet clinics in my region, near Denver.
One suprising trend I discovered was a rather disappointing sameness to most of the veterinary clinic websites I encountered. Most have the same slew of basic pages, and a rather sterile feel. I felt practically no emotional connection with any of them.
Of course every website should have some basic information about your business: your services, location, about the staff, how to book an appointment, and social media links, for example. All good information, but to me just the start of a good website for a veterinary clinic. There could be so much more.
People are thinking about bringing their beloved pet to you. Sure they want to know you are professional and have credentials and all of that very important information. But you have a much better chance of getting them to become your client if you establish an emotional connection with them. Show them who you are, how much you care about their pet and them, make them like you. The more you can connect emotionally with your potential customers, the more likely they are to want you as their vet.
It seemed to me there was a lot of low hanging fruit that a lot of these websites could add to help establish that emotional connection with potential clients. The kinds of things you would want to do on social media, for example: add lots of photos, tell stories. Do this on your website too, because not everyone is going to visit your Facebook or Instagram page. Clients will come to you via various channels.
So I asked myself, what simple steps could make a veterinary website stand out from the crowd of sameness?
Here are some of the ideas I came up with to add some personality and distinction to your veterinary clinic website.
1. Post bios and pictures of your in house pets.
Does your practice have animals that live there full-time? Or are regular visitors? Does your staff have pets? Post bios and pictures of your practice’s pets. Describe their personalities. My vet has stories about the older animals they have rescued that have found their home at the clinic. My vet takes care of these rescued animals sometimes pressing medical needs, and gives them a good life their final years. She posts pictures of them and describes their personalities. It’s heartwarming to read their stories, and it says a lot about my vet. I’m a fan of hers for life.
2. Add how-to’s.
Add information about how to care for a pet that would be useful for pet owners. Put up some immunization schedules, information on teeth cleaning, how to clip their nails, or any useful information you find yourself repeating to your customers over and over.
Share your expertise in small bits with the world. These can be short posts on your blog, or grouped together on a page, or organized into FAQ’s. Or you could create short YouTube videos with your smartphone of some basic things people could do for their pets, like showing people how to safely clip their nails, and put them on your website.
3. Help your customers with their grief.
Your customers will at some point probably have to deal with the loss of a pet. Perhaps have some guides for handling the loss on your website, links to resources such as pet loss support groups, pet cemeteries, and the like. Consider setting up an In memoriam page for your customers pets that have passed on, so your customers could add a photo and a bit about their beloved pet. Let your clients know you are with them for the entire journey.
4. Have a testimonials section of your website.
The most effective testimonials I saw had pictures of the pet patients with a testimonial from the owner next to it.
You could easily setup a form to add a “Submit Your Story” area for testimonials. Ask your best customers to consider sending in a short testimonial, or have them fill out a short form in your office and then snap a pic of their pet before they leave. It should take just a few minutes for a staffer to add them to your website.
Another idea along the same lines is to ask for video testimonials. Setup an area of your office to take short clips of testimonials for those customers willing to give them. They can be filmed with a smartphone. You could post them on Facebook and YouTube, or edit them together into a longer video that is posted on your website and YouTube.
5. Create a page with photos of your client’s pets.
Let them send them in to you, or snap photos at your facility and post them. Once you have a photo gallery type page setup on your website it should be a snap (ha ha!) to keep adding them to your website. Or if you post a lot of that sort of thing on Facebook, put a Facebook feed on your website so the photos will also show on your website. A Facebook feed is easy to add to WordPress and other types of websites.
6. Provide offers or discounts.
Post special offers on your website, such as a free first exam or reduced fee for new customers.
7. Show who you are.
Post a video of your hospital and/or facility tour, or have photos of your facility on your website. If you are particularly clever, create your videos from the POV of a cat or a dog, which would be fun.
8. Have a newsletter sign-up on your website.
Do you have an e-mail list for your patients and clients? Build your tribe. Put a signup form on your veterinary website so people can receive interesting and useful information from your practice. Mailchimp is free for up to 2,000 subscribers and is easy to add to your website.
9. Offer a referral fee.
If a customer recommends you to a friend and that friend becomes a new customer, give the original customer $50 off their next visit, or some other perk.
10. Blog regularly.
There are always be new topics you can cover to keep adding fresh content to your website, such as timely reminders about vaccinations, or pest prevention, or new treatments for conditions, or stories of animals that you have helped.
I bet your are thinking, sure, right, like I have tons of time for that sort of thing, blogging and taking photos and writing stories for my website and social media. But these are the things that really will connect you with potential customers, and make them think of you as special, and the right person to take care of their beloved pet.
Also remember you do not have to do all of this yourself. You can hire a copywriter for not that much money from Upwork.com for fiverr.com, or have a staffer draft your posts. Or speak your blog post notes into a recorder, have someone else organize and write them up, and you could just review them before they are posted.
Start a regular posting schedule. It will probably improve your websites rankings, and will certainly make your website visitors feel that this is an active, engaged practice that promotes the well-being of the communities animals.
These ideas are easy to implement and I hope will give you some ideas in how to make your site stand out, connect emotionally with more customers, and gain more clients for your practice.
If you’d like a free review of your website, please contact me and I’d be happy to share my thoughts on ways to get more out of your website. Thanks for reading!