9 Keys to Effective Online Marketing For Drug Rehab Centers
by Tyson Downs
* Originally Published Dec 29, 2016. Updated October 20, 2017
Addiction treatment marketing is a sensitive and complex subject. You want to keep your center as full as possible to help the greatest number of people and maintain a financially viable business — but at the same time, you need to be careful to use ethical drug rehab marketing tactics to protect your reputation.
If that weren’t enough, in marketing their residential rehabilitation centers, substance abuse professionals (SAPs) must also combat the stigmatization of addiction disorders among the general public, all while contending with a highly competitive addiction treatment market.
It's important that when you are creating your drug rehab marketing strategy that you consider the following statistics, tips, and best practices.
Here are some of the top considerations that we advise addiction treatment centers to take into account when developing a drug recovery center marketing strategy.
1. Addiction Treatment Marketing Statistics
The first step to marketing your residential addiction treatment center is to know your market. Here are some important statistics you’ll want to consider:
- Drug, alcohol, and other addiction treatment is a $35 billion industry and growing. There are now more than 14,000 addiction treatment facilities in the US and 2.5 million people receiving treatment each year, as of 2014 (Source: MarketWatch).
- According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselor employment is expected grow by 31 percent from 2012 to 2022 (Source: MarketWatch).
- While more people are getting treated, there is still a lot of unmet demand for addiction treatment — only an estimated 11.2 percent of Americans who need substance abuse treatment receive it. That means more than 88 percent of people with addiction disorders aren’t going to rehab (Source: drugabuse.gov).
- Funding is a major hindrance to addiction treatment. Insurance typically only covers a portion of treatment, so government/state agencies end up footing most of the tab for addiction treatment (Source: MarketWatch).
- The Affordable Care Act (ACA) will result in expanded funding for drug and alcohol rehabilitation clinics and higher profits in the industry overall — but results will vary from state to state (Source: Insurance Journal).
The main takeaway from these statistics in terms of your drug rehab marketing is that the market for rehab centers is growing, and as a substance abuse professional, there is a great business opportunity there. There are a lot of people out there who need help, which means there is a lot of untapped demand for rehab services that you provide. However, because a growing number of recovery professionals are entering the market, you need to position your center for maximum visibility and really stand out from the crowd. Treatment center marketing is very competitive. Be prepared to be in it for the long haul.
2. Branding for Rehab Centers
Given the increased competition as more addiction treatment facilities open, it's more important than ever that you have a unique selling proposition. Differentiating yourself from the competition is what will allow you to rise to the top.
Ultimately, this means determining what makes your rehab center different and special — and then incorporating the essence of your unique advantage into your website and marketing materials.
If you've been around for a while, you likely know that it's important to develop your brand.. A fully inclusive drug rehab marketing strategy, should always include branding branding as part of digital marketing campaign.
Developing A Unique Selling Proposition (USP) For A Drug Treatment Center
Your USP is what makes your facility unique and what will inform all of your marketing efforts. Are you the highest-rated facility in your area? Do you have a niche treatment specialty? What are the credentials of the substance abuse professionals working at your clinic? What is your success rate?
For example, your addiction treatment philosophy might have a special focus, such as nature therapy, or faith-based treatment. Whatever your specialty, be sure to integrate this element into your branding.
If your center focus is nature therapy, you’ll want to include photographs of people participating in hiking activities in your online marketing.
VizOwn, a rehab previously for women, does a great job of this on their website. From the color of their website (pink and purple) to only showing pictures of women patients, they are developing a strong position in their market (they've since rebranded and accept both men and women patients).
Once you have created your USP, you can begin creating other aspects of your marketing, including your logo, website, and content.
Even the keywords you are targeting in your drug rehab SEO campaign will depend on your USP. For example, if you specialize in methamphetamine treatment, you will want to target keywords such as “top meth addiction rehab in Colorado”. With that said, you have to be careful with SEO, and avoid working with untrustworthy companies.
