Growth Marketing Strategies for Startup Treatment Centers

According to SAMSHA, there are a total of 3.7 million persons receiving treatment. And with more than 14,000 treatment facilities in America, the options for recovery are vast, meaning your startup treatment center needs a carefully planned and executed marketing plan to reach new and returning patients.

Learning where your ideal market already exists, how to find new clients, and how to keep track of it all will set you apart from your competitors and help you maintain or increase your center’s customer base.

Go Where the Market Already Exists

As the idiom goes, work smarter, not harder, and when it comes to marketing, the easiest methods are often most effective. The following strategies can be the most effective techniques as they are centered around promoting your services in places where your potential clients already exist.

Leverage Referral Marketing

Referrals in the health and wellness arena can be crucial to a business’s success. According to a Nielsen study, 92 percent of consumers say they trust recommendations from people they know. Where you find those referrals doesn’t have to be rocket science.

For example, if your treatment center offers only intensive outpatient (IOP), a relationship with a local detox or residential program could lead to more clients. The incentive for another facility to refer clients to you falls in the crux of the relationship where you, too, can refer clients to the referring center.

To begin a referral partnership, you will want to identify service providers—which can include looking to your existing customer base—who currently serve your ideal clients and build a personal connection.

Then, as mentioned, ensure there is enough value (reciprocal referrals) to encourage potential partners..

Attend Community Events

Trust is chief in the substance treatment industry. Gain the trust of your community and you will create a powerful emotional bond that lets potential clients know that you can help with the problem they want solved. Attending community events is a great way to establish this trust by creating visibility and awareness.

Visibility in the substance treatment center industry is important, and attending community events is a great way to build trust with your community members, increase your sales, grow leads, and further your credibility.

If there are limited community or industry events in your region, consider throwing an “open house” to introduce local providers and potential referral sources to your program.

Leverage Social Media

Similar to attending community events, nurturing relationships via social media—such as in LinkedIn and Facebook groups—can create that sense of trust, thus allowing leads and sales to blossom.

With 54 percent of social browsers using social media to research products or services, having an active online engagement can be an effective method to nurturing leads. And with more than 4.55 billion people active on social media, platforms such as Facebook groups, Reddit, Craigslist, and other non-traditional forums often see users looking for answers and solutions.

Committing to a social media calendar will ensure your online presence is consistent, while engaging with your followers and participating in online groups can help establish your online reputation and nurture potential leads.

Social media leveraging doesn’t stop with potential leads, though. LinkedIn and Facebook groups are excellent places to connect with other industry professionals to help gain potential referral partnerships.

Go Where Potential Clients Already Are

Amplifying your treatment center’s online presence is vital to attracting new clients. The following strategies will help you to not only attract new leads, but to nurture them into clients.

Content, Content, Content 

As Bill Gates once said, content is king. The entire SEO industry was built on creating organic search traffic with valuable and quality content. With more than 53 percent of organic website traffic coming from organic search results, having quality content can benefit you long-term as the conversion rate is higher than paid traffic coming in at only 27 percent.

Generally speaking, organic search engine traffic can provide a more effective ROI than paid advertising tactics. Although SEO-specific, organic content can be costly, it is generally more cost-effective when compared to paid marketing methods.

With 53 percent of organic website traffic originating from content, websites that have valuable and quality content can experience longer-term results since paid advertising usually has a predetermined ending, whereas content lives on a treatment center’s website indefinitely.

Guest Posting

Similar to referral marketing, guest posting is a two-way street that can dramatically improve your treatment center’s visibility, while leveraging referrals from other platforms.

In 2019, there were an estimated more than 500 million blogs on the internet, and with 60 percent of blog sites hosting one to five guest posts per month, leveraging guest blogs can give you the capability to increase your credibility and, in turn, develop stronger leads.

It’s important to remember, however, that, as Copyblogger says, content marketing results happen slowly and they happen over time, so the approach you take should be strategically executed.

First you will want to set your goals. Are you looking to boost your SEO? Build brand awareness? Increase leads or website traffic?

Knowing the result will help you with the next step: identifying guest posting opportunities by locating sites that interest your audience and sites that feature similar brand topics. It’s important to remember that not every site that qualifies within these categories are worth pitching to, given that they may not have the audience size or traffic that meet your goals.

Next, brainstorm ideas that fit the posting criteria of your chosen sites by looking for gaps in their content that align with your treatment center and your expertise.

Using the ideas you brainstormed, you’ll want to write a pitch to the editor or blog manager explaining your idea, why you are the only person who could write your blog, and what benefits and values your blog will provide to their readers.

After your pitch is accepted and your blog has been written and accepted, you can engage in blog promotion by sharing the content with your audience and linking it to your website.

PPC Advertising

While free or low-cost tactics such as guest posting, SEO-infused content, and social media engagement can provide an increase in sales and leads, paid marketing can also provide exponential growth. In fact, according to the 2021 Google Economic Impact Report, it is estimated that for every $1 a business spends on Google Ads, they receive $8 in profit.

