by Bill Schroeder
Recently, while addressing a group of veterinarians and practice managers, I asked for volunteers to tell me about their marketing experience.
One practice manager raised her hand and said that she has been doing digital marketing for her veterinary practice for many years. I pressed further and asked her if the practice was reaching its marketing goals. She confidently nodded her head until I asked her exactly how she knows. After a series of shrugs and hesitant mumbles, we came to the realization that she was relying upon a feeling, and the fact that she was busy. While her marketing might be at the root of her success, shouldn’t she be certain so she can do more of what works?
Seconds later, a veterinarian raised her hand to say that she has also been doing digital marketing for years. Her methods have evolved based upon performance, and she is certain that she is in a good place because it costs her $65.00 to earn a new client, which is 20% less than what she was paying in the same month the year before. She continued to speak about an increase in phone calls, form fills, and appointment requests…always using real numbers and date range comparisons. The audience thought she was a “plant.”
I’m certain that you can realize which person is more informed and likely more successful, because having the right information in hand is essential. The good news is that you too can have such clarity.
The Evolution of Results Tracking
When I started my career as a young veterinary marketer more than 28 years ago, I, like all others at the time, relied upon sharing a practice’s message through now archaic channels. Incredible time was spent developing yellow page or newspaper ads, tri-fold brochures, billboards, and the occasional “come on down and meet us” radio ad. I always found myself wondering what was truly working and how I could refine my approach to reach more pet owners and ultimately achieve my clients’ marketing goals.
You may recall how limited resources for determining such information were, as we relied upon manual tracking of code words, business reply cards, or pet owners mentioning the reason they came into a veterinary practice. While I fell back on things that may still ring true today such as financial growth of a practice, increase in the most desirable services, new client growth, and client retention, it was very difficult to pinpoint the exact efforts that were driving such actions as many uncontrollable external factors could impact these data points.
Today’s digital resources provide tracking and understanding behind a veterinary practice’s marketing efforts, and allow for truly optimized efforts and clarity. Gone are the days where we rely heavily upon staff members documenting new client sources or the reason callers have contacted the practice.
Instead, it is possible to develop messaging and follow a pet owner’s journey through:
- Recognizing that they need the services of a veterinarian
- Their evaluation of your practice
- Their first visit
- Becoming a loyal client and making return visits
Know What’s Helping You Achieve Your Marketing Goals
The first conversations I have with new clients usually center around what they hope to achieve through their marketing efforts. This often results in the typical requests for increased business, sales, new clients, or more appointments.
I’m regularly intrigued by the fact that these same new clients are often migrating from another marketing group and have a limited understanding of what was being done to achieve those same goals and the results of those efforts. This seems baffling, until you realize the amount of data available and how easy it is to become distracted by the wrong information.
Basically, there is often inappropriate emphasis placed on keyword ranking for non-productive terms, hits on the website, or other data points that fall short of actual goal completion.
Focus on the Data That Matters
While the exact data points may vary based upon your marketing goals, here are a few data points you should consider:
Number of conversions from Google My Business.
Phone calls are the most valuable here. Compare your results to the same time period in the previous year.
Number of on-page conversions from your practice website.
Pay attention to phone calls, appointment requests, and form completions. Compare your results to the same time period in the year before.
Number of unique visitors to your website.
We like to guide our clients towards a goal of 400 unique visitors per month, per veterinarian. Compare your results to last year’s results to gauge your progress.
Track Your Calls
One of the most exciting aspects of marketing performance data involves using unique phone numbers for each campaign and tracking the path of the prospective client from the marketing effort to the scheduling of an appointment. This process allows for the calls to be recorded and evaluated in direct alignment with revenue. Basically, the calls become evidence that your marketing is working.
The Right Data Breeds Success
It is always refreshing to watch a client experience truly meaningful reporting and data points that reflect the results of their marketing efforts. With this information in hand, the most productive conversations and actions become possible.