Statistics published by the SAMHSA or Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration of America in 2017 are actually quite startling: on average, 41% of adult Americans suffered from some mental health condition or received mental healthcare in 2017; 43.8 million people fall prey to mental illnesses in the US every year; and a whopping $193.2 billion is lost because of mental conditions affecting the American workforce!
The SAMHSA also estimates that over 23.9 million Americans over the age of 12, either abused or are addicted to alcohol or drugs and one out of 68 children suffer from autism.
In addition, 20 million women are affected by anorexia bulimia or eating disorders, which also affects about 10 million men. Then there’s also a sizeable population affected by Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s disease. Though at least the economy is doing better because of tax cuts and less regulations but this is another topic.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, around nine percent of the US population is affected by personality disorders such as clinical depression, bipolar disorders and schizophrenia. The picture therefore, is anything but encouraging.
This has led to a situation where the market for mental health is gradually growing and the need for trained and qualified mental health therapists, psychiatrists and clinical psychologists is also growing by leaps and bounds. Moreover, the advent of applied and cognitive behavioral therapy has certainly resulted in the realization that some mental disorders are not only amenable to clinical amelioration but fully curable as well.
Furthermore, the pace at which software-based clinical intervention and tele-psychiatry are growing clearly indicates that when smaller one-off players are consolidated, it leads to more profitability and efficiency.
In fact, recently the US-based Magellan, one of the largest behavioral care coordinators has started adopting therapy modules that are Internet-based.
The moot question that now arises is: How does digital marketing help mental health professionals create an awareness that they do exist and offer their services? What are the basic marketing strategies for behavioral health in the digital space?
Additionally, what could be the most effective developmental marketing strategies for community mental health? Finally, what are the tools available to make marketing for mental health professionals effective?
Since 2012, certain unprecedented changes have taken place in the market for behavioral health. This in turn is spurring consolidation within the industry. Thus, the total number of covered lives has kept growing faster as compared to the services available to treat them. Therefore, as demand significantly outstrips supply, compelling investment opportunities are also being created.
Social media services position mental healthcare professionals in a manner so that two-way conversation between them and their patients takes place perpetually.
When effective mental health marketing ideas are implemented and a bridge is established between the mental healthcare giver and receiver, the latter is most likely to give regular feedback to the former about what he thinks of his mental healthcare giver and this helps create effective brand awareness.
As a virtual mental health professional, your principal aim would be to drive visitors to your site and to convert them into regular patients so that you not only treat a disorder but also generate revenue. This of course, can be said for almost any virtual vendor and social media services offer effective strategies on media audit, custom-built interaction and competitive analysis to make your dreams come true.
The concept of social media services starts with evolving the appropriate strategies for marketing using social media. You may have a marketing budget, but don’t know how and when to start. Such service providers will first assess your principal needs, outline appropriate opportunities including a sample marketing plan for mental health agency that you run and prescribe specific action for success on the social media in the long run.
They will also guide you on implementing your strategy while ensuring that your integrity remains intact, is compliant with the best practices, and different mediums for future communication and development.
Software recommendations are yet another specialized function of such service providers who work with social media. As a new entrant, you may be confused with the huge number of SEO tools and this requires careful advising and guidance on the most effective ones to track performance, management and opportunities, based on resources, budget, and environments.
A new concept that has recently made its presence felt is audit on social media. This involves in-depth analysis of the site’s presence on numerous social networks and strategies for improving it. These involve advice on niche opportunities as also relevant tactics on the mainstream.
Competitive analysis forms an integral part of social media services and helps you realize what your competitors are doing to increase traffic through blogs, videos, widgets, linkbait, or community building.
Your media services provider will point out your competitor’s tactics and also advise you on action alerts for countering their moves in a vastly competitive marketplace. Creation of social profiles are also done by media services providers who identify the right social networks where your site should participate.
They will tell you the locations where you are actually being talked about and how to create & manage your very own profiles on social media that attract visitors while also leveraging two-way conversation. By creating interactive badges, you could also give your customers that extra joy by providing information and incentives that they so often want.
Such interactive badges created by social media service providers may help you substantially to establish your practice as a leader in the profession and enjoy the obvious benefits of link-building. Development and implementation of the right widget strategy is also important and the service provider will identify the right widget type that will work for the site and assess its success probability with a scope for bettering it, if required.
Another important aspect to consider is blog design, its setup, and final optimization. An incorrectly set up blog will neither attract readers nor bring the desired benefits for search engines that you’re looking for. The service provider will help you identify the most appropriate blogging platform for optimizing the blog for maximum success.
You also get help and valuable advice from your provider in terms of developing blog strategies, development of community building and monitoring and reviews for new hires when it comes to adding brand evangelists, bloggers, or social media specialists on your payroll.
