This post has been authored by Hannah Shamji as part of our guest post series. Learn more about Hannah at the bottom of this post.
3 Ways to Create More Effective Copy for Your Therapy Website
When was the last time you tweaked your website copy?
Are you the type to fiddle with your copy every other week? For your (sanity’s) sake, I hope you’re not spending precious time editing and then re-editing your website copy when you could be using that time to focus on your clients. every week.
If you are, I get it. A question to ask yourself, though, is this: is all that tweaking translating into more potential clients contacting me through my website?
For most of my clients, the answer is no.
If you’re in the same boat, heed this:
Writing copy that converts has very little to do with writing.
What I mean is, you don’t need to be a good writer to write good copy.
Instead, you need to understand your service (which you do) and understand who your service is suited for (which you also do). Your copy is simply joining the two (your service and your market) together; positioning what you offer in front of the people who need it.
How? You might ask.
In this post, I’ll be sharing 3 tips to help you better position your services and boost the number of potential clients you convert every month.
1: Don’t be selfish.
In other words, focus way more (if not entirely) on your reader’s problems, pain points, and hopes and way less on your (albeit impressive) credentials or expertise.
If you’ve ever read or listened to anyone talk about writing copy, you’ve heard this point before.
That’s because it’s fundamental to writing copy that converts; copy that transforms a mere reader into an engaged, ready-to-work-with-you full-fee client.
The simplest way to cross-check your copy, and make sure it’s client-centered (not you-centered)?
Flag the number of times you use the word “I” in your copy. Unless that I is immediately followed up with a “can help you…”, it’s not actually helping. Take this as your cue to make the switch; to flip the phrase from “I am…” to “You will get…”.
Better still, ask yourself this laser-focused question about every “I” sentence you use: So what?
You’re a psychoanalyst. So what? You’re a transpersonal psychotherapist. So what? You’ve got 30 years of experience. So what?
See, it’s not that these titles and years aren’t credible (they obviously are), it’s that we often pitch them prematurely–or worse, without context.
If all you share is your resume, what’s to set you apart from the next psychologist with 20 years of experience in tow? Nada, that’s what. Not unless you show your potential clients what they could achieve with you. Show your readers your experience at work. By doing so, your count of accolades will barely come into question.
Here’s an example of an I-to-you switch I recommended to my past client, a psychologist:
Instead of: “We’ll talk about the beliefs and feelings underlying your problems.”
Try: “Sick of being stressed out with work all the time? Want to regain confidence and feel like you’re back on top in client meetings? Together, we’ll unpack the root of your stress. Why go to the root? So we can equip you with unique ways to confront and tackle your particular hangups, and set you soaring (and coasting through) once stressful situations.”
2: Preempt skepticism.
Or, anticipate and address objections readers are likely to have about the value and impact of (your) therapy.
First, let’s tackle why: Why anticipate and address objections?
Anticipating objections pulls readers into your copy. It builds trust by demonstrating a deep understanding of what’s actually happening in the often skeptical mind of your reader.
More importantly, if you don’t address your reader’s objections, they’re left to sort through them alone–and who knows if they’ll make a decision that works in your favor. Addressing potential objections directly leaves less to chance and allows you means you get to weigh in on your reader’s decision-making.
Let’s talk specifics. A client of mine had this seemingly-neutral phrase hidden in her copy: “In therapy, we will develop a close collaboration to explore in depth your internal world…Self-awareness is the most effective way to avoid stress.”
The problem with this snippet? Dates back to tip number 1.
Possible objections from the reader: So what? Why should I care about building (let alone having) close collaboration with you? Why would I want to explore the depths of my internal world? Can’t I just learn about self-awareness from a book? I already know how to be self-aware.
When we assume our readers want what we think they do, without explaining its value, we inadvertently turn people off and prevent them from seeking the help they need.
Three years in and nearing the end of my training to become a Registered Professional Counselor, I still don’t want to go into my feelings and explore my inner world. Yes, I know the benefit and impact. I’ve even tasted the full-blown freedom on the other side, but taking the necessary steps into my feelings aren’t exactly on the top of my fun-list.
Imagine how your reader feels about looking inward or sitting in her mess, without any of the training or practice you and I have? Talk about resistance.
Your job is to anticipate your readers’ objections, bring them into the light, and shut them down (gently, of course).
In other words, open up your homepage (yes, right now), take a moment and note down every objection potential clients might have to working with you.
Now, take a few minutes and write out a response to each of these objections.
(If you can’t come up with a response to your objections, how can you expect your readers to? You can’t.)
The trick isn’t to be tricky. It’s not to deny how expensive your therapy is or that you’re new to private practice or that you have zero experience in your new-found niche. It’s to acknowledge their ever-so-valid hesitations, and offer a (positive) reframe.
3: Don’t instigate.
Addressing risk (or objections) in your copy is one thing; introducing new risk is another. Don’t do the latter. Be cognizant of when you’re over-explaining or over-asserting something that isn’t significant or top-of-mind for your readers.
My last client did this in her copy with the phrase: “I provide a safe, confidential and trusting atmosphere…”
To the untrained-copy-eye, this statement may read rather innocuous. To the copy-trained-eye, it isn’t.
Two of the three adjectives bumbling about at the beginning of that sentence are (unintentionally) planting unfriendly seeds, in what should be a friendly conversation.
The two words? Safe and confidential.
Unless safety and confidentiality are important for your ideal client and you’ve addressed those pieces head-on (say, for a client who’s taking therapy and doesn’t want her partner to know), don’t lump in your sessions with negative-leaning adjectives. It introduces friction where there wasn’t any.
In fact, prior to bringing them up, confidentiality and safety were probably assumed and expected by your reader.
Raising them off-the-cuff can have the reverse effect – and cause your reader to worry that therapy is really intense (!) and normally feels unsafe.
Instead of comforting them by claiming you are a “safe” and “confidential” space, you may have scared potential clients away.
Instead: Offer positive words, empowering words about the wonderful things potential clients will tap into with your help.
It doesn’t mean therapy is easy and that confidentiality doesn’t matter. It just means that how we call attention to these important pieces impacts how they’re received.
On Writing Copy that Converts
To wrap up on my 3 copy tips to help you write copy that converts, I’ll leave you with a little optimism.
Don’t sweat your copy too much.
Words matter (as do these 3 copy tips), but positioning matters more.
When you have something people want, there is no selling or pitching or promotion involved.
In other words, you can convert just fine with crappy, sloppy copy—so long as you’ve positioned your service in front of the right people (aka, people who want what you’re putting down).