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Issue: 35 - Nov 15, 2011
Growing Your Business Online
By: LifeLearn, Inc.
LifeLearn Inc.
The Internet has changed the way veterinary practices interact with their clients. Today, pet owners are searching for business and advice online. They expect to be able to gain immediate access to pet health information and to interact with their veterinarian online, on their own terms. A strong website, with well-written content and resources enables better client communication and education, which leads to better compliance, better business, and better patient care. This, in conjunction with a social media presence is essential in today’s competitive and increasingly digital-savvy society. What can you do in this evolving market?
 
A recent article in Entrepreneur (October 2011) highlighted the story of Animal General Hospital in Port St. Lucie, FL. They switched from relying on Yellow Pages to an online strategy, engaging clients and prospects online, using the practice’s website and social media. The result was 250 new clients and an additional $75k in revenue! Plus, the cost of implementation was substantially lower at less than 15% of their Yellow Pages budget.
 
The basic elements of an effective online presence are:
  • A well-organized, attractive, informative and engaging website
  • Search engine optimization/marketing
  • Social media interaction
Website
Some research suggests that, on average, you have 6 to 8 seconds to impress people with your website.
A professional looking website with easy navigationand an engaging appearance that promotes the human-pet bond will stand out among the crowd and help make sure people investigate your site further. Your site should also include contact information on every page and an easy to find “About Us” area that details exactly who you are and what you offer.
 
SEO
SEO or Search Engine Optimization is becoming a more well-known term in the industry as more and more practices recognize the value of having their website rank high when “Googled”. Each month, there are over one million internet searches for veterinarians in the United States. The internet is the primary tool for finding veterinary care. If clients are looking for a veterinarian online, will they find you?
 
Optimizing your website for search engines will help and it involves a number of factors including:
 
  • Good content including the keywords that people are likely to search for
  • Localized content specific to your area
  • Good site architecture – website is built in a way that promotes optimization
 
For more detailed information on SEO a good read is Google’s SEO Starter’s Guide.
 
Social Media
The stats speak for themselves:
 
#1: There are now more than 800 million active Facebook users.
#2: Over 80% of all Americans use a social network.
#3: Americans spend more time on Facebook than any other US website.
#4: Approximately 40% of social media users access their accounts through mobile devices.
#5: Nearly 23% of online time is spent on social networks.
(Source: http://blog.nielsen.com/nielsenwire/social/)
 
Without a doubt, incorporating social media outlets like Facebook, Twitter or a blog into your “marketing mix “will increase your reach with clients and potential customers. Not only does it allow you to connect with those customers who are online but it increases your visibility and allows self-promotion.
 
LifeLearn’s WebDVM4 website platform was developed to specifically address the key factors in creating an effective online presence. The design and features built in to WebDVM4 give you the tool to get found online and engage with clients with the information they are searching for.
 
Features of WebDVM4 include:
 
§  SEO infrastructure and optional on-going consultation
 
§  Facebook and Twitter connectivity – Integrated connections for social media to generate additional exposure and grow a community around your brand
 
§  Integrated Flickr and YouTube support - Create custom photo and video galleries to showcase your practice
 
§  Powerful, WordPress-based Content Management System (CMS) – gives complete control and allows you to easily customize and edit your site. Customizable widgets let you highlight services, news, social media links, educational articles, and more.
 
§  ECommunications capabilities – Take advantage of effective email marketing, list management, and reminder services.  Reporting system allows you to measure and analyze the effectiveness of every campaign you send.
 
§  ECommerce capabilities - Add a personalized online store to your site
 
§  Integrated online forms for appointment booking, prescription refills, and food ordering
 
§  Online medical records for pet owners enrolled through your clinic
 
§  Sick Pet Helper algorithm, which provides clients guidance on how quickly to contact their vet based on provided symptoms

§  LifeLearn’s ClientEd Online™.  This web-based client education service makes it easier for you to edit, post, and integrate client education resources into your website.

For more information on WebDVM4 or ClientEd Online visit www.lifelearn.com or call 1-800-375-7994. For a no-obligation demonstration click here.
 
Interested in learning more about SEO and Social Media? Attend one of our free webinars.
 
Social Media: November 29, 2pm EST
SEO: December: December 6, 2pm EST