How To Build a Client Converting Website

Is your website helping you get new clients?

Does it make it super easy for them to move from first contact to first session?

Or is it turning people off and sending them to the next therapist?

This epic post will help you answer those questions. It will help you make a few small changes that will make a huge difference.

You can turn your website into a client converting machine. It's not hard and I'll show you how.

But first, here are a few mistakes to avoid

Mistakes to avoid

In the last 12 years of private practice I have made a ton of mistakes and learned from each one of them.

These are a few you might want to consider avoiding when it comes to your website, your systems and how you handle new client inquiries.

People find your website, but don't become clients

This happens all the time, but most of us never realize it.

We all know that therapists don't get any education in business or marketing. And of course most of us don't know in the beginning how to put together a quality website that actually brings in the right clients.

Without realizing it you may have designed your site or had someone else build a site that actually confuses potential clients. It looks pretty, but really it is more challenging than it should be for the person to take the first step towards counseling.

Maybe your site doesn't clearly tell people how the counseling process works. Or it gives the person too many ways to get in touch. It could be that your site has a ton of great info, lots of content and beautiful images, but it doesn't plainly lead the person to take a specific action.

In this post, we will get into the nitty gritty of how to fix these issues. It's quite easy when you know what to do!

Here is a pro tip: check your Google Analytics and figure out how many people visited your website last month. Then look at how many inquiries you received, whether phone, email, web form or any other type of contact. Divide the two and you will have the percentage of people who visited your site and then actually got in touch.

You lose clients because you don't respond quickly enough

There are some people finding you online and that is a good thing.

In the beginning of private practice you have more time on your hands than actual client appointments! So, you respond excitedly and quickly to all new phone calls.

Once you start getting busy and you are seeing clients regularly this becomes more of a challenge. You can't call people back or respond to email inquiries because you are actually in session, hopefully with back-to-back appointments.

After making a number of calls, understandably, most potential clients are likely to connect with the therapist who responds to them first.

You do your best to handle the new client inquiries, but you know you are losing some of them before you even call them back. Ugh!

You lose clients through endless phone tag

When you are able to make those calls reasonably quickly, you often get the person's voicemail because most people don't answer their phones a lot of the time. Phone calls really get in the way of Facebook and mobile gaming!

Unfortunately, therapists have a reputation for never answering their phones live. So, you end up with endless phone tag that often leads to the client just disappearing.

It can be so frustrating, especially when you know the person was likely a good fit and maybe even an ideal client.

You wish you had an assistant, but you don't quite have enough money to justify the expense.
More lost clients and potential income.

Of course these are good problems to have. Some of your website visitors are getting in touch and your phone is ringing. And you actually have a decent amount of clients currently in your practice.

As you continue reading, you will learn how to design the client journey, optimize your website and create effective systems to handle new inquiries.

Spoiler Alert - my ideal setup involves using a good amount of technology and of course virtual assistants!

Let's move on to the important next step.

Map out your client journey

It is incredibly helpful to intentionally design your client journey.

This can be a sketch on a piece of scratch paper or a fancy mind map like the one below.

It's a good idea to think through the process all the way from the first contact to the first appointment. This exercise can put you in the client's shoes in a way that will benefit your business. Below you will see my current mind map of each contact method and the follow up process.

This is not just about the different ways a client can get in touch through the website. It is also about the systems that I have set up to handle new client inquiries.

I'm pretty proud of this. 😁

I have designed a system of lead generation (bringing in new clients) and follow up (technology + virtual assistants) that puts my practice on autopilot.

However, no matter what stage of growth you are in, this exercise can be helpful. It will help you find holes in your system where potential clients might get lost and also assist you in designing what a more ideal flow would look like.

You can use something like MindNode to create a mindmap like this one or just write it out on a piece of paper. The thing that matters most is the thought and intention that goes into it.

Trust me, your clients will thank you for the time you put into making this easy for them!

Use the example below to create something similar for your practice.

A screenshot of a computer screen.

Choose ideal contact options

What is the most ideal way for a potential client to reach out?

I'm glad you asked. Here is my most honest answer.

The most ideal option is the one that works best for how you operate. Of course, you must also meet the needs of your potential client and their preferred method of contact. But, it needs to work for you, your preferences and how you want to run your practice.

For me, I would love nothing more than to do everything by email and/or text message. It just works for my and my personality.

As a therapist, I understand the value of human connection and I did free 15 minute phone consults for so many years! That was necessary for the stressed and anxious parents I was working with.

However, now I love the setup of using an online scheduler and a virtual assistant. It's absolutely brilliant.

