There is just too much that every business “needs” to be doing. I’m sure you’ve seen the articles. The ones that scare the hell out of you. Titles will often sound like “10 Reasons Why Your Business Needs to be on Facebook”, “If you are not on Instagram, your losing money” and a whole bunch more.
To be honest, all this has accomplished is major confusion. It’s overwhelming to think that we need to be on the following:
- Linked In
- Snap Chat
- Bing Ads
- Google Ads
- Yelp Advertising
- Search Engine Optimization
- Display advertising
And the list goes on and on. The real truth is your veterinary clinic does not NEED to be on everything. Small business success means do a couple things really well. The philosophy at the Search Business Group is about mastering a skill rather than being on average at many.
It’s like the Bruce Lee quote:
“I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.”
What You’ll Learn from this Guide
By the end of this guide, you’ll be able to understand each marketing medium in addition to its benefits, consequences and also in what capacity it fits best.
Search Engine Optimization
We are going to start here because this is the bread and butter of the Search Business Group. You might say this is the kick that we have practiced 10,000 times.
What is SEO?
the process of maximizing the number of visitors to a particular website by ensuring that the site appears high on the list of organic results returned by a search engine.
Search Engine Optimization is the online marketing practiced focused solely on improving a website organic ranking. What we mean by organic ranking is the unpaid, natural results of Google, Bing or Yahoo!. SEO does not include any form of paid advertising. That means any ads you see are not part of Google.
Many people have a misconception about results. There is thoughts that people pay Google, Bing and Yahoo! to improve their ranking. That is 100% false.
Search engines do not allow any businesses to pay their way to the top. [Insert a post here about why you can’t pay Google, Bing or Yahoo! to get to the top.)
Why Do SEO?
SEO is based solely on Search Engines. When looking at your own research and purchasing habits you probably are like the rest of us. You use a search engine, most likely Google.
Though Social Media has become a huge player in the every day life of consumers, it has not replaced Search Engines. Rather the two actually exist together and do not necessarily compete together.
Search Engine Optimization becomes important when it comes to attracting new clients. There are many reasons why someone could be googling for a Veterinarian
- New pet owner
- Recently moved to a new city
- Getting a 2nd opinion
- Wanting to change doctors
Whatever the case may be, there are many people each day are searching for Veterinarians.
Benefits of SEO
SEO is a “free” way of doing digital marketing. What we mean by free is that you do not need to pay Google, Bing, Yahoo! or any other search engine to increase rankings.
Whereas Pay Per Click ads, Yelp advertising and social ads will require payment for interacting with them.
The benefits of SEO are also long term. Company that have invested in a SEO strategy will enjoy high rankings for an extended period of time. In layman’s terms, this means after you have put in the hard work to get to rank high, you will be able to stay there for a while.
This is beneficial when compared to paid advertising. The second you stop paying for ads, your ads will disappear and you will not be found.
Because SEO is not paid, “organic”, money never changes hands. That means all the effort you put into getting to the top spot will mean you’ll stay there. Granted, you’ll have to make sure you continue to maintain your top position because you most likely will have competitors vying for that spot.
Cons of SEO
Search Engine Optimization takes a long time. Its a practice that takes months to see major improvements. When starting an SEO strategy, you most likely will not see any movement in rankings until 8 – 10 weeks after you started SEO.
What that means is that you have to be patient. To see rankings increase it takes a lot of effort, technical implementation and constant monitoring of rankings.
Remember, it takes 8 – 10 weeks just to see an improvement. 8 – 10 weeks does not mean you will beat out all your competitors and rise to the top of search engines.
Getting to the top spot on Google can and usually does, take over a year.
Does an SEO Strategy fit your clinic’s goals?
SEO is great for a clinic that has a steady stream of clientele, but is looking to grow. What I like to say is SEO takes a firm that is doing fine, into doing amazing.
Many of our clients were stable businesses that were doing fine. They were getting by. Once SEO was started and as a few months went by, the business went from doing fine to talking about plans of expanding. It was not uncommon to hear owners telling us they had the best year of business.
SEO is not the practice that can save a dying clinic. This is because it takes 8 – 10 weeks to see any improvement. Usually a struggling business on the brink of closing does not have that time.
SEO is perfect for those businesses who are doing fine but would like to see growth and expansion.
Social Media Marketing
Social Media Marketing is probably the form of marketing you hear about the most. Everyone, and we mean literally everyone, probably has told you that “You HAVE to be on YouTube/Facebook/Twitter (you could put any social media)”. I’m sure you have created your own social profiles for your business but haven’t done much with it since. Don’t worry, we’ve all been there.
What is Social Media Marketing?
Social media marketing is the use of social media platforms and websites to promote a product or service – Elements of Strategic Social Media Marketing
Social Media Marketing focuses on marketing on any social media. For Veterinarians, social media marketing will most likely concentrate on Facebook and Instagram. Maybe your on Pinterest, Snapchat or Twitter. The majority of businesses really focus on the former two.
Social Media Marketing encompasses both paid and organic forms of digital marketing. You can pay for ads on any of the social media platforms, besides Snapchat. Clinics can engage in any combination of organic or paid social media marketing across the different platforms.
Why do Social Media Marketing
Social Media has become one of the main foundations of internet use. A majority of the population uses some form of social media. This gives many businesses the opportunity to get their services in front of many eyes.
Strong social media marketing builds a business’s brand and personality. Customers are more inclined to work with businesses that they have developed a strong relationship with. By interacting with consumers on social media, it allows clinics to continue to build relationships with their clientele without having the customer be there in person.
A strong social media presence will evolve a relationship with a client from not just a check up and transaction, but rather it will evolve into an educational, supportive relationship. Whether the content on social media be entertaining, educational or intimate, social media creates lifelong customer relationships.
