How to measure the success of your veterinary marketing programs
This is the third in our series on veterinary practice branding. To learn more, read Understanding branding as a companion veterinary practice owner and How to use the 7Ps in veterinary marketing.
How do you know your veterinary branding and marketing efforts are successful? One way to tell is through tracking and measuring key performance indicators, or KPIs. Knowing and tracking your KPIs can help you grow your veterinary marketing program, and then, by extension, your business.
You can place your marketing efforts into three buckets — retaining current clients, gaining new clients, and increasing average client spend. Each bucket has a different KPI that will measure the effectiveness of your efforts.
Tracking retention marketing efforts
Taking your clients for granted is a recipe for disaster. Your current roster is the heartbeat of your veterinary practice, so you must continually pay attention to them and provide reasons for them to remain repeat customers.
How can you keep current clients happy? What "above and beyond" services can you offer? Do you have home delivery of pet products and medication to save pet owners a trip into the office? Do you offer the convenience of teleconsulting? Have you added extraneous services, like grooming? What about a loyalty program that offers discounts on commonly used products and services?
It can cost five times as much to get a new customer than it does to retain a current customer. Automated appointment reminders are one way to reach your base. Reach pet owners via email or text message or postcard — or all three — whatever is their preferred channel.
Is your database full of lapsed clients? Use a retention calendar and client communications tool to reach out to pet owners who haven't visited your veterinary practice in over a year. Send them personalized messages to have them consider clinic reentry.
From a digital marketing perspective, one KPI that can track whether your efforts with returning customers have been successful is returning website visitors. Over a given time period, how many people who looked at your website were repeat viewers? You can measure this and other digital KPIs for free by using Google Analytics.
Tracking acquisition marketing efforts
Even if you have a thriving practice, there's always room to grow the business. Attracting new clients is one way to do that. Your satisfied current clients are great marketing tools because they will happily talk about their experiences with your veterinary practice. One survey showed 40 percent of pet owners picked their veterinarian based on reputation and recommendations from friends and family. Encourage your customers to post reviews of their experience on Google, Yelp, and your practice's social media channels.
Yet you can't only rely on word of mouth to bring new pets in the door. External advertising campaigns draw attention to your business. Such campaigns can focus on digital efforts, such as promoted social media posts or targeted Google ads. They can also be on a bigger scale, like an advertisement in a print magazine or even a billboard. Remember to research your desired audience and to advertise in the channels they are most likely to use. A thoughtfully executed campaign will go to waste if the right audience never sees it.
You can track your efforts digitally by following the KPI of new visitors to your website. Granted, not all those new website viewers will turn into customers. But something in your messaging prompted them to visit your website, and that is a good start.
When a new client books an appointment, ask them how they learned about your practice. Tracking the answers will shed useful insights into your veterinary marketing program. What channels and tactics bring people in the door? Where should you double down on your efforts? What could you take off the table?
Tracking efforts to increase client spend
It's not enough to simply keep current clients to maintain the status quo. To truly grow your business, you need to use marketing to convince them to add new services.
Target your current customers with messages based on their habits and lifestyles. You could market a pet health plan to the client who never misses an annual checkup. You could market a home delivery service to the pet owner with a jam-packed schedule. When trying to convince a client to increase the amount of money they spend at your practice, it's important to have a light touch and not put them on the defensive.
The odds, however, are in your favor. There's only a 5–20 percent chance of selling to a new customer compared to a 60–70 percent probability of selling to an existing customer.
To measure the success of marketing efforts aimed at "upselling" current clients, track the KPI average client transaction. How much money does the pet owner spend, either per visit for a granular look, or over the course of the year? Do those numbers trend up?
You can also measure customer lifetime value (or how much revenue you expect a given customer to generate for your veterinary practice over the entire course of your relationship). It's important to maintain a strong ratio of marketing spend to revenue. One calculation advises every $1 spent marketing should generate $1.
By taking a holistic look at your veterinary marketing efforts, you can assess whether you're devoting time and resources to all three buckets. Pick the right KPIs to measure your progress and you will start to see results.