To complement “The Top 6 Ways to Use the Internet” in the April 2016 issue of MASSAGE Magazine.
As a professional massage therapist, you should already have a massage practice website and Facebook page. Leverage the business-boosting power of the internet even more with these 10 strategies.
1. Break the Ice
“Make your practice seem instantly more familiar to new clients by posting photos of it on your website—and include a photo of yourself. Potential clients are more likely to feel some degree of resonance with you if they recognize your face,” said Joe Cinquina, L.M.T. “If you work evening hours, potential clients may feel safer if they can see a photo of your well-lit parking area.”
You can also answer common questions. “Every potential client has one primary question: What’s in it for me? If people can find information easily they are more likely to book with you, so make answers to critical questions super easy to locate,” said Cinquina. Include modalities you practice, and for what conditions they may be beneficial; payment and cancellation policies; and testimonials from happy clients.
“Choose clients with a story to share, such as how you helped them feel safe getting their first massage or how they felt relief from pain after a series of sessions with you,” he said.
2. Take Care of Scheduling
“Missed calls are missed business,” said Mark Liskey, L.M.T., C.M.N.T. According to research from tech company BT Business, customers will call a business two times at the most before going elsewhere. Liskey recommends an online message-taking service such as Answer America or Ruby Receptionists.
Going a step further and integrating online scheduling into your massage practice, said Cinquina, “provides clients with a way to book an appointment with you even when you are with another client—or taking a well-deserved day off.”
Some massage practice software also allows clients to track treatments and retail items purchased, which can come in handy at tax time. “Clients love this, as it allows them to have all their information at their fingertips,” said Connie Walsh, R.M.T.
You can also use your massage practice website to sell gift certificates, so clients can purchase a session for a friend or family member at the same time they book their own massage appointment. “Some online scheduling software includes a gift certificate feature,” said Cinquina, “or you can set up an Internet Merchant Account with a bank or credit card processor. Fees vary widely, so shop carefully.”
3. Handle SOAP Notes
“Using online SOAP notes for day-to-day charting can save considerable time and have your clients perceiving you with success and professionalism,” said Walsh. She added that most massage practice software lets you duplicate notes that are similar; and quickly retrieve and print notes for insurance companies.
4. Reach Clients on Their Smartphones
“As smartphones become more sophisticated, consumers have grown to expect convenience at their fingertips,” Cinquina said. “Can your busy clients view your website from their smartphone? Can they navigate through the pages and make an appointment easily?
“If you used a do-it-yourself program to set up your website, see if the program has a mobile-friendly feature,” he suggested. “Otherwise, contact your webmaster to have it done, or hire a consultant to make sure your website is mobile-responsive.”
5. Keep in Touch With Clients
“Services such as Constant Contact or MailChimp allow you to save your client database in an Excel spreadsheet and import it into a mailing list from which you can reach your clients via a monthly email newsletter,” said Cinquina. “Use your list to run promotions, send out informational articles on topics of interest to your clients, and let them know about new service offerings.”
6. Lead New Clients to Your Door
“Google wants local businesses to be found when people search for services in their area,” said Eric Brown, a massage marketing expert. “If you do a search for massage in your city, for example; ‘massage Denver,’ you’ll see three local businesses featured at the top of the search results.
“To improve your chances of showing up in these top three positions, claim your listing, fill it out completely—including pictures and videos—and ask for reviews from clients. (Google will help you through this process at google.com/business.)
“Next, make sure your business name, address and phone number—Google abbreviates this as NAP, also called a local citation—are consistent across all your online listings and your website,” he said. “Having citations appear across the Web is a key component in the ranking algorithms search engines use. Everything else being equal, businesses with more citations rank higher than businesses with fewer citations. Citations are particularly important if you don’t have a website.
“Having listings on review sites, such as Google My Business, Yelp, Bing Local, Trip Advisor, City Search or Angie’s List, may also improve your ranking,” Brown added. “Use moz.com/local to find sites already listing your business, claim your listings, or submit new listings.”
7. Keep an Eye on Your Online Reviews
“Potential clients are highly influenced by online reviews,” Brown said. “According to a survey published by BrightLocal.com, 88 percent of consumers have read reviews to determine the quality of a local business, and about nine out of ten consumers say they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. Both authenticity and number of reviews seem to influence the level of trust someone has for a business.”
It’s important to pay attention to your online reviews and manage your reputation. “Whether you like what they have to say or not, clients will post online reviews,” said Brown. “Be sure to thank people who take time to write a review. Actively encourage reviews, so that the number of positive reviews far outweighs any negative ones that may appear.
“Don’t panic if you see a bad review—and do not get into a public quarrel about it,” he added. “Instead, do everything you can to make the situation right and prove that you care. How well you handle yourself in the face of criticism will determine whether you drive away potential clients or whether they see you as someone with a commitment to exceptional customer service.”
8. Super-Charge Word-of-Mouth Referrals
“Give your business’ Facebook page a human touch by regularly spending time there and getting involved. Use first names and allow your fans to interact with you personally,” said Cinquina. “Let your fans talk about themselves and their experiences with your practice, and reply to comments in a positive way. Post regularly to get them to come back to your page for more—and keep your personal page separate from your business page.”
“Give your current clients a reason to follow you by offering Facebook-only specials or by posting interesting content, like self-massage videos,” added Liskey. “A compelling post will get lots of shares.”
9. Find Massage Information Quickly
Professional associations for massage therapists—as well as YouTube—provide articles and videos on techniques, business practices and self-care. “To drill down on a topic, do a Google search and click on a blogger who is writing about that topic,” said Liskey. “In blog posts you’ll often find links to webinars, videos and other sources.”
10. Share Self-Care Videos
“Make a YouTube channel and upload your favorite home care recommendations … anything from breathing exercises to simple meditations to stretches,” said Walsh, who suggests demonstrating each technique and discussing potential benefits.
When you make a self-care recommendation, email the client a link with personalized instructions. “Your client will see you as a true expert,” Walsh said. “They may even share your link with family or friends.”
About the Contributors
Joe Cinquina, L.M.T. (soularmassage.com), is an instructor at Lexington Healing Arts Academy and a certified teaching assistant for James Waslaski’s Center for Pain Management.
Mark Liskey, L.M.T., C.N.M.T. (makethemostofmassage.com; visit his site to get his free “My Internet Toolkit” PDF), is a massage therapist of 24 years, a teacher and a blogger.
Connie Walsh, R.M.T., is founder and co-director at Health in Balance Complementary Health Care Centre in Cambridge, Ontario, Canada; and founder of a massage practice management app, Aspire (myaspireapp.com), currently in development.
Eric Brown is a massage marketing expert and co-founder of the World Massage Conference. Get his free report on showing up in local search results at bodyