Addiction is at some of its worst levels in history and there are plenty of reasons why the USA is right there at the top of the charts alongside Russia and Eastern Europe for people addicted to illicit drugs. Porous borders, lax security at ports and unscrupulous “pharmacies” via the dark web are only a few of the litany of issues that have caused this plague to explode to unprecedented levels not only here in the states, but across the globe.
It should come as no surprise that the addiction treatment industry, although having gone through contraction due to shady facilities getting shut down in recent years (long overdue, BTW), is growing and according to research is roughly a 35 billion dollar industry.
If you’re reading this article, chances are you’re involved in the addiction treatment space in some capacity. There are three main “pillars” in the addiction treatment vertical. These pillars consist of detoxification, rehabilitation, and sober living for a complete continuum of care.
Regardless of whether you’re operating a single location detox center, a rehab facility, sober living accommodations, or are responsible for a multi-location conglomerate that accommodates all three, this article is meant to help you better understand the importance of finding the RIGHT digital marketing firm for your practice even if you have digital marketing “gurus” on staff.
Here are the Top 10 reasons to hire a digital marketing firm for your rehab center:
1. Internal resources can’t do it all.
I can’t tell you how many discussions I’ve had with rehab centers that say “we have a person”, “our marketing person is doing just fine”, “our outreach coordinator does a great job with that, thanks”, and the list goes on.
I’ve always found it interesting to get these types of replies because I find it nearly impossible for any one person to do it all. However, it is possible their outreach person or their “person” is doing a fine job but chances are they’re doing a good job in only one or possibly two particular aspects of digital marketing.
Agencies that have a proven track record in the rehab space should be looked at seriously to augment any in-house efforts currently in play. Why? Because agencies with extensive rehab marketing focus can not only bring a wealth of knowledge in the addiction treatment vertical they’ve gained from having worked on dozens of competing sites over the years, but oftentimes have individual members on their staff that specialize in particular service lines such as SEO, Social Media, Pay Per Click Marketing, etc.
2. Conversion-focused website design is part art form and part alchemy.
Well thought out, carefully crafted websites is an art form, but the reality is rehab centers should NEVER just design a site and call it a day.
This may come across as a puzzling statement, but if you went through the process of designing your responsive website and did nothing more to it, you’re doing your facility and your bottom line a horrible injustice.
Great designers and agencies look at a brand new site they just created almost like a new parent looks at a newborn child — with love and admiration. And just like a child, a site needs to be fed, clothed and guided to grow up strong and healthy in an ever-changing environment. This is why great designers (and digital marketers in general) always look to mix things up a bit even after a brand new site officially launches.
Like scientists in a lab with their beakers and chemicals, great designers should always mix things up like website architecture, content, layout, etc., in an ongoing and sustained manner to identify ways to enhance the value of a site in the eyes of its users and to enhance conversion rate potential.
If you already have a website, great! But there are a few questions you need to think about even if you already have a website in play.
- Is my site using beautiful imagery, well-written content, and videos to instill confidence and trust in the eyes of its end users?
- Is my site optimized in both desktop and smartphone environments?
- Is my site’s analytics showing low bounce rates or above average user sessions?
- Does my site incorporate strategically placed Calls-to-Action (CTA)?
- Is each of my site’s goals being tracked individually in analytics so you can easily reference what’s working and what needs to be improved upon with site pages?
- Is my site constantly changing by challenging itself with new content, brand messaging, CTA placement, UX changes, etc., to increase conversion rates?
Should you find yourself answering “no” to any of the above questions, it may be time to look seriously at either refreshing your current site or completely redesigning it to take things to the next level for your rehab center. And please do yourself and your facility a favor and NEVER stop redesigning it. Don’t ever be content!
