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 clients to download and use your veterinary practice’s mobile app?
1: 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.
2: 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?
Clients immediately forget 40–80% of the information received from the doctor. 1
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.
3: It opens the lines of communication
Clients want immediate answers to their burning questions (another reason they Google). Building loyalty and strengthening relationships depends on how friendly and accessible the veterinary practice is when clients need advice during the in-between times. The most common reasons clients call the practice are to ask questions regarding whether or not they should bring their pet in, or if there is something they should be doing differently at home, and to get reassurance about their pet’s situation.
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
Make sure that the app icon and app name represent your practice, and that it’s easy to recognize by clients on their device. If clients don’t associate the app icon and name with your practice, chances are they are not going to trust it, remember it, or use it.
2: Offer a loyalty program in the app
Not everyone likes loyalty programs, but 80% of consumers belong to at least one loyalty program 2 because they enjoy opportunities to save money and earn rewards at the business. A loyalty program can be an enticing reason for clients to download your practice’s app. Think of it as the trojan horse that will build your audience for bigger educational notification campaigns down the road. Not to mention, the average gain per practice using the Vet2Pet loyalty program is $142,208 annually.
3: Offer exclusive promotions through your app
People like being treated as a VIP and getting access to special deals. Let clients know that by downloading your app, they will receive exclusive access to flash sales and promotions from your practice. Sending out quick short-dated promotions, like “Free heartworm test with 12 months of parasiticide purchase this week only!” or “$50 off dentals this week only!” can be a powerful tool to drive revenue and nurture bonds with clients.
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
Your QR codes should link to the Apple and Google Play Stores so clients will see the easiest way to get a prescription or food refill.
7: Embed links to the app in appointment confirmation messages
Your messages should inform clients to check-in through their mobile app when they arrive at your practice for their appointment.
8: Include QR codes on postcard reminders
The call-to-action next to the QR code on your postcard reminders can say, “Scan the QR code to download our app and schedule your appointment!”
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
If you’re a Vet2Pet customer, you can download our social media kit on Canva to personalize your content, and then schedule posts once weekly showcasing different features of your app. Also, don’t forget to post pet selfies weekly with the one-click-to-post feature in the Vet2Pet platform. Create a Selfie Saturday and do them all at once!
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