Your website is the central hub of your veterinary practice’s marketing efforts. All roads generally lead back to it. Use these tips to create a website that works hard for your practice.
It goes without saying that your veterinary practice needs a website. As Bill Gates says, “If your business is not on the internet, then your business will be out of business.” If someone is looking for a veterinarian, they might do a Google search, or stumble on a social media post and click a link to your website to find out more. It doesn’t matter if you are paying for the traffic via social media or if you are getting it organically – most of your potential clients eventually land on your website. For this reason, you need to make sure your website is optimized to convert potential clients into actual clients, by giving it a competitive edge. Observing the following six key pointers will help you accomplish this.
1. Decide on the goal of your website
Before you even consider building a website, decide on your goal. What do you want your web visitors to do? Do you want them to book an online appointment? Do you want them to contact you via the contact form? Do you want them to phone you? Once this is clear, then you can structure your website, building navigation around this goal.
2. Create an effective anchor for your website
Every website needs a striking anchor. The anchor is the first thing that catches a visitor’s eye when they look at your website. It should instantly tell them what you’re all about and how you can help them.
On most of the veterinary websites I look at, the anchor is either the practice logo or a stock image – perhaps of dogs running on a beach or field. They are usually beautiful pictures, but they do not tell me what the practice does or what makes it different from the practice down the road. A good anchor will convey your unique selling proposition (USP).
3. What is your unique selling proposition (USP)?
Your USP is what distinguishes you from your competitors and should be easy to pick up at a glance. For example
- Do you offer home visits?
- Are you open seven days a week?
- Perhaps you see all animals, large and small?
- Do you have particular expertise in a niche aspect of veterinary care?
- Do you have a multi-disciplinary team – perhaps a veterinary rehabilitation therapist on site a few days a week?
All these are excellent unique selling propositions. You need to decide what your USP is and use it to your advantage. An effective anchor with your USP tells people right away whether they should leave, scroll, or take action.
Your anchor and USP need to include text, not just a logo or picture. A short, well-worded sentence that tells visitors how you can help them or what you can do for them is ideal. For example:
- “We help pet owners by guiding them to make the right choices for their pets’ health, so that all pets live healthier, happier and longer lives.”
- “We’re open seven days a week and see to all your veterinary needs at a reasonable cost. Your pet’s health is our priority!”
- “Your friendly, family vet for all your pets’ health needs. We now offer hydrotherapy for certain chronic conditions and fast post-operative recovery.”
4. Have a clear Call to Action (CTA)
Your Call to Action (CTA) is a button that asks your visitors to do something. It could be “Make an appointment now” or “Find out how we can help your pet”. These are just examples, but the idea is that the visitor is invited to do something that will connect them with you.
Keep in mind that when a potential client comes to your website, they are interested in one thing – what you can do for them. Can you solve their problem? Once they know you can, they want to know what to do next. If people don’t find what they’re looking for, or if it is not clear what action you want them to take, they’ll leave.
You should have one Call to Action to eliminate confusion and it should be on every page. If someone scrolls to the end of the page, your Call to Action should be right there, so that they are in no doubt as to what to do. If they scroll to the end of the page and there is no Call to Action, they will not know what to do and will leave.
When someone goes ahead and completes the website’s Call to Action, we call this a conversion. Your website is not just there to give you a presence. It has a job to do – to convert browsers to customers! Your website should be achieving conversions every day.
5. Keep content simple and minimal
Avoid too much content on one page – visitors can get information overload. Sifting through tons of content is tiring and if there is too much information, visitors will leave. You don’t want to overwhelm them. Keep it simple, clean, and to the point. Use a maximum of two fonts.
Most veterinary websites are designed like an online brochure, with loads of difficult-to-read text. Try to add bullets points and adopt the “less is more” approach.
6. Make it mobile friendly
With the majority of people accessing sites from their phones, we need to design our websites to be mobile responsive. This means all pages have to be optimized to be viewed on a cellphone. You will need to get your web designer or developer to do this. A website that looks good on a laptop and is not optimized for cell phones will miss out on more than half its potential traffic.
The value of a great website
One cannot underestimate the value of a great website. Ideally, it is an extension of your team, conveying the culture and personality of your practice. It may take time to get the wording and images just right to convey who you are and turn browsers into customers.
A great idea is to send your first draft to a few people for their responses. They will be able to point out aspects you’ve missed, and tell you how clearly your anchor, USP, and Call to Action are functioning.
Lastly, keep your website up to date! There is nothing more frustrating than a site where numbers no longer function or that doesn’t reflect the current realities of your team and services.