Many of the 2015 changes Google has made in SEO (search engine optimization) have been less about behind the scenes computer coding strategies such as meta tags and more about UX -- which stands for user experience. The UX trend will only grow in the coming year. So what does that mean for the do it yourself solopreneur marketing a private practice?
It means -- think like the stressed out, anxious, depressed, grief-burdened, client you are trying to attract.
We used to talk about being client-centered in marketing. But this has prompted therapists to write marketing messges that focus on the benefits of counseling, thinking this is what it means to be client-centered.
The user experience of this kind of message is to feel lectured at.
Some social workers, counselors and psychologists still write marketing messages that focus on themselves and their amazing educational credentials. And while we all worked very hard for our masters, phds, and professional licenses, most clients don't care about this info as much as they care about how soon they can feel better and what therapy will be like for them.
When your marketing doesn't give your potential clients the info they are looking for immediately upon landing on your website or seeing your social media post, their user experience of your message could be more frustration or dismissal of you as a possibly helpful resource.
So here are the marketing trends for 2016 that will help ensure that your potential client niche(s) have a good user experience from their encounter with your marketing.
Trend 1: Videos
Welcome videos aren't that useful because they tend to focus on trite words, on the process of therapy, or on the counselor's credentials.
But some therapists have been vlogging for years -- that is, posting video messages on their blogs rather than writing. Others provide both the video and the written script / transcript. The chance to connect with a bit of you in a video can provide a good user experience of your live personality.
Vlog on helpful how-to topics. Making the info clear and immediately useful. Create your own channel on YouTube to house your videos as well as posting them in your blog, and be sure to also post them on your Facebook business page.
Trend 2: Relationship Loyalty Marketing
The era of seeking mere visibility for the existence of your practice is long dead. If you haven't stopped marketing around the fact that you are a compassionate and friendly therapist located in a confidential private office in the Bluetown neighborhood with weekend hours, taking xyz insurance, and offering CBT / DBT -- stop it now. Stop it yesterday.
Maybe it's the word marketing that trips you up. So throw that out of your vocabulary. To attract more clients in 2016 you will need to connect with strangers, and give simple self-improvement tips that leave them wanting more from you, all the while keeping in mind that every tip you give creates a bit more loyalty towards you.
Relationship loyalty takes time to build. Don't expect to give 2 tips on Tuesday and see a full new client load on Friday. But ongoing daily effort pays off. It's time to stop being afraid of engaging with clients and potential clients outside of the therapy hour.
Trend 3: Content, Content, Content
Many marketing gurus have been saying that content is king for several years, and this is still a strong trend for 2016. This means adding new pages to your website, blogging more, and writing more special reports. It also means posting more on Facebook.
In essence, trend 2 and trend 3 are two sides of the same effort. Content production is the how. Relationship loyalty is the why.
Trend 4: Message Images Are Almost Required
The internet is such a visual medium that the use of images has reached a massive scale -- and with that new online tools help even the least creative person turn a photo into a meme, a favored inspiration, or at least an interest-getter for content.
If you aren't already adept with Instagram, PicMonkey, MS Publisher and other tools, this is the year to add to your skills. You can use your images for your blogs and social media posts to help stimulate interest in your marketing niche message.
Trend 5: Mobile Apps Are Getting BIG
If you have some money to invest into hiring an app developer, this is THE thing to do if all your basics are already well covered. This is because the use of mobile devices has exploded and will only continue to do so, and people are hungry for cool useful apps to add to their phones and tablets.
Take a month to really study what is already available for stress, anxiety, and depression management, then start conceptualizing how you could do something similar but better. Map it out on paper, then find a developer to work with at ODesk or some other freelancer outlet.
Think of this as a recurring revenue stream as people buy subscriptions for your app, as well as another form of content and relationship marketing.
Trend 6: Email Gating
This might be a new term for an older idea for some of you. An email gate is where you require a visitor to your website to sign up or opt-in to receive a special report that is then delivered by autoresponder email.
Lately email gating is getting used in a new way -- providing part of the desired report or info graphic, and then requiring the email sign up to get the rest. This has the advantage of providing you with people who are genuinely interested in your content.
And in theory, those who are interested enough to give their email may be interested enough in what else you have to offer to become a buyer of your mobile app, your Kindle ebook, or to become a by-the-hour client.