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Leveraging OaaS to Create a Go-To Platform For Vets and Pet Parents

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Executive Summary

Company Brief

GreatVet, an online vet directory, is dedicated to helping pet parents find and build the best veterinary relationships possible. Being pet parents themselves, the founding team was well-aware of the challenges faced by pet parents during their pet’s lifetime and wanted to help the other pet parents through their journey.

For this, they trusted the operator expertise of FirstPrinciples to strategize and build their platform, boost their annual growth alongside ensuring an amazing user experience, a complete Operator Platform package.

Challenges

For Vets:

  • There wasn’t a common platform where veterinarian clinics and animal hospitals could showcase their services and drive traffic to their offerings; 

For pet parents

  • Skimming through pages of online resources to find a cure for their distressed pet.

The idea of building a platform that will seamlessly satisfy both the parties needed time and a proper execution plan which was difficult owing to the time constraints of the GV team. 

Here’s a glimpse of the challenges:

  1. Creating a complete Product Roadmap
  2. Changes in Tech Stack
  3. High App Runtime Speed
  4. Organic Growth for Cities on the Platform

Solution

Since our engagement contract was built on the foundation of Operator Platform – which includes technical due diligence, product engineering, and marketing pods, we kickstarted the process by brainstorming what functionalities we could incorporate in the existing product that will benefit their client base.

Here’s an overview of the exact strategies we implemented to build our operational partner’s platform and boost their web traffic:

  1. A detailed review of all the technical aspects of the web app aka technical due diligence helped our team visualize the risks and opportunities associated with it
  2. A product roadmap for 12-24 months was created with which we were able to shed more light in terms of design, functionalities, feature categorization, which cities to target, etc.
  3. Brainstorm to understand the requirements of the project and propose strategies and key steps for better design, functionality, and usability alongside positioning of the web app (our objective was to create a growth story to make the UX more relatable)
  4. Migrated the frontend to ReactJS to enhance operational speed and converted Ruby on Rails to NodeJS
  5. Identifying direct competitors, thorough analysis of the potential users, the market, and the industry expectation
  6. Developing a cohesive Content Strategy to address the needs of both pet owners and target vets, and utilizing Content Syndication to boost referral traffic
  7. Actively participating in relevant Forum Discussions 
  8. Optimizing incredibly important SEO issues, such as broken links, missing H1, improper URL structure, etc
  9. Utilizing Value-jammed Guides which included rich media to give pet owners all the information they need

Payoff

With the previously mapped 18-24 month objectives in place (as a part of our Operator Platform model), we were able to compare the projected goals with the achieved ones.

At present, GreatVet has found a place amongst the top brands in this industry, and our solutions yielded exceptional results within months and it’s been smooth sailing ever since. 

Here’s an overview:

  1. Page visits and impressions increased to 7k+ and 200k+ respectively in 12 months
  2. Page load speed reduced significantly which resulted in a better user experience and reduced the bounce rate
  3. Currently are ranking at position 1- 10 for over 600 keywords and have 30k+ backlinks (as per SemRush data)

Let’s dive into the details!

The idea behind GreatVet was to create a one-stop platform for pet parents as well as vets, for the former is not only connected them with the vets and pet clinics but also acted as a knowledge base by giving them insights into pet care, and for the latter it helped promote their services, drive traffic to their clinic and grow their practice organically with onsite appointment booking options.

This was an industry niche that needed to be addressed, and although there were a couple of options targeting this audience segment, none of them was as extensive as GreatVet was going to be, and to build this end-to-end solution the stakeholders believed in our operational expertise.

case study on vets platform

Challenges

Challenge 1: Time Constraints

Owing to time constraints, the founding members of GreatVet needed a team who could build strategies, create action plans for GreatVet and ensure its smooth execution, from development to driving in traffic.

Our in-depth process and tech assessment helped visualize the risks and opportunities with the SaaS as well as build a roadmap to the future.

Challenge 2: High App Runtime Speed

App runtime speed and performance are the key to an application’s success, especially for apps with millions of users, these two parameters are crucial.

Achieving this with the current tech stack was proving to be difficult as runtime speed is not amongst its strengths. 

