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The business case for a vet to buy website traffic

by
01 October 2015, at 1:00am

PAUL GREEN looks at the internet’s two biggest centres for advertising and examines what makes them of so much use, financially speaking, to veterinary practices, where a few clicks can turn into long-term profit

THERE is a new website traffic paradigm that has become dominant in UK online marketing over the last year.

In 2014 I could have given you 10 or 20 different ways to generate good quality traffic. These days, you should focus most of your effort on just two sources: Google and Facebook.

In fact, I now recommend you put 80% of your resource for new client marketing into Google, and the remaining 20% into Facebook. There are other ways to get traffic, but these two are the simplest, fastest way to get the right people to your website, at the right time.

How did this happen? It’s been creeping up on us for a number of years. Both of these enormous companies have been making incremental changes to their service that have made them more relevant to users…and have also turned them into cash-generating machines.

Google generates $80 billion a year and Facebook is playing catch-up on $12 billion a year. You see, they’ve discovered that the more relevant they make the content they put in front of people, the more money they make. Google has managed to hide the pay per click adverts in plain sight. They used to have an orange box around them at the top of the page. And considering most people prefer not to click the adverts, it was easy to skip over them.

Not any more. Now they have a tiny little yellow label that says “ad”. Most people don’t see this, and so click on the adverts without realising that’s what they are doing.

Whereas once to be at the top you had to rely purely on search engine optimisation (SEO – still important), it’s now easier to buy your way to the top of the listing by outbidding your competitors for the adverts.

Facebook is pulling off a similar trick. With 1.44 billion users and an average daily user session of about 20 minutes, it has discovered how to put more of the content each individual person wants to see directly in front of them.

This means they are less likely to see what you are publishing. Most practices are realising that fewer people are seeing their Facebook content.

Just like Google, Facebook makes it easy for you to throw money at this problem. The Facebook advertising platform allows you to place adverts into people’s news feeds.

You can do some incredibly precise targeting. And Facebook advertising has a lower cost today, making the return on investment (ROI) potentially greater.

This has been a fundamental shift in a very short period of time. But there’s good news. You see, all UK vets are in exactly the same boat. We can’t control what’s happening, but we can control the way we react to it.

See, while many practice owners will be floundering about thinking small, saying “I’m not paying £2 for a click… what a rip off ”, you can think bigger.

There is a very solid business case for buying traffic if you look past the initial transaction and think about the big picture.

Imagine it costs you £2 per click, and it takes 10 clicks for you to get a client. There’s an assumption there that you have a website that is efficient at converting traffic into clients.

This will come from emotionally connecting with visitors (people pick a new vet with their heart, not their brain) and using smart data capture to find out who’s visiting your site, then following them up.

Ten clicks to get a client means 100 clicks to get 10 clients. Let’s say you have an initial consultation fee of £65, so your 10 new clients spend £650 with you. The initial transaction sees £200 spent on traffic, and £650 revenue in.

That’s where most practice owners would stop analysing. They would see that the cash has been replaced, but there’s not really any profit, and so they would switch off their pay per click advertising.

But the real results lie in the bigger picture because the true value of a client to your practice is not just what they spend today, but what they spend in the long-term.

Let’s imagine your vets are good at talking about your health plan with new clients. So good, that one in three new clients say yes and sign up. That’s a conversion rate of 30%.

And let’s assume the average spend on a health plan is £12 per month. Now it’s looking interesting because that’s £144 of additional revenue, per health plan client. And it boosts the overall revenue picture to look like Table 1.

£200 out. £1,082 in. That looks better, doesn’t it?

But there’s more. Because that’s just taking into account the first year revenues. Most clients will stay with your practice for a number of years. What’s the average lifetime value of a new client to your practice? It’s probably higher than you think.

And that’s the ultimate long-term big thinking: “If I spend £20 on traffic today, I’ll get my money back at the initial consultation. Make some profit within a year. And generate thousands in revenue over the next four to five years.”

Sure, the devil’s in the detail, and every practice will have a totally different set of figures. But looking at the principle, what’s not to like?