Psychotherapy Blog

 

The Secret to Getting More Therapy Referrals from Smartphone Users

Posted by Joe Bavonese, PhD on 10/15/15 - 5:02 PM
The shift from desktop/laptop computers to mobile devices—especially smartphones—has progressed faster than anyone predicted. In most parts of the United States, it is now typical for over 50% of searches for therapists to happen on iPhones or Android phones. Google itself admitted in May 2015 that there are now more searches on mobile than desktop/laptop computers. And while Google commands only about 67% of desktop/laptop searches, they control over 80% of searches on smartphones.

On the surface this would seem like a bad thing for private practitioners: a smaller screen that can only show a tiny part of your website; more distractions through nearby apps; and even shorter attention spans than on computers (around 8 seconds according to a recent Microsoft study). Does this make internet marketing, already a very competitive endeavor, even more difficult to succeed in?

Not necessarily. The fact that people are searching on a phone that knows its location, and can communicate easily with the outside world is an enormous opportunity to generate even more referrals to your practice. To take maximal advantage of this opportunity, you will need to do five things:

1) Take Google’s Mobile Friendly Test—Google will severely penalize websites that are not deemed “mobile friendly” by their free test.

Google wants to see a “responsive design” that automatically reformats based on the size of the screen. They also want to see buttons that are large enough for human fingers to touch and spaced far enough apart to not be confusing to the user.

2) Be Sure you Have a Verified Google Profile—go to www.google.com/business and be sure your business has been verified and is active in the Google system, and that your address and phone number are correct.

3) Add TEXTING as an Option to Contact You for Initial Inquiries—to take advantage of the fact that texting has become the preferred mode of communication for many people of all ages, be sure you offer this option for people looking for a therapist. If you don’t want to use a real cell phone number, simply get a free number in your area code to use exclusively for texting at Google Voice and configure the settings so you get an email every time someone texts you. And if they text you, call them back, do NOT text them back.

4) Be sure options for phone, texting and email are shown at the TOP of every mobile page. People do not scroll down mobile pages very far.

5) KEY ITEM: Make sure that ONE TOUCH is all it takes to initiate a phone call, text or email to you. No one will copy and type in your numbers or email address.

TWO BONUS ITEMS:

6) If you use Google AdWords, be sure you are using Call Extensions to enable people to call you directly from an ad.

7) Get rid of those cute Social Media icon links on your mobile pages. The last thing you want to do is invite someone to socialize when they finally get to your page. The chances of someone contacting you after going to the multiple distractions of Facebook is essentially zero.

Using exactly these items, I have been generating over 60 calls and 20 texts a month to my psychotherapy practice. We all would rather get phone calls to our office than visits to our website, and this is the exact formula to make that happen. And the trend toward mobile is only going to accelerate in the coming years. Take advantage of this opportunity now!
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