The mental health industry is complex.
Not only are mental health care providers like you dealing with complex mental issues, but the mental health care system itself can be difficult to navigate.
Your digital marketing should not add to the overwhelm.
Wouldn’t it be nice if the only stressor coming from your digital marketing efforts was the onboarding of new patients, not coming up with a strategy?
We thought it might.
That’s why we created this outline of five strategic steps that harness digital marketing to bring in new mental health patients.
5 Digital Marketing Steps That Bring in New Mental Health Patients
As a mental health care provider, you will understand this better than most–a good digital marketing strategy requires a strong understanding of human psychology.
In marketing school, we study something called the “four stages of the buying cycle,” the process which consumers go through when they are making purchase decisions.
The stages are: Attract, Engage, Convert, and Close.
First, mental health patients must be attracted to our services, then they may engage with us if encouraged, then convert if they are given enough reason to do so, then, finally, become a new patient when they are ready (close).
It is our job as digital marketers to help guide them through this process.
For this reason, every one of our digital marketing efforts should fall under one of these four stages in our strategy.
“Why five steps when there are four stages?” you may ask.
There are a few foundational pieces that we need to lay before we begin our digital marketing strategy–these contribute to a fifth stage–let’s call it “Prepare.”
1. Lay the Foundation for Your Digital Marketing (Prepare)
When we begin a new digital marketing strategy for a mental health client like you, we always ask them two questions:
- How does your brand look?
- How is your website doing?
Why do we care?
#1 Your brand is going to impact the appearance of your entire digital marketing campaign.
#2 Your website is where we are going to send all interested mental health patients.
Because these two elements are so foundational to digital marketing, your first step is to get them ready.
So what makes for a good-looking mental health brand?
A good brand visually communicates who you are and what you do in a split second.
This is achieved through simplicity and clarity.
Your brand should include your clinic name in an easy-to-read font, maybe a clean icon that visually represents something about you, and one or two well-matched colors that are easy on the eyes (if you are comfortable with color palettes, maybe more).
If this is not your brand, consider making these few tweaks before you begin your digital marketing strategy.
And what makes for a successful mental health website?
A strong website is easy to navigate to find information.
It also guides interested mental health patients further along the buying cycle.
If your website is jumbled, messy, disorganized, or lacks a clear goal, you may want to change that before you begin your digital marketing strategy.
Clean up your website–organize your website pages and information–to create a clear goal, include calls-to-action across your website like, “Schedule a Free Consultation” so interested mental health patients know what you want them to do next.
2. Attract New Mental Health Patients
Once your brand and website are ready, you are ready to begin your digital marketing strategy!
It’s time to attract new mental health patients.
For starters, identify who these people are.
You know that they have a mental health condition–depending on the focus of your clinic, you may know exactly which one.
But what about their other demographics and details?*
- What ages and stages of life do your patients typically come to you in?
- What are their careers, hobbies, and interests?
- When they are thinking about registering for your services, how are they feeling?
- What are they doing to find mental health services like yours?
- Where do they go to get help?
*If the decision-maker is a caretaker, answer these questions for them instead.
The answers to these questions will give you the tools you need empathize with your target audience–to address the mental and emotional place that these people are in–to attract them to your mental health clinic.
The “where do they go?” question is easy–in fact, we can answer it for you–they are turning to social media, and to Google.
In the Attract stage, you will be placing empathic messages on these platforms that your target audiences use the most.
You will also be using the digital tools provided by social media and Google to target your audience with your messages according to their demographics.
Don’t believe us that your target audience is on social media?
Here’s a powerful statistic that will hopefully convince you:
In the United States alone, Facebook has 214 million users, that’s 65% of the population!
At Beacon, we use Facebook and Instagram the most.
They are the most popular social media platforms (with the most market share)–they also allow for the most robust targeting.
Using demographics like location, the groups your target audience follows, their interests, and more, you can put your empathetic messages directly in front of the people who will respond.
Start by setting up accounts with these social media platforms if you do not have them already.
Begin creating advertisements that show people like those in your target audience succeeding because of your services.
Write empathetic messages that address the specific struggle they are facing, and show a way forward by working with you.
In all of your ads, include a call-to-action to either visit your website to learn more or send them directly to a phone number or contact page, to continue to push forward the buying cycle.
Similar to Facebook and Instagram, Google has the most market share among its competitors:
In December of 2018, Google had 246 million U.S. unique visitors, that’s a 63% market share!
For this reason, we recommend running your search advertisements through Google, and not other engines.
Google advertisements sit at the top of the search results page.
Just like with social media ads, you want to include empathetic messages and a clear call-to-action.
Create a Google AdWords account to get started.
Google’s Help tool will walk you through how to target your demographics.
Another way to get to the top of the Google results page is through blogging.
Find out what questions your target audience is searching, then write blogs answering those questions so you come up first in their searches!
To find the questions people are asking about mental health, visit Answer the Public.
Answer the Public is a great tool that sources all of the searches people make and organizes them according to topics.
Enter your topic (say, “counseling”) into the Answer the Public search bar and choose a blog topic from among the questions provided.
Ranking for the question you choose is a little bit more complicated than just writing about it.
Make sure your blog is between 1,600-2,000 words and optimized for the keywords and phrases in the question.
This means that if your blog is about, say, “cognitive behavioral therapy,” the exact phrasing of this keyword should show up in your blog multiple times so that Google knows what you are talking about.
3. Engage them with Digital Marketing
After your target audience is attracted to your mental health practice through your social media or Google ads or blogs, you don’t want them making just a one-time visit to your website or social media page.
It is said that a person must see something at least seven times before they give meaningful thought to a purchase decision.
Keep them engaged using the following digital marketing tools.
Video is the easiest format of media for us to consume, after all, there is no effort involved in sitting and watching a screen!
Consider using informative or entertaining video in your advertising (30-120 seconds tops!) to keep your target audience coming back for more.
Remember to stay empathetic to where your target audience is at when they are coming to your practice and avoid messages that shame or make fun of their mental health condition (you know this, of course!).
Social Media Quizzes
By far, one of the best ways to achieve engagement on social media is through quizzes.
If you have ever found out, “Which flavor of ice cream are you?” then you know what we’re talking about.
Create a fun and light-hearted quiz that is relevant to your target audience.
For example, you may try something like, “Which emoji best describes your personality?”
At the end of your quiz, include a call-to-action to maybe, “Learn more about your personality with one of our counselors. Visit our website to schedule an appointment.”
4. Convert New Mental Health Patients
There is often a short window after a person is engaged with your mental health practice to earn their purchase.
It is your job to make it clear that you want to work with them and to make it as easy as possible to do so.
Below are a few digital marketing methods you can use to make offers to your target audience and capture their contact information.
Landing pages are the pages you send your target audience to after they click on a social media or Google ad.
You can include an offer on a landing page, as well as a contact form to capture names and email addresses.
Keep it clear and to the point, for example: “If you use the form below to schedule a free consultation, you will receive your first three counseling sessions free!”
An eBook is an excellent free gift that you can give to your target audience in exchange for contact info.
Perhaps after someone takes the “emoji/personality” quiz on your website, you offer them a downloadable PDF on the different kinds of personalities there are and how each interacts with the world and their relationships.
At the end of the eBook, mention that if the individual reading would come in for a counseling session at your mental health practice, you could help them better understand who they are and how they work.
Other Lead Generation Tools
One of our favorite digital marketing tools at Beacon is the chatbot.
When your target audience visits your website, you can encourage them to engage with your business by starting an automated conversation through chat!
Make sure your chatbot requests contact information so that you have a recorded lead from the conversation.
Your website should also have a clear contact form under a “Contact Us” tab in the menu.
Finally, you can collect names and email addresses by allowing website visitors to subscribe to a free newsletter.
5. Close New Mental Health Patients
It’s time to seal the deal.
How do you do it?
Once again, make it as easy as possible.
Everybody loves free things, and free consultations require no commitment from people, so they are just about as approachable as it can get.
Offer a free consultation on your website and in your advertising to draw people into your mental health practice.
After someone has taken action to visit your practice, it is likely that they will feel more comfortable to visit again!
We hope that these 5 steps help you simplify your digital marketing efforts and bring in new mental health patients!
If you are interested in partnering with someone who can help you continue to navigate the digital marketing world, we would love to talk with you.
You can schedule a free consultation with Co-Founders Adrienne Wilkerson or Jennifer Christensen using our live scheduler, here!