The first thing to understand is that rehab marketing is an impersonal sounding term that in fact deals directly with severely personal issues. For various reasons, some more valid than others, the term ‘marketing’ itself seems to denote aggressive campaigns aimed at grabbing money and bombarding an already ad-exhausted public with in-your-face slogans, psychologically relevant colors, subliminal bells and whistles and not-so-discreet product placement in an effort to get us to buy more and spend more so advertisers can make more.
In some instances this may be true. But, in the case of rehab marketing, what is it that we are trying to ‘sell’ ? Nothing other than salvation for the significant portion of the population that suffers from addiction.
We aren’t selling highly modified food starches campaigning as nutritious wonder foods. We aren’t promoting get rich quick schemes. We aren’t hawking digital e-books guaranteed to fix your love life. Rehab marketing is a completely different beast.
Fundamentally, rehab marketing is a way to increase awareness and visibility for treatment centers that are designed to give those afflicted with addiction a shot at a better life. BUT (and this is The Big ‘But’) the best treatment facility in the world is as good as a garage full of rubber ducks if No One Ever Hears About It.
THE SCOPE OF ADDICTION IN AMERICA
It seems like everyone is suffering from substance abuse disorder. Everyone.
Look at the numbers. 1 out of every 25 American adolescents suffered from substance abuse disorder in 2017. 1 of every 7 young adults battled addiction that same year. On top of that, 13.6 million adults struggled with this terrible disease at the same time. The problem is prevalent and only getting worse. Lives are falling apart due to substance abuse and it’s an issue that costs American society over $740 billion a year to combat! How do we even begin address this? Rehab marketing!
These numbers represent a not-insignificant amount of real people in need of real help. Your treatment facility was built for the sole purpose of providing that much needed aid. But if you can’t get people suffering from addiction into your beds, two things happen: 1) your facility goes broke and the valuable service you provide crumbles into nothing, and 2) those people in need of care still don’t get it and the intolerable suffering continues. It’s in everyone’s best interest to increase awareness about your rehab center. What is it called when you increase awareness about a rehab center? Rehab Marketing
CONNECTIVITY AND CONNECTION
Here’s another problem: how do you address a real human need, and make real human contact in a society where everything is done via the cold efficiency of the internet? The solution: USE THE INTERNET! Today we are connected like never before. In the history of the world there has never been the degree of connectivity and communication that we see happening today. This is the absolute best time to utilize rehab marketing to save lives. The advent of social media has allowed people over great distances to connect with people they never would otherwise, and the wealth of information readily available at one’s fingertips has enabled us to, in a matter of hours, become amateur experts in topics that previously remained a mystery.
Listen, only a few years ago, 20.7 million people in America needed treatment for their substance abuse. Only 4 million got it. Furthermore, of the millions and millions of people who absolutely need treatment, only 5.7% feel they need it. This is an issue not only of making treatment available, but of making education readily accessible and visible! Rehab marketing isn’t just about making a buck, it’s about ensuring the public is well informed and helping them find the best treatment possible: Yours!
YOUR RESPONSIBILITY AS A TREATMENT CENTER
It’s your duty to touch as many lives as possible. There’s an ocean of addicts out there who need help, and many are completely unaware ofthis need. Your facility and your staff are well equipped and trained to handle the full spectrum of the disease of addiction. So be brave. Use your outside voice. Get people to listen!
You have a great rehab center, and we need to spread the word. Enter rehab marketing.
SO WHERE TO BEGIN
Great! We’ve established that there is an epidemic of addiction that afflicts millions of Americans and that your primary interest, your duty in fact, is to help them. But how do we begin building the trust inherently necessary in any program of recovery? How do we educate those who don’t even know the have a problem that they might need your services or assure those ready for treatment that your rehab center is the right choice for them? This is where human needs meet your business needs. You require awesome, highly-relevant, quality and qualified leads. To get them, you’re going to need a diversified approach to your rehab marketing strategy. THIS, ladies and gentlemen, is rehab marketing.
SEO: THE ONLY STRATEGY FOR REHAB MARKETING YOU'LL EVER NEED (kinda)
You’re familiar with Search Engine Optimization right?
No? Okay, briefly: Search Engine Optimization is the total set of strategies and tactics you use to ensure your Rehab Center’s facility turns up high in the Google rankings whenever someone does a search for, say “addiction treatment”, “rehab in my area” or “equine therapy for heroin addicts” (we’ll get more into keywords later).
