11 Effective Ways to Market Drug Rehab Centers
by Tyson Downs
* Originally Published Dec 29, 2016. Updated June 23, 2022
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 while contending with a highly competitive addiction treatment market.
When you are creating your drug rehab SEO digital marketing strategy, it’s important to consider the industry best practices as well as statistics that indicate what works—and what doesn’t.
In this article, we’ll review some key statistics and general information about marketing in the world of addiction recovery and reveal 11 effective ways to market your drug rehab center.
What is Drug Rehab Marketing?
Let’s begin by reviewing what drug rehab marketing is. Here’s a definition of marketing from the American Marketing Association:
Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.
Unlike sales, marketing is typically designed to inform an audience about a product or service and its benefits. It usually doesn’t directly ask for a sale or enrollment, but instead, focuses on making the value of a commodity clear to the people who are most likely to use it.
By extension, drug rehab marketing is a process used by drug rehab centers and marketing companies to inform a targeted audience about the benefits of drug rehabilitation and addiction recovery. It may include information about how drug rehab works and who can benefit from it.
In today’s world, most marketing takes place online. Online drug rehab marketing may include a website, blog posts, paid advertising on search engines, social media marketing, video marketing, and email marketing. Each of these digital marketing campaign tactics may have a place in your drug rehab marketing strategy.
Addiction Treatment Marketing Statistics
The first step to marketing your residential addiction treatment center is to know your market. Here are some important statistics to consider:
- As of 2022, the treatment of drug and alcohol addiction is a $42 billion industry. There are now more than 15,000 addiction treatment facilities in the US and as of 2020, 3.7 million people receiving treatment each year. (Source: MarketWatch).
- According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselor employment are expected to grow by 23% from 2020 to 2030. (Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics).
- While more people are getting treated, there is still a lot of unmet demand for addiction treatment. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), only an estimated 13% of Americans who need substance abuse treatment receive it. That means that 87% of people with addiction disorders aren’t going to rehab. (Source: SAMHSA).
- Funding is a major hindrance to addiction treatment. Insurance companies cannot completely deny coverage for addiction recovery thanks to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) but may cover only a portion of services. (Source: American Addiction Centers).
- The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has resulted 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).
In terms of your drug rehab marketing, the main takeaway from these statistics is that the market for rehab centers is growing, and there is a large, untapped audience for rehabilitation services. However, due to the substantial number of recovery professionals entering the market and the ever-growing number of drug rehab facilities in the United States, it’s essential to use marketing to position your addiction recovery center for maximum visibility.
In other words, addiction treatment center marketing is competitive and requires a well-thought-out strategy. You should prepare for both long-term and short-term marketing campaigns that will help differentiate you from your competitors and attract new patients.
How to Market a Drug Rehab Center
There are common rules that apply to marketing in any industry. That said, drug rehab marketing has some special challenges. Here are 11 effective ways to market your drug rehab center.
1. Google Business Profile for Drug Rehab Centers
Your Google Business Profile is essential as a service provider. People who are in search of rehabilitation for addiction are most likely to look for a rehab center that’s close to home. That means that local marketing is necessary and Google is crucial for local marketing.
You’ll need to start by claiming your Google Business Profile if you haven’t already done so. You can look up your business on Google or find it on Google Maps, then click the “Claim this business” link to get started. You can find full instructions on how to claim your business here.
Once you have claimed your profile, you’ll need to update it with relevant information. Here are the things you should be sure to include:
- Your full business name
- Your business address
- Your contact information (phone numbers, email, URL of your website, etc.)
- A comprehensive list of the services you provide
- Licensing information
- Photographs of your rehab center
Remember that HIPAA regulations protect patients’ privacy, so don’t include any patient photographs without a patient’s written consent.
2. Branding for Rehab Centers
Given the increased competition as more addiction treatment facilities open, it's important now more than ever that you have a unique selling proposition. Differentiating yourself from the competition is what will allow you to rise to the top.
This means determining what makes your rehab center different and special. Then incorporate the essence of your unique advantage into your website and marketing materials.
If you've been around for a while, you know that it's important to develop your brand. A fully-inclusive drug rehab marketing strategy should always include branding.
Developing A Unique Selling Proposition (USP) For A Drug Treatment Center
Your USP is what makes your facility unique and what will inform all 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 nature-related activities in your online marketing.
VizOwn, a rehab previously only for women, does an excellent job of this on its 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 now accept both men and women as 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.”
3. SEO for Rehab Centers
Search engine optimization (SEO) for the addiction treatment industry gives extraordinary value and increases the chances that you’ll get a large return on your marketing investment (ROI).
A strong SEO strategy campaign will earn you a high rank for organic search terms that your target audience is using.
