Avoiding Internet marketing is no longer an option for 21st century private practice, yet only a few psychotherapists know how to leverage it effectively. Effective online marketing generally includes a website, social media (Facebook Page, LinkedIn, Google+, Twitter), e-blasts, and cohesive branding. With a little help you can be on your way to a thriving practice.
Regardless of who referred a client to you, modern-day clients decide whether to consider you as their therapist only after they Google you and check your website. Nevertheless, many therapists are either uncomfortable or unaware of these modern-day realities and ignore them to the detriment of their practice. The fact is, online marketing is generally inexpensive and if you cannot do it yourself it is easy to find someone who can do it for you
Online Marketing 101
- Your website is the cornerstone of your online marketing campaign. Once prohibitively expensive, websites are now easy to design and launch. Your website can be online in just a few hours with barely a dent in your pocketbook.
- The ideal website is pleasing to the eye, with information presented in an orderly way and pictures interspersed with the text. Your goal is to inspire people to keep clicking through to the next action item, such as contacting you for an appointment or purchasing your book.
- Make sure the website gives potential clients a personal sense of who you are, your approach, demeanor, personality, views, etc. Your credentials, degrees, etc. are no longer enough.
- Set up an email signature that includes your name, degree/s, website and social media links.
- Facebook Pages are for your business, while Facebook profiles are personal. Keep your personal profile private: do not invite or accept clients as friends. The Facebook page is for a broader audience; update it daily and get as many fans as possible.
- The professional blog can help establish you as an expert, and drive traffic to your website. Post at least once a week, and promote each post via social media.
- Social media marketing is important and effective. You can run campaigns on Twitter, Facebook Page, Google +, and LinkedIn to attract new clients and establish yourself as an approachable expert.
- Email marketing, or e-blasts, can help you reach a wide audience. Start your email marketing campaign by choosing a carrier such as MailChimp or Constant Contact. Companies such as these have templates to work from as well as good customer service to help you learn the ropes. Then put a link on your website inviting people to join your mailing list. Also invite clients, colleagues, students, and others you believe would be interested to join your list.
- Do not buy a mailing list unless it is a list whose members have consented to have their names and email addresses bought or shared. People guard their privacy and receiving uninvited email will annoy and alienate them.
- Send informative messages about once a month. Vary your messages to keep interest and motivate your readers to click and open your email.
- Post news stories, general ideas, quotes, and the occasional inbound link to your website. Be useful and interesting, and watch your following grow.
- Learn about Digital Ethics: always be mindful of confidentiality issues and do not give clinical advice via social media.
- Inform yourself about Online Security and Privacy.
- It’s okay to be controversial. Controversy attracts attention, which is important for marketing. If you have a bold idea, put it in a blog post and watch it stimulate good dialogue.