Naomi Oikonomou·12 December 2023
In an era where more than half the veterinary profession want to leave the industry as they feel overworked and under-appreciated, the last thing most veterinary teams want to be told is that they now also need to onboard their practices' online presence too. But what about if what was being asked was less a sneaky slide of hand to present you with even more work to do (in multiple realities) and instead a supportive extension to help lighten the load of your existing physical services and daily tasks.
Navigating today’s digital age, when you work in a community that supports physical entities, with physical needs such as pets, can feel like a battleground; a war of the clicks versus the bricks! The online guys versus the offline guys with veterinary clinics being the underdog, offline guys. But the truth is that's a false divide. Although with the likes of Chewy, Walmart and Amazon all looking to eat your missed lunch, you’d be more than warranted to feel at least a little disgruntled by these digital disruptors. It’s not like we haven’t already seen this battle played out and lost before in other industries. For example, Apple Music and Spotify absolutely destroying Virgin Megastore, Netflix’ victory over Blockbuster and Amazon practically demolishing Borders Books. But what’s possibly less caricatured in the media is that despite Amazon being the poster child for the absolute triumph of online versus offline, they’ve spent $13.4 billion acquiring 500 Whole Foods stores, and physical supermarkets, as well as their own bookstores with actual, physical books. And it's not just Amazon either. Warby Parker, famed online retailer of glasses, now has 200 physical locations. Casper online mattress retailer, started online, just opened 100 locations, plans to open 100 more. Allbirds an online retailer famed for their shoes; they now have 35 physical locations. These brands see the physical locations as extensions of their carefully curated digital experiences. They’re embracing both online and offline, something we also need to be doing in order to reinforce the position of every vet clinic as the only touch point in the pet care journey that can provide a complete joined-up pet care experience. Because let’s be honest, why is tapping your card at the till any more real than a digital payment?
Today there are more mobile phone users on this planet than there are regular toothbrush users. It's a sad fact, but it's true. 91% of Americans spend every hour of every day within arm's reach of their telephone, with similar findings reported for the UK too. For most of us now, it's not virtual reality versus physical reality. It's just reality! A wonderful, blended reality. A reality that our veterinary businesses need to acknowledge in the way they operate. So, lets explore 3 key digital elevations veterinary practices should explore and implement, in order to maintain their position at the heart of the pet care journey.
The Veterinary Innovation Council estimates that the average pet owner encounters 24 issues per pet, per year and only 8% of these are addressed by veterinary expertise. That means 92% of all pet issues go unaddressed by the people best placed to address them, the local veterinary team.
A veterinary client communication platform is a specialised software or service designed to facilitate communication between veterinary clinics and their clients. Leveraging technology to streamline various aspects of client engagement, communication, and management, enhancing the overall veterinary experience for both pet owners and clinics. This is done by surfacing the right issues to the clinic (physically) and filtering anything else that can be dealt with asynchronously.
Key features to look for in a veterinary communication platform are:
Appointment booking Reminders 2 way chat Reminders Digital payments Communication templates Campaigns Content library Wellness & Loyalty Plans Mobile accessibility
By offering an easily accessible, intuitive feature such as a client communication platform to your existing services, you can aim to improve efficiencies, enhance client satisfaction and foster better communication methods between pet owners and the veterinary teams supporting them.
A targeted veterinary marketing campaign involves tailoring your promotional efforts to reach specific segments of your clients and addressing their unique needs and concerns. To structure your own campaign you should consider the following:
Identify who you wish to target: For example older dogs in need of a dental check-up Set the goal of your campaign: It might be to increase compliance or to encourage delivery services in order to reduce footfall within your clinic Use personalized messaging: Create messages that resonate with your target audience. Personalize promotional materials, discounts, and educational content based on the specific needs of their clients. This level of personalization enhances the effectiveness of your marketing efforts, ensuring that pet owners receive information that is relevant and valuable to them. Which in return will increase the likelihood of you getting a good level of conversion from your activities.
Use personalized messaging: Create messages that resonate with your target audience. Personalize promotional materials, discounts, and educational content based on the specific needs of their clients. This level of personalization enhances the effectiveness of your marketing efforts, ensuring that pet owners receive information that is relevant and valuable to them. Which in return will increase the likelihood of you getting a good level of conversion from your activities.
Know your channels of communication and utilise them: This might include SMS, email, newsletters or even a series of posts and stories across social media
Educating pet owners about the importance of preventive care and providing valuable information about pet health is crucial. Facilitate client education through features such as push notifications or by simply sharing relevant articles, and educational resources. This will not only empower your pet owners to make more informed decisions but will also position your veterinary clinic as a trusted opinion leader and source of information, helping to foster a long-term relationship with your local pet owning community. Top hack: create an evergreen media library and bulk schedule your content will help you reduce the time you spend curating and creating content. For example, have a post that goes out every spring detailing the importance of having a qualified veterinary professional prescribe a pet’s flea medication because of the resistance that's built up in the flea population.
By combining the strengths of online communication with the personalised care offered in the traditional veterinary setting, clinics can create a more holistic and seamless experience for both their teams and the pets they support. As technology continues to advance and large digital disruptors become more focussed on a larger slice of the pet care pie, veterinary practices that embrace both bricks and clicks are poised to lead the way in delivering exceptional pet care experiences that are second to none.
Heading up our marketing department and leading on all things Community, Naomi is an experienced marketer within both veterinary and pet care. Joining our team (full time) back in 2022, Naomi also sits as a non executive advisory board member for Flexee.