For many, Veterinarians are to our pets, what the family doctor is to the two-legged family members.
The chance that a satisfied customer will give you repeat business in the veterinary industry is extremely high, just like with the family doctor. So, the central focus of all your marketing efforts should be to create the opportunity to gain loyal customers.
As a brick-and-mortar business, veterinary practices need to carefully choose social media marketing strategies; those strategies that are most likely to lead to real-world conversions with the lowest-possible marketing spend.
When conducting social media marketing campaigns, it’s important to carefully track the success of your campaigns using campaign data; data that makes sense in light of your overall business objectives.
Certain measures of success often have little practical value when it comes to determining the actual success of a campaign. These are often referred to as vanity metrics.
Veterinary Practices & Facebook Advertising
Facebook’s no longer the quick & easy means of cheaply reaching your audience that it was back in the day. The platform has matured & grown into one of the world’s number-one social media sites. Facebook has increasingly sought to monetize the traffic that it generates. This has meant more money going into Facebook’s pockets and less staying in the pockets of advertisers on the platform.
But this doesn’t mean that advertising on Facebook has lost all value.
Yes, it is considerably harder now to reach customers for businesses that maintain a Facebook page. However, the platform continues to be a great way to establish a strong online presence and generate leads, ultimately converting potential clients into patients. It’s just necessary & extremely important to make sure that you’re using a solid Facebook advertising & marketing strategy.
Facebook Advertising Metrics
Getting hundreds of likes on a Facebook post or seeing high clickthrough rates to the homepage of your website may seem highly encouraging & even exciting. Traditional engagement measures are often great tools for fine-tuning awareness campaigns.
However, it turns out that these metrics are rarely the final word on a campaign’s real success for veterinary practices. They may or may not serve as a decent proxy for the actual number of conversions your business is getting. For veterinary practices, an online conversion can be anything you choose. From a contact form submission to a phone call to the clinic. It’s imperative that your ad campaigns are targeted not only to those that view them. But also that they have known & desired conclusions, or technically speaking, conversions.
Is It Worth It?
In the case of brick-and-mortar businesses with high customer lifetime values, concentrating on measures that reflect concrete business goals becomes even more important than it is for online companies. And this is particularly true with veterinary practice advertising. Where the single biggest challenge is just educating your community of the needs of their pets in a way that converts them into clients. Various veterinary advertising ideas can get as many as thousands of clicks per day. But if it’s not leading to actual conversions, which means getting people and their pets through your doors to buy your veterinary services, Facebook advertising could just prove to be an expensive waste of time.
Veterinary Practice’s Higher Than Average Customer Lifetime Value
How That Improves the Possibility of Social Media Marketing Success
Recent studies have shown that the average lifetime value of a veterinary practice’s customer typically ranges from $5,000 to $10,000 or more. It all depends on your location.
There are a few businesses that have a higher average customer lifetime value, like car dealerships and industrial equipment sellers. But in retail commerce, veterinary clinics are on the very high end of the customer-lifetime-value range.
Depending on where your practice is located and the types of services you offer, the average customer lifetime value for your clinic can vary considerably. It’s a good idea to come up with an estimate of what that figure is. This will help you to accurately figure out the return on investment for not just future marketing campaigns, but for many other business investments as well.
Knowing base business metrics is something we’ve found some veterinary practice owners don’t know for their practices, but don’t worry. This information is very easy to calculate as long as you have clean books on your practice. Important metrics to know before diving into any sort of marketing are things like;
- Cost of Client Acquisition
- % Allotted For Marketing Purposes
- Client Retention Rate
- Client Compliance Rate
- Patient Lifetime Value
But here’s the good news; The higher lifetime value that veterinary clinics can expect means that Facebook advertising (or marketing in general) can often be a very viable and profitable client acquisition and client compliance tool.
What kind of veterinary advertising ideas are most likely to lead first-time customers to actually walk through the doors of your clinic?
It might be easiest to start with the veterinary advertising ideas that probably won’t help bring in customers. As I mentioned earlier, it’s very important in Facebook and online advertising, in general, not to get tied up in vanity metrics. “Vanity metrics” are things like social media likes, engagement, and total reach. This is even truer when it comes to brick-and-mortar companies, especially those with high customer lifetime values.
