The internet offers an opportunity to introduce yourself to consumers exactly when they are searching for your business by appearing in the major search engines. For niche businesses, the web presents an opportunity to reach the nationwide or global community, where geographic limitations might otherwise force you out of business.
A website is a tool that helps you get found by potential clients and sell your services. According to KPMG, more than half of respondents search online for reviews and recommendations before buying a product or service. If a potential client can’t find you online, they may choose to work with another psychologist whom they can find. That’s a scenario you wouldn’t like to find yourself in, right? Besides an online presence, there are other benefits of having a website for your private practice.
Let’s see what exactly a website can do for your practice to help you decide whether you need one.
#1 A website can help you develop your brand
A professional website is like a house you own — it’s a space that’s entirely yours. You can build it from scratch, plan the number of rooms, design the interior, choose the sofa, etc. You build a website in a similar way — choose the platform, decide on the number of pages, create the content, pick the color scheme, and plan every other detail to convey what your practice is like.
A website makes you available 24/7 and gives your private practice credibility. You’re not just a Dr. Smith on the phone — your prospects can find you, see photos of you, read about your services, and see your prices and testimonials from clients. See what you need to develop your brand and how a personal website can help you do that.
1.1. Create an effective web presence
In 2021, you need a website to get found by potential clients who are searching online. Yellow pages and word-of-mouth aren’t as effective anymore. See for yourself:
- 49% of users say they use Google to discover a new item or product. (Think with Google, 2019)
- 63% of consumers primarily use company websites to find and engage with businesses. (LSA (Local Search Association) April 2017 report, “The Digital Consumer Study”)
- 68% of online experiences begin with a search engine. (Brightedge research)
- Research by YellowPages and LSA has found that, on average, consumers use 3 sources before making an individual purchase decision.
- 30% of clients automatically strike a business from consideration if it doesn’t have a website.
- More than 1 billion of 3.5 billion daily Google searches include health-related questions.
Patients may find you on social media, online directories, and listings or through blogs or other publications you’ve contributed to. Successful marketing requires piquing their interest, gaining their trust, and funneling them to your website.
1.2. Make a good impression
When a prospect googles your name, they’re probably going to find your website and make a snap judgment. If your website design is poor, obsolete, or not user-friendly, there’s a high risk that prospects will leave and never come back.
Not having a website makes consumers trust you less. People are more likely to do business with a company they trust, and a website is the first place they go to check for credentials and reviews.
When people visit your website, they seek answers to basic questions like who you are, what services you offer, where you’re located, and how to contact you. Once they’re satisfied with all that information, they decide to follow up or not. Just remember that when you provide such information, you should keep it simple and short, since consumers these days expect immediate gratification.
1.3. Prove your expertise
As the internet has become the go-to tool for most people seeking any type of service, a website can establish your credibility and status as a service provider. A website is your personal digital space where you can share helpful and authoritative content.
You can start content marketing to become a trusted expert in your niche. Authoritative content can include blog posts, educational videos, podcasts, email marketing, cheat sheets and checklists, webinars, and books. Your own website is a necessity for this style of marketing. You can offer people much more information on your website than you could through any other marketing medium.
Create new content for your website regularly and get links to your website from other websites to make your content appear in search results. Quality content and high ranking in search results can help establish you as an expert in your niche and build your credibility.
#2 A website can help you engage with prospects and clients
One of the reasons you need a website is that it’s a perfect space to share information. You may say “Why would I need to have a separate site and pay for it if I can share everything on my Facebook page for free?” There are two convincing answers.
First, your own therapist website offers a lot of opportunities to help you get to the top positions in search results and get noticed by prospects.
Second, your business profiles on social media and listings don’t belong to you. The owners of such websites decide whether to continue running them. Imagine that one day you wake up and find out that your preferred social media site has crashed or ceased to exist. You’ll lose all the information you posted there together with all your contacts and followers. If you have your own website, you have more control over the situation. The lifetime of your website depends on how long you pay for the hosting services.
What’s more, if you choose to market your services on a social network, you’ll have to stick to their policies and just accept the way their ever-changing algorithms work. And their algorithms might not work in your favor and may limit your exposure.
Take a look at the opportunities a therapist website provides in terms of sharing information.
2.1. Help your clients before they ask
Want to devote more time to solving clients’ needs instead of answering common logistical questions during your sessions? Here’s a solution: Create an FAQ page on your website with questions your clients always ask during your initial consultation. You can then share a link to it with your clients and prospects before your meeting in an automated email or message.
