JAVMA News logo

October 15, 2021

Speakers offer tips for building a presence online

Published on

Two sessions at AVMA Virtual Convention 2021 focused on how veterinary practices can create community and interact with clients online, particularly through social media and practice websites.

Dr. Caitlin DeWilde, founder of The Social DVM, a social media and marketing company, presented “Aim High: 7 Ways to Build Your Hospital’s Presence and Reputation” on July 29, with information on how to communicate more effectively and create a presence. The session was sponsored by LifeLearn, an animal health software company.

Two people planning a website design

Dr. DeWilde spoke about the following seven aim-high ideas:

  • It’s all about you. Make yourself the focus of your online presence, and consider how to make a good first impression by using photos and a crisp and clean website design and highlighting what is different about the practice.
  • Invest in your message. Take control of the information that is out there on your website, on social media, and in marketing materials.
  • Make content work. Don’t just post to post. Activate your content, and make sure there is a clear call to action such as a “book now” button.
  • Help clients adapt. Showcase your ability to adapt and your commitment by educating clients on everything from curbside service to new technology.
  • Increase touch points. Use several ways to communicate with clients. Consider asking the best way to reach them. Stay in touch.
  • Give and grow expectations with clients. Set expectations to eliminate potential frustration and create better relationships.
  • Hail the easy. Clients value convenience. Easy for them, easy for you. Consider asking questions such as: Where can I make it easier for clients? How can I create less work for my team?

Dr. DeWilde suggests picking one of the seven aim-high action items that will make the biggest impact on pet owners to start building presence.

“When we build presence, we are able to create relationships that really matter, and that will give pet owners and their pets, of course, a lifetime of care,” Dr. DeWilde said during the session. “Take some of these ideas, and aim high in your hospital.”

Robert Sanchez, founder and CEO of Digital Empathy, a veterinary marketing company, discussed what pet owners are looking for in a practice website on July 31 during the session “A Trust-Building Website.”

“We can’t market ourselves like a dentist would—more like a pediatrician,” Sanchez said. He added that most pet owners now find a veterinarian using the internet.

“We go to Google, check reviews, narrow it down, and then check out the website,” he said. “We are looking for a feeling, a gut feeling that it feels right. … That is how modern consumers make decisions.”

But how to create that feeling on a website? It isn’t logical, Sanchez said.

“When you feel seen and protected, trust emerges. It is an instinct based on values and beliefs,” he said. “Most veterinary websites today are all the same. … The solution is to differentiate.”

Sanchez suggests building a story around pet owners. Make them the hero of the story. He said, “Show them you understand them as the central component of the story.”

Sanchez said to focus on the homepage and the team page because these two sections of a website specifically focus on who you are and what the practice is about. He added that the careers page is also important to attract prospective employees.