In fact, a quick PageSpeed check using Lighthouse revealed that the Page load speed of GreatVet was very high ~ 20-25s.

Challenge 3: Enhancing the Tech Stack in Use

In the WebApp set up the data was pulled from CSVs which was adding to the overall load speed and since each second delay decreases the number of page views, we had to come up with a better alternative.

RoR’s dependency on components and modules made customization increasingly challenging.

Challenge 4: Organic Growth for Cities on the Platform

An in-depth analysis of their Google Analytics and Search Console dashboard revealed the following:

  • The number of sessions was gradually decreasing from > 60% to 10% and the conversion rate was 0%

Traffic and conversion trends

  • Most of the top landing pages had a high bounce rate > 45%

High Bounce Rate

  • The page URL Structure was a deterrent, for example- https://www.greatvet.com/clinics/5j0lzdj3
  • The organic traffic was low at 63/month as they had come out of the google sandbox only then

Organic Traffic By Month

  • Additionally, for becoming a Go-To site for pet owners they didn’t have a dedicated blog page

keyword ranking

Solution

To catapult GreatVet into category leaders, we started the implementation of an OaaS solution which is divided into two categories – Product Engineering and Product Marketing.

Step 1:

Technical Due Diligence

We kickstarted the process with a complete audit of all the technical aspects of the web app aka technical due diligence – which included, reviewing the code architecture, code documentation, technical documentation, product development lifecycle and the deployment process.

Additionally, a thorough analysis of the potential users, the market, the competitors and the industry expectation was done by our business analysts. 

We also conducted a UI-UX audit and performance issue analysis and mapped out gaps between objectives & current product, codebase, & processes. This helped our team visualize the risks and opportunities associated with the product and sketch out recommendations and solutions within realistic timelines.

Step 2:

Building a Product Roadmap

Understanding the complexity and duration of the project, our team was tasked to take this responsibility and deliver quality at the drop of a dime.

While our development team was evaluating better alternatives, our team of business analysts were analyzing and assessing every possible way to enhance “GreatVet” to give a proper direction to the platform.

After long brainstorming and ideation sessions a product roadmap for 12-24 months was created with which we were able to shed more light in terms of design, functionalities, feature categorization, which cities to target, etc.

Following the agile methodology, our team engaged in daily meetings and regular updates were given to our operational partners on call. With the team introduced to them and the requirements set in place, the team got cracking at the project.

Step 3:

Enhancing the UX

Once we had all the challenges that we needed to address, the first step towards implementing solutions was to design the look of the web app.

After a couple of brainstorming and ideation sessions, our team was able to unravel the different aspects of design, functionality and usability, to be incorporated later.

An in depth analysis of the potential users, the market, and the competitors was done by our business analysts. From a broader perspective, the two main categories of potential users were – Veterinarians or vet hospitals and pet parents, which meant it was important for us to consider the requirements of both to ensure utmost satisfaction.

Our design team took charge and started the process by considering the user persona to give them a more personalized experience. Once all the features and requirements were listed out, our UI-UX designers helped design a highly responsive web app.

mockup

For us a good, interactive design means that all the relevant information is presented to the user at the right time and the user is able to navigate easily through the web app; and although sharing a walkthrough of your web app is a great idea but having an easy to understand and use web app is even better.

Step 4:

Frontend Migrated to React JS

We kick-started the process by migrating the frontend to React JS to enhance operational speed and since NodeJS is better for end-to-end easy Backend API management, we converted Ruby on Rails to NodeJS (part of the reason was that the libraries were old). Also, to address the load speed issue, data was migrated from CSVs to Database.

Step 5:

Multiple Search Options

To help the users get what they are looking for, we gave users 3 different search techniques, this helped them find the best veterinarians around them or in their area of choice within no time.

Search Option 1:

A list of best vets in the area of their choice:

location specific search

Search Option 2:

Using the map to get a glimpse of clinics available for booking, this feature was carefully curated to enhance the UX and deliver the best results.

vets map usa

Search Option 3:

By typing the addresses in the search bar:

Local SEO

Further, filter options such as the near zip code, open hours and timings, etc. helps the users narrow down their search. The overall look was kept clean with visible icons for quick search results.