Any veterinary advertising idea that boosts vanity metrics without leading to actual conversions should be tossed.
For veterinary clinics, targeting is extremely important.
For urban practices, most new customers will live within a maximum of 10 miles from where the practice is located. Because targeting anyone outside of this distance is virtually guaranteed to be useless, engagement and reach will have little value in assessing the effectiveness of veterinary social media marketing.
Focus On The Demographics for Veterinary Advertising
Instead, focusing on the target demographic, or customers who have pets and live within a 10-15 mile radius of your practice, is where all or your marketing efforts should be concentrated.
Creating a Facebook page from which you can regularly post pet-related material is a good start. Going through all of the customers who are fans of competitors’ Facebook pages and targeting people who have liked your competitors’ posts is also a sound strategy. These folks are known local pet owners, who can be targeted with paid newsfeed ads, right-column ads and boosted posts.
Even though it’s possible to target tightly niched markets and geographical areas with social media marketing, the only thing that actually matters is conversions. The way we would speak to a new client with social media marketing and how we would speak to a current client to educate them about a service is very different. This is one of the biggest mistakes that we see almost all practices make.
Veterinary Practice Social Media Marketing Optimization & Tracking
Once you have built a sufficiently large target group, the next step is to create the ad content and then continue to optimize it through split testing.
Starting with your current client base as the target of your initial advertising tests is a gold mine.
This can sound intimidating to those who are new to online/digital marketing. It really isn’t that complicated. Online marketing really is as simple as stopping what doesn’t work and doing more of what does.
The only way to find out what does and does NOT work is to take your best shot at creating a solid ad. Then put it in front of an audience that you expect to relate to the message. Especially with the high-lifetime-value customers that a veterinary clinic can service. Carefully tracking the success of Facebook ads is crucial. Luckily, Facebook gives brick-and-mortar businesses a way to accomplish this through its ‘Offline Events’ tracking system.
Businesses that want to track the success of their Facebook campaigns are able to upload customer information to Facebook. Which then matches the data to members of its userbase that were served the relevant ads. This is HUGE for veterinary clinics! It provides a way to accurately track the success of Facebook ad campaigns. In a way that was previously not possible. Adding tremendous value to marketing initiatives.
Targeting Through Facebook
Facebook has a number of very sophisticated targeting options. They take many aspects of their users’ behaviors into consideration. It’s possible to target specific zip codes, income groups and even people with certain travel habits.
It’s also possible to exclude certain geographic, demographic or income groups.
Veterinary practices that run Facebook ads should keep these options in mind at all times and extensively test which ones produce the best results.
Additionally, studying the methods of local competitors, including who their actual customers are and targeting them directly, is another great way to target Facebook ads.
Split Testing Your Facebook Veterinary Advertising
Once the “Offline Events” feature is set up to track your ads, the next step is to optimize them.
The cornerstone of creating the best veterinary advertising ideas is to split test them. Every element in an ad is ‘testable’. For veterinary clinics, the following ad elements should definitely be tested and tweaked on every campaign:
In one real-world ad campaign, a veterinary clinic found that using the image of a kitten outperformed its ads that contained an image of a dog by a huge margin. Cat lovers could have guessed this to be true, but it wasn’t at all obvious to the clinic’s staff that one picture would so drastically outperform the other. Not until both were thoroughly tested.
- Ad copy.
Slight wording differences can make a startling difference when it comes to ad messaging. A good rule of thumb when writing ad copy is to always try to use as many power words as possible. But split testing should still provide the final word on the wording.
- The value offer.
Marketing experts generally recommend that value propositions should be presented in a way that makes the consumer believe that buying the product is their idea. As the saying goes, “people hate being sold to, but they love to buy”.
When it comes to veterinary practices, this can be accomplished through framing the call to action as something that any good pet owner would typically be willing to do for the health and welfare of their pet.
- Ad placements and targeting.
Testing multiple targeting methods is another important way of optimizing ad performance.
While veterinary practices should concentrate mostly on targeting pet owners who live within 10-15 miles from the clinic, there are lots of different ways to accomplish this.
Over all, Facebook advertising is a great tool for veterinary practices because of the extremely high returns that investing in these ads can potentially yield.