3. Avoiding Shady SEO in Drug Rehab Online Marketing
From an ROI point of view, SEO for addiction treatment industry gives extraordinary value.
A strong search engine optimization campaign will rank you high for searches that your target persona is using.
Perhaps it's local searches such as: drug rehab center in Nevada.
Or maybe it's a niche, such as: drug rehab facility for women.
Whatever it is, an effective rehab SEO company should be able to help you with treatment marketing, allowing your website to rank high in the search results, and therefore getting more traffic, and ultimately more leads.
As far as SEO goes, addiction treatment marketing should include:
And with any kind of healthcare practice, but especially an area such as addiction treatment counseling, which has a rather low barrier to entry, your online reputation is everything.
If you develop the reputation of being an unethical operation just looking to make a quick buck from families struggling with addiction, you will fail spectacularly. And unfortunately, association with a shady SEO company can ruin your reputation, even if you’re trying to do everything right.
This PsychCentral article tells the true story of a deceptive marketing email sent on the behalf of a rehab facility, resulting in unwanted publicity for the rehab center. In the case of this facility, the search engine optimization company that the rehab facility hired, created a website with a name deceptively similar to that of the nationally recognized nonprofit SAMHSA, to give the false illusion that their marketing emails came from a trusted, reputable source.
In addition to deceptive marketing emails, unscrupulous SEO companies often use shady tactics like keyword stuffing, link buying, and even downright plagiarism. Some substance abuse treatment centers will even advertise made-up success rates, as detailed in this 2015 Forbes article.
To avoid the pitfalls of unethical online marketing, be sure the SEO company you use to market recovery centers uses SEO best practices and learn to watch out for the signs of a bad SEO agency.
If you’ve already had some reputation-damaging events such as negative online reviews, or you’ve been taken advantage of by a black-hat (unethical/shady) SEO company, it is fortunately still possible to repair the reputation of your recovery addiction treatment center. Learn more about review management and online reputation building for addiction specialists.
Sadly, treatment facilities have fallen victim to the lies of an internet marketing agency. Don't let that be you! Learn what you need to know when choosing an internet marketing agency reading this post.
4. Blogging for Addiction Treatment Centers
Blogging is a great way for you to connect with your target audience through your website. With an onsite blog, you provide your ideal patients with valuable information on the topics of addiction and recovery, while also generating high-quality content to help your site rank higher in search engines, getting more traffic, and more incoming leads.
As follows are some blogging tips for substance abuse professionals:
- Host the blog on your own domain (e.g., yourwebsite.com/blog)
- Incorporate your keywords as appropriate
- Write with a friendly, personal tone
- Back up your ideas with hard data and links to reputable sources when possible
- Write about real people and topics you have experience dealing with as a substance abuse professional
- Consider outsourcing the blog writing to a qualified writer or healthcare marketing agency if you don’t have enough time to blog regularly
- Include links to your blog posts in your social media posts and marketing emails
With time, you will start to build an interested community with your blog posts. Be sure to moderate and respond to comments on your blog to facilitate this community aspect of your blog, and ask your followers to share your blog posts to expand your reach even further.
When you blog, consider the questions that your potential patients ask you when they contact you.
Turn those answers into blog posts.
To get a feel for the kind of topics people might find interesting, browse some of the top addiction and recovery blogs.
5. Creating High-Converting Websites for Drug Rehab Centers
Your website needs certain elements to perform well in search engines and to keep visitors’ attention so they don’t bounce from your page to find what they need elsewhere.
