Veterinary Marketing 101: How Does Content Marketing Attract Local Pet Owners?
By David Hall, Chief Strategist
It is a little-known fact that most veterinarians suffer from a nearly debilitating allergy. As hard to believe as that sounds, it is very easy to prove. Just start talking to a veterinarian about marketing and they will quickly begin to show symptoms. It starts with a sharp decrease in attention span, followed by nervousness, and even nausea in the most extreme cases. However, this terrible affliction can be almost entirely alleviated by clearing up a simple misunderstanding.
Marketing is not about discounting or selling services to pet owners before properly examining a patient. It is unfortunate that most veterinarians believe the term “promotions” equates to “advertising a discount” (something that the most successful practices do rarely, if at all).
The truth is that highly effective marketing should be a very authentic extension of the mission, culture, and values of your veterinary practice. The goal should be to deliver upon the value proposition of helping pet parents ensure the health, longevity, and happiness of their furry family members by utilizing today’s most popular communication channels to spread important information and become the go-to pet expert in the lives of every pet owner that lives within 5 -10 miles of your practice.
The Opportunity to Reach More Local Pet Owners
If you are reading this, then it should come as no surprise to you that up to 89% of American adults use the internet on a daily basis. When we have questions, need information, research services, or just want to entertain ourselves for a while, we go online. Magazines and newspapers have embraced the fact that people do so much of their reading online, and it has become easier to consume and share article content than ever before.
This has created an absolutely amazing opportunity, one that savvy veterinary practice owners have started using to get valuable and engaging pet care information in front of more local pet owners, and at a cost that is so low that it may be one of the best secrets any veterinarian can use today to grow their practice.
This secret to attracting more local pet owners to your veterinary practice can be found at the convergence of two incredibly powerful trends. The first trend is the amount of people that are getting most of their information by reading articles online. The second trend is the overwhelming popularity of online content that features cats and dogs. These two online facts of life have set the stage for veterinarians to ride the waves of pop culture and take their practices to new heights - if they are only willing to embrace the opportunity to create and promote high-quality pet care information.
If you are one of the few, the smart, the passionate providers of high-quality animal care, then the door is wide open and all you have to do is start answering the myriad of questions you get each and every day from pet owners in the form of blog articles that get posted onto your website and then marketed around the internet.
Local Pet Owners Have Questions, and YOU Have Answers!
OK… so, I know… I had you right up until I said “marketed around the internet”... but, don’t worry. That’s actually the easy part. It takes a lifetime of loving and learning about animals, going to veterinary school, working as a veterinarian, opening your own practice, and helping countless animals to get to the point where you are qualified to answer questions like: “How can laser therapy help my cat?” and “What is the best way to prevent my dog from getting fleas?”
You’ve already done the hard work that qualifies you to answer those questions, and you do answer those questions every single day. So, now all you need to do is put those answers in the form of a video or a blog article, add it to your website, and then use a combination of social and content marketing networks to get that article in front of pet owners in your local area.
In order to get this going, you’ll need to create some content…and that can sound daunting. But fear not!!! At GeniusVets, we have crafted a process for helping veterinarians create incredible content with less than 10 minutes of effort.
Simple (and maybe even Fun) Content Creation
Surely you can find 10 minutes to turn your veterinary practice into a powerhouse of pet care information!
Here’s how you do it:
- Go into an exam room in your practice and have one of your staff members stand approximately four in front of you with a smartphone. Setting the camera app to video and holding the phone horizontally, have them begin recording and ask you a question like, “How are heartworms transmitted in dogs?”
- Answer the question just like you would for a client during an appointment. Don’t try practicing or being perfect. Natural and authentic videos with little flaws and imperfections actually perform better for local service providers, whereas videos that are edited and seem scripted perform worse. So, just go for it, be natural, and let your expertise shine!
- Once you are done answering the question, your assistant can stop recording and you can move on to your next appointment. The doctor’s work is done!