Benefits of Social Media
Creating a social media campaign is relatively simple to get started. It does not require heavy technical knowledge to manage. In addition, social media is a marketing channel that is very affordable compared to traditional marketing tools. There is no cost to posting or running a business page.
Social media marketing also allows for collaboration with fans. Fans can post their own photos and content onto your business page to share. This saves time and effort for busy businesses who may not have the time or resources to always be creating content.
The opportunity for virality is probably one of the most alluring parts of social media. The chance that a business can post a piece of content that spreads through the internet can make a small business obtain high levels of exposure that would otherwise cost tens of thousands of dollars.
Lastly, most social media outlets are visual mediums. And because veterinary clinics work with animals, it lends itself to easy content. It is common knowledge that social media is full of dog and cat videos, veterinarians more than any other business may have the biggest upper hand when it comes to social media marketing.
Cons of Social Media
Creating a social media campaign may not require much technical knowledge, it does require consistency, creativity and an ability to entertain digitally. It is easy to post material, it is difficult to post high performing content consistently.
You probably have started your own social media profiles, just for it to go silent after about a week. This far too common. For social media success it usually requires commitment every single day, or at least a couple days out of the week to be consistent.
This is where most clinics go outside to get help. Many veterinarians are not trained in digital marketing and creating high engagement content can be frustratingly difficult.
When it comes to paid social advertising, it is easy to start, but difficult to monitor properly. Many businesses create ads that provide no information about whether or not they are generating revenue for their clinic. This is often due to a lack of technical skill.
This is where social media can get most frustrating. Though it requires no technical skills to implement, it does require some technical skills to craft a social media campaign that allows veterinarians to monitor if they are making a return.
Social Media Marketing and Search Engine Optimization
There are many debates about whether social media marketing or search engine optimization is better. The quick answer is that there isn’t one that is better.
It’s about context and quality.
Search Engine Optimization is about attracting new customers who are researching and looking for a veterinary clinic to go to. Social Media Marketing is about strengthening relationships with current customers.
When your deciding which one to focus on, it is a question of what you want to focus on. If you have a strong customer base, but would like to see it grow then SEO would be the way to go. If you have a lot of new customers come in all the time, but fail to see any of them consistently return, social media would be a great option.
Pay Per Click (PPC)
Pay Per Click is one of the quickest ways for veterinarians to get immediate exposure, and if done correctly, results. Pay Per Click is often grouped into Search Engine Optimization, however this is a huge misconception. Pay Per Click advertising is paying for exposure and clicks, whereas search engine optimization is strictly unpaid, organic listings. A simple way to always understand the difference between the 2: Pay Per Click you have to pay to use, Search Engine Optimization you don’t.
Definition of Pay Per Click
PPC stands for pay-per-click, a model of internet marketing in which advertisers pay a fee each time one of their ads is clicked. Essentially, it’s a way of buying visits to your site, rather than attempting to “earn” those visits organically. – Wordstream
Pay Per Click is exactly what it sounds like. It is the mode of advertising where veterinarians will pay every time someone pays for a click. 9 times out of 10, when marketers and businesses talk about PPC, they will be talking about Google AdWords. PPC is available for any search engine including Bing, Yahoo! and other search engines. For this post we will focus solely on Google AdWords.
Google AdWords is the system responsible for the ads you see on Google search results. You find these ads on the top of Google search results and at the bottom. Below you can see an example of what these ads look like
[Insert image of Google search results and the Ads]
Pay Per Click is often heralded as the small business’s first viable option to advertise like the big corporations. Before, billboards and commercials were relegated to only the big companies that could afford them. However, with the Pay Per Click model being introduced and popularized by Google AdWords, small businesses were able to pay per click and advertise their business globally.
Benefits of Pay Per Click
PPC is the quickest way for veterinarians to get their business to the top of Google and search engines. If a clinic decides that they would like to be on the top of Google results pages, they can pay for the day and be there within the hour. If they decide to stop, they can be taken down immediately. This flexibility makes PPC a great option for veterinarians as it doesn’t require months of commitment, you literally can stop and start on a day by day basis.
The flexibility also extends to what you are advertising. If you want to push dental or reach out to more hamster owners, you can easily send out a Google Ad targeting people who are searching for those services. So unlike a billboard or a commercial, which has general messages about the business, Google AdWords allows for customized ads that can be targeted to very specific geographic areas and certain keywords.
In terms of payment, users can also set their daily budget. That way they ensure that they do not overspend. This helps make sure that you don’t all of a sudden see thousands of dollars being charged on your credit card.
Also when done correctly, pay per click advertising offers the clearest picture in terms of the money you invested (Ad spend) and how much money you made as a result. The reason for this is because Google AdWords continues to be one of the biggest profit centers for the company, thus they continue to upgrade and provide the best tools for AdWords users.
Cons of Pay Per Click
The 2 major issues of Pay Per Click is technical knowledge and money. I know I just said that Google AdWords is great for a small business budget, but it is easy to misuse your budget.
This all boils down to technical knowledge. Google AdWords has developed its program to be easy to start creating ads and making them go live. However, actually properly using all the different tools, understanding the metrics and applying the proper filters is difficult. The interface features many abbreviations and statistics that most veterinarians have never even heard of. What this causes is misuse of the system.
This always leads to large amounts of budgets being wasted without any new customers. Often times veterinarians don’t even know how to tell if people actually become customers!
Pay Per Click is not something that you can pick up in one day if you want to do it effectively. PPC is something, just like any other marketing tool, that you need time and patience to learn. If you have neither, you will need someone to come in and help you.
Yelp Advertising (Coming Soon…)