Last week, we talked about how to test whether your private practice marketing is working. The core of the strategy we recommended was building small experiments to test different marketing strategies so you can find out whether a strategy will work for you before “going all in.”
Since experiments are really central to knowing if a form of marketing will work for you, we're going to spend a little more time on them this week. Read on for more information about how to create experiments and how to tell whether your marketing is working.
Since experiments are really central to knowing if a form of marketing will work for you, we're going to spend a little more time on them.
There are a few best practices for experiments. You might remember these from high school science classes or from any undergraduate or graduate research projects you took on. I’m just going to give a quick refresher course here.
You want to be specific in the goals and design of your experiment.
For example, setting a plan of “test if referral marketing will work for me” is too broad. However, planning to reach out to 50 potential referral partners (25 doctors and 25 schools) to see how many clients you get from that effort will give you a clearer sense of whether referral marketing will work for you and which partners to approach.
This is one of the most important rules of setting up experiments, and for good reason. If you change more than one variable at once, it is hard to tell which variable had which impact. You may even see no results from an experiment because one variable canceled out the effect of the other!
For example, if you run two Facebook ads -- one with a blue background that says “start therapy,” and one with a pink background that says “best therapist in New York City” -- and the one with the blue background does better, did it do better because it had a blue background? Or, did it do better because it said start therapy?
It's a lot easier to tell whether the background color or text of your ad was the factor that improved its performance if you use the same copy or words on the two different backgrounds or use the same background for the two different sets of words--that is, if you only test one variable at a time. That way, any change you see in the performance between the two ads is clearly because of that sole variable you changed.
You also want to define the number of variables or variants you're going to test. It's really important to get a sense of all the different versions of an ad or a strategy that you're going to test before you start running that test.
Finally, the most important step is identifying the metric to define success.
Luckily, this metric is often the easiest to define. The metric you want to use to define success is the number of new clients that you get from an initiative, unless your practice is full and you're building a waitlist, trying to build awareness, or growing your practice in a new way (online courses, getting clients for new associates, etc.).
You'll hear marketers like me talk about a number of different metrics, from your cost per click (CPC) to your impressions, to the number of new newsletter subscribers you have, to a number of other metrics. However, if you are not getting any new clients and getting new clients is your goal, then the other metrics fundamentally do not matter no matter how “good” they look. I would still define an experiment as unsuccessful if you're not getting clients from it.
Excellent question! Whenever I think about what experiment to run to improve MyWellbeing’s conversions, I look back at the client journey. We’ve written a full blog post on the client journey, and it varies for each client, but a broad outline is:
Why we're talking about all this is that it's really important to look at the path that your clients take into therapy, and figure out where things aren't working to identify the best place to run an experiment.
So, if 1000 clients have come to your website, but no one has moved forward, it's probably best to focus your experiments on your website. You could test improving your copy (the text on your website), making your call to action to schedule a call with you more prominent. Something is keeping all of those 1000 people from booking a call with you, and that's the point to look at.
If you're getting a number of free consultation calls or initial consults with prospective clients, and no one is moving forward after them, then I'd really look at the call and see if there's anything you could be doing differently. Maybe it's making the next steps clear for prospective clients, maybe it's asking them more questions to really figure out what's going on before you tell them about your practice.
If you're not getting anyone to come to your website in the first place, that's when it might be time to look at strategies like ads or guest posting that can bring in people at the very start of this client journey.
Figuring out what to test is a matter of noticing where clients aren't moving forward and designing experiments around that point.
The first step to measuring whether your marketing is working is determining where clients learned about your practice. It can be as simple as asking “how did you learn about me?” in your intake paperwork, if that's okay with the bounds of your license.
We've seen therapists store this information in a variety of places, it really depends on what works best for you. You could start a Google Sheet of where clients say they come from, you could even have a list in a journal with tick marks, whatever method works as long as you can confidently say where your clients are coming from.
For example, if you kept track of client inquiries and saw that you got six new clients from your ads this month, but you didn't get any new clients from talking to referral partners, you would have the information you needed to spend next month improving your ads instead of reaching out to more referral partners.
Another source a lot of therapists look at is Google Analytics. Google Analytics is a free analytics platform that you can install on your website. It provides a lot of really helpful information about where potential clients come from. If you have a button to book a call with you on your site, you can even see which specific sources brought new clients to you, and set up ad platforms to optimize your ads to convince more users to move forward.
Finally, if you're running an email newsletter, like MailChimp, or ConstantContact, or MailerLite, those platforms will report on how many people opened your email and how many people clicked on it, and that information can be really helpful in telling you which messages resonate most with your clients.
Measuring your marketing and setting up experiments can take some time, but it will save you far more time by helping you prioritize your marketing efforts and focus on the strategies that matter. It is worth the effort!
Mariah was Head of Growth at MyWellbeing. She is a marketing expert in the areas of content strategy, digital advertising, business growth, and anything related to helping therapists grow their practice.