If you don’t have a site, you better get with it and build one STAT! But before you find a partner to design it or decide to use in-house resources, make sure you build it with a solid content strategy in place (text, images, and video) and with Search Engine Optimization top of mind. And please, for the love of all that is good, make sure it’s responsive and automatically adjusts to fit the screen size of whatever device it appears on whether it be desktop, laptop, or smartphone environments. You don’t want to have one of those sites that someone pulls up on their phone and is immediately frustrated because it looks terrible and is impossible to navigate.
3. Print, TV, Radio, and Billboards can be expensive and difficult to quantify
Years ago, and I mean YEARS ago, print, radio, tv, and billboards were all you needed to succeed in marketing your rehab center to the masses. Unfortunately, each one of them has since lost their luster with the advent of the internet and typically don’t compare to the cost-effective and quantifiable nature of internet marketing. And unlike online advertising, traditional media is difficult to track ROI with any level of certainty.
In the case of print, circulation numbers are way down and in today’s world, most people get their information online.
TV still has influence and I’m sure we’ve all seen Passages Malibu commercials airing on and off for years now, so it must be working for them. However, the cost of running tv ads is unattainable for most rehab centers due to high production costs and airtime fees.
Radio works well in certain markets, but in today’s world of commercial-free music options the likes of Spotify, ad-free satellite radio and the fact radio listener numbers continue to decline, it’s probably not the best way to promote your center.
Billboards serve their purpose and can attract people at the right time as they commute to work or while they head to see Aunt Beth the next town over. Unfortunately, billboards can sometimes be difficult to remember other than maybe a brand name or a catchphrase. Sorry to say it, but someone doing 75 MPH down the freeway and just glancing up to see a billboard message will probably net zero influence. Placement is key for billboards such as just outside a jail, a hospital or near a courthouse.
4. Traditional Outreach can’t cover proactive search.
I’m a firm believer that all reputable addiction treatment centers should have an outreach arm of their organization to establish relationships with potential referral partners. They’re also a fantastic resource to get a center’s overall brand in front of the right people to bring in new patients on a consistent basis. Let’s just face it. Outreach personnel tends to be the lifeblood of rehab centers.
The only challenge is outreach coordinators and managers can’t reach everyone all the time. This holds especially true for those individuals sitting at home thinking they need help because they think they have an alcohol problem or perhaps people seeking drug addiction treatment for a loved one because their loved one is showing signs of addiction and behavioral changes. It’s at this point, people in these types of situations then turn to a search engine such as Google to source addiction treatment options at that critical point they’re looking to commit. Outreach personnel can’t compete with that nor should they have to. It’s our recommendation that you need both.
5. Google My Business Optimization isn’t as easy as merely claiming your business listing.
Google Maps Optimization, also known as Google My Business (GMB) Optimization, is probably one of the most valuable endeavors an addiction treatment center can endeavor to pull in potential patients from their local market. GMB is an amazing opportunity for your center to get in front of people searching for geo-targeted terms such as “addiction treatment centers + [your city or state]”, “alcohol rehab + [your city or state]”, etc. and also factors into the equation in Google search results for “rehab centers”, “drug treatment centers”, etc.
Most centers make the mistake of not even claiming their business on GMB. This represents a slew of issues which we will cover in a later blog post, but for now, if you haven’t claimed your GMB listing, get that ball rolling immediately.
If you have already claimed your listing and have done nothing more than that, you’re missing the boat here. For claimed listings, businesses are able to inject key information into their business profile such as address, website, phone number, hours of operation, payments accepted, images of your facility, videos, and so much more.
Aside from claiming your listing and optimizing your center’s profile, there is still additional optimization needed in the form of ongoing citation building in order to capture one of those valuable top 3 slots in Google Maps on search engine results pages.
6. Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Marketing in the rehab space is tough and expensive.
PPC is a fantastic way for your rehab center to get in front of an audience who are proactively searching for treatment options either locally in your area or nationally depending on where you’re looking to acquire patients from. It’s an auction-based platform whereby you bid on keywords and phrases against your competition which helps dictate where your ad appears on search engine results pages.