Here are the most common contact options with some pros/cons for each.

Phone call

Do you remember when phone books existed and having a listing in the Yellow Pages was all the marketing you needed? Yeah, me neither, but I'm still relatively young. LOL.

A good old phone call is still the main way that potential clients get in touch. It has its benefits. It's helpful for the person to get a sense of the therapist and their personality. Or if the therapist doesn’t answer their calls, then the potential clients can still gain connection and a sense of assurance from their call with the scheduler or virtual assistant.

However, phone calls are one of the least efficient methods of handling new inquiries and for sure difficult to scale, i.e. handle and respond to many inquiries coming in.

As you can tell, I am all for eliminating phone tag in any way possible. So, I prefer the online options, at least for the very first point of contact.

Web form

Almost every website has some sort of contact form. Most people are used to submitting these types of forms for various reasons.

It is a quick and handy way to communicate. Clients can submit a form any time of day or night and it's just easy.

Personal note: A few months ago I took the contact form off my site entirely. I recognized how potential clients really benefited from a phone call with the practice during the scheduling process (even though it can be a hassle), so instead of having them just fill out a form to schedule an appointment, we encourage people to schedule a call online instead.

It has worked quite well and people still have the option of sending a direct email. Now, I only use web forms for people who want to sign up for our support groups.

If you want to start with email, all of the above points apply in much the same way.

Pro tip: it works incredibly well to be able to share a link to your online scheduler in an email or automated form response. This speeds up the process of setting up a phone call and is easy for both the therapist and the potential client.

Online booking

There are at least two options here.

1. An online scheduler that leads to an initial phone call
2. An EHR powered option to schedule the first appointment

I tried option #2, but found it a bit complicated with SimplePractice and a group practice with many clinicians. So, I use option #1 and like I mentioned above it is working out amazingly.

The vast majority of people who schedule the phone call online actually show up for the call because they are getting email reminders. Plus our data shows that they are more likely to become a client as well. Wonderful!

Some therapists love to allow their potential clients to fully book online, possibly with the requirement of inputting credit card info or even paying for the first session up front.

This is by far the most seamless and efficient option, but it can have some problems as well. Namely, the inability to screen the incoming clients and have ultimate control over your schedule. Trade offs for sure, but more than worth it for some people.

Text message

I don't know too many therapists who get a lot of inquiries through text messages, but you and I both know that everyone loves to text and use messaging apps.

Again it is quick and easy, both to send a text and to respond.

Texting can also be a simple way to set up a phone call, either by sending a link to your online scheduler or just coordinating a good day and time to talk.

Chat bots that people can interact with on a website are another form of first contact that can work well for some industries. I tried one of these for awhile, but not enough people used it to justify keeping it on the site. Your mileage may vary.

Disclaimer: any contact method or ongoing communication channels need to comply with HIPPA regulations. Check out the resources at Person Centered Tech on how to best use technology in HIPPA compliant ways.

Here are some good questions to ask yourself.

  • How do I want potential clients to get in touch with me?
  • How do my clients usually prefer to communicate with me?
  • What contact method works best for my practice and the support and systems I have in place?

Create a step-by-step process

The steps to getting a client from your website are pretty simple.

  1. Speak to your ideal client in your practice's messaging (i.e. website, social media, print advertising, etc.)
  2. Lay out a clear process for how the client can begin counseling
  3. Have an obvious call-to-action for the first step

I love it when counseling websites literally list the steps for a new client to get started.

I saw this first, years ago on a site geared towards men's issues. Here you go - step 1, step 2, step 3. So clear, direct and simple. It seems obvious to us as therapists, but we have to make it plain for our website visitors.

Here are a few fantastic examples:

Click the images below to enlarge them.

Nice Big Button

Life Made Conscious with John Harrison

A screen with the words get started schedule your consultation.

Nicely Formatted Text

OC Psychology Center with Dr. Aaron Montgomery

A screen shot of a page with the words ready to get started.

Clean Visual Layout

Great Lakes Wellness Counseling with Nathan Hansen (one of my favorite looking ones)

How to get started with a blog.

Optimize your contact page

Do you know what the three most visited pages are on your website?

You can probably guess and get pretty close.

  1. Home page
  2. About me/us page
  3. Contact page

Often times website visitors will go from the home page to the About page and then end up on the contact page. Your contact page is the bridge that takes people from contemplating change to actually taking an action.

We can both agree that it is an important page on your site. However, most therapists don't pay much attention to the contact page. They haphazardly put out their address, a phone number and probably a short contact form.

