In our line of work, we look at a lot of veterinary websites. A lot. And when you look at so many veterinary websites, certain patterns begin to emerge that are important to understand. We have discovered that the most important mistake that the veterinary website companies routinely make (and thus, their veterinary clients too) is a dull sensitivity to the website user’s experience. The little thought that actually is put into the user experience revolves around things like making basic business information readily available. If you want to drive behavior, there is just so much more work to be done than that.
This article is going to be all about thinking from a user’s perspective. After all, it is their behavior that we are trying to impact. When a user gets to your website, they likely are looking for two things. One is conscious and logical, the other is unconscious and emotional. The logical need they are trying to fill is the basic information of the veterinary hospital – such as contact info, services performed, etc.
Have you ever been on a website and found the business’s basic information, but something just didn’t feel right to you? It’s because you have an emotional requirement to enter into a relationship – trust. The desire to feel trust is largely unconscious, and we usually are more aware of the need when the feeling is absent. Something just doesn’t sit right in our gut. And the feeling isn’t a logical calculation – it’s merely our response to the experience.
If you want your veterinary business to have an effective digital marketing strategy, this is ground zero. This is the foundation from which you need to base your execution. It actually isn’t that difficult to do – really you need to follow three principles to effectively instill trust.
1 – Modern & user-friendly design
At this stage in the relationship, your prowess in web design is really the only evidence that we have of your abilities and professionalism. That means we will probably grant it a disproportionately large degree of influence in our opinion of you. Look at this as an opportunity – once you get this right, it will effect an enormous amount of local pet owners for a long time to come.
2 – Your genuine story
Your website needs to tell your story in a way that resonates with the user’s values. Since your user is a pet owner, you can know with a high degree of confidence that most people are looking for compassionate and quality veterinary care. They also want to be able to relate to who you are, as a human being. We’re hungry for that. Tell this story in words AND pictures. Video is even better. Honestly, you succeed when we forget we are on a website, and feel like we are getting to know you in person. This may seem fairly abstract, so it’s helpful to show you a website that executes well on this. Here’s AAHA’s Practice of the Year, and they do a wonderful job telling their story: http://pemah.com/
3 – Social proof
The phenomena of social-proof is a well researched principle of human behavior. When we believe our community trusts you, trust emerges within us. Use this principle methodically throughout your website – make sure to have multiple areas on the website showcasing different testimonials from your best clients.
In conclusion, most of the veterinary industry thinks about very different things than they need to be. We believe that user experience design is the future. User Experience design is about making predictions based on human psychology, and testing any hypothesis you use with analytics. Remember, it’s alright to be wrong. You just need a way to find out if you are. If you have any further questions, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.