That’s basically it. You want to rank high in Google, and you want to do so organically.
SEO is your best option.
If you need a more thorough refresher that dives into some of the more technical aspects, look here.
Now we focus primarily on Google because it’s got the lion’s share of the market when it comes to search engines and serving up relevant results. Window to Recovery will gladly optimize for Bing and Yahoo, but for the sake of this article, we focus on the Marlon Brandos and Robert DeNiros, leaving the Radcliffe’s and Pattinson’s for another article (nothing against those guys, but you take our meaning).
The reason we believe you should aim for high ORGANIC rankings is simple: It’s more cost effective (than, say PPC ads, which we also recommend, and also provide) and it’s a longer term strategy that has the potential to see effective results months and years down the line.
Google’s algorithms for serving up search results are some of the most sophisticated on the planet. No one knows for sure what “google is looking for” when it comes to dishing up content for a searcher, but one thing has been made abundantly clear over the last few years and across the most recent algorithm updates : Google Cares about User Intent.
It is in Google’s best interest as a company to serve up only the most relevant and engaging content possible for a user. If someone is looking for “treatment centers in my area” Google wants to make sure the results they deliver to Joe Addict are exactly what he’s looking for. If User Intent matters to Google, it matters to you!
SEO is the best way to make Google happy, and to convince it that your facility’s website deserves to be in the top rankings. (If you’re on page 2 of Google, you’ve already lost – 95% of searches are conducted on the first page of Google results, leaving 5% for the millions of other pages)
Lucky for you, we’ve got some strategies for optimizing your site and ranking high in the Organic (non-paid) results of Google.
SEO STRATEGIES FOR REHAB MARKETING
We’ve broken the rest of this article down into 5 Key Strategies, and are as follows:
- Site Health
Beyond that we have some tips for leveraging Social Media, PPC ads, Email marketing and good old fashioned Word of Mouth to round out your marketing efforts. But first:
Way back in 2013, Matt Cutts (Google’s former head of Search) said “Content is Still King!” (in so many words) and that still rings true today.
What you have to offer your potential patients matters. Now you can’t slip them a suboxone over digital chat, and you certainly can’t rent them a digital bed. But what you can do is, once they’ve found your page, provide them with Amazing Content. Now, paradoxically, the best way for them to find your page in the first place is to rank high. You do that by?!? (wait for it…) Writing Amazing Content!
Got that? Write amazing content to rank high so they can find your facility. Use amazing content so they CHOOSE your facility.
Look, if there’s any takeaway here its just this : the quality of your content is important, so write (or host) it accordingly.
What is amazing content?
First it should be topically relevant. Let’s assume people out there are considering treatment, or are at least considering CONSIDERING treatment. They’re going to pull out their phone (a large volume of search traffic is conducted over Mobile) and type their queries into Google. Whatever they type in, be it “Treatment for Alcoholism” or “In-Patient Rehabs Near Me”, their search phrase is going to contain keywords. Keywords can be short (Rehab), medium (Treatment for Alcoholism) or long-tail (Equine therapy for heroin addicts). These keywords are TOPICS that you want your webpage to rank for.
Essentially, kewords are topics that your future admits are ACTIVELY SEEKING ANSWERS TO! As a diligent rehab facility (as yours no doubt is) you want to PROVIDE these answers. In order to rank high for any one of these keywords, you need to have content on your website that caters to the topic in question.
Here are you bare essential tips for writing quality content that has the potential to rank high:
Longform content of about 1,705 words should be your goal.
There are some exceptions to this. Google tends to favor longer content, provided that said content is CONTEXTUALLY RELEVANT to the topic at hand. Longer content suggests to Google that you are providing engaging subject matter and, if you write contextually about the subject matter (including the keywords in your copy at regular intervals and using terms associated with that keyword) Google assumes you’re doing so with a degree of authority. Longer is generally better, but some will argue that people searching on mobile don’t want lengthy articles, or that article length depends on the topic (keyword). An article about addiction in general will generally be much longer than say “Emotional Freedom Techniques for Crystal Meth Addicts”. Either article on mobile could be said to work better if they’re shorter. Regardless, play it safe, and try to keep a majority of your content longform.
