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The story of the underwhelming veterinary practice websites.

Posted in Web Sites @ Mar 26th 2015 - By Judy Gillespie, Vetanswers
Your Veterinary Clients Are Looking At You Online 2

Pretend you’re a client, now look at your veterinary practice website – what do you see?

This week I had reason to do some research on some Australian veterinary practice websites.

Ohhhhhhh ……

How shall I put this….let’s just say I was ….underwhelmed.

Some hard facts on websites….

  • Websites are no longer ‘Nice to have’ they are ‘Absolutely MUST have’.

  • Like it or not, and no matter how much or how little time you spend online, your clients are online…all the time.  It’s often the ONLY place clients and potential clients now go to for information.

  • Your website is just as important as your reception area…maybe more so.

I understand that websites are expensive and dealing with web site designers is like trying to get a space ship built by aliens that speak an entirely different language to you (sorry website designers but it’s true).  But as I was looking at a number of veterinary websites there were quite a few issues I kept noticing over and over again.  Keeping in mind I’m not a ‘tecchie’ nor a web site designer, I’m just a client who spends quite a bit of time online. 

So here is a list of some of the absolute basics I think your website really needs….

1.  YOU NEED A WEBSITE! 

Sorry to shout but yes, I discovered some veterinary practices don’t even have a website.  I guess if you’re the only veterinary practice within a 50 km radius then maybe you don’t need one.  But if you have even one competitor and they have a website – you’re bound to be losing potential clients because more and more people will search online before choosing which business to use.

2.  The most important information on your website must be staring you in the face

What’s the MOST important information on your website?  Your business name, phone number and address and all three should be on the banner that appears on every page of your website.  Don’t make your clients hunt around on your website to find essential information.

3.  People matter more than shiny machines and clean surfaces

Most pet owners don’t choose a vet for their family pet based on the number of shiny machines they see on your website.  They choose a vet they think will best look after their furry family member which means they want to see the people who will be looking after their pet. So you need photos of you and your team, preferably looking happy and even better holding a gorgeous animal.

If you’re going to add photos of your practice, make sure you include people.  Most image I see are very tidy and very clean…..but where have all the people gone? I can’t imagine myself and my dog in your reception area if there is not a soul in sight.  All I can hear is mournful country and western music as I imagine a tumbleweed blowing through the door…or worse…a Chenobyl-like situation.

4.  If you offer high quality veterinary care your website MUST reflect the same quality

Clients don’t know anything about your skills as a veterinarian.  They don’t know if you’re a top class surgeon or an amazing diagnostician.  They do know if you have an old fashioned, clunky website with little to no useful information.  Clients don’t know how much you’ve spent on up to date equipment, they just know your website is out of date (Christmas opening hours!) and that’s how they’ll judge you – quite nice but slightly old-fashioned.

If your veterinary practice has a clunky, old website and you then charge appropriate fees for your up-to-date veterinary medicine expertise, it’s no wonder clients get confused.

5.  What are your competitors up to?

This is one area where you can check out what your competitors are doing to your heart’s content.  What’s their website look like?  What sort of photos are online? Do they offer educational material to their clients?

Is their website better than yours?

6.  Do you offer educational information for your clients and potential clients?

If your clients have a question about their pet’s health or wellbeing you should be the first person they turn to – especially online.  If you don’t offer answers to the most common questions you can’t blame them for asking Dr Google.  And if you do offer useful information, make sure it can be easily downloaded and printed as it makes it easier to read and show others in the family.

7.  What does your website look like on portable devices?

More and more people are using their phones to look up information on local businesses – particularly phone numbers and addresses.  If your website doesn’t work on a smaller screen then clients may just start to look elsewhere. 

Would you pay for a review of your website?

I know this whole topic of websites for your veterinary practice may not be an area you’re particularly interested in or spend much time online yourself but trust me…your clients and potential clients certainly do.

I also know it can be hard to look objectively at your own website especially if you don’t spend much time online.  I was playing around with the idea of offering a service to Vetanswers members of a ‘non-tecchie’ website review.  I could review your website, compare it to your competitor’s, check out your social media and then give you a report of my findings.  As much as I would love to do this for free, unless I can find a business that would sponsor this service I would have to charge a fee – maybe $100?

What do you think?

Let me know in the comments section below whether you think this is a service you or others would be prepared to pay for.  Or you can also email me directly.  It’s really just an idea at the moment and if I don’t receive any responses I probably won’t pursue it further but I am interested to know what you think…Of course if you're a veterinary supplier that would like to offer this service to your clients or would like to offer it as a service to the Vetanswers Community, email me & we can discuss it further.

Comments

Liz @ Mar 27th 2015 8:03pm
What a great idea! Email me privately to discuss.
lisa blair @ Apr 6th 2015 9:53am
Hey Judy, I think it's a great idea - there's a few offering it, but it's ALWAYS b/c they then want to go and onsell stuff to improve the problems they spotlight....an independent overview would be great....having said that, I don't want it as I KNOW my website is poxy and needs a lot of attention, but it's such a BIG job I keep putting it off. Although when I do finally get around to it, I would definitely take advantage of this b/c you get so close to it and so invested in what you think is a good idea yourself that you NEED an outside observer to say...."sorry, that bit sucks"
Judy @ Apr 8th 2015 3:52pm
Hi Lisa, thanks for your comment. I agree - I'm always a bit scared to hear what the 'professionals' suggest and then the $ to achieve it! I guess that would be one of the benefits of me doing it. I'm not what I would call a 'professional' with regards to website & social media, but I am a pet owner and I know what I need to see online. You're right - it is a big job but maybe if we all looked at improvements one 'brick' at a time then the job wouldn't seem so massive? :)

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