Let’s now take a look at some of the most effective tools for virtual marketing of your specialized services:
SEO focus on growing your visibility in non-paid or organic results on search engines. SEO encompasses both creative and technical elements that are required for improving rankings, driving traffic, and increasing awareness within search engines. However, SEO just isn't about building websites that are search engine-friendly. It's also about making the site more acceptable to people, too.
A crucial SEO aspect is making your website easier for both search engine robots and users to understand. SEO helps an engine figure out what each page is about, and how it could be useful to users.
Another critical function of SEO is to allow webmasters to provide clues usable by engines to comprehend content. In fact, well-structured content is mandatory to SEO. More importantly, a website devoid of SEO, may become invisible to most search engines. Fig 1 above illustrates the multiple SEO facets.
Also called search marketing optimization. It’s the next most happening thing in online marketing and combines elements of both social media and SEO. As a virtual professional in this Internet Age, you simply can’t ignore the concepts of visibility online and customer interaction. And this is exactly what SMO is designed to perform.
Social media, if effectively used, is a stellar asset for improving a site’s organic search results. When you connect with numerous people on multiple online platforms, you not only extend your profession’s reach but also allow more people to connect with your main business page.
SMO helps connect all your social media accounts in a consistently branded and cohesive network that eventually shows your potential patients where you want them to head. SMO Pros for instance, deploys a multi-point, strategic process to build a successful SMO foundation, boosts your SEO, and subsequently drives more potential patients to your site.
In many ways, SMO is connected to viral marketing, also called viral seeding. Here, word-of-mouth is created by using networking in social bookmarking, photo and video sharing websites. Effective SMO campaigns harness the powers of viral marketing. For instance, repinning generates 80% of Pinterest activity.
Furthermore, through the utilization of alternative social networks and by following social trends, websites retain existing followers while also drawing in new ones. This allows a mental healthcare professional to build his online presence and following and all links back to his website for increased traffic.
It is often seen that effective social bookmarking campaigns, not only increase website traffic push up a site's rankings also. Similarly, engagements with blogs lead to a similar result by way of sharing content through RSS use in special blog search engines as also the blogosphere.
SMO is most certainly an integral part of ORM or online reputation management and SERM or search engine reputation management strategy for professionals and organizations which are conscious of their online presence. However, it isn’t limited to brand building and marketing only. More and more mental healthcare professionals could integrate social media participation as a part of their strategy for knowledge management.
This could include: service development, employee engagement, recruiting, patient relations and satisfaction, brand building as also business development. Additionally, SMO is implementable to foster a community of the associated site, thereby allowing a healthy B2C or business-to-consumer relationship to develop.
Anyone who doesn’t believe in the axiom that “content is king” is inviting trouble in today’s virtual world. This is because it’s one of the sole determinants of SEO success. Which is why the SEO Success Factors’ Periodic Table starts with ‘element’ of content, the first being content quality.
It goes without saying that the right content inevitably creates a solid foundation for supporting all other SEO efforts. However, the basic quality of the content depends on how different it is from its competitors. In other words, run-of-the-mill content is strictly avoidable.
Moreover, before you start creating and/or posting content on your site, you need to ask yourself first if at all there is a reason that you provide to your readers to spend time on your pages; and whether you offer something of real value and substance to your visitors and which is different, unique, and useful and won’t be found elsewhere.
These are some fundamental questions you need to ask yourself when assessing the quality of your content. Remember, this is no place to skimp, because it’s the cornerstone on which all other factors heavily depend.
- Keyword Research: After quality content has been created, the most important SEO factor to be considered is effective keyword research. When you create quality content with those keywords or the very search terms that people most often use, your content will most certainly suitably and satisfactorily answer any query that the user might have.For instance, you may have a page titled Avoiding Melanoma, which heavily uses technical jargon to speak of ways to prevent dermatological cancer. However, a search engine might not give that page a high ranking or even skip it if people are searching for “tips for preventing skin cancer.” Therefore, the golden rule is to write the content in just the language your existing or prospective patients use when searching.Once the keyword research is done, the idea is to use them in the content for maximum effect. If however, the content has been created before doing research, perhaps revisiting it and some suitable editing of the material might be required. The bottom line is if you wish to have your pages found in response to certain words, use those words in the copy mandatorily. The ideal keyword density should be around 3% of the total copy.
However, forcible keyword stuffing is inadvisable and only those words which can help locate your page and are relevant to your research should be included naturally with the copy’s flow. The use of actual nouns rather than pronouns is also a feasible way.