In this section, I am going to briefly go over the various things you can include on your contact page and also give you several examples of excellent contact pages you can use for inspiration.

Vital Tip - don’t hide the contact page option in a drop down in the navigation menu! Feature it in your website’s primary navigation instead.

In my opinion, the best place to put the Contact Us option is at the very end of the navigation bar.

What things should you consider including on your contact page?

Here is a list of all the possibilities.

  • Office address
  • Contact phone number
  • Fax number
  • Practice email address
  • Google map
  • Instructions on best contact method
  • Online scheduler
  • Picture of your intake coordinator (personal touch)
  • Expectation of response times
  • Contact form
  • Video directions
  • Info on next steps / what to expect

There are honestly quite a few options to consider, but you also don't want to make the page cluttered or confusing for your potential client. At the very minimum you should include the office address, phone number and an email address or contact form. You get bonus points for adding instructions on the best contact method and what to expect.

The goal is to make it as easy as possible for the client to reach out and take a step towards becoming a client in your practice.

Here's one important question to ask.

What is the most ideal contact method for you?

In other words, which contact method is the easiest for you to manage and respond to?

For most people responding to emails or web form submissions is the easiest, while returning phone calls is the most challenging. Online bookings and text messages are also quite easy.

You may have already figured out that I prefer the online bookings for the initial call. That is the most streamlined for both my practice and the potential client.

Take a peek at the next section for quite a few examples of excellent contact pages.

Contact page examples

Here are some examples of excellent contact pages. You can use these for inspiration and make tweaks to your own contact page.

Clear directions with multiple contact options

Making it personal and fun

Create an effective call-to-action

CTA or call-to-action is marketing terminology for a clear, directive that you present to the person visiting your website.

Examples you see every day might be:

  • Call us today
  • Buy now
  • Learn more about us
  • Sign up for our newsletter
  • Book an appointment

You get the idea! The most important thing to mention here is that your website needs to clearly guide people towards a definite action. This is usually going to be making a phone call, submitting a web form or some other similar action.

Every page on your site should have at least one call-to-action.

It could be in the top portion of your site, in the footer (bottom section), in the sidebar, at the end of the page or even in the middle of a web page.

So many options!

How do you know what is best?

#1 you need to ask yourself what is the most important action or next step you want the person to take.
Is it a phone call, booking an appointment online, scheduling a consultation or something else entirely?

#2 Make sure you use a similar CTA throughout your site.

Every page on my counseling site has this same exact button, that clearly invites people to click and "Get in touch today!" The button links to our contact page, which directs the person to schedule a consultation using ScheduleOnce. It creates a clear path to becoming a client.

Here is an exercise to try:

Have a friend or family member who is not a therapist take a look at your website. Ask them to attempt to get in touch and take the next step to becoming a client. See how long it takes them to figure out exactly what to do. That should give you a good idea on how clear your site is.
Then try the same thing with a 6 or 8 year old kiddo!

Here is a pro-tip:

So, you know that your home page, about page and contact page are likely the most visited pages on your site. Make sure you at least put a clear CTA at the end of your home and about pages.

For example:

  1. Home page’s CTA is “learn more about how I can help you” which links to → About me page.
  2. About me page’s CTA is “get in touch today” which links to → Contact page.
  3. Contact page gives potential clients clear instructions on getting in touch with you and taking the next step towards becoming a client.

One more pro-tip:

Put a clear CTA at the end of every single blog post. Most, if not all of your blog post content should lead people towards getting help and support. So, the logical next step is to find out more about how counseling can help and then get in touch with you.

Here are some good examples to consider:

A variety of different websites for a mental health clinic.

Use an online scheduler

I have become convinced that an online scheduler is one of the most powerful tools to increase my productivity. You can read this post about Why I love ScheduleOnce to see how I use mine to eliminate phone tag for all of the calls and consultations that I set up on a regular basis.

It turns out that an online scheduler may also be the best way for a potential client to get in touch with you or your intake coordinator.

Here are some of the benefits:

  1. Allows the potential client to complete an action, i.e. schedule a consult any time of day/night
  2. Eliminates the back and forth of phone tag (many clients are lost this way)
  3. Automatically syncs with your calendar and only offers times you decide are available
  4. Works amazingly with a virtual assistant
  5. Saves time and money
  6. Increases conversions (inquiries turning into clients)
  7. Integrates nicely into your counseling practice's website

Some of the most popular choices are ScheduleOnce, Calendly and Acuity.

Some therapists use their EHR, notably SimplePractice to set up initial calls. This can work well, but an EHR is always going to be less feature rich when compared to one of the above choices that excels at one thing.

