Even the busiest practice owner isn’t too busy to reap the rewards of the digital marketing revolution, Shane Conroy explains.
Australians love the internet. According to data compiled by Statista, Australian internet penetration hit 89 per cent in 2015, outranking South Korea, Japan and Singapore, to make us one of the most digitally connected countries in the Asia-Pacific region.
This enthusiastic embrace of the digital world has changed the way we consume media. For example, the Deloitte Media Consumer Survey 2015 reports that 60 per cent of Australians rate the internet as their top form of entertainment alongside television.
That means the internet now beats listening to the radio (15 per cent), reading newspapers (17 per cent) and magazines (8 per cent), and going to the cinema (25 per cent) as our preferred sources of entertainment.
Numbers like that have got Australian businesses thinking. If customers no longer consume traditional media like they used to, then it follows that businesses need to come up with new ways of engaging with them online.
Enter digital marketing. From social media to SEO, Australian businesses are turning to a new set of marketing tools to keep customers coming through their doors.
However, the wide world of digital marketing can be a jargon-heavy space that often presents more confusion than clarity for busy veterinary practice owners who are focused on patient outcomes over Facebook posts.
But digital marketing doesn’t have to be an impossible mission. Here’s your jargon-free guide to the latest digital marketing tools and how you can use them in your practice without losing focus on what matters most.
WHAT: From Facebook to Twitter, and Instagram to Snapchat, social media is increasingly where your customers live online.
WHY: According to research by Sensis, almost half of all Australian internet users logged in to social networks at least
daily throughout 2015. That gives you a rich base of highly engaged potential customers to connect with.
HOW: Achieving social media success is all about posting regular, shareable content. Focus on posting uplifting success stories with cute pet photos that your followers are likely to share. And highlight positive customer reviews—the Deloitte survey reported that 80 per cent of respondents said recommendations from friends, family and acquaintances has a high or medium influence on their buying decisions.
WHAT: Sponsored search is paid for advertising that displays a text ad for your practice alongside other search engine results when your potential customers conduct a relevant search.
WHY: Sponsored search remains one of the strongest influences on purchasing decisions. More than 40 per cent of respondents to the
Deloitte survey ranked it in their top three purchasing influences.
HOW: Google AdWords is your go-to for sponsored search. Success here revolves around selecting the right keywords and then bidding on them based on how much you are willing to pay each time someone clicks on your ad (otherwise known as pay-per-click advertising). To get that right, you need
to know exactly which keywords will draw people to your site. There are several keyword research tools available to help you—try Google’s Keyword Planner or external tools such as Yoast Suggests.
WHAT: SEO—or search engine optimisation—aims to get your website ranking as highly as possible in search engine results through the use of keywords, quality content and the right website architecture.
WHY: According to data compiled by Statista, Google maintains an almost
90 per cent share of the search engine market. That means ranking highly
in Google search results could be the best boost your practice will ever get.
HOW: SEO is a complicated business. Google rewards websites that publish regular, quality content, but punishes the overuse of irrelevant keywords. You’ll get points for having a smart phone-compatible website that loads quickly, ensuring all your webpage titles and descriptions contain relevant keywords, and linking to other respected websites. A good place to start is with a free SEO tool such as QuickSprout that reviews your website’s current SEO performance.
WHAT: Social media optimisation (SMO) is often confused with SEO. While both are related to improving your search engine results, SMO applies to optimising the performance of your social media posts to help boost your SEO efforts.
WHY: When your web content is shared or liked on social media, it increases your website’s quality score, which in turn helps to push it up the all-important search engine rankings.
HOW: The most effective way to build your social media reach is to connect with the ‘influencers’ who will share your content with their large audiences. Tools such as Traackr help you develop relationships with influencers, Google Trends will keep you up-to-date with the hot keywords to build your posts around, and Hootsuite is a great tool for automating your social media posts across a range of platforms.
“The secret… is to put reader value first. That means your content should not read like an advertisement, but rather be of genuine interest to your readers.”
WHAT: Content marketing is the term for content you create to draw people to your website. Content marketing for vets can encompass everything from a simple social media post to blog articles, ebooks, video tutorials, infographics, customer magazines, and a range of other content.
WHY: Google rewards websites that post regular, quality content. Publishing new blog articles will help lift your search engine results and give you more content to share on social media.
HOW: The secret here is to put reader value first. That means your content should not read like an advertisement, but rather be of genuine interest to your readers. Developing a content marketing strategy and editorial calendar is the key to managing this process. Connect with a content marketing agency to help you, or if you’re taking a DIY approach, online tools such as HubSpot can help you manage your workflow and platforms like Outbrain can assist you to distribute your content.
WHAT: Whether posting your own videos to your free YouTube channel, or paying to play your ad at the beginning of someone else’s video, online videos are an important part of your digital marketing mix.
WHY: With more than 1 billion users, YouTube broadcasts millions of hours of video every day. And the platform is showing no signs of slowing—the number of people watching YouTube per day is up 40 per cent since March 2014.
HOW: YouTube offers an in-house advertising service that allows you to target your paid YouTube ads by location, age, gender and interests, and you only pay if a user watches your ad for 30 seconds or more. Google’s TrueView works in a similar way for posting video ads to sites and apps in the Google Display Network.
WHAT: Programmatic advertising software allows busy businesses to automate the ad buying process by cutting out the salespeople to save
time and money.
WHY: It’s fast, efficient, and highly targeted. Programmatic advertising uses real-time bidding to buy and sell online ad impressions through instant auctions. Advertisers bid based on the sites their ads will appear on, the location of the user, and how the user
is likely to respond to them based on their past behaviour.
HOW: Demand-side platforms such as StackAdapt and PocketMath give advertisers the opportunity to purchase video, search, mobile and banner ads across a range of publisher sites with just a few clicks.
As the digital era continues to accelerate, businesses that embrace new ways of communicating with their customers will jump ahead of the pack. Just like in all other areas of your practice, taking a focused approach to digital marketing and using the right tools for the job will go a long way to ensuring your success and keeping your waiting rooms busy for years to come.