Address User Intent
This is all about your keyword research. Have you discovered what people are actually typing in and searching for with regard to their addiction? (Try Google Keyword Planner or my favorite tool, Ubersuggest.) Whatever those keywords are, aim to have an article assigned to each keyword. In this way, whatever your next patient is asking Google for answers to, your facility has them locked and loaded.
Engage Engage Engage
Don’t be afraid to ask questions of your future patients. Granted, they won’t be able to answer directly, but by asking them questions they in turn ask themselves, they will continue reading your article, hoping to come across the answer. This increases dwell time on your page, and that makes Google happy. Keep them engaged to keep them on the page.
No one is asking you to reinvent the wheel. But your content shouldn’t be directly lifted from other websites verbatim. This is potentially illegal and is definitely not best practices, but importantly it makes you look cheap. Users can sense a fraud or a charlatan from a mile away, so don’t be one. All you have to do here is provide value by demonstrating you know something about a subject your guest cares about. Have a conversation with them through your blog.
While this isn’t all inclusive, it’s a great start for writing killer content that makes Google happy and answers the questions your guests will (and DO!) have.
It’s not enough to simply have terrific, relevant content on your website. Your website will rank much better if it has Authority. Authority is a non-arbitrary metric assigned by Google that more or less measures Google’s faith in you. Sound a bit esoteric? It’s not.
Not too long ago (2016) Andrey Lipattsev (Search Quality Senior Strategist at Google), said that content and LINKS are among the top 3 ranking factors when it comes to search (the other being RankBrain, Google’s own AI). Links and content folks. We’ve covered content.
Now links? Links are directly related to your domain’s (website’s) Authority in Google’s eyes.
Links are a vote in your favor. Keep that in mind and you’ll have a clear picture of how Google views them when your website comes up.
Just remember this, Google determines your Authority by taking into consideration:
Who is linking to (voting for) you?
How frequently do other websites mention you?
How many diverse citations do you have?
Who, if anyone, are YOU linking TO?
People voting for you (linking to you) and mentioning you often tells Google that there is a degree of trust associated with your facility’s website. When you link to others, it tells Google that this is a two way street, and both are providing value. Building links should be seen as building relationships, in order to build trust.
Get Links > Build Trust > Build Authority
Now, you can have great content and a plethora of links, but if your Rehab Center’s website is ‘unhealthy’ things will not bode well for you.
This gets into more of the technical side of SEO, which we cover here (and other places). But quickly, this involves:
All of this hooplah we’ve been talking about is great, but there’s one important point to make abundantly clear: If Google hasn’t indexed your site, none of this $#!# matters. We repeat: If Google doesn’t even know to read, or Index, your site, all your SEO and rehab marketing efforts are for nothing. This is a very basic first step, but it’s vitally important. IN ORDER TO BE RANKED, YOUR SITE MUST FIRST BE INDEXED. Furthermore, you’ll want to regularly submit future pages onto your site to Google Search Console once your main site has been submitted.
Don’t be intimidated, Proper Indexing is just a matter of letting Google (or Bing) know that your site should be crawled and reviewed. Then, and only then, do you have a shot at ranking.
Here’s a link on how to get your pages quickly indexed by Google.
Fixing any broken links your site may have
These are bad for business. They can cause you to loose clients and customers out of sheer frustration. Broken links also make you look negligent and unprofessional i.e Lazy! If a link to your blog is broken, people can’t read it and won’t share it. If your sign-up form or ‘schedule a consultation’ form sends someone to a broken link, you’ll lose a customer and they’ll never refer you to friends and fellow addicts. Hows that for lead generation?!
Listen, don’t just cross your fingers and hope for the best. Due diligence is key, so fix your broken links.
SOLID CODE and GREAT DATA STRUCTURE
If you want to build a website, at some point you’re going to have to deal with code. Ideally, you have a developer to do this for you. But you should be well versed enough in redirects, metadata, robots.txt, url structure, canonical tags and sitemaps that you can hold a conversation, or at least detect whether or not your developer is doing their job. For a brief intro on these things check out this link.
You also want your site’s code to be clean, efficient, and up to date with the latest standards. Google is starting to pay attention to the quality and structure of your data behind the scenes. Structured data (like Schema) gives search engines vital data and information about your site’s content so they know better how to index it. (Remember indexing?)