- Vertical Search: Vertical results emanate from vertical search engines that are devoted to news, images, video, and local. If you happen to have content in these segments, it’s most likely to show up within special sections of the search results page.Google for example, runs special search engines focusing on news, images, or local content. These are the vertical search engines because they focus on singular segments or vertical slices rather than a broader spectrum of interests. When you have content that performs well in a vertical search, your success rate at higher rankings goes up. So, ensure that you produce content in the key vertical areas that are of the greatest relevant to you.
- Content Freshness: Every search engine simply loves new content. That’s just another way of saying that it’s fresh. However, updating your pages daily hoping to “freshen” them up won’t really push up their rankings. Nor can new pages be added constantly to give out the impression that there’s a freshness boost. However, Google’s QDF or Query Deserved Freshness” gets applied if there’s a search which has become very popular suddenly and which indicates if any fresh content has been included on the topic. If there is, the fresh content gets a boost in the search results.If and when QDF hits the right content, it usually shows up in the top results for days or even weeks. However, it pays to remember that after that, the page might get shuffled back in the search results as the freshness has worn off somewhat. Your site can certainly take advantage of this freshness boost by hosting relevant content matching the actual pulse of the mental healthcare industry.
When we speak of quality content, we also need to discuss the tools that measure its quality. These include: engagement metrics, linking patterns, and machine learning.
Engagement Metrics: When the search engine delivers the results page, it also measures the rankings success by observing your engagement with these results. If a viewer clicks on the first link, hitting the back button immediately thereafter and tries the third link, it is indicative that he was dissatisfied with the very first result.
It is the tendency of a search engine to seek a “long click" where users click on a result without returning to the search page immediately to try again. With millions of queries happening each day, all search engines build up a wide data pool for judging the quality of their results.
Linking Patterns: The web’s link structure serves as a proxy for popularity and votes. Sites with quality content and information earn more links than their lesser useful and lower quality counterparts.
Machine Learning: Since 2011, Google’s Panda update to its ranking algorithm, has significantly changed the way it judges website quality. Google first used human evaluators to rate thousands of sites manually for low grade content. Machine learning was subsequently incorporated to mimic human evaluators. The result was the rearrangement of over 20% of all Google search results.
The bottom line is that when you craft content, you must remember that every search that an engine performs comes with an intention to find, learn, buy, solve, treat, fix, or understand.
Thus, a search engine places a page in its results to satisfy intent best and therefore, composing thoroughly researched and fulfilling content that addresses your searchers' needs improves your chances of earning top rankings considerably.
Thanks to the unstoppable march of the Internet, locating a service that you want happens within the blink of an eye. Why then should mental health professionals not benefit from it? This would of course, be possible if they ensure their online presence and perpetually strive for the topmost slots in the results pages of Google search, where their potential patients can locate and identify them easily.
Google’s research shows that one out of every five searches relates to a particular location. Google Places is such an advanced search facility that focuses primarily on this particular aspect. For single or isolated mental health professionals who target local customers instead of larger audiences, Google Places sure aids their growth.
When you opt for Google My Business Listing for local marketing, you get listed on Google Maps, making it possible for existing and prospective patients to locate you easily because your physical location shows up there. This implies that when a potential patient searches for mental health services, you are listed in places as also under organic web listings.
Here, Google is actually blending its Google Places’ page with Maps and organic results for location-specific searches, and by listing yourself on Google Places, you can create some great brand awareness. Moreover, the best part is that it comes for free.
You get to host all the relevant information about the services you offer without having a website. Moreover, since the focus is on local searches, the competition is restricted within the locality only and not the entire city, state or region. This indicates that you could be at the top of search engine page results for your location and category. With Google Maps being accessible on mobile phones also, those on the move looking for your services could find you easily.
By using relevant keywords to create an impressive and appealing service description, adding videos and images, also, you could make it easier for your prospective patients to identify you, utilize your services, and then give feedback by way of reviews.
A recent survey conducted by Deloitte has shown that nearly 75 percent of patients would prefer digital healthcare services, provided they cater to their needs with a level of quality they always expect.
Even though younger patients are more open to social media, a wider population still sticks to mundane demands such as easy information access, efficiency, and integration with other channels. Contrary to popular belief, super innovative services and complicated apps take a back seat with most patients
In sum, a consistent digital strategy that makes it easier for potential patients to see what mental health services you offer must have the following:
- A well-designed site providing easily comprehensible information and which shows that assistance is at hand.
- A plan to address relevant audiences by way of multiple site advertisements and posts backed up by regular activities and promotional events so that you get greater visibility.
- Create paid traffic campaigns for acquiring qualified leads.
As mentioned earlier, it’s an open market out there. All you need to do is to take the plunge and make the most of it. So why wait? The time is here. Just do it!