A lot of things in the land of marketing are a lot more nuanced, obviously, than marketing experts let on. In no particular order, these are some things you should think about!
Yes, video is hot. There is no denying it. And yet let me be a little Debbie Downer here for a minute. Video is hot when you have the right audience, the right topic, and the right person talking. Look at your website stats (or hire me to help teach you) to determine when people are visiting your site. I’ll bet you anything, as I run several therapy websites, your biggest traffic is daytime, weekday, peaking at lunchtime. What does this mean? People are at work seeking therapy and especially on their lunch breaks. A lot of folks may not be able to watch a video of you unless they email themselves your website and check at home…away from loud TV’s, kids, spouses. Make sure your content is also written out if the video content would be useful to non-video watchers. And for the love of God, people, do not have anything automatically run an audio (song, video) on your therapy website. There is nothing more off putting than Enya blaring out of speakers when seeking a therapist or a video starting to stream, freezing up ones computer.
The other buzz kill for you is that unless you have GREAT lighting, a great script, and great energy, your video may backfire on you. It’s VERY hard to be bubbly on video, mixing the right level of gravitas and joy as you want to do as a therapist. The thing about video is you look heavier, paler (or darker, depending on your skin tone), and flat when talking normally. It’s also really easy to come across as preachy instead of conversational.
Learn what you can to make it really good! Death by dull therapy videos is not what you want for your prospective clients. And video experts agree: a bad video is worse than no video. So DO a video… but learn everything you can to make it awesome.
Positioning of Website or Blog Elements
This is a general vent about statistics taken from websites that get millions of visitors a day, week, or month. The N has to be high enough for statistical differences! Every year “they” decide it’s best to have your newsletter on the right hand side, or left hand side, or have this or that positioned here or there. These are usually e-commerce websites and very high traffic. Most therapists, I’m going to guess, average 100 visitors a month – some a lot more, many a lot less. That is just not enough people to say that paying your webmaster $75 to move something to the other side of the web page is really going to make a difference.
Obviously if you’re starting out, or can edit your own site, it’s fine to listen to what “they” say to do. But my point is pay attention to the industry’s in the analysis and realize you’re in a low-traffic world with a niche audience. You aren’t a pair of Ugg boots that is sold on 100,000 websites, trying to figure out how to maximize sales for your particular website. You are a relationship and long term investment compared to shoes, music downloads, or e-books!
Myth: You have 30 seconds to make an impression
This is only sort of true. If you take a web surfer trying to find a general answer, yes, they’re scanning really fast and will bounce quickly to different websites. But if your web visitor has done the work to find your website, is pre-screened to want what you offer, they are going to give you more than a few second impression! You’re not Target or Best Buy where they expect perfection on a website. They know you’re a low budget therapist. Unless your website is really awful, or your content is impossible to read, they are going to give you more time than thirty seconds. This is especially true the more niched you are or the fewer competitors you have. People only jump off your website if they know there is something better a few clicks away. (Hint: if you’re in California, land of abundance of therapists, you really have to have a more top notch website because you may have 50 other therapists in your same zip code!)
Lie: You HAVE to be on Social Media
I was very pleased when I went to a book tour event for my favorite marketer, a hyper social media guru, because he came to visit my table and he affirmed my belief. Not everyone needs to, or should be, on social media. He used to say everyone should be, but he’s realized it just ain’t so!! And this guy makes his living off social media, so you know he’s come to see the light when he can say that.
Why is this a lie? Because social media at its core is about engagement and thinking outside a purely self-promotional box. You can’t throw out a few tweets every day and succeed, unless you’re super famous offline. And then I’d argue you’re still not doing social media, really. You’re one-way preaching to your followers in the latest format they’re using.
I see more therapists spending wasted effort on social media when that precious time and energy can be spent elsewhere. I’m 100% supportive of those therapists who want to learn and try it, but I’m also 100% supportive for those (like my husband) who say no way. The world is not going to end. Clients will still come to you (because they are not going to Twitter to engage with therapists anyway!)
Myth: Heavy Website Traffic Websites Guarantee Success
Trust me, I know it’s hard to not believe this one. To show you how hard it is to not believe it, I was an ACTIVE user of a website that I then chose to advertise on. My gut knew the facts, but my greed wanted the sales pitch to be true. So, $125/month times six months later, guess what? Total failure. And because the real point of the website was about community and message boards, I literally had more hits to my website just being myself, a true member of the community, than advertising!
A lot of website traffic seems hot until you break it down. Any website with a message board is going to have repeat visitors, sometimes 2-3 or 4 different times a day on different IP Addresses. (IP address is like stamping that you’ve visited a website and is used, among other numbers, to tell advertisers how many web visitors you have.) So the more forums and message boards, the more visitors you’ll have, but these aren’t the visitors who trust ads. They are on because they trust their peers!
The second main issue with heavy website traffic is branding and conversion. Do people love the overall website and don’t really pay attention to who is writing what article? Do the web visitors visit to get general education or are they actually seeking ways to spend their money to solve their problems? That’s a big difference! (An example, my father wrote a blog post on a big therapy website that got about 30,000 visitors – a TON!) But those people were not going to visit him and his website. They only wanted to hear what he said on that exact topic.
I am a firm believer in experimenting and trying new things. But just go in with eyes wide open and be sure you can get out of any paid contract easily! We were stuck in an expensive experiment for six months.
Myth: Ranking High is Vital
First of all, what does ranking high mean? There are many, many ways people find websites, not just one word or phrase. In fact Google generally has a full50% of it’s hundreds of millions of daily web visitors type in something unique… meaning Google has to instantly match quirky questions with every website that exists! This means you can get web traffic from a lot of different phrases that tie into what you do.
Secondly, if your website sucks you can rank high and people will bounce right off to the next website that shows up on their search results!! And on that note, please don’t have Google Adwords running if your website sucks. It’s the same problem. Sure, you can guarantee web visitors, but if you’re really bad, nobody will “convert” to an actual client.
Second point on ranking high is you may be better off paying to advertise on high ranking directories and then putting your effort elsewhere to attract other types of web visitors beyond those who are searching on Google. This is where Twitter shines – you can build relationships with other website owners and, without spending a dime, expand your audience by sharing your expertise with their web traffic.
What other things have you discovered are myths or lies? Every therapist seems to have been schnookered into something that just turned out not to be true or didn’t quite fit their business model. Share in comments below!