The Science and Art of Building Effective Veterinary Websites

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For a veterinarian in the ever-growing veterinary industry, a website is no longer a luxury, but a necessity. Today, no pet clinic, large or small, can afford to ignore the many benefits that come from having its own website. Websites can generate new patients, enhance a doctor’s credibility and improve client relations. To take advantage of these benefits, however, you must have an effective website.

A Veterinary Wesite is no longer a luxury, but a necessity, for pet clinics striving for the best pet hospital possible. No pet clinic, large or small, should ignore the many benefits that come from having its own, professional website. So what should doctors consider when launching them online or considering an overhaul?

There are two types of veterinary websites to choose from: custom and prefabricated. Custom websites will prove to be far more effective, look more professional, and have longer-lasting value than the cheaper prefabricated versions. Every clinic is different, so a design company should take the time to understand what the hospital has to offer and convey that in their site.

Effective websites take into account common clinic management tasks, and integrate them with online tools that not only create a marketing presence but also empower the clinic in its daily operations. Specific tools include keeping in touch with pet owners through email newsletters, greeting cards, and special promotions.

The companies that specialize in veterinary websites compile newsletters that they prepare and deliver automatically on behalf of a veterinarian to his or her client database. Such veterinary newsletters, which can be updated on a regular basis on the website and automatically emailed to clients, are extremely helpful in keeping in touch with pet owners that do not come in as often. Additionally, clients who subscribe may forward it to others, which could serve as a form of referrals.

Another useful feature of custom veterinary web sites is the ability to easily send out pre-scheduled email cards for birthdays, appointments, various holiday, etc. Such e-cards, with fun, professional designs, provide another great opportunity to keep in touch with pet owners and improve client relations, while minimizing the cost of traditional cards and postage, not to mention save time.

Pet clinics should also consider providing potential clients with an incentive to visit the office by having printable promotions or coupons on their website, where allowable by law. After all, the hardest part is getting the client to come in for the first time.

Veterinary websites can also offer clients the ability to schedule appointments, access new patient forms, and even verify insurance. This way, rather than request patients to come in fifteen to twenty minutes early, clinics can post their forms online and request patient go online, print and complete them before coming in.

The opportunities for veterinary pet care education are almost limitless; a veterinarian can provide informational resources on preventative care, explanatory diagrams and illustrations, and descriptions of the unique services of the pet hospital.

A vet website can also assist the practice in selling pet products and supplements to anyone, anywhere, and any time—not just to the existing client base of the practice. Veterinarians should not limit their opportunities — current studies show the public is looking for pet care information, by the millions. Having an online presence now is crucial, not only in reaching pet owners but also retaining existing ones. By not being online, a veterinarian misses out on 100 percent of the Internet-derived business he or she could see.

These days veterinarians are expected to have a presence on the Internet for potential patients. Instead of people running their fingers through the Yellow Pages, many now click with their mouse through their browsers to animal clinics near them. The key to bringing in new pet owners who are searching online for pet care providers and information lies in search engine placement. Who would want a website if no one can find it? VetMatrix.com excels at creating a search engine and marketing campaign aimed at excellent placement with search engines and directories, and uses both innovative and standard Search Engine Optimization techniques. More traffic means more clients, a better bottom line, and a dramatic return on investment.

Whether you have a current veterinary web site that isn’t high enough quality, or if you have no web site to speak of, the next decision is who should you turn to for the creation of your professional website? In terms of working with a freelancer versus an established company, as a general rule, it is usually best to work with a company that will provide the necessary customer service and support. Even if your “nephew Jimmy” or “nice kid down the street” can build you a professional website to begin with – and that’s a big “if” – will they be around when you need to update your website, or will they be off to college, or what have you?

It helps to find a company who can identify with the practice and even specializes in veterinary websites. A company or freelancer that does not specialize in the pet field will require significant amount of time from the doctor in developing the content and educational materials for the website.

There is probably no need to dump $10,000 into a veterinary website, but an investment of about $3,000 should be expected. A veterinarian can no longer maintain the mindset that “the computer is just for my kids.” A practice without a professional website will be an immediate turnoff for more and more potential clients each and every day.

Yamia Benhaim is the founder of VetMatrix.com, a design firm specializing in custom website design and consulting for the veterinary community. She can be contacted at 800.398.3933 or through the website VetMatrix.com

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Yamia Benhaim
IMATRIX
800.398.3933
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