More than 50 million Americans have a mental illness, and more than half don’t receive treatment. Some of these people aren’t sure where to go for help or how to take the next steps toward treatment. Many people turn online for answers to their questions about mental health treatment. Connecting people in need with resources is the goal of behavioral health marketing.
What is Behavioral Health Marketing, and Why Does It Matter?
Behavioral health marketing uses traditional marketing strategies and tactics to connect people with the wellness services they need. These services may include outpatient therapy, addiction treatment, or residential care.
This type of marketing differs from traditional marketing for multiple reasons, but the most significant difference is the need to recognize the potential vulnerability of the people looking for help. Mental health marketing done right connects people with resources while helping reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness. It works to normalize seeking help while reducing the shame, guilt, or fear surrounding treatment.
Top Strategies for Behavioral Health Marketing
The purpose of behavioral health marketing is more critical than many other types of marketing because it deals with people’s well-being. But the foundations of this type of marketing are much like those for any other product or service. The strategies certainly mirror those used in any healthcare field.
Identify Target Clients
The first step in any marketing is to know who you’re trying to reach with your messages. That means identifying your target clients.
For an addiction treatment center, for example, your target clients are generally people with addiction and their families. But you also probably can take that a step further. What types of substance use disorder do you specialize in treating? What are the philosophies behind your treatment?
Answering just a few questions about your services may result in you recognizing that your target clients are men, ages 24-34, with alcohol addictions that require detox and additional mental health treatment.
Once you gather basic information about your target clients, research them more in-depth. Learn everything you can about them and their needs. You can’t know too much about the people you’re trying to serve.
Also, remember that a target client is just that — a group of people you gear your messages toward. It doesn’t mean you won’t also reach other people you can help too. It simply focuses your marketing on the people most likely to respond to it.
Branding and Positioning
Branding and positioning are about knowing what makes your treatment center unique. In the universe of about 13,000 treatment centers, what’s different about yours?
This positioning is how you differentiate your treatment center from the others. You then use branding to communicate that difference and establish it in the minds of your audience. What do you want them to think about in relation to your treatment center?
Your positioning and branding are a big deal because they establish why your audience should choose your center over their other options. You want to develop consistent messages and visual elements around your branding so people recognize it as belonging to your center and no others.
Online Presence and Digital Marketing
About 226,000 people search for mental health treatment and related terms each month. You want to make sure they find information about your mental health treatment center when they’re searching. That means taking your positioning and branding decisions and carrying them out through a user-friendly and informative website. Then, follow SEO best practices for your behavioral health business so searchers can find you organically.
Google holds your website to a higher standard because the content can affect someone’s health and well-being. So E-E-A-T signals are critical to this market.
Don’t stop with SEO content! Do your part to spread the word by promoting your website content and more on the social media platforms where your audience gathers. About 75% of people use social media to research brands. Don’t miss out on that potential connection.
Thought Leadership and Content Creation
You’ll want to use content marketing to keep your website active with search engines and at the forefront of people’s information seeking. This approach means having a strong web presence with service pages and creating regular blog content on topics you know your target audience will likely search for.
You can take this content a step further by producing thought leadership. Thought leadership content establishes your expertise in a specific area. There’s no better place to produce mental health thought leadership content than a treatment center full of true experts.
Ask the therapists at your center to write blog posts on their topics of expertise or use quotes from them in content about their area. This type of content will establish your treatment center’s authority and ensure that the public gets accurate, reliable information.
Client Experience and Reviews
Once people find your treatment center’s website, they’re well on their way to becoming clients and getting the help they need and deserve.
People hesitate to seek treatment for many reasons, including fear of the unknown, shame, and not wanting to seem weak. Social proof is a crucial way to help reduce the stigma associated with seeking treatment and help remove some of these barriers.
Social proof is the idea that people copy the behavior of others because they don’t want to miss out on something worthwhile. In marketing, we use it to describe the idea that people will want to use your service if they know others did too, and it worked for them.
In behavioral health marketing, social proof comes from positive client reviews and testimonials. Display this feedback on your website, being careful not to use full names or identifying features for privacy. Let others share their experiences at your center and how it helped them in their own words.
Analytics and Performance Tracking
There’s no magic bullet or single approach to marketing. That’s why it’s essential to use data to make informed decisions, then monitor what’s working.
Up front, using this data means understanding your audience and using an SEO tool like Semrush to research what exact terms they’re likely to search for online.
On the back end, use tools like Google Analytics and the data provided by the social media platforms you use to determine what marketing efforts are working best for your mental health treatment center. Once you discover what works well, do more of that.
Consider Strategic Partnerships
Behavioral health marketing has a lot of moving parts. Whether you lack the expertise or aren’t ready to take it on, a strategic partner like Content Journey can help. We’re experts who follow guiding principles for mental health marketing. Contact us today to learn more about working together.