So, you’ve invested in a mobile app for your veterinary practice, and you want as many clients as possible to use it. But how do you encourage pet owners to download your app? Before we get into the how, let’s talk about the why.
Why is it important for your clients to download and use your veterinary practice’s mobile app?
It strengthens the bond
Vet2Pet data shows the average two-year retention rate of clients is about 52–57%. This means that nearly one of every two clients seen at the practice will not be seen again in the next two years. This is terrible. The veterinary team is basically going on a bunch of first dates and never getting to the good part of the relationship. Think of your mobile app as a tether between the client and the veterinary practice. It’s the link that keeps them in the practice’s ecosystem when they may be tempted to go elsewhere, or more likely stall out with their pet’s healthcare.
It’s a client education tool
We Google. Clients Google. The reason for Googling is to find an answer to a question. When you think about it, it’s pretty amazing that we have the ability to query 1,200 petabytes of information—the equivalent of 400 trillion songs (which I Googled by the way)—instantly to find answers. Perhaps it’s more amazing for those of us with traumatic memories of using the Dewey Decimal System at the local library as the sole source of information. Society has come a long way, so who’s to blame a client for Googling information about their pet’s health situation when most practices aren’t providing enough education in ways clients can absorb and retain it?
Notifications are a powerful way to elevate the veterinary client education program at any practice:
- After a visit, send a notification with a summary and supplemental educational content, so clients can refer back to it whenever necessary.
- Send notifications through your veterinary practice’s mobile app every two weeks with educational content that will help clients take better care of their pets. Notifications are unique in their ability to target certain groups of the audience. For example, send osteoarthritis information to all clients that own Labradors over the age of 10 years, or send a puppy tip of the week to all clients with a dog under the age of 1 year. The Vet2Pet platform has hundreds of templates locked and loaded just waiting to be queued up.
- Share urgent news regarding emergency preparedness, pet food recalls, and infectious disease outbreaks in your local community.
It opens the lines of communication
When clients have your veterinary practice’s mobile app on their phone, they can easily start a conversation with the practice and feel connected to their trusted advisor. When done well, this is a powerful bonding tool.
There are many other benefits to having your practice’s app installed on the devices of as many of your clients as possible, including:
- It allows your practice to showcase your own online store for refills, rather than leaving clients to Google (and find some big online retailer).
- It provides access to payment application services, like CareCredit, so when clients call without means to pay, they can be directed to download your app and obtain a line of credit before coming to the practice unprepared to pay.
- It provides direct access to poison helplines.
Essentially, when a client has your veterinary practice’s mobile app, they have their trusted ally—your veterinary team—in their back pocket.
How to encourage clients to download your veterinary practice’s mobile app
Want to experience all the benefits that come with more clients using your practice’s app? Here are the top 11 ways to increase app downloads:
1: Have a personalized icon and app name for your practice
2: Offer a loyalty program in the app
3: Offer exclusive promotions through your app
4: Just tell them
Most people just do what they are told without thinking about it too much. When clients check in for an appointment, tell them to download your practice’s app while they wait. Seal the deal by giving them two or three benefits they will experience by doing so. Here’s a sample script:
“While you’re waiting for your appointment, go ahead and download our mobile app on your phone. It will sync to our software and you’ll be able to see when your pet has services coming due, send us a chat when you have a question, and easily order refills from us.”
5: Advertise onsite
Your goal should be to have 80–90% of the clients who walk through your door on a daily basis download your practice’s app. Use printed and digital materials to advertise the benefits and provide instruction on how to access the app. Some examples include:
- Posters in the exam rooms
- Rack cards to give to clients while they wait, or to send with go-home materials
Selfie slideshow playing in your lobby (this is a unique Vet2Pet feature that allows clients to submit a pet selfie from the app)
6: Use QR code stickers on medication packages
7: Embed links to the app in appointment confirmation messages
8: Include QR codes on postcard reminders
9: Drive awareness with on-hold messaging
Many practices are experiencing extremely high call volumes. Why not reduce your phone calls by using your on-hold messaging to redirect clients to your app if they’re calling to request a prescription refill or schedule an appointment? Here’s a sample script:
“We are experiencing very high call volumes. If you are calling for a medication refill or would like to schedule an appointment, please download our app for faster service. Search <insert app name> in the Apple Store or Google Play Store. Otherwise, please continue to hold and we will be with you as soon as possible.”
10: Promote on social media
11: Embed links to your app on your practice’s website home page
Don’t bury the links to download your app multiple clicks deep on your website—put the links on the home page in the top navigation bar. This needs to be front and center, because 68.1% of website traffic is from mobile devices.3
In summary, there are TNTC4 reasons to offer a mobile app to pet owners. Your clients want easier ways to connect and communicate with your practice. And, for your practice, having an engagement platform that specializes in mobile apps is an essential, affordable part of a business strategy focused on strengthening the bond with clients.
Don’t have a mobile app for your veterinary practice? Schedule a demo to find out if Vet2Pet is the right platform for you.
4. Too numerous to count, a common term used to describe cells in blood smears and urinalysis samples