In addition to the onsite blog we discussed above, here are some other essentials you’ll need for your rehab website:
- A photo gallery of your facilities (with high-quality, professional photos)
- Photos of people to depict the “human” element of your treatments
- Photos and bios of your professional staff
- Prominent contact information and call to action
- Information about forms of payment and insurance accepted
- Referrals, testimonials, and/or case studies
- Links to your social media profiles
- On-site SEO (for example, keyword-optimized page titles)
- Clean, easy-to-navigate, responsive web design
Search engine algorithms are highly complicated and can detect if visitors are leaving your site right away. If this happens often, you may not rank as well in the search engine results because it will be assumed that your website isn't providing a positive user experience, and that's why people are leaving.
Finally, the website will need to highlight your unique selling proposition (USP) that makes your clinic stand out. Your USP can be a niche treatment specialty, rehab center rating, success rates, specific employment you target, (such as focusing on drug rehab for doctors) credentials of your medical professionals on your team, or something entirely different.
To give you an example of these elements in action, take a look at the website for Alpine Recovery Lodge. This site provides all the necessary conversion elements for a residential addiction treatment center, including a clutter-free website design that allows visitors to find the information they need quickly, from whatever device they’re using.
Though you could probably design & develop your website on your own, it's usually best to have the website for your addiction treatment facility professionally done. For some more tips on website design for healthcare professionals, read 18 Qualities of Great Dental Websites or listen to the podcast below.
6. Email Marketing for Addiction Treatment Centers
Until recently, the act of converting addicts and family members of addicts that visit your website into patients was generally neglected. Drug rehab marketing was all about generating traffic to the website, but no one followed up through email marketing.
Building effective email lists is an excellent way to work towards a sustainable business model. If someone visited your website, they might need treatment themselves, they might know someone who needs treatment, and they may even require treatment at a later date.
As a result, you should attempt to “capture” potential patients by offering them something of value.
It could be a report about overcoming addiction. Perhaps it is a coupon to use for future admittance.
Whatever it is, it has to have some perceived value, or else they won't give you their email address.
To get the highest conversion rates with your rehab marketing, it’s a good idea to really know your ideal patients and make sure that your website “speaks to them.”
Email marketing flat out works and it's cost-effective (it doesn’t cost much to send an email). If you’re not using these tools to generate new leads, you are really missing a huge opportunity to increase your client base with marketing for addiction treatment centers.
7. Social Media Marketing for Addiction Treatment Professionals
Social media marketing is yet another vital aspect of advertising your addiction treatment facility online. You probably already have some social media profiles created, but you may not have fully capitalized on all that social media can offer your business.
Marketing by using social media helps you reach a specific target audience for your drug rehab center while helping cement your positive online reputation, and also providing search engine marketing benefits. SMM (social media marketing) coordinates with web design and SEO for seamless online presence.
Think outside the box, which means going beyond Facebook and Twitter. You’ll want a YouTube channel to reach potential patients with informative videos and a presence on Google My Business and other review sites (Yelp, YellowPages, etc.) for valuable local backlinks. You might also consider some industry-specific social networks, such as In The Rooms.
You should also consider the following before you start using social media to market your rehab center:
- There’s still a stigma associated with addiction: Even though there’s a huge benefit in getting treatment, there is still a stigma when it comes to addiction. As a result, individuals may be apprehensive about “liking your addiction marketing posts or your treatment center page.” However, this shouldn’t be a reason to abandon this platform altogether. It's just something to be aware of in the event you aren't experiencing the growth that you expect.
- There’s real support on Facebook: Although there’s stigma, there is also a lot of support for drug rehabilitation centers. With blog posts and valuable information shared via social media all the time, you can find genuine opportunities to enhance brand awareness and generate leads.
- Enhanced brand awareness: With platforms like Facebook, you have a real opportunity to build a community around your drug rehab center fan page. This community can generate a lot of activity for you by commenting, sharing, and liking posts. As a result, you will have a great opportunity to generate more traffic to your website, enhancing brand awareness.
- Know your target audience: Knowing your target persona well is important when sharing content. The content has to really connect with the target audience to encourage activity. It’s a good platform to share clear, concise messages, links to quality content, and inspirational stories. However, it isn't always suitable for clinical discussions. Further, confidentiality needs to be consistently maintained.
