How can your referral practice use digital marketing to connect directly with local pet owners?

If you are a veterinary referral clinic that typically promotes your services in a B2B (business to business) manner to local vets, did you know that there are numerous ways that you can leverage both social media and digital marketing to connect directly to local pet owners?

In fact, with the right strategy, you can ensure that your business is positioned to empower local pet owners to make timely decisions regarding their pets’ healthcare when their pets need to be referred externally for specialist treatment or management of their conditions.

  1. Create educational content aimed at pet owners, not just other vets.

Pet owners are eager to consume informative and educational content regarding the health and well-being of their animals. One of the best ways to form meaningful connections with local pet owners is to create high quality content that showcases your expertise and trustworthiness. Essentially, you should aim to use content to position your referral services as a leading voice within the community so that pet owners can easily recognise the level of service, professionalism and innovation you can offer. (After all, you employ some of the most highly qualified and experienced specialists in your chosen disciplines).

When getting started, looking at the content already out there and determining how you can provide even more value can be helpful. You might want to cite some key statistics or important research papers, integrate your own team’s expertise in a specific area of veterinary care, or simply present information in more engaging or easily digestible ways, such as Q&As, videos and stories.

  1. Leverage targeted Facebook and PPC Ads to build awareness locally.

As a local business, it is important to ensure that you’re putting yourself in front of the right pet owners to benefit from the engagement your online platforms receive. Both Google and Bing PPC, as well as Meta Ads, can be customised to be served to a very specific target audience, which is why they are excellent options to use as part of a wider brand awareness strategy.

Targeted Ads can help you to achieve a range of objectives, including increasing awareness to both audiences simultaneously by speaking to a pet-owning audience as well as serving separate content to veterinary professionals, ensuring that your audience is positively associating you with the specialist services you provide.

  1. Share behind the scenes content.

Consumers, in general, are no longer interested in interacting with faceless businesses that don’t provide any insight into the day-to-day goings on. This is especially true of service based businesses, particularly in the veterinary industry, where pet owners want to know more about the team to whom they trust their pet’s healthcare.

There are numerous ways to provide pet owners with a glimpse behind the scenes of your business, including video tours of your hospital, selecting a member of your team to create a ‘day in the life’ style video showing each of their everyday tasks, or providing a sneak peek of a brand new service you’re launching soon.

  1. Create “meet the team” content.

Similarly, to showcase what goes on behind the scenes of your business, creating dedicated content that introduces your team members to your audience is an excellent way to build a rapport with the people you most want to connect with.

Pets aren’t just animals. They are also important members of the family, which is why pet owners want to ensure that they are placing their trust in the right people at what can be a difficult, worrying or distressing time. By taking the time to introduce each member of your team, including their expertise, qualifications, what they bring to your referral service and even a little bit about what they enjoy doing in their free time, you’re providing your potential clients with a better understanding of who they might be interacting with when they need to engage with the services you provide.

This level of familiarity can help clients feel more comfortable and at ease from the outset, which in turn can help minimise any distress their pet is feeling.

  1. Showcase client testimonials.

Whether you were comparing broadband deals or shopping for a new kitchen appliance, the chances are that you have sought out online reviews and testimonials before completing a purchase. We all know that businesses can make as many claims as they want, but the only way for clients to know whether their expectations will be met is by reading reviews from people who have previously used the company’s products or services.

By encouraging your clients to share their experiences with your referral hospital and ensuring these testimonials are positioned in a visible place on your website, Google, social media or directory such as, you can prove that you are dedicated to delivering on your claims and promises, which will instil trust in your audience in ways that are very hard to match via other tactics or strategies. Local pet owners will see these reviews when researching a referral practice once advised by their GP vet.

  1. Integrate offline events into your online strategy.

A combination of different tactics is always likely to yield the best outcomes, and your strategy can also merge online and offline efforts to reach a wider audience. Suppose you run breed-specific open days, for example, focusing on brachycephalic dogs who will likely require BOAS surgery. In that case, you can boost the impact of these events by sharing them on social media alongside inclusive and educational content around this topic.

In addition to creating content to support the promotion of your event, you could also create content recapping the event after the fact and include some key takeaways and need-to-know facts for anyone who couldn’t attend in person. This ensures that when your hospital or referral service turns up online consistently, it delivers value and you present yourself as an approachable and welcoming business, which may encourage more pet owners to take control of where their pet is referred to if and when the time comes for more specialist treatments and surgeries.

Creating content to educate and engage pet owners, can be time consuming, but don’t worry.

Our team of Vets, RVNs and content creators can do that for you!

Get In touch today