Here are some sites that encourage website visitors to schedule a call online.

When we used ScheduleOnce on our counseling website we noticed that a higher percentage of the people who scheduled online actually showed up to the calls and then became clients. The conversion rate was higher than those referrals that came in by email or phone call.

The online scheduler sends out automated reminders to the potential client, which is quite helpful. Your mileage may vary, but I am more than convinced that this is an excellent setup.

It is cheaper than having a full time assistant or even hiring a virtual receptionist company to cover the full day Monday through Friday.

I strongly encourage you to consider using an online scheduler!

Use a web form

Contact forms on websites have been around forever.

In fact, it's a pretty boring topic to talk about . . .

But, there are some nifty tricks you can use to make using web forms quite effective for your practice.

First up, here are a couple software options to consider.

HIPPA compliant options - these are especially helpful if you want to collect PHI, such as health insurance info or other sensitive data.

Other web form options - you can use a less secure web form with a disclaimer to collect basic info from potential clients.

You likely have a contact form on your site already. It probably works fine, but you might not be using it to it's fullest potential.

Here are a couple ideas to use web forms like a boss.

1. Use a web form as your main call-to-action on each page of your site

Katie May, owner of Creative Healing in Pennsylvania does this quite well. Click HERE to take a look at her site. Click around and you can see that she uses web forms extensively for the first contact from potential clients.

In fact, it's kind of hard to find the phone number on her site, but that is very much intentional. I like that. She has chosen her ideal contact method and created a site that guides every visitor to that main action.

2. Redirect the visitor to a special page after submitting the form

Most web forms you see will simply give a confirmation message after you fill it out. Something like, "Thanks for reaching out. We will be in touch soon!" That is perfectly fine, but you are missing an opportunity to guide the person to the next step.

You can configure the web form to direct the person straight to another page on your site. This page could have details about what kind of follow up they can expect and what a usual response time is. It could have a video of you talking about how your services help your ideal clients. It could also have a step-by-step process laid out showing the person how to get started with counseling (one of my favorites).

3. Collect helpful information to match them with the right therapist

You can also add a few extremely helpful fields to your contact form. Including, referral source, therapist preference, best time of day for an appt., type of counseling they want (individual/couples/family) or any number of other details.

Of course, you don't want to make the form super long or complicated. If you do, fewer people will fill it out and that's not good. But, a couple targeted questions can help streamline the process of getting started as a client.

Now, go take a look at your web form and see how you can tweak it to make it even more awesome.

You have been doing great, jamming through this course and soaking up all the juicy concepts!

Create easy contact options

Obviously, the contact page is not the only place to put your contact info on your site.
In fact, you want it to be abundantly clear from any page of your site how a person can get in touch with you.

Here are some of the most common places to add contact info:

I hope all of these website examples give you some good, visual ideas and also some clarity about how you want to create the path your ideal client will take to get to your couch!

Check out the video below where I walk you through the sites listed above.

Use an intake coordinator

One of the best things I ever did for my business and my overall well-being was delegating phones and scheduling!

I have used several virtual assistants and for a period of time even had an in-office assistant. I still love connecting with potential clients from time-to-time, but we get so many calls, it is more than I want to handle by myself.

I'm sure you know by now that I am a huge fan of delegating and using virtual assistants.

However, I don't really care what type of solution you use, the important thing is that you create a follow up system for new inquiries that doesn't rely on you!

That could be any of the following . . .

  • In-office assistant, PT or FT
  • Virtual assistant
  • Virtual answering service
  • Your college-aged niece
  • Any skilled person who is not you 😁

Ok, I think you get the message.

There is no doubt that this is one of the most challenging things to give up control over. You have likely handled new calls for years in your practice, but at some point it's not sustainable.

And, if you are a busy therapist you are not really able to get back to people as quickly as you should. Don't become the bottleneck in your business!

I created a PDF below for you that details several different solutions to handle phone support including the pros/cons of each one. Delegating is a key to growth and it also creates much better customer service.

At the end of the day, providing a high quality and prompt service that people can recommend to friends and family is the best marketing in the world.

Client follow up scripts

There are a few "scripts" or pre-written communications that you want to create to streamline the new client process.

You want to be a #productivetherapist and avoid typing the same info over and over again.

  1. Welcome email for new clients
  2. Follow up email response to a web form inquiry
  3. Call script for your intake coordinator

Pro-tip: use Gmail canned responses (Google it) or something like TextExpander to quickly add pre-written text to emails.