Diving into all the technical aspects of your website’s health and how they relate to your overall rehab marketing strategy can seem overwhelming and daunting. Window to Recovery is glad to help you out with this.
This should be familiar to you. Addiction Treatment is among the most competitive industries in the United States. If you don’t believe us, check out this article. But we’re willing to bet you’re fully aware of the degree of competition out there. Addiction is an epidemic, it’s a billion dollar a year industry, and plenty of people are going to try and cash in on it. So where does this fit into your rehab marketing strategy?
First you need to understand this : Your biggest competitors in Business are not necessarily your biggest competitors in Search! Repeat: Your biggest physical competitors MAY DIFFER FROM YOUR SEARCH COMPETITORS.
Great SEO won’t help you if the Rehab Center down the street from yours has a killer grass roots campaign and they’re handing out nifty little flyers on every street corner and you’re not. However, IF that rehab center outranks you in search, and is therefore a SEARCH COMPETITOR, Window to Recovery can help you with a great rehab marketing effort by cranking up your SEO game to 11.
You’re vying for spots in Google Search. That’s the whole point of SEO. Between a well placed PPC ad, an organic search result, and a position in the Map Pack (more on that later) that’s 3 valuable pieces of real estate you can’t afford to relinquish to competitors.
To understand your competition you’ll need to conduct some thorough competitive research. This means finding out exactly what your search competitors are doing, and doing it better. We know this model works, because we’ve used it ourselves and we’re seeing tremendous growth and success. Ask yourself: What keywords are my competitors ranking for, and what marketing tactics are they using better than I am? This degree of research can be conducted using rather pricey software, and even then, you’ll need someone to make sense of the data. Allow us to conduct that research for you. It’s important that you’re able to identify direct, indirect, and emerging competitors so you can emulate them, improve upon their strategy, and beat them at their own game.
Finally this takes us to usability. The rise of mobile has changed the game for content marketing of any kind, and Rehab Marketing is no different. Google pays attention to the devices people are using, and how well your site caters to their mobile needs. For your site to do well across the board you’ll want:
Quick Load Times
How many times have you bounced from a page simply because it’s taking too long to load? Why not just click on the next link down (A COMPETITOR!). With response time measured in milliseconds, you can’t afford a slow load time. If you want addicts seeking help to trust your site, make sure it loads quickly. Addicts love immediate gratification: Give it to them. A few ways to reduce load time include enabling compression, reducing your redirects, and removing render blocking Java Script. For a more detailed discussion, check out this article by Moz.
We’ve all seen it: A beautifully designed website whose design breaks and utterly falls apart once scaled down to mobile. You can actually see the breakpoints in the code where fluid responsiveness wasn’t utilized. Who wants to endlessly scroll right and down on their phones? No one, that’s who. Yes, it’s an added step, but the conversions you’ll get through mobile by having your site be mobile responsive is more than worth the effort. A well designed mobile friendly site keeps people on their page, and converts readers into leads. Ignoring this fact is a big mistake.
Navigation and Ease of Use
This gets into the user experience and user interaction on your site. Nothing is worse than being unable to find what you’re looking for because a site has poor information architecture and the navigation is poorly designed. Don’t hide things in millions of menus and sub-menu dropdowns. Your site should be a breath of fresh air for an addict in need, not one more crippling maze to navigate. Your design should be thoughtful, intuitive, easy to use, easy to navigate, clear on purpose, and, if you can spare the time, beautiful. Make Google happy by making your potential admits happy.
If you do these things right, you should see Lower Bounce rates, more time spent on your site, high page visits per session, and more return visits, shares, links and citations.
One other thing. Don’t clutter up your site with ads on ads on ads. It’s an immediate buzzkill, and addicts hate buzzkills. You’re trying to get them to sign up for your world-class services, so be classy. Quit it with the pop ups and ad-whoring.
ROUNDING OUT YOUR REHAB MARKETING STRATEGY : BEYOND SEO
Don’t get us wrong: This article was intended to be an examination of the 5 key SEO methods for upping your rehab marketing game. But we’d be remiss if we neglected other elements that contribute to a healthy campaign. Here’s 6 more elements to be aware of when using your Outside Voice to spread awareness about your awesome rehab facility.
1 – Google My Business
This is all about leveraging a location-based strategy. Google My Business (GMB) is a free tool Google provides that helps facilities like yours manage their online presence in search engines and has super sweet impact for driving local leads.