PPC can, however, be a costly endeavor if you’re not careful.
PPC Marketing in the rehab vertical has incredibly high cost per click fees associated with them ranging anywhere from just a few dollars per click for low volume phrases to $70+ per click for higher traffic, more competitive terms. If you’re not careful, you could burn through an entire PPC budget in days when you were hoping to have it last for weeks.
Rehab competitors doing PPC are fierce and they don’t like to lose, so when they see a new player come onto the scene, they tend to get more aggressive with their bidding strategies among other tactics to try and push you out. Their goal? Well, their goal is to win, of course, and they won’t stop until they do.
Needless to say, but if PPC is something your rehab facility is looking to endeavor, you’ve been warned that once you step foot in the arena and the battle starts, it doesn’t end and the depth of your pockets will likely be tested.
Be advised that if you’ve never done PPC in the past, you better put aside a minimum of $5k/month for a small local rehab center push to upwards of $200k+/month for a national approach to running a successful PPC strategy. Furthermore, in the case of running ads on Google in particular, you’ll first need to go through the process of getting LegitScript certified which can take anywhere from 2-6+ months from the date of your submission for verification until you get approved or rejected. Once LegitScript approved, you’ll then need to get verified by Google before you can start running ads on their platform.
For additional information including LegitScript certification for addiction treatment centers including their one-time verification fee and annual fees based on the number of locations you have, please visit here.
7. Organic Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a specialized skill that requires patience and persistence.
Organic Search Engine Optimization is the process of adjusting code, content and linking variables for a website in order to gain search engine rankings for targeted keyword phrases you’re pursuing your center’s website pages.
Unlike PPC where it’s the closest thing you can get to instant gratification (once your center is LegitScript certified, of course), SEO takes time and patience in order to start seeing results from your efforts. You can look at SEO as more of a marathon pace vs. PPC’s sprint.
If your center has an SEO strategy in place, that’s great news! But are you sure you’re targeting the right terms? Is analytics showing incredible traffic volume but low conversion rates? Are you publishing conversion-focused content that is authoritative and builds your brand as THE authority in the space? These are questions I typically ask of companies and you’d be surprised by the answers I get and the rebuttals I volley back at them.
All too often, we’ve seen rehab center sites with tons of traffic, but low conversions. In situations like this, it makes sense to carefully audit analytics and the page content components to see if page traffic is artificially inflating the traffic stats. After a thorough audit, the next step is to strongly consider a content consolidation effort to only focus on key pages that show the level of targeted traffic and conversions that actually matter most to your practice while also working on a new content strategy to gain additional and more meaningful traffic and conversions.
If you don’t have an SEO strategy in place, don’t wait. SEO for drug rehab centers can take anywhere from 3-7 months from the date you get a project started until you start to see solid traction in terms of rankings and targeted traffic to your site.
8. Social Media can make or break your center.
Social Media Marketing can do the work for you. It’s in this realm where people share their stories, exchange ideas, share thoughts on a wide array of subjects, write reviews on business pages along with a narrative about their positive or negative experiences, and so much more.
Addiction treatment centers that currently have a social media marketing strategy in place and disseminate engaging content on a regular basis are probably reaping the rewards of having a presence on platforms such as Facebook and Instagram. What are the rewards you ask? It’s simple. Rehabs that are engaged with their social media communities not only create buzz about their services but are also ensuring their followers become ambassadors of their center by spreading the word for them to their peers who can then, in turn, continue spreading the word to their social circles. This equates to nothing less than continued fanaticism about their brand which then translates into new patient referrals to their facility.
Facebook and Instagram also offer advertising options for rehab centers that include “boosting” posts and running ads in general. But just like Google, Facebook and Instagram require treatment centers to first get LegitScript certified before you conduct advertising on their sites.
If you’ve been ignoring setting up social media profiles for your facility, you better get to it. Conversations are being had about your firm and you’re not a part of the discussion.