Step 6:

Additional Vet Fields

To help pet owners narrow down their search results, additional fields were added in the vet profiles that would give the former a peek at the areas of expertise, treating conditions, procedures used at the clinics and animals the vets or clinics cater to. This is what a typical web page for a vet clinic looks like:

Additional Vet Fields

Step 7:

Adding SEO to their Strategy

SEO is a boon for web apps especially for companies like our operating partners GreatVet as it offers a cost-effective way to drive qualified traffic. We divided the entire process into phases, as mentioned below:

Phase 1:

An in depth analysis of their Google Analytics and Search Console dashboard (as mentioned in Challenge 3) to get a clear understanding of the SEO challenges they faced.

Post that, Phase 2 was evaluating possible solutions and Phase 3 was of course implementation.

Phase 2:

  1. The goal for SEO was clearly to increase the organic traffic, number of sessions and enhance user engagement on the site
  2. The results derived from data analysis and an in depth site audit gave us insights into how we should design our initial strategy to get the most out of SEO
  3. URLs needed to be updated as clear, understandable URLs with appropriate titles is mandatory for them to show in the search results

Phase 3:

  1. On-page elements not only influence a website’s rankings but also help Google understand what the page is about – relevance of the content, keywords targeting and quality of the content. For our operating partner, we tweaked the:
    • Meta Title – Adjust the SEO title and meta description
    • URL – Short and descriptive URL with Keywords
    • Updated the missing Alt attributes
    • Added the missing H1 tag on several pages
    • Removed broken outgoing links
    • Designed a proper strategy to rectify the Low word count issue on several pages
    • Solved title tags and meta descriptions duplicity issues for 100+ pages, etc.
  2. We started off by building a Keyword Strategy, for which we created a thorough list of keywords along with LSI keywords  (with good search volume and low competition), curated a list of topics and mapped each topic with the relevant primary and secondary keywords to lay thee foundation for content strategy.
  3. Since we had to build their “Blog” section from scratch, we initially started off by choosing “City-specific Ultimate Guides” to target the local audience within the respective areas. We then moved on to work on developing for the website to build contextual relevance on the website, interactive infographics and well-curated blogs and value-jammed guides to give pet owners all the information they need.Traffic and conversion trends
  4. For content marketing and distribution, we used the concept of Content Syndication to strategically distribute content and create varying forms of content; for distribution of content, we analyzed the websites and platforms our user persona engages with the most.

As for the type of content, we worked on informative guest posts, interactive infographics, ultimate guides on pressing issues (such as Pet care during COVID-19, bringing a new pet home, etc.). For maximum visibility, we created a content promotion strategy that included:

  1. Content Syndication- Worked on creating slides, press releases, etc.
  2. Content Distribution- Shortlisted blogs and websites to share guest blogs and relevant informative content
  3. Forum Discussions- Actively participated in discussions on websites as Quora, Reddit, and pet owner forums and tried our best to solve user pain points by answering queries
  4. An important content distribution and backlink tactic that we implemented was creating infographics that were cross-posted to build maximum traction

Payoff

As mentioned earlier, our goal was to get as much traffic as we could, and we were overjoyed to see that goal achieved immediately. Implementation of the aforementioned solutions and techniques we were able to improve their site’s overall performance. 

  1. Exponentially increasing website traffic, be it organic or paid, is the holy grail of online business development. Within days of implementation of the above-mentioned solutions, we were able to see the changes as traffic started pouring in
  2. Owing to the Verified badge and Book an Appointment feature, the appointment rate through their website surged
  3. The page load speed was significantly reduced which meant a better user experience which in turn reduced the bounce rate and increased the sessions
  4. Currently, they are ranking at position 1- 10 for over 600 keywords and have 30k+ backlinksOrganic keywords trend
  5. The page visits and impressions have significantly increased, currently standing at 7k+ and 200k+ per month respectively

Conclusion

To all the SaaS Founders out there who are scared to give the concept of Operator Platform a shot, we know the efforts you’ve put into your product which is why we put in our 100% to ensure that it grows, just like we did for GreatVet.

In fact, they were all praises about our precision in design, quality in development and overall professionalism, and on-time delivery of the promises we made on that first call.

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