8 reasons why a website is essential for new customers
Your website is one of the most valuable assets your business can own. It’s your vehicle for marketing, your place to share and express your vision and it’s an introduction to your clinic for prospective clients. It’s cost-effective, accessible 24/7 and convenient for your clients to use.
Websites are one of the first ports of call for a customer searching for a new practice, and it’s essential that it reflects a professional image, is easy to use and is not only a useful source of information but is also a platform for generating new client enquiries and bookings.
A recent Henry Schein Veterinary Solutions (HSVS) survey found that veterinary practices are increasingly relying on digital channels to attract new customers, with websites being the main driver. Confirming the trend towards online, the British Veterinary Association found that 98 percent of small animal vets say owners turn to ‘Dr Google’ to self-diagnose – resulting in 80 percent of them seeing pets brought in too late as a result.
And, while a good website can drive home a customer’s decision to try out your clinic, a poor one may turn them away without you even getting the chance to prove them wrong. Here are eight reasons why:
1. A website is your first impression
Before even stepping foot in your veterinary practice, the chances are good that your new client has looked at your website, even if only to find your location. As such, your website will be your client’s first view of your business. So it’s important to make sure it gives the best possible impression. If your prospective customers find your website hard to navigate or off-putting in some way, it is easy to hit the ‘Back’ button on their browser and find your competitor.
2. It shows clients ‘why’
Research suggests that people tend to be more convinced by narratives of why people do what they do, rather than what or how. The ‘why’ cuts to the emotive – and often more powerful – side of our decision making, which deals with human aspirations and intentions.
While the ‘why’ is sometimes hard to communicate in conversation, websites are the perfect place to clarify the drivers behind your practice. A good website allows you to explain why you do what you do and help convince new clients you are genuinely passionate about your vocation, your business and your clients.
3. It shares valuable knowledge and expertise
Your clients are passionate about their pets and often want clear, accessible information on how to best care for them. With a tight schedule throughout the day, however, it can be hard for you and your staff to provide valuable information during short, allocated appointment times.
Your website is an ideal opportunity to keep your clients invested in caring for their animals. Through blog posts or a library of resources, you can provide up-to-date, best-practice information on how they can prevent illness or injury or how to handle various pet-related situations. Not only is this useful for your clients, it helps achieve your overarching aim of providing the best possible standards of care for your patients.
4. It builds legitimacy and trust
According to Merill Research, 60 percent of customers don’t trust a business that doesn’t have a website. And 50 percent of consumers are more likely to choose a business based on its web presence. Given these considerations, a well built, mobile-optimised website is not a nice-to-have, it’s a must-have.
5. It makes you competitive
There’s a reason why many restaurants have a menu outside their doors: people like to consider before they buy. Websites offer a commitment-free opportunity for prospective clients to compare veterinary clinics and assess which one is best for them.
In this respect, having a strong website is essential for ensuring you’re considered as a market leader and it also helps potential clients feel like they are making an informed choice. If customers know what to expect from your practice, they can walk confidently into a first visit.
6. It offers convenience
People live busy lives and if they can book an appointment in twenty seconds on their smartphone, rather than visiting a clinic or making a phone call, that is a very attractive proposition. Websites allow users to check important information and make decisions about their animal on the go, at any time of the day.
Henry Schein Veterinary Solutions research highlights that those practices most successful at attracting new clients give their customers the opportunity to book online appointments, reflecting the changing needs and demands of customers. The value of online booking for clients is underlined by data showing that those practices with an online booking facility report that 50 percent of all appointments using an online booking system are made outside of regular business hours, and 17 percent are from new clients.
7. It enables you to target a wider audience
One of the great aspects of the Internet is that it expands the audience you’re able to reach and then target. Your website is available to view for anyone and everyone that’s interested. Furthermore, if your website is Search Engine Optimised (SEO) and appears high in search results, and if you’re producing good, fresh online content, you provide avenues for prospective clients to engage with your clinic that may not otherwise have.
If you have an effective website that has strong testimonials and engaging content, this may be enough to convince clients beyond your immediate locality that you’re worth a visit. It’s not unusual to find people visiting a business on the other side of town, simply because they trust their services above anyone else’s.
8. It provides continual engagement
Having a website with a blog, an event calendar or something that clients can remain up-to-date with offers an ongoing point of presence for your clients. This means you’re front of mind if their pet is injured or sick, or the time for a regular check-up rolls around.
By contrast, if the last time they had any form of contact with your practice was nine months previously, they may hold little loyalty towards you. Updating your website with valuable content builds reciprocity and helps ensure that your clients keep returning.