Don’t know what we’re talking about? Yes you do.
Check it out:
Recognize it now? This little Map Pack (as it’s called) is a powerful way to leverage local traffic in your area, and is a primo example of prime real-estate on the Google SERPs page.
Things to remember:
Properly utilizing GMB doesn’t REPLACE your site or organic search results, or your ppc ad. Its an additional piece of visibility to help people in need of treatment find your facility.
This is single handedly the best thing you could take advantage of to increase local exposure.
When setting up your GMB you’ll want to complete the data the right way: Complete data for your listing, include keywords, business operating hours, NAPs (name, address, phone number), customer reviews etc. For an intro into GMB check out this awesome article by Search Engine Journal.
If you’ve got Google+ page, make sure to integrate it with your GMB listing. If not, make one. The more Google knows about your facility, the more it can recommend you in the search results.
2 – Social Media
Say what you want about social media – it’s powerful in its ability to connect humans, and it’s here to stay. Once you get past the posts of cats, kids eating lemons, and melodramatic teenage romance dramas, Social Media can be seen for the powerful tool it is. Check out this stat-line from Oberlo:
Remember at the very beginning of this article, we talked about addiction amongst various age groups? Well here they are. And here’s how much they use social media. Addiction is a part of many of these people’s lives, they are spending time on social media, they need help, and you can help them.
Does your facility have a presence across social media platforms? Why not? Get out there and do it. Pose regularly. Stay engaged! Add value to lives!
Use SM for what it’s good for: Building a community. And building a community is great for building your brand. This is also a great place to experiment with paid social ads, to increase visibility even more.
3 – PPC Has Its Place
We have many more resources discussing the benefits of PPC. It’s our bread and butter. SEO shouldn’t REPLACE PPC, it should augment and bolster it. What PPC lacks in flexibility and longevity, it more than makes up for in SUPERIOR TARGETING. When you’re talking about addressing very specific demographics (Heroine addicts into Horse Therapy) nothing beats a good PPC campaign. They are more expensive, and that’s because you see results quickly. While a good SEO campaign can take 3-6 months to see results, PPC campaigns are immediate. We repeat: Ads work. Just make sure whoever is in charge of your PPC campaigns are diligent, thoughtful, effective, and strategic.
4 – Email Marketing
Good ole’ email. It’s easy to lose site of this one. But we’d urge you not to. Email is such a great way to spread awareness about your facility, your services, and the quality of your treatment to those who have decided that WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU. Growing an excellent email list takes time, attention, and nurturing. But once you have it, you’ve got yourself one of those powerful marketing tools available : a direct line to your guests and future guests. You can get as personal or as impersonal you want. Great email marketers are able to see patterns and trends in user behavior and tailor-make content geared just towards them. Email is personal and personable. AND IT STILL WORKS! Use it wisely. It’s also a great way to stay in touch with all the Alumni that have had experience with your program. You don’t stop caring about your leads once they walk out the door right? Of course not, because you well know, those leads, those Alumni, are an excellent source for…
5 – Referrals
REFERALLS! Word of Mouth advertising is exactly what it sounds like. Work relationships with other providers, also known as boots on the ground marketing. Someone who can vouch for the efficacy of your program. Also consider that people suffering from drug and alcohol addiction, though they tend to isolate, run in a closely knit community of fellow addicts suffering the same horrors. Your clients can be great advocates as well. If there was ever a person to advocate for your facility, it’s someone who has been through it, and is likely to recommend it to those in need – people themselves, that they know and care about. Referrals are arguably the most valuable form of marketing. Your best lead generation source may be an existing relationship. Make those relationships count.
Well that wraps up this primer on Rehab Marketing. We’ve taken you through the 5 key SEO strategies of Relevance, Authority, Website Health, Competition and Usability, and rounded it out with 5 more elements to supplement that strategy : GMB, Social, PPC, Email Marketing, and Referrals.
This is a lot to take in, we get it. But know that we are here to help you with all of this.
On your mission to generate leads while simultaneously positively influencing countless lives of people suffering from addiction, Window to Recovery will provide you with the road map to success. We’ll even show you the cool stops along the way, and the best place to get a road-side sandwich. When it comes to Rehab Marketing, we just may be the coolest thing since lightsaber bread slicers.