There was a time when as a therapist or holistic practitioner, you only needed to put up a website and list on a few private practice directories, and you could generate a decent amount of traffic to your site.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the case anymore.
The web has changed a lot since those days and too many counselors and healers haven’t kept up with the changes — yet they still expect to get a lot of clients from their websites. I’m contacted regularly by therapists and healing practitioners who think there’s some “magic” way to tweak a few keywords on their website and they will suddenly get flooded with traffic from Google.
If you want to rank higher in search engines, you’ll need to do more than optimize your website with keywords. There are over 200 factors that Google uses when ranking websites, and “on page” factors (keywords and meta-tags) are only the first step.
Marketing a practice successfully online has gotten a lot more sophisticated. If you want to succeed marketing online today you have to put in some time and effort, and develop a strategic plan. Otherwise, you’re better off sticking to community marketing.
Below are the 4 main methods that you’ll need to use regularly and strategically if you want to be competitive online.
1. Have a strong therapy or holistic website.
I sound like a broken record I say this so often. Unfortunately, a lot of health care practitioners and counselors still have very weak websites. And yet, your website is the most important aspect of online marketing — it’s the foundation from which everything else is built upon. All marketing you do online should lead people back to your website. If you spend time and money on an online marketing plan that sends people back to a crappy website, people won’t want to stick around or make that precious call to you.
Just because you think your website is good, or your mother or colleague thinks it looks great doesn’t mean it is as effective as it could be. Just because you modelled your website after other practitioner’s websites, doesn’t mean theirs were good examples to follow.
So, what does a strong website look like?
First, a great website has a design that is pleasing and ideally up-to-date. If you don’t know what current website design trends are, do some research and don’t assume your designer knows because so many web designers don’t (go figure).
Your website should also be designed in accordance with website usability and conversion research so that your site is easy to navigate and has the highest chance of attracting clients. Your web design should also be “responsive” meaning it should look good on all mobile devices and computers. Your website copy should deliver a targeted message that is clear, consistent and compelling.
Yes, it can be a significant investment to have a great website, but it will pay off in the long run. Think of how much time and money you are wasting on marketing only to send people back to a website that they quickly click away from.
- 94% of people cite design as a reason not to trust a website
- Traffic to a website can increase as much as 500% based on the headline alone
- A 20% increase in decision simplicity results in an 86% increase in likelihood to purchase
2. Start marketing with content – yesterday already!
Whether it’s writing articles for a blog, making videos for YouTube, writing book reviews, or creating image quotes or infographics for social media, content marketing is key to marketing online.
The web is all about content, and you need to get on board. Enough with the excuses that writing takes too much time or you are not a good writer. All marketing takes time. If you don’t write well, with practice, you will. You can also hire someone to write articles for you or hire an editor to edit your articles.
If you don’t want to write, then try video. But if you use video to create useful content, you have to create videos that look good. No, they don’t have to be professionally done, but they need to have good sound quality and lighting. And of course, they need to have interesting content that your audience wants.
Content marketing allows you to build trust with your audience over time and keeps people on your website longer. It also plays a key role in search engine rankings as you’ll have more pages to rank in Google and Google uses fresh content as a ranking factor.
Content Marketing Statistics:
- Websites with 51 – 100 pages generate 48% more traffic
- Content creation is ranked as the most effective search engine optimization (SEO) technique
- 61% of consumers made a purchase due to a blog post
3. Have an email marketing strategy.
An email marketing strategy is not only one of the best ways to market online; it also integrates nicely with a content marketing and social media strategy. 95% of online consumers use email, and 91% check their email at least once a day. This gives you a huge opportunity to have your content seen, and helps you build strong relationships with your followers.
Email marketing still outshines social media hands down in terms of sending traffic to your website and converting website visitors into clients. Why? Because your emails are more likely to be seen than content you post on social media. Not everyone will see your posts on social media channels due to the massive amount of content posted on them, but your emails have a much better chance of being seen since they land in the inbox of your subscribers. Most people at least scan the “from” and “subject” fields of emails in their inbox for things that seem worthy of opening.
If you are not collecting emails on your website and delivering valuable content to your subscribers, you need to get on it.
Email Marketing Statistics:
- Email acquires almost 40 times more new customers than Facebook and Twitter
- 66% of consumers have made a purchase online as a result of an email
- Email marketing has a return on investment (ROI) of 4,300%
4. Start a social media strategy.
Social media has become a key component of marketing effectively online. Like email marketing, it helps increase your exposure, builds trust with followers and can drive traffic to your website. There is also some evidence that search engines include social signals as a factor in search engine rankings.
You will need a strategy in order to be effective with social media. Simply posting now and again on Facebook is not going to help much. You’ll need to have a plan to build followers and develop trust with them through consistent posting of content that is helpful. You’ll also need to post your own content and have a strategy that drives people back to your website.
With the number of platforms out there, it can be challenging to choose which social media channels to use. Start with one or two, and then make these work for you. You can then build from there if you decide you need to participate in more.
Social Media Statistics:
- 72% of Internet users use social media
- 70% of marketers used Facebook to gain new customers
- 80% of marketers say social media has increased website traffic for their business
Because there are still so few therapists and holistic professionals engaging in the above online marketing strategies effectively, there is a huge opportunity out there to become a leader and stand out from your colleagues.
If you decide to do more online marketing, at some point, you’re going to need help. There is simply far too much to learn and do on your own. Whether you take courses; hire a marketing coach to work with you; hire an assistant to post your articles on your site, send out your content to your email subscribers, or create and post social media; it will be challenging to succeed without help. A sophisticated strategy takes time, knowledge, and support to do it effectively.
I’ll be talking more about online marketing in my upcoming Marketing Plan Mini-Camp. Check back to see when the next course starts.