Online local advertising is an excellent way to attract attention from potential customers who are within driving distance of your business. Google Maps, local review sites, and paid social media advertisements can all boost qualified online traffic to your business.
We’ve talked about best practices – now here is our list of 7 common mistakes vet clinics make in local advertising:
Top Online Local Advertising Mistakes
1. Not having a user-friendly website
If your website doesn't make it easy for an audience to access the right kinds of information about your vet clinic – you’re already behind. In “How Should You Design Your Veterinary Clinic’s Website?”, we noted that attention spans of web users are generally low, so your site must quickly and clearly guide visitors to the information or resources they want. Your website should be set up in a way that makes it easy for you to publish content and tweak pages, so you can build trust with your site visitors right from the start.
To ensure your website is user-friendly, consider the following:
- Keep the website design basic; don't include too many elements on a single page
- Make your content and resources easy to find and share
- Boldly display Important information
- Ensure your website navigation bars make sense
- Ensure your site's page load speed is fast
Because local advertising efforts can be targeted toward mobile users, your website and content must be optimized for mobile. Many smaller vet clinics ignore this step, and it’s a mistake that drastically impacts the success of their ads. In the past few years, mobile technology has grown in staggering figures. For example, the average user was on their phone for more than 2.8 hours per day in 2016.
Neglecting this massive audience is like leaving food on the table – someone else will sneak in and eat the scraps!
2. Not setting clear goals or advertising objectives
It’s crucial to set clear goals or objectives for online ad campaigns. If you’re trying to gain more traffic to the website, click through rates and impressions might look great on the surface, but they aren’t metrics that show clear ROI on your advertisement spend.
Alternatively, try setting specific goals that measure a clear ROI on your advertising budget. For example, set goals such as:
- Increase newsletter subscriptions by 15%
- Increase online brochure/coupon downloads by 20%
- Increase qualified leads each month by 10%
Consider tracking these specific goals/metrics to your local vet clinic:
- How many phone calls to your clinic come from online advertisements?
- How many visitors submitted a contact form after clicking on your local online advertisement?
- How many times were coupons downloaded from a paid local advertisement?
This information should provide valuable insight on how well (or poorly) your online local advertisements are performing.
3. Not conducting any or enough competitive research
It’s important to know what other businesses in the same industry or geographic area are doing so you can compete with them and stay on top of trends. While this may sound intimidating, there are many available tools that help you spy on your competitors online, so you can note where they are succeeding and where there might be opportunities for your clinic.
Competitive research has many benefits, including:
- Gaining a better understanding of your market
- Targeting your audience and current customers more accurately
- Finding out what your competitors are offering
- Maintaining competitive pricing of your service and/or products
- Finding new avenues to obtain qualified leads and loyal customers
To keep competitive research simple, start a new Excel spreadsheet and track the following:
- Name: List the name of competitor and their location(s)
- Online presence: Note the website and social profiles of the competitor
- Offerings: List the competitor’s products and services, along with the pricing
- Strengths: What’s this competitor specifically good at?
- Weaknesses: Where does the competitor fall short compared to your business?
- Experience: Shop the competitor yourself, or have a knowledgeable co-worker shop them for you. Visit your competition, view their products and pricing, and try to have the same experience that a customer would.
- Advertising: How are they marketing themselves digitally and traditionally? What can you do better?
4. Not understanding enough about your audience
One of the most common mistakes for local businesses is trying to advertise their product or service to everybody. It’s obvious why this approach might fail – think about it: An advertising message that focuses on everyone can’t possibly address the specific needs of your local audience. For this reason, your vet clinic needs to accurately target a local audience in a focused, segmented way. Here are some tips:
- Provide resources for people actively looking for the specific veterinary services you offer
- Use geo-focused keywords in your content and ad copy to speak directly to people close to your veterinary clinic
- Address their needs specifically
5. Advertisement tracking is not in place
Many vet clinics will invest money into local advertisements online, but have no idea whether their efforts are working. Google AdWords and Facebook Ads provide exhaustive metrics related to your advertisement campaigns and help determine what’s working and what’s not.
It can take time for you to develop an ad that resonates with your target customers at a local level, and this requires constant testing. Live by the philosophy of “Fail Fast.” If your current advertising efforts aren’t working – STOP! Reevaluate your targeted audience and try approaching them in a different way.
6. Targeting too large or too small of an area
With online local advertising, it’s important to closely target neighborhoods in your surrounding area. In big cities, people often have multiple options close to where they live, so most won’t be willing to travel far for pet services (an exception might be an emergency vet). Consider the needs of your area:
- Do your customers need to travel a longer distance to get to your clinic?
- Does the environment impact the type of care pets receive? (High-allergenic areas, water, etc.)
- Do you live in an area that has many large dogs or smaller “city-dogs”? (Rural vs. urban setting)
If your clinic is in a rural area where people are willing or must travel to see a vet, it makes sense to target a larger area.
7. Not having a large enough budget
Local ads online have become a crucial part of most digital marketing campaigns. In 2013, digital advertising spend surpassed newspaper ads, and it’s predicted that digital advertising will be larger than TV ad spending by the end of 2017.
But what does this mean for a veterinary clinic with a smaller budget?
You need to understand the benefits of online local advertisements, and invest wisely. Our suggestion is to start small. You can always add to the budget as you identify more opportunities and fine-tune a strategy that’s successful. Focus on one platform (Facebook Ads, Google Ads, Bing Ads) and do it really well.
Check out this helpful resource on Google Ads vs. Facebook Ads for more information.
Finding Business Success through Effective Local Advertising Online
It’s critical that you adapt your advertisement strategies to best serve locals in your area. Successful advertising has always been the result of reaching the right audience with the right message. By using local advertisements effectively, you can position your vet clinic ahead of the competition and reach a qualified audience that can turn into more revenue for your business.
Merial is now a part of Boehringer Ingelheim. ®NexGard is a registered trademark of Merial. ©2017 Merial Inc., Duluth, GA. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners. All rights reserved. NEX17VMBLOGS 1-7.