An FAQ page can include all types of questions, from insurance-related questions to questions about the techniques you use, how to find your office, and what platform you use for video calls. An FAQ page saves you time during sessions and reduces clients’ fears of the unknown when starting therapy.
2.2. Serve the needs of your current clients
Websites are marketing tools that help you reach potential clients and referral sources, but they also assist current clients with information.
A therapist website is like a catalog that has lots of information in one easy-to-find place. Your clients will appreciate it.
2.3. Display your best reviews and testimonials
When you’re a psychologist, people come to you as strangers and need to open up. Your future patients will likely tell you very delicate and personal things. That’s why you need to establish a certain level of trust. Start gaining trust with your website by placing testimonials from your current patients.
Testimonials and reviews usually go at the bottom of your home page or on a corresponding testimonials page. You can choose whatever design you find appropriate; just make sure it’s logical and the testimonials are easy to notice.
If you have any reviews on your Google My Business profile, it’s a good idea to create a carousel and embed Google reviews on your website. It’s easy to do with the help of WordPress plugins or the Google My Business API — just install a widget or click and choose which reviews to add.
2.4. Streamline the intake process
Collecting information is the foundation upon which the structure of the therapeutic relationship is built. It’s best to get information from a client before the initial session. For this, you can create an intake form with leading questions to get a general understanding of a client’s needs and prepare for the meeting. You might add such a form to your booking form.
In terms of the intake form, it’s helpful to ask a client to share some of their history, their current situation, and their goals. Usually, an intake form includes basic blocks such as:
- Name of the client
- Phone number and if the client agrees to communicate via calls and text messages
- Whether the client wants an in-office visit or online session
- Email address and if the client agrees to communicate via email
- Insurance information
- Referral source (How did the client find out about you?)
- Emergency contacts in case there’s an emergency associated with the client (for example, if the client becomes actively suicidal)
- Medical history as well as current medical problems
- Current medications and doses along with names of the prescribing doctors and their contact information
- Mental health history
- Family members with a mental health history and their diagnoses
- Substance abuse history
- History of abuse or trauma (i.e. physical, emotional, mental, sexual)
- Any current life transitions/issues the psychologist should be aware of
- Current use of social media and time spent on the internet and if a client’s use of social media is impacting any of their relationships
- The client’s preferred mode of communication (texting, phone, or in-person)
- Reason the client is seeking help
- Goals and what the client would like to accomplish or see change
- Consent to treatment
- Electronic signature
The blocks may vary depending on the information you need. You may also create forms specific to ADHD, ABA, Health Psychology Programs, etc.
While collecting information about your clients, make sure you use a HIPAA-compliant data collection method. Email and messengers aren’t a HIPAA-compliant way of getting intake information from a client, so you need to have an online intake form on your site. Consider how New View Psychology organized their intake form page.
2.5. Keep your clients updated
Your website is one of the main places you can share news and updates on your business. A page with the latest news can help you communicate important messages and changes you make in your practice.
You may also want to create a page specifically dedicated to changes you’re making in response to the coronavirus. Clear, concise, frequent, and transparent communication with your clients throughout the pandemic is crucial to managing expectations and your reputation. A special page and a banner at the top of all website pages can keep website visitors informed.
2.6. Sell additional services
Your website can serve as an ecommerce platform to sell your services and products. On a special page, you can share everything you have to offer your clients.
A website helps you keep all things in one place, accept payments, generate traffic, and develop your practice.
2.7. Communicate with your clients via notifications
Push notifications can help you leverage mass communication with clients. With push notifications, you don’t need to send personal messages to everyone on your list or deal with outdated contact information.
Push notifications are a permission-based marketing channel. Before receiving web push notifications, website visitors have to allow them. Thus, you need to create a compelling message to explain to visitors why they should receive your notifications. After that, your prospects and clients will be able to receive welcome notifications, meeting reminders, news, promos, transactional messages, etc.
#3 A website can help you drive results with marketing efforts
A website is your marketing tool. So to answer the question Does a psychologist need a website? you first need to answer the question Do you need to market your practice? If yes, then get a website. Below is a list of marketing tasks a website can help you with.
3.1. Grow your services and attract new prospective clients
Just as you can use your website to help others, you can also use it to grow your private practice and achieve your goals. Remember how we said that a website could help you become a trusted expert thanks to the useful content you publish? You can go even further with that approach. Your visibility in search results and the credibility of your personal brand can bring you new clients, speaking opportunities, and other ways to expand your impact.
3.2. Automate the process of converting prospects into clients
What does a conversion mean in terms of a private practice? For psychologists, a conversion is when a website visitor books a session and becomes their client. Your website is a place where you can nurture, engage, and convert your prospects. Relevant content that reflects your prospects’ interests and pain points will help you guide prospects towards the booking form.