You will likely need to have a dedicated employee to handle your social media accounts, or you can hire an outside agency to do your social media work.
Make sure whoever does your social media creates an organized social media calendar to schedule regular posts across multiple networking platforms. It’s also important to pay attention to the timing of your addiction recovery social media marketing to ensure maximum visibility for your posts.
8. Community Outreach and Local SEO
As a substance abuse recovery professional, you need to have a presence in your community if you want people to know you and come to you for help. This includes the local community where you operate your treatment center, as well as the wider professional community, both offline and online. Participating in your community is important for multiple reasons:
- Spreads awareness to help destigmatize the disease of addiction and its treatments
- Gets your rehab center’s name out there so more people become familiar with it
- Improves your online reach with local SEO
- Helps you form mutually beneficial networking relationships with other professionals
There are numerous ways you can get more involved in your wider community. Some of these include:
- Participating in community events/volunteer opportunities (example: participating in a local charity 5K)
- Local sponsorship opportunities (example: sponsoring a local Little League team)
- Joining professional organizations and attending their networking events (example: National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers)
- Launching an online campaign to spread awareness and destigmatize addiction recovery
Your community outreach endeavors also help you generate content and backlinks for local SEO. For example, you can write blog posts about your community participation or addiction awareness campaign. When you participate in local events, your recovery center might be featured in a local news article or website with a list of participants and their contact information.
Membership to professional associations (local or otherwise) will also usually include your business’s NAP (name, address, and phone number) somewhere on their website, thus providing local SEO advantages.
For more information on local SEO for addiction treatment centers, check out our blog post: 21 Healthcare Marketing Strategies to Help Attract More Patients.
9. Tracking Leads Through Addiction Marketing
Once you have been engaged in marketing activities like lead generation and referral systems, you will have to track them to see what is and isn't working. If you’re getting inquiries from a target market segment but they’re not converting, figure out why so your rehab marketing efforts aren’t burning money.
If necessary, you may even need to stop spending money there and reinvest it in another market.
Tracking leads is vital for your treatment marketing, as not only can you track and control your budget, you can also be sure that your money is being spent wisely to get the best return on your investment.
One great way to track leads is by using call tracking. Call tracking can help you determine the source of your leads, and then you can track those leads and determine if they became patients. Knowing this will help you understand where your money is being spent, and what addiction marketing method is most effective.
Drug rehab online marketing is a delicate but essential practice. It's important to be thorough in your marketing campaign so that you are able to effectively spread the word about your facility, while also building a great reputation for your services. As you are probably aware, there is a lot of demand for addiction recovery treatment, and with recent government healthcare reform, you are well-positioned to meet this demand — as long as you play your cards right.
As I like to tell my clients, an effective digital marketing strategy is a diverse strategy. You don't want to ever have too many eggs tied up in one basket.
You may have noticed we didn't discuss paid advertising (PPC), or pay per click. Pay per click can be one of the most, if not the most effective marketing methods, with perhaps the best conversion rate and the most effective lead generation strategy around.
Be prepared to have a healthy marketing budget that is realistic for your goals. Be sure to look at the big picture, are you getting a positive return on investment (ROI)? What it the lifetime value of a new patient? How many new patients do you need to break even? To make money? To make a profit? Lead generation for recovery centers can't stop. You must be fully committed.
If you are a drug addiction recovery professional looking to grow your rehab center and fill more beds, be sure to pick up the 6 part video series by clicking the link below.
About the Author
Tyson Downs, the owner of Titan Web Agency, has years of experience working with small businesses and helping them meet their revenue goals. Prior to starting Titan Web Agency, he freelanced in SEO and Web Design while working in the corporate world. Tyson is a graduate of Brigham Young University, the father of 5, and enjoys spending time with his family. Particularly on the baseball field.