Welcome email for new clients:

Our welcome email is pretty simple, but it is automatically sent from SimplePractice every time we set up a new client.

Welcome to InTune Family Counseling!
Please use the link below to complete the required forms before our first session. Let me know if you have any trouble.
Please click on this secure link below and login with the following:
Username: your email address
Password: 0000
Click here to login to the client portal
Office address: 2455 Bennett Valley Rd. B201 in Santa Rosa

Follow up email to a web form inquiry:

The goal with this script is to have a warm, inviting response that lays out the client journey in a simple way.

Hello Sandra,
Thanks for getting in touch!
Based on what you shared I believe that counseling can help.
You can schedule a call with me using this link: schedule a call
Before we talk, you can take a look at the steps to get started with counseling right HERE.
We look forward to helping you find the support you need.
Let me know if you have any questions.

Call script for your intake coordinator:

Take a look at our Magic Call Script for the initial phone call. This type of thing changes a bit over time and a good intake coordinator will be able to "go off script" to meet the needs of individual callers.

It's super helpful to have this written out, especially for training new admin support people. This is something that we require all new clients to give us when they start with VA services from Productive Therapist.

A simple follow up protocol

This falls under the category of painfully obvious, but crucially important.

You can have an amazing marketing plan . . .
A killer website . . .
A rockstar virtual assistant . . .

And people will still slip through your systems if you don't have (and stick to) a simple follow up protocol.

As therapists, we all know that the motivation for getting counseling support is sometimes a fragile and momentary thing. One day your potential client is making phone calls, sending emails and reading all of Google to get help. The next day she is changing course for whatever reason.

Most therapists don't want to bother people, so we don't follow up enough.

Here is the most basic, but effective follow up system.

  1. Respond to first contact (phone/email/text)
  2. Fill out referral log - see below example
  3. Follow up contact the next day + update referral log
  4. Follow up one more time on the third day + update referral log
  5. If there is no response, mark the referral as lost

This is what we do in my practice and it works well.

My virtual assistant marks every referral that still needs some follow up with a green highlight. We both view and collaborate on that document daily.

People can still fall through the cracks, but with three follow up attempts I feel confident we have given them a good chance of becoming a client.

I used to mark the ones that responded once, but then disappeared, then once a month I would follow up again. There were times when the person really appreciated it and became a client. Of course, there were other times I got no response again.

Worst case scenario, someone gets upset that we keep following up, but it's never so much that they would have reason to say anything negative about the practice. This is a simple follow up protocol that is foolproof.

And even better if you delegate the responsibility to someone else!

Below is an example of our simple system (click on the image for a larger version).

A screen shot of a google spreadsheet.

Add a keep in touch strategy

Creating a "keep in touch" strategy is an often overlooked and powerful idea.

How can you stay top of mind for past and even current clients?

Word of mouth referrals are still the easiest to turn into new clients.

I think email marketing is the best and easiest option.

The only thing (in business) that I like more than delegating and virtual assistants is email marketing. I still think it is the best "keep in touch" strategy for past, current and future clients.

It is a long term strategy, but one that can pay dividends.

My practice has always been focused on teens, young adults and families. Over the years I have created many downloadable resources, eBooks and online courses in addition to a bi-monthly email newsletter I have been sending for almost 10 years.

Many times I have had potential clients call and tell me they have been reading my content for months or years. You can guess what happens next. They already know, like and trust me. So, they are ready to book an appointment.

What I have done well is nurture those future clients by sharing useful information by email over time.

It goes something like this . . .

  • Future client lands on my website
  • They sign up for my free download
  • They get my welcome email
  • They continue to get my regular email newsletter
  • They are encouraged, supported and educated
  • They see me and/or my practice as an expert and go-to local resource
  • When the time is right they get in touch and become a client

It really is a beautiful thing.

Here is the short and sweet version.

Start building a list by offering a useful downloadable PDF, email course or audio/video product. Something your ideal client can benefit from in 5-10 minutes tops. A quick win.

Send them helpful content every other week or once a month at the minimum. This can be intimidating, but you don't have to send long emails with super fancy formatting. Keep it simple. Just a text based email is fine, but make it personable and talk directly to your ideal client.

Occasionally promote your services & make sure they know how to get in touch. You don't need to mention it in every email, but everything you write should be intended to be supportive and gently guide them towards using your services.

Email marketing will continue to be one of my favorite marketing and keep in touch strategies.

The sweet conclusion

I hope this insanely long post has been helpful for you!

Thanks for taking the time to read to the bottom.

I want to wish you the best of luck as you create your client converting website. Keep up the good work!

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