A booking page or widget is a must for your therapist website to convert prospects. It’s an easy way for your clients to see your availability and schedule a meeting with you in a click. For example, the ExpertBox widget can help you deliver a comprehensive client experience at the peak of your website visitors’ interest.
3.3. See your prospects’ and clients’ activity
Suppose you want to know how successful your ads are, how many prospects interact with your brand daily, or how you can improve your online performance. In that case, you surely need Google Analytics to track prospects’ and clients’ activities. However, you can use Google Analytics only on a property that belongs to you — i.e. on your own website.
Here are just a few of the many questions you can answer using Google Analytics:
- How many people visit my website?
- What external sites drive the most traffic to my website?
- Where do my visitors live?
- Do I need a mobile-friendly website?
- Which marketing tactics are the most effective?
- Which website pages are the most popular?
- What information on pages is the most interesting for visitors?
- Do visitors read blog posts to the end?
- How many prospects have I converted into clients?
- How can I improve my website’s speed?
- What blog content do my visitors like most?
Google Analytics is a must-have tool if you’re planning on exploring and developing marketing strategies to improve the visibility of your private practice on the internet.
3.4. Leverage digital marketing
Inbound marketing is a really effective way to attract, connect, engage, and delight prospects and clients online. Thanks to digital marketing, you can measure website traffic, evaluate content performance, control lead generation, and analyze the most effective touchpoints (using the attribution model).
If you plan on investing in digital marketing to increase your prospects and grow your business, you’ll likely want to direct prospects to your website or landing page, which should effectively convert them into clients. A well-designed website will answer the right questions with the right message and make prospects take action.
#4 A website can help you automate administrative tasks
Work smarter, not harder.
How much time do you spend with clients vs. doing day-to-day tasks? Things like appointment scheduling, back-and-forth communication, invoicing, collecting clients’ data, and paperwork can take up a considerable part of your workday. A website can help you run your practice more efficiently, saving you time and money and reducing administrative headaches.
4.1. Devote more time to work
A website can reduce your communication with clients and increase your internal productivity. At the same time, it can help clients find useful information without needing to call, which ultimately provides an all-around better user experience.
4.2. Sign contracts and other documents
The work of a psychologist is not only about patients. Psychologists spend a good deal of their time on mountains of paperwork. At different stages of your work with clients, you might need your clients to sign documents such as:
- New client packets
- Terms & conditions
- Informed consent documents
- Confidentiality waivers
- The reason for the encounter
- Contracts for email and phone communication
- HIPAA notice of privacy practices
- Release of information forms
- Termination letters
To make the process easier and save time, you can have clients sign documents via your website. Allowing patients to fill out and sign HIPAA-related documents on your website can be a major boost to your administrative processing. Because files can be sent and stored electronically, it’s now possible for many common HIPAA forms to be completed digitally, even by signers outside the office. Your website visitors will be able to fill out, sign, and submit documents using an electronic signature and receive a copy of the signed document.
4.3. Let your clients book sessions
Over-the-phone booking is time-consuming for both clients and psychologists, and it makes it difficult to organize and coordinate your bookings.
Let your clients see your availability, book a session, and even pay for it online. A booking page or a widget on your website will help you forget about back-and-forth communication with prospects and free your time to deliver your services.
Create a separate booking page or place a widget on every page of your website so your prospects and clients can easily find it and make a booking. You can also share the link to your booking page via text message or email.
4.4. Accept online payments
Online payments are a real life-saver when it comes to managing your transactions. You don’t need to keep names and numbers in mind if you ask for payment during the online booking process. Besides, due to pandemic limitations, psychologists may prefer to hold their sessions online, which makes online payments a must.
Online payments can also be your silver bullet for decreasing the no-show rate, as patients who have already paid will have even more incentive to show up for their scheduled sessions. If you don’t want to charge the full price in advance, you can ask clients for prepayment. Establishing a prepayment policy can help you reduce your cancellation rate and cover costs associated with last-minute cancellations.
Online booking software integrated with your website lets you streamline and simplify the online payment process. For example, with ExpertBox, your clients can book and pay for a session at the same time.
We’ve pointed out what a website can do for your business to help you determine if you need a website for your private practice. In general, a website for your practice can help you get found, give your patients an easy way to stay in touch with you, and allow you to be there for your patients emotionally, provide helpful content, build relationships, grow a global audience, and serve your current patients by providing information. Is this what you want to achieve for your practice? Then you know what your next step should be.
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