- Your assistant (or in-house marketer) opens up the YouTube app on the phone and logs in (make sure they’re using the channel set up for your practice) and uploads the video to your channel.
- Your assistant then goes to Rev.com, an online video transcription service that charges $1 per minute of video to create a video transcript. They typically email you back the transcript within a few hours.
- Have a staff member edit the video transcript, and then add both the YouTube video and the transcript to your website as a blog.
- Take a screenshot of just the YouTube video image on your webpage, and go to Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to share that image with a link to your page.
Use PPC to Give Your Content a Boost
Next, take it up a notch and start getting local traffic like a pro by using PPC to get in front of local visitors!
If you follow the steps outlined above, your website will start getting more traffic and you’ll start getting more visitors from social networks, but if you really want to grow your veterinary practice and tap into the true power of online marketing, you will have to put some advertising budget into getting in front of more local pet owners.
It’s no secret that the internet runs on advertising dollars. Google and Facebook have become some of the largest and most profitable businesses on the planet, almost purely due to the advertising revenue their platforms generate. And do you know why they have been so incredibly successful? Because their advertising works.
How many businesses would continue to spend big money on ads that don’t perform? Not many.
How many businesses continue to put as much money as they can toward advertising on Google and Facebook each month? Many, many.
Why is this? Because, when done right, you can virtually guarantee that your business gets a huge return on investment from its advertising.
Strategies to Make Advertising Pay Off
Facebook has become a pay-to-play platform. With around 68% of Americans having a Facebook account, the chances are, Facebook can easily get your message in front of your ideal target audience. So, over the past few years, Facebook has turned down the dial on the number of followers who will see your posts “organically” (for free) so that less than 5% of your audience will see anything you post…unless you put some dollars into promoting it.
The good news is, when you do choose to advertise, it is in Facebook’s interest that it works out really well for you. So, they have become amazing at helping you define exactly who you want to see your ads, where they live, and what their interests are. Do you want to put a specific message in front of moms with kids, who like pets, and live within five miles of your veterinary practice? Easy.
Therefore, our recommendation is that you start spending $5 per day on average (that’s just $150 per month) on Facebook ads.
Now, when you post that new blog on your website and share it on Facebook, boost that post for 5 days for $5 per day. When it has run its course, put up another blog post and repeat. If you can afford a bigger budget, then put $10 per day toward the ad.
That is a paid marketing strategy that won’t break the bank and will get your practice in front of a surprising number of additional local pet owners.
The Genius of Outbrain
But wait, there’s more! There is one more valuable strategy in content marketing that can really take advantage of the internet to get your blog post in front of more local pet owners, and it utilizes a service called Outbrain.
Outbrain is a “content marketing network.” It is an advertising platform like Google, in that it can help advertise your website on other websites across the internet. However, Outbrain only promotes blog posts. If you read articles at popular news sites online, then you have surely seen their ads. Typically when you are reading an article and you get to the bottom of the page, you will see a group of 6-8 other articles being promoted with an image and a headline. And, when you click those, you will be taken to a different website to read the story. Those are Outbrain ads.
The great thing about those ads is that, as long as your image and headline are very specific, they can ensure that the people who see them will only click on them if they are a pet owner. For instance, if your ad has a picture of a dog itching itself, and the headline reads “The one thing you need to know if you don’t want your dog to get fleas this season,” it’s the type of thing you would ONLY click if you are a dog owner.
Outbrain also allows you to target your campaign so that your ads will only show up to people who are physically located in a zip code that your business services.
The best part is, these ads typically only cost around $0.50 per click, and they will show up on lots of the most popular news and article based websites online such as CNN, Yahoo!, US Weekly, Fast Company, Mashable, and The Wall Street Journal. This is a strategy that can get you in front of lots of people, and you only pay if they actually click through to your site.
Now, for the biggest, most important, grandaddy strategy of them all…and the one thing that you’ll wish you did a long time ago. The most important thing you can possibly do to market your veterinary practice is follow GeniusVets on Facebook so that you will see when the next blog post is published. Stay tuned!