Additionally, Google Ads results receive 65 percent of the clicks that started with high-intent keywords, such as “near me,” and similar variations.

Pay-per-click (PPC) is a strategic form of paid marketing that can allow your rehab center to stand out among your competitors, while remaining cost-conscious since you don’t pay for the ad until it is clicked on.

The PPC advertising model allows you to target who specifically should see your ads, which will help your treatment center target those who are struggling with addiction and their loved ones.

Reputation Matters

More than ever, reputation matters. According to BrightLocal, in 2021, 77 percent of consumers reported always or regularly reading reviews when browsing for local businesses—an uptick from 60 percent in 2020. Your treatment center’s reputation doesn’t have to rely solely on reviews, though.

Your online reputation can be influenced by local business directory citations, Google My Business reviews, Yelp reviews, and more. And how you respond to what customers are saying is the best way to tell the right story about your facility.

Monitoring your social footprint is the most important step in managing your center’s reputation, as it can inform you as to where your clients are using the internet, particularly in relation to your center and others. Perform regular searches for your company’s name and the services you provide.

Once you know where your reputation is the most popular online, it’s important to respond to people promptly. For example, if you have social media, it’s important to be, well, social. And if you have Google My Business and Yelp profiles—which you should—reply to people quickly.

If there’s a negative review, reach out and decide on the best approach to take. If there are positive reviews, letting the reviewer know how much you appreciate it goes a long way.

If there are little or no reviews at all, however, don’t fret; leveraging early alumni for reviews is an effective way to solicit great praise. If you haven’t already, consider building an alumni community by using an app such as CaredFor.

Integrate Live Chat and Real-Time VOB Software

According to an Invesp survey, 73 percent of customers find live chat to be the most satisfying way of communicating with a business, whereas 63 percent of consumers are more likely to return to a website that offers live chat.

Live chat features enhance the customer experience due in part to 27/7 support, quick responses, instant solutions, and ease of convenience. In fact, the addition of a live chat software to a website typically causes an 8 to twenty percent increase in conversion.

Aside from a live chat feature, real-time digital assistants—such as Wendi—can enhance a visitor’s experience further while easing the amount of effort required from your center’s team.

A real-time verification of benefits (VOB) feature can also save time for your team, while easing the user experience and sales process for your potential clients by verifying information such as deductibles, co-insurances, out-of-pocket maximums, and payer details.

Website Quality Matters

First impressions mean everything, and with 76 percent of consumers researching a company website before patronizing and users taking only 50 milliseconds to form an opinion about a website, having a quality website can benefit your pursuit to better leads and more customers—the keyword there being “quality.”

Sites that are easy to navigate, provide high-quality content, and perform quickly consistently out-perform those of the contrary. In fact, according to WebFX, 89 percent of consumers conduct business with a competitor after a poor user experience.

So what, exactly, makes for a quality website? Although there isn’t a tried and true method, experts pretty much agree on a few basic principles: clear design and functionality, easy user experience, quality content, optimization for search engines, clear calls to action, fast page speed, and mobile optimization.

Mobile Optimization

Is your website prepared for the 54.5 percent of traffic that is generated from mobile phones? It should be, particularly because 61 percent of consumers say they are more likely to patronize from mobile-friendly sites.

Mobile-optimized websites don’t just result in better leads and more customers; if created with best practices in mind, they also create better user experiences and can even help your site rank higher on search engines.

Track Everything

If you’re investing any effort or money into growth marketing strategies, you want to make sure you’re seeing some type of ROI. Simply trusting that your efforts will pay off can lead to ineffective marketing campaigns, attracting less-than-ideal clients, wasting of money and time, and more. Knowing the best methods for tracking your efforts can be the key marketing strategy that will enhance your business’s success.

Call Tracking by Source

Knowing where your inbound calls are coming from can help you best identify where to focus your marketing efforts by better allocating your budgets. Most tracking sources, such as CallRail or Call Tracking Metrics will give you all the information you need to have the best idea of your client’s customer journey—from start to finish.

Following Up with Leads

According to lead simple, following up three times with a potential client is 68 percent more effective than following up once. Following up six times can be 94 percent more effective than calling once. Knowing the data behind your sales cycle is imperative to converting leads to admissions since they rarely occur during the first conversation.

Using a CRM can help you determine which stage of the sales cycle needs work. For example, if you notice the majority of your leads tend to drop out during the offer stage, extra attention and tweaking might be needed.

Insurance Reimbursement Rates

Your growth strategy doesn’t stop when the phone rings. Optimize marketing activities toward highest value admissions.


Knowing your options for growing your startup treatment center can be the difference between spending your entire marketing budget on unsuccessful tactics and seeing a profit with an increase in leads and clients.

Are you ready to accelerate the growth of your rehab? Faebl Studios is a growth accelerator that specializes in the substance use treatment industry.

Request a consultation today to find out more about how we can help you.

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