For some rehab centers, they’re a bit nervous about setting up social media profiles for fear of getting bad reviews and such, but the reality is if you don’t get in on the conversation, it’s still taking place with or without you. And if negative reviews are your main concern, you may want to rethink your business operations and strategy at an organic level to get your house in order first anyway.
Other than Facebook and Instagram, we also suggest LinkedIn (LI) as a part of your social media marketing mix. It’s the best social platform for rehab centers to establish B2B relationships and partnerships available today. Tread carefully though. The keys to success on LI is to be authentic and purposeful with messaging whether it be LI updates on your personal profile, business profile, or through “connect” requests to people you’re interested in engaging with on LI.
Keep in mind that engagement on social platforms needs to be strategic and timely. If your center goes into social without a plan and you engage the wrong people at the wrong time, it could cost you more than you’ll ever know.
9. Email Marketing requires strategy and strong, timely messaging.
Email marketing is dead, right? Wrong. For some reason, a lot of rehab centers just don’t do email marketing at all and I don’t get it. If you are getting leads into your system from contact us form submissions, insurance verification form submissions, or other email capture formats, why on earth would you not leverage that information if people didn’t immediately commit to treatment at your facility?
As you can imagine, email marketing for rehab centers takes a different approach than companies in other industries. What we’ve seen work is to take inbound leads that haven’t quite committed to treatment and “drip” on them periodically with information about your facility, its capabilities, and perhaps relevant drug and/or alcohol information to keep your brand and treatment center top of mind.
Another way facilities can benefit from email marketing is to also use it for Alumni outreach about upcoming events which can be very powerful for a practice.
Email marketing may sound simple, but it requires special attention to detail such as timeliness of email follow-ups/drips to potential patients, subject line split testing, email template content and CTA testing, and much more.
10. Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) is a unique skill set most in-house personnel can’t do correctly.
This can come across as an arrogant #10 headline, but it’s true for most rehab centers. CRO is probably one of the most challenging endeavors a digital marketer can undertake. It takes testing, testing, and even more testing regardless of positive or negative outcomes.
If you find yourself asking “what is CRO?”, it’s a lot easier to describe than it is to actually put into practice. CRO is the process of taking website pages and changing variables on them that can include changes to headlines, content, CTA placement, color changes to CTA’s, inclusion of new page elements to funnel users into the conversion funnel more efficiently, and so on.
For CRO, there are two main types of conversion rate tests.
The first test is called multivariate testing. As the name indicates, multiple variables are changed all at once to see how the “new” page which is commonly referred to as the “challenger” compares to the current version of the page which is known as the “champion”. Once the challenger page elements are in play, the traffic is then equally split between the champion and challenger to see which page performs better in terms of conversions. If enough data is collected and the challenger comes out as the clear winner, that page should then replace the old champion page for all traffic.
The second test module is called A/B testing. Unlike multivariate testing, A/B testing only changes one variable on a site page before splitting the traffic to test effectiveness. For A/B testing though, please make sure you have a significant amount of traffic coming to that page for the test. Otherwise, the results won’t be definitive and you could end up pursuing the challenger as your new champion page that in the long run wasn’t the right decision to make.
As you can probably tell, Conversion Rate Optimization is part science and part experiment. If you decide to go down this path on your own, we strongly suggest you read up on the subject extensively before conducting any tests at all.
If you operate a rehab center and are not convinced you’re maximizing your online presence, please consider outsourcing some, if not all, of your digital marketing needs to an agency that specializes in promoting treatment centers online. It doesn’t have to be us either. Do some research, check references, and make the best decision for your company by selecting a partner that best suits your needs and desires in a partnership.
2019 is here and now is the time to execute a plan to take your facility to the next level! Request a quote and have the proven addiction treatment experts at Lead to Conversion guide your facility to new levels of success.
This post was written by Lead to Recovery’s CEO Sean Bolton