The online landscape is continually changing, and those who wish to keep up must often move fast. While psychotherapy is a traditional career in many ways and may stick to heavily tested practices, your digital marketing strategy should not adhere to this philosophy.
But just as following evidence-based procedure is key to being a good therapist, making decisions informed by data and trends can help you stay on top of (and even ahead of) the ever-shifting current of digital marketing best practices.
The year 2020 is nearly upon us, but it’s never a bad idea to take time to evaluate your goals for the year and get back on track (or find a new strategy, if necessary). The following tips are for future-oriented mental health professionals looking to improve their marketing strategy as time and technology march forward.
How to Keep Your Therapy Website Relevant and Up-To-Date
Utilize white space
Have you ever visited a website so colorful, cluttered, or visually confusing that it caused you to instantly navigate back to your results page? Contrast that experience with a time you visited a visually clean website that only put a few words in front of you at a time.
Which one was easier to use? Which one inspired your trust?
Strategic and appropriate use of “white space”, or blank space, has become so popular that its application is now almost formulaic. Incorporating this minimalist design not only makes for easy use, but also signals to potential clients that you keep your website up-to-date and that it will be a quick, easy, and effective way to contact you.
Did you know? According to a study in the Journal of Advertising Research, visual crowding increases a viewer’s negative attitude toward advertisements (and ad content) contributing to the clutter.
Consider brand consistency
When a website’s theme, message, and mission are clear throughout its mass of pages, it may be said that website has a consistent brand. What does consistent branding mean on a practical level, and why does it matter?
If you’re a mental health professional, considering your personal brand may feel unnecessary or foreign. However, consistency across a website is something any business owner should aim for, whether they’re a single private practice owner or manager of a group practice of twenty professionals.
When your brand is consistent, site visitors (and potential clients) can more easily digest the information you’ve invested so much effort into putting out there. A strong personal brand inspires trust, one of the primary ingredients in a strong therapeutic alliance. To start building your brand, create a website style guide and stick to it.
A style guide may include not only visual elements such as formatting and color, but also rules around spelling and word choice. For example, you might choose to refer to “mental illness” as a mental health “issue” or “concern” in an effort to reduce stigma around that topic. In the process, you’re communicating to potential clients your dedication to a nonpathologizing approach in therapy.
Did you know? Research published in the Journal of Product and Brand Management revealed brands which maintain higher levels of consistency are perceived as more authentic.
If you’ve read even one marketing article in the past half decade, you’ve probably come across the concept of storytelling as an effective way to connect with your audience, readers, or potential clients.
Storytelling for mental health professionals often has a couple key functions:
- A personal approach makes it easier for people seeking therapy to feel comfortable reaching out to you.
- Storytelling offers an authentic approach to marketing. If you work primarily with Millennials or young adults, this approach has been proven particularly effective.
One straightforward way to incorporate storytelling into your marketing approach is to give your “About Me” page the attention it deserves. Make sure you’re offering potential clients information that helps them understand who you are and why you’re passionate about what you do.
Check your site speed
Site speed is one of your first opportunities not only to make a good impression on those who visit your website seeking therapy, but to retain them. As more people access the internet using smartphones, mobile page load time is yet another key consideration.
According to MachMetrics.com, it takes an average of 22 seconds for a mobile webpage to load. Fifty-three percent of people, meanwhile, will leave in search of a better site if it takes more than 3 seconds to load on their phone. This statistic communicates how vital speed is to maintaining an effective website that helps you reach people searching for immediate help.
There are a myriad of ways to reduce page load time on your site—a few commonly cited methods include browser caching, reevaluating the sizes of the images you use, and utilizing content delivery networks (CDNs). If this sounds confusing, don’t worry! A quick Google search can be useful for exploring in further depth how you can boost your site speed.
You can also build your website through a service that does this work for you, such as BrighterVision.
Link to your social media accounts
The role of social media in content marketing continues to be key, regardless of which platform is most popular at any given moment. How you interact on social media as a therapist and which social media platforms you use most are up to you.
If you’re unsure about which social media platforms to join or participate in, consider who you want to reach and where that audience spends a good amount of their time. If you specialize in serving elderly clients, for example, it might not be necessary to maintain an active presence on Instagram or Snapchat. Likewise, you may find you reach fewer Millennial or Generation Z individuals through older, more established platforms such as Facebook.
How does your professional social media activity influence your website? Simply put, it’s important for social media channels you’re active on to be easily accessible from your website. Since social media is where people go to engage with each other and share information, it’s imperative for a brand to have enough social media presence to convey a sense of trust to potential clients.
Did you know? A 2011 survey found time was reported to be a top obstacle for small businesses working to maintain an active social media presence.
Make sure your contact forms are easy to use
The degree to which your website makes you accessible may be one of the most influential factors in whether a person who visits your website becomes your client. Making sure you have strong calls-to-action (CTAs) throughout your site and a clear, easy-to-use contact form can greatly improve the likelihood people will reach out to you.
One tip for creating a contact form that gets results: Do the work for your site visitors. For example, you could simplify the user experience for potential clients by including short and easy fields for them to fill out. You could also include some pre-written options in the form of checkboxes or radio buttons. While shouldering too much of the “workload” may be frowned upon for therapists in an emotional sense, simplifying the user experience can make individuals more likely to reach out to you and ensure contacting you will require very little exertion on their part.
Who Has Time to Maintain a Website?
It may seem like too much for one person to keep on top of maintaining a website in addition to working with clients, marketing your practice, and running a business. It’s okay if web design isn’t your top priority. You can still have a clean, up-to-date, and relevant website.
Services like BrighterVision allow you to create a beautiful and functional website for your practice in just a few simple steps, allowing you to spend more time doing what matters. If you don’t yet have a website or are tired of spending too much time on the one you currently have, give BrighterVision a try and see how easy maintaining a website can be.
- Austin, C. (2018, March 22). 5 ways to improve your website load time & performance in 2019. Retrieved from https://www.impactbnd.com/blog/the-importance-of-website-load-time
- Average page load times for 2018 - How does yours compare? (2018, February 25). Retrieved from https://www.machmetrics.com/speed-blog/average-page-load-times-websites-2018
- Gligorijevic, B., & Leong, B. (2011). Trust, reputation, and the small firm: Building online brand reputation for SMEs. Retrieved from https://www.aaai.org/ocs/index.php/ICWSM/ICWSM11/paper/view/2814/3226
- Ha, L. (1996). Advertising clutter in consumer magazines: Dimensions and effects. Journal of Advertising Research. Retrieved from https://go.galegroup.com/ps/anonymous?id=GALE%7CA18782739&sid=googleScholar&v=2.1&it=r&linkaccess=abs&issn=00218499&p=AONE&sw=w
- Jackson, S. (2018, September 7). Importance of brand consistency: 7 key approaches for keeping aligned. Retrieved from https://www.clearvoice.com/blog/brand-consistency-why-its-so-important-how-to-achieve-it
- Schallehn, M., Burmann, C., & Riley, N. (2014). Brand authenticity: Model development and empirical testing. Journal of Product & Brand Management, 23(3), 192-199. Retrieved from https://www.emeraldinsight.com/doi/abs/10.1108/JPBM-06-2013-0339
- What will a website look like in 2020? (2018, April 12). Retrieved from https://www.doliadesign.co.uk/blog/what-will-a-website-look-like-in-2020
- Woodside, A. G., Sood, S., & Miller, K. E. (2008, January 11). When consumers and brands talk: Storytelling theory and research in psychology and marketing. Psychology & Marketing, 25(2), 97-145. Retrieved from https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1002/mar.20203