I have talked to several people over the last year who have considered expanding their practice to include online therapy. With the growing number of HIPAA-compliant online platforms (a simple Google search will result in various HIPAA-compliant online therapy platforms — one that we recommend is ePsychToday), and growing popularity of online services, its not surprising the see the increased interest.
Have you ever considered offering online therapy to your clients?
If you have considered offering online therapy to your clients, then you likely know the licensure limitations and ethics of doing so, and you probably also know about the variety of platforms available to you.
For obvious reasons, knowing the licensure limitations and ethics of doing online therapy is very important, but what I have found in talking to people interested in offering online therapy is that they are only focusing on those pieces, and not on the marketing piece, which is KEY. Online therapy is not possible without good marketing.
In talking to hundreds of therapists each month, I have found that people interested in online therapy fall into two different camps:
- Some people want to see their local clients via video, and not have to go into an office. For this group of people, they see online therapy as a convenience of working at home, saving the cost of office space, and even creating a practice that will allow them to work when people can’t travel due to weather or a disability.
- Some people see online therapy as a way to expand their market by going national or international.
Why offer online therapy?
Online therapy is increasing in popularity throughout the U.S. There are many added benefits of offering online therapy. Some benefits include:
- If you are a local therapist, you have the ability to reach clients in rural areas of the state, where therapists may be sparse or nonexistent
- You have the ability to see clients with disabilities, who may not otherwise be able to see a therapist
- You can work from your home – saving you the costs of an office
- If you live in a region of the country that has inclement weather, online therapy allows you to see clients when you’d normally have many cancellations.
- If you are looking to expand your practice to a regional, national or international level, you can grow your practice
Considerations for the local therapist wanting to offer online therapy:
For this group, the marketing challenge lies in selling the convenience of online therapy to a local market. If this is you, then you will still need to attract potential clients, locally, and convert them into real clients.
Naturally, a lot of therapists like the idea of this — working from home with local clients, growing their practice by working with people outside their immediate city, etc. If this is you, what is going to distinguish you from the others? How will you communicate with your potential clients about online therapy? Are you willing to reach out to more rural areas of your state to do online therapy? If so, you will have an advantage because you’ll be offering services to an underserved population, while still working within your state licensure.
Considerations for the therapist wanting to offer online therapy to reach a larger area (regional, national or international):
If you are in this group, there is a separate set of challenges faced in regards to marketing.
- You need to be very clear on your website that you work with clients ONLINE.
- Your site also needs to appear VERY professional
- You should appear to be a bit of a celebrity — an expert. People need to feel that they are getting the best help that they can get, and that they’re pulling in an outside expert for a good reason. This takes the online mode off the table as an issue.
How to Market Your Online Therapy Practice
Run a Google Adwords campaign
- If you are marketing locally, developing an effective Adwords campaign to target the rural areas of your state is a great way to expand your reach.
- If you are marketing nationally/internationally, develop an effective Adwords campaign is key. With Adwords, you have the ability to reach people in higher socioeconomic areas. Because these areas tend to be highly populated, the level of competition increases in terms of Adwords. Therefore, you must be willing to spend money on your Adwords campaign to ensure its effectiveness.
- For either local or a larger reach, make sure that your ads are offering Online Therapy so that you don’t waste your money on people seeking a local provider.
Communicate the benefits of online therapy on your website
- This is true for both those looking to market locally or those looking to market nationally/internationally. It’s important for you to really convince a potential client on your website (preferably on your homepage and on your specialty pages), that you have the chops so clients will want to work with you remotely. You have to convince them that, well, you’re the best.
Develop and keep in touch with an email list
- Building your email list is another key aspect of marketing for your online therapy practice. Without a place to build your list on your website, you are much less likely to form a relationship with your potential clients. This is as simple as offering a free report on your specialty pages to capture email addresses, and keeping in touch with that list once per month with a relevant blog post. I talk in depth about the importance of offering a free offering on your website here.
The one key thing to take away from this is that you must stress the benefits of online therapy on your website. If you can’t convince your potential clients that online therapy will work, and that YOU are the person to do that online therapy with, you won’t see the results that you otherwise would.