As we noted above in the section about claiming your Google Business Profile, local marketing is key for any rehab center. Here are some examples of targeted keywords:
- Local search keyword: drug rehab center in Nevada
- Local search keyword: Carson City drug rehab center
- Niche keyword: drug rehab facility for women
- Niche keyword: nature-based addiction recovery
Keep in mind that you can combine keywords. An example of a keyword that is both local and niche would be “nature-based addiction recovery Moab.”
Whatever keywords you choose, an effective rehab SEO company should be able to help you with marketing, allowing your website to rank high in the organic search results and get more traffic and leads.
As far as SEO goes, addiction treatment marketing should include:
Working with an experienced rehab marketing company can help you fine-tune your website to attract more leads and improve your overall visibility online to help you stand out from your competitors.
Avoiding Shady SEO in Drug Rehab Online Marketing
We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the need for honest SEO, which is important in any industry but crucial in the drug rehab industry, where a bad reputation can be disastrous.
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 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 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 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 your 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 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 after reading this post.
4. Content Marketing for Addiction Treatment Centers
Content marketing is marketing that focuses on providing high-quality, relevant content to prospective patients. It can help move your website up in the Google rankings, but it’s also an effective way to connect with your audience anywhere they are online, including on YouTube and social media.
Blogging is a popular form of content marketing and an effective way to connect with your target audience. With a blog, you can 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, and get more traffic and incoming leads. When done right, rehab center content marketing is a terrific way to increase the number of pages you have ranking on Google and other search engines. When done wrong, it can have disastrous results.
Here are some blogging tips for substance abuse professionals:
- Host the blog on your 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 around 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.
Other forms of content marketing may include videos, short eBooks, and infographics. The key is to make sure that the content you create and share is directly relevant to your target audience and focuses on their needs and the benefits of drug rehabilitation.
5. Creating High-Converting Websites for Drug Rehab Centers
Your website needs certain elements to perform well in search engines and keep visitors’ attention, so they don’t leave your page to find what they need elsewhere.
In addition to an onsite blog, 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. (Remember, get written permission to use photos of patients; otherwise, use stock photos.)
- Photos and bios of your professional staff.
- Easy-to-find 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 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 that makes your clinic stand out. Your USP can be a niche treatment specialty, rehab center rating, success rate, specific employment you target, such as focusing on drug rehab for doctors, credentials of the medical professionals on your team, or something entirely different.
To give you an example of these elements in action, 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 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 Websites for Dentists: 18 Qualities of Best Dental Websites or listen to the podcast below.
6. Email Marketing for Addiction Treatment Centers
While it’s undeniably important to use SEO and content marketing to attract prospective patients (or in some cases, their family members) to your website, traffic is only half the battle. It’s essential to have a system in place to collect email addresses from site visitors and provide them with additional information about your facility.
Building an effective email list 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, or they may even require treatment later.
As a result, you should attempt to “capture” potential patients by offering them something of value.
It could be a report about overcoming addiction or a special introductory price for outpatient service.
Whatever it is, it must have some perceived value, or else visitors to the site won't give you their email address.
To get the highest conversion rates with your rehab marketing, it’s a good idea to know your ideal patients and make sure that your website speaks to their needs.
Email marketing has an average ROI of 4200% and it's also cost-effective. If you’re not using email marketing to generate new leads, you are missing out on a huge opportunity to increase your client base with marketing for addiction treatment centers.
7. Rehab Centers Social Media Marketing
Social media marketing is another vital aspect of advertising your addiction treatment facility online. You 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 cementing your positive online reputation and providing search engine marketing benefits. SMM (social media marketing) coordinates with web design and SEO for a seamless online presence.
Think creatively, which means going beyond Facebook and Twitter. You’ll want a YouTube channel to reach potential patients with informative videos. You may also want to consider trying Instagram or Pinterest marketing, as well as some industry-specific social networks, such as In The Rooms.
You should 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 to 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. You’ll need to create a welcoming environment and use inclusive language to get the most from social media marketing.
- 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 wonderful opportunity to generate more traffic to your website and ensure that people who need rehab services know where to find you.
- Know your target audience: Knowing your target persona well is important when sharing content. The content must connect with your target audience to encourage activity. Social media platforms are a good place to share clear, concise messages, links to quality content, and inspirational stories. However, it isn't always suitable for clinical discussions. You’ll need to be mindful of HIPAA regulations at all times.
You will need to have a dedicated employee to manage your social media accounts, or you can hire an outside agency to do your social media work.
Make sure whoever manages your social media creates an organized social media calendar to schedule regular posts across multiple networking platforms. It’s important to pay attention to the timing of your addiction recovery social media marketing to ensure maximum visibility for your posts.
8. PPC for Rehab Centers
Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising is highly effective as part of a rehab center marketing plan. The primary benefit is that you pay only when someone who sees your ad clicks on it. If someone scrolls past, then you’ll pay nothing.
The most popular form of PPC advertising is search engine advertising. With Google Adwords, for example, you decide which target keywords you want to bid on. Google then uses an algorithm to determine the winner of each auction. Here are some of the factors that determine whether your ad will be displayed:
- How much you bid. When you bid on a keyword, you set the maximum amount you’re willing to pay. You may pay less.
- The quality of your ad and landing page. The more directly relevant your ad and website are to the search being conducted, the more likely it is that your ad will be displayed.
- The competition for your keywords. Competitive keywords typically have more bidders and therefore, there’s less chance that you’ll win the bid.
- Your Ad Rank. Google calculates the Ad Rank for every bidder and uses the rank as part of the formula to determine which ads will be displayed.
- The context of the search. Google’s top priority is giving users relevant content. That means that the more relevant your ad and landing page are to the context of the search, the more likely your ad is to be chosen.
- Your ad extensions and format. Some local service providers choose to add one-click dialing and other features to their ads. Google determines how these extensions and formatting decisions will impact your ad.
While it’s possible to manage your PPC campaigns without help, many drug rehab facilities prefer to work with an experienced PPC provider, someone who understands the world of drug rehab marketing and can fine-tune ads to maximize their effectiveness.
9. Video Marketing for Rehab Centers
According to InVideo, in 2022, 82% of all internet traffic is made up of people watching videos. What that means is that no drug rehab center can afford to avoid video marketing as a way of connecting with prospective clients.
Video marketing is hugely popular, getting more views and a higher ROI than almost any other format in social media marketing. There’s a reason that short videos on sites such as Instagram and TikTok are so popular.
From the standpoint of drug rehab center marketing, videos can be incredibly useful. Below are just a few ideas for marketing videos to help you connect with people in your target audience.
- Give a video tour of your facility.
- Introduce your staff members on video.
- Do a live Q & A on Facebook or Instagram.
- With permission, record a testimonial from a patient who successfully overcame their addiction with the help of your facility.
While you might think that video marketing is expensive, it’s possible to make high-quality, effective marketing videos even if you don’t have a huge budget. The key is working with an experienced drug rehab marketing agency to help you achieve the quality you want at a price you can afford.
10. Word of Mouth in Rehab Marketing
In any industry where services are being offered, word of mouth plays a huge role in attracting new clients. That’s just as true in healthcare marketing as it is in construction or any other industry.
According to a study published in Business Wire, 60% of all consumers do at least general online research before choosing a healthcare provider. This number includes people who are seeking a rehab facility for themselves or a family member.
For that reason, it’s essential to have a robust system where you ask people who have completed your program to review your rehab center online. Keep in mind that reviews can be left under a pseudonym if patients prefer not to use their real names.
A suitable time to ask for reviews is shortly after a client completes your rehab program. You can do it by reaching out with a follow-up email or text, or even by making a phone call. You should make sure to let people know that the review can be anonymous, and you may want to give some examples of the types of things people mention in online reviews.
Review management is just as important as encouraging reviews. We believe that every review deserves a response. If someone leaves you a glowing review, then a simple thank you will suffice. If a review is negative, then the way you respond can do a great deal to mitigate the review’s negativity.
Since monitoring online reviews can be time-consuming, partnering with a drug rehab marketing company with extensive review management experience can ensure that no review slips through the cracks.
11. 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.
- Get 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 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 an 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 in 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: 23 Healthcare Marketing Strategies & Ideas to Help Attract More Patients.
Lead Tracking for Rehab 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 marketing strategy.
Tracking leads is vital for your treatment marketing. In addition to tracking and managing 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.
Marketing for Drug Rehab & Treatment Centers Done Right!
Drug rehab online marketing is a delicate but essential practice. It's important to be thorough in your marketing campaign so that you can effectively spread the word about your facility, while also building a great reputation for your services. As you are aware, there is a lot of demand for addiction recovery treatment and with the right marketing strategy, you will be well-positioned to meet the demand.
It's always a good idea to diversify your marketing. Some strategies are bound to be more effective than others, so you should review your marketing mix regularly and terminate campaigns that aren’t delivering the results you want.
Want to talk? Titan Web Agency offers rehab marketing services to help you get your treatment center filled. Contact us today at 801-783-3101 or submit a form on our contact page.
About the Author
Tyson Downs is the founder of Titan Web Agency, a company specializing in marketing for dental professionals. With an impressive track record of working with over 100 dental practices, Tyson has a deep understanding of the unique marketing needs within the dental industry. His expertise has helped numerous dental practices flourish by meeting and surpassing their revenue goals and established him as a thought leader in healthcare marketing. His insights and strategies have been featured in esteemed dental publications, including the American Dental Association and the American Academy of Implant Dentistry. Before dedicating his career to helping dental professionals thrive through effective marketing, Tyson honed his skills in SEO and web design as a freelancer, while also gaining valuable experience in the corporate sector. As an alumnus of Brigham Young University, he brings a strong educational background to his entrepreneurial endeavors. Outside of his professional life, Tyson is a devoted father of five, who cherishes time spent with his family, especially when they're all enjoying America's pastime on the baseball field.