It’s very easy to think that attackers wouldn’t be interested in your website - after all, even the biggest veterinary practice looks like small fry next to BA, or the NHS, or one of the big department stores. And that’s true, from a certain point of view - you have far fewer visitors. However, that also makes you an excellent target for people distributing malware, or trying to set up a botnet, or indeed any other “black hat” (aka “cybercriminal”) out there. In this blog, I want to talk about a worrying trend we’ve seen recently in terms of hacking attempts on what seem like really low profile websites.
The greatest constant is change, as they say… and we’re REALLY seeing it in marketing at the moment! We were just getting used to dealing with the Baby Boomers, but now we’ve got to adapt to Gen X, and the “Millennials” - and the first of Gen Z are now reaching adulthood too. As a result, strategies that might have worked as little as ten years ago are increasingly becoming ineffective! In this blog, I’m going to briefly review what we know about the current trends in client preferences - and give a sneak peek at some of our new research.
It appears to be a feature of modern life - brand names change, it sometimes seems, as quickly as the seasons! And in our industry, it’s more common than most, with corporates and chains buying up independents, and independents rebranding through mergers, partnership changes, or even just to carve out a niche. However, once you factor in websites, there’s a very real security risk in rebranding that is often forgotten by web devs, marketing agencies and even security professionals. In this blog, we’re going to be talking about some truly frightening research reported this week by the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre.
I’m sure your practice has a website now - not having one is a sure-fire way to lose clients (or at least, not to gain them!). However… what device are you reading this on? If it’s a desktop computer, you’re in a tiny minority! Even if it’s on a full-sized laptop, that’s not common either. While that might be how you prefer to browse the internet, it isn’t the norm any more - and hasn’t been since 2016. So, is your website ready for a modern audience? Or are you losing potential clients who can’t access the riches your site has to offer?
There are an increasing number of veterinary practices in the UK - however, the number of pets is static, or even trending slightly downward. That means that to successfully run a practice in most (although not quite all!) areas, you are in competition - professional, possibly even friendly, but still competition - with neighbouring practices. In this blog, we’re going to focus on recruiting new clients and retaining existing fringe-clients, and how digital marketing can help with that.
In case you didn’t know, the PDSA’s 2018 PAW report has just been published. The key point that was apparent throughout the document was how poorly informed many of the UK’s pet owners are. This is abundantly clear in the dearth of knowledge about the Animal Welfare Act (25% had apparently never heard of it, and poor knowledge of this legislation strongly correlates with poor provision of preventative healthcare; and only 13% could correctly identify all 5 Welfare Needs). It is also clear that with pet obesity a growing problem (in every sense!) there is a genuine crisis in pet owner education. Increasingly, we’re dealing with an online, highly connected client base, for whom telephoning or visiting their vet is not their preferred method of seeking information.
Anyone who follows the technical or marketing press will know that, in January, Facebook made some dramatic changes to their newsfeed algorithm. This was described in no uncertain terms as being “catastrophic” and a “disaster” for publishers and businesses, with one blogger coining my favourite neologism of the year the “Algopocalypse”. Now that all the dust has settled, this blog is going to look at the changes, and assess the impact they’ve had on the wider online publishing industry, and on us at VetHelpDirect.
OK, I know I said I wouldn’t write another one… but we’re really worried about how much confusion there is among vets about the GDPR. Unfortunately, there is some misleading and even factually inaccurate information being published in the veterinary press which could cause commercial problems for practices, frustration to clients and even, potentially, animal welfare issues. In particular, we’re worried about the idea that seems to have taken hold to the effect that you always need to get consent to email your existing client base.
I’m really (really!) hoping this will be my last blog on the GDPR for a while… Once we hit 25th May, although of course the ongoing burden of monitoring and maintaining compliance and implementing Privacy Impact Assessments will remain, I intend to take a nice long break from the subject! However, there is one absolutely vital facet we need to remember. For those of us who have spent however long up to our eyeballs in this stuff, it’s easy to forget that for most of our colleagues, it’s just a set of initials. Unfortunately, in the eyes of the law, this is not sufficient!
Hopefully everyone’s well on the way to being compliant with the new GDPR - remember, it kicks in on 25th May, so not much time now! However, there are two important areas we haven’t covered yet. The first is how we deal with the huge pile of paperwork that is required to prove that we are “accountable” and “compliant” - that’s what we’re going to look at here. The second we’ll look at in a week or so, and that’s Staff Training.
There are three vital sets of documents that you’ll need if you are going to be compliant with the new law. These are: