Sep
14
2016

Is your practice website working for you?

InTouch Practice Communications

Margaritas and tortilla chips have a way of making people talk. I recently attended the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) meeting in San Antonio, Texas, where I met a veterinarian who was frustrated by her current practice marketing results. As we drank our margaritas and ate our chips and salsa, Donna shared her marketing issues with me, and the conversation revealed such a profound misunderstanding that I wanted to share the results. 

Donna owns a three-doctor, small-animal practice located in a medium-size Midwestern city. The practice sees about 35 appointments per day—mostly repeat business. When she purchased the practice three years ago, she realized she would need to update her marketing plan. She eliminated the Yellow Pages advertisement and upgraded her website from a “free” vendor-provided website to one she thought would be more modern and effective—an inexpensive template-type site from a known veterinary website company. She also purchased a medium-level search engine optimization (SEO) package so her new site would show up in Google search results.

Donna was thrilled to hear that her new website would go live in seven days and that it required almost no input from her or anyone else at the practice. She couldn’t wait for this new site to begin doing what she thought it would do: Bring new clients through her hospital’s doors.

Now, three years later, the reality is far from Donna’s vision. Her digital plan has not become a clear source for meeting new clients, her existing clients are not depending on the website for information, and she cannot identify a return on her investment. Although she receives monthly SEO reports, the content of those reports raised huge red flags as she showed them to me because they were all keyword-position based.

As we sipped our margaritas and continued chatting, I realized that Donna’s current provider never asked her the purpose of her website. They didn’t inquire about the goal of each individual page on her site. Because the provider didn’t know her goals—meeting new clients and booking more appointments—there was no effort to reach those goals. I wasn’t surprised at Donna’s frustration, and I wanted to help her.

Conversions and keywords

Donna knew that keywords were important for search engine ranking, but I explained to her that a conversion-based approach is the best way to develop a website and ultimately measure its success. A conversion occurs when a website visitor performs an action requested on a web page. These actions, known as trackable conversion points, can be monitored through analytics and included in reporting to demonstrate the effectiveness of the web page or website as a whole.

Any responsible website project begins with an interview of the practice to determine the most desirable action for each page. Examples of great conversions include having the visitor:  

  • Call the practice
  • Request an appointment
  • Download a white paper
  • Fill out a form
  • Provide contact information, such as an email address 

If your website doesn’t include clear, trackable conversion points, you are missing an opportunity. 

Calls to action and value propositions

For a trackable conversion point to be successful, an effective call to action and value proposition must be included. A call to action is the text that makes up the actual request, like “call us now,” “request an appointment today,” or “provide your email address.”  

The value proposition is the “give and take.” It’s the “if I do this, you’ll give me that” part of the equation that allows the website visitor to understand the value he or she receives for performing the act. Examples of value propositions include “call the practice now and receive immediate attention,” “request an appointment today and receive a free dental care kit,” and “provide your email address and receive the latest information on how to best care for your pet.” 

How to put your website to work for you

After helping veterinarians with their practice marketing for more than 20 years, I’ve heard various versions of Donna’s story many times. Veterinarians know veterinary medicine; they’re rarely experts at digital marketing. So, if you are working to develop or improve your veterinary practice’s website, I suggest you work with a professional marketing firm to explore the function of each page of your website.

Ask yourself what you want each page of your site to accomplish. What should the visitor do on each page? Then, write effective calls to action supported by value propositions on those pages. Track the effectiveness of the pages by installing analytics code behind the trackable conversion points. By doing so, and engaging the services of a qualified veterinary SEO firm, you will have the foundation necessary to begin assessing the effectiveness of your digital marketing. I’m sure you’ll agree that an increase in requested appointments is much more valuable than an increase in keyword placement in Google search results. 

As I mentioned, my company, InTouch Practice Communications, has helped veterinarians with their marketing for more than 20 years. Our team includes veterinary medicine’s most talented graphic artists, developers, copywriters, and SEO professionals who create the most effective digital marketing products available. If you’d like to learn more or have us conduct a free analysis of your current website, visit intouchvet.com or call 800-493-9003 today.

This article was written by Bill Schroeder, InTouch senior vice president. Contact Bill at bill@intouchvet.com.  

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