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Where To Invest Your Therapy Advertising Dollars for the Best Conversions

Seventy-nine percent of private practice owners and managers say that attracting new therapy clients is their top priority, according to Beacon’s 2024 State of Mental Health Marketing Report.

Yet for 45% of practice owners, their biggest challenge is knowing what type(s) of marketing work best for their practice.

In other words, where do you put your marketing dollars to best use? And how can you tailor your marketing spend to suit your unique clinic?

There are a number of marketing channels to choose from. Let’s find one (or more likely a mix) that works well for your mental health clinic for your marketing efforts.

Marketing Channels for Mental Health Professionals

Below we’ll cover 8 different marketing channels, what you can expect to spend on each, and tips for getting the most bang for your buck.

Google Ads

Placing ads at the top of Google search results is an effective (and scalable) way to connect with potential clients for most marketing strategies.

The benefits are that you can place a hard limit on your daily ad spend, such as $50 per day— and that you can easily turn off ads when your therapy practice is full.

The major downside is that placing ads can become more expensive as your clinic and your competition grow. (Though that doesn’t mean unprofitable, just less profitable.)

Beacon requested and received Google ads data from 72 mental health clinics. Here are some interesting findings from the data.

  1. The average cost-per-click (CPC) was $3.74. The 25th percentile was $3.11 and the 75th percentile was $4.82.
    It’s important to know your CPC and to bring it as low as you can. Not every click will turn into a new therapy client, so you want to keep your CPC low. If your CPC is $3.74 or lower, you’re doing well.
  2. The average cost per conversion (meaning the average ad spend until a clinic attained a client) was $29.20. Clinics in the 25th percentile spent $23.29 to acquire new clients, while those in the 75th percentile spent $41.00.
    If you’re a larger clinic with space for hundreds of clients, a $10 difference in cost-per-conversion can add up to a significant expense. By dialing in your Google Ads, niche, and website, you can lower your cost per conversion and save more money for your clinic. Aim for a cost per conversion of $29.20 or lower to be in the top half of mental health clinics.
  3. The average monthly conversions for mental health clinics was 29.99. That’s 30 new clients per month through Google Ads, a fact that proves the efficacy in itself.
    Mental health clinics at the 25th percentile gained 18.94 new clients, while those at the 75th percentile gained 40.33 in a month. Aim for 30 or higher to be at or above average in this industry.

If you’re interested in running ads, think about how many new clients you need to attract. Then, spend roughly $300/month per client until you’re full. Just make sure to use data to adjust your ads over time.

And if you’re ready for help from a mental health marketing agency, contact Beacon Media + Marketing today for a free growth plan.

Facebook Ads

Facebook ads have been described as the roadside billboards of online advertising.

As people browse their Facebook feed, they’ll see ads for your clinic on the side and be invited to click.

While Google Ads are shown to those who are searching for therapy services in your area, Facebook ads are shown to people who may or may not be looking for your services.

However, Facebook ads are still highly effective, as Beacon’s benchmark data makes clear.

  1. The average cost per click (CPC) for Facebook ads is $1.58. Mental health clinics at the 25th percentile spent $1.18 per click, and those at the 75th percentile spent $1.78 per click.
    Facebook tracks your cost per click, allowing you to A/B test your ads until you find a winner. It’s important to know your CPC so you can work to make your ads more effective over time.
  2. The average number of leads that mental health clinics got from Facebook ads per month was 7. Clinics at the 25th percentile received 4 leads per month, while those at the 75th percentile got 10 per month.
    If you’re interested in running Facebook ads, aim to get 7 leads (people reaching out for services, whether or not they end up working with your clinic) each month or more.

Benchmark data on cost-per-conversion isn’t available at this moment. However, if you’d like to know your cost-per-conversion for Facebook ads, divide your ad spend for one month by the number of new clients you received in that same month.

Similar to running Google ads, think about how many new clients you need to attract. Then, spend roughly $200-250/month per needed client until you’re full.

Other Paid Ads

Instagram, Twitter/X, Snapchat, LinkedIn, TikTok, and other social media platforms vary in degree of use by mental health clinics for advertising.

One interesting finding from Beacon’s 2024 report is that “87% of all clinic and practice owners surveyed say they are already utilizing paid social media advertising.”

So the widespread adoption is already there. What’s lacking is clear information about how well advertising on these other platforms works for converting new clients.

At this moment, I recommend using proven platforms like the above-mentioned Google and Facebook ads, or to work with a platform specialist. Even more so if they specialize in helping mental health clinics fill their caseloads.

As for cost, expect to spend at the same rate as for Google ads or less.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Getting your clinic’s website to rank in the top spot in Google search results is a dream for many.

Every clinic owner knows they “should” invest in SEO. But how do you know if it’s the right marketing channel for you?

SEO is best thought of as a long-term marketing channel because it is. Experts recommend three to six months of consistent work before results begin accruing.

And some experts even say 8-12 months.

After all, SEO is dependent upon you, your ideal clients (target audience), and your local, state, and perhaps national competition.

However, the upsides to SEO are huge. Here are a few of my favorite benefits:

  1. You have a chance to rank for thousands of search terms, meaning there are thousands of ways for clients to find you.
  2. Once you put in the work and get to the top spot, you generally stay there, barring a more disciplined competitor, a technical website issue, or being flagged for some reason.
  3. SEO builds over time. Once results hit, they can hit big.

Additionally, Google Ads only get more expensive with time as the competition grows in your areas of practice.

With the right SEO strategy, you can keep your marketing costs lower long-term.

SEO Benchmarks

Beacon is working on getting accurate SEO benchmark data from mental health clinics, and hopes to have this data by early 2025. This will be after collecting data for the forthcoming 2025 State of Mental Health Marketing Report.

What I can share for now is the type of results that SEO gets for mental health clinics.

For example, Beacon:

In terms of investment, expect to spend at least $1,000/month for at least 3 months, and potentially for 6 or more before results come in strong.

Also, depending on the current state of your website, there may be an additional upfront fee to straighten things out and to prepare the grounds for future success.

Email Marketing

Drawing users onto your website with SEO, paid ads, and social media content marketing allows you to get people subscribed to your email marketing.

Once people are signed up to receive emails from you, you can send them helpful and informative emails, adding in a request that they start therapy with you from time to time.

And the results can be huge.

Results show that for every $1 you spend on email marketing, you can receive around $36 in return (on average).

Additionally, your email marketing can be highly automated. By creating a 3-day, 5-day, 7-day, or longer email series, you can have your first few emails ready to go for each new subscriber.

You just have to set the system up, write the emails, and let your emails do the work of bringing clients into your clinic.

One way to increase the number of subscribers you get is to develop a free “lead magnet.” I most often see these take the form of a free download, free quiz results, or a free guided meditation/visualization.

The point is to give your lead magnet to people in their email AFTER they’ve subscribed to receive emails from you (and opted in twice for extra verification).

How Do You Know if Email Marketing is Right for Your Clinic?

To know if email marketing is right for your clinic, let’s look at the cost.

Developing a lead magnet can cost $300-$1,000+, depending on the length, graphic elements, and if you do it in-house or partner with an agency.

Then there’s the cost to write a full email sequence. Let’s take a 5-email sequence as an example.

If you happen to have an experienced email marketer on your team, the cost can be a few hours of work, perhaps $200.

On the other hand, a freelancer can charge $50, $125, or even $500 per email.

But don’t let the price tag make you flinch. As part of an overall marketing strategy, email marketing can add value to your clients, convert more prospects into clients, and be fully automated from top to bottom.

Total cost for a 5-email welcome series:

Written in-house with a lead magnet: $500, will work but leaves much room for improvement

Written in-house with no lead magnet: $200, may not be very effective without lead magnet or expertise

Written by an experienced marketer or agency, with lead magnet: Up to $3,500

Written by an experienced marketer or agency, no lead magnet: $625 – $2500

Social Media Content Marketing for Mental Health Services

In contrast to paid advertising, you can use your company’s social media to post free information and attract new clients.

Therapist Directories

Having each of your clinicians set up their profiles on directory sites is cost-effective marketing.

For example, Psychology Today is only $29.95 per month with the first 6 months free. By attracting 1 client per year who attends at least 2-3 sessions, this listing pays for itself.

And there are other therapist directories, such as Good Therapy, Therapy Den, Mental Health Match, and Zen Care.

Then there are more niche directories like Therapy for Black Girls and Asian Mental Health Collective.

How to Use Therapist Directories for Your Marketing

  1. Have every clinician in your clinic create a listing on Psychology Today. This will increase the reach of each clinician and bring valuable backlinks to your website. Just make sure they all fill out their profiles with the correct contact information for your clinic.
  2. Get each clinician set up on TherapyDen, Best Therapists, and Choosing Therapy – they’re free (as of May 2024)! As above, ensure each clinician uses the correct contact information for your practice and adds a link to your clinic’s website.
  3. Experiment with a few other directories and see how they perform over time. It’s incredibly important that you track your incoming calls and messages so you know which directories are working. For paid directories, keep the ones that work for your clinicians and unsubscribe from those that don’t pull enough weight.

I recommend you use therapist directories as free/cheap marketing tools. They have added benefits like visibility, networking, and giving your local SEO an advantage.

Also, get set up on Yelp, Yellow Pages, Better Business Bureau, Angie’s List, and Local for stronger signals to Google.

Google My Business Listing

You want your clinic to show up in the Google Map Pack, those 3 or so practices that populate Google’s map widget when someone searches for a “near me” term. 

For example, if you work with kids experiencing anxiety, you want to pop up when a parent searches “child anxiety therapist near me.”

Getting your clinic to pop up on Google Maps takes consistent effort, but it’s incredibly worth it. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Increase your footprint of “near me” terms on your website. This can look like pages explaining your services, such as “anger therapist for men near me.” Adding these pages with the “near me” terms gives a signal to Google that you’re accepting local clients.
  2. Add your contact information to the footer of your website so it’s on every page.
  3. Add your contact information a second time on your service pages. It doesn’t hurt, and it very well could help.
  4. Get backlinks from local charities, nonprofits, universities, and governmental bodies. These will send a very powerful trust signal to Google, and they’ll start to recommend your clinic in their map pack.
  5. Start getting reviews from clients by leaving a link in your website footer, and navigation, and inviting reviews in your email marketing. This will help you stand out to clients and to Google’s algorithm.
  6. BONUS: Have each of your therapists create their own listing in their own name, and include a link to their about page on your clinic website.

    This last point will accomplish a few things: increasing your digital footprint for both your practice and each clinician and giving a link to your about pages which oftentimes don’t get much love.

    Another tip is to include a keyword in each therapist’s listing. For example, “Sarah Bowden, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Specializing in Depression.”

Remember setting up your therapist directory profiles? This also goes a long way toward getting your website to show up for Google’s Map Pack.

The best part about your Google Business Profile is that it’s 100% free (aside from a little elbow grease). You can be fully set up within an hour.

Developing a Marketing Plan

Now you know the most popular and effective marketing channels for mental health clinics, as well as a few tips and benefits for each.

So how do you go about creating a marketing plan for your clinic that works for your practice?

Beacon Media + Marketing would like to extend an invitation to get your free growth plan. This is a marketing strategy that’s based on effective branding, and matching your services with your ideal audience and location.

Learn how your mental health practice can leverage the power of advertising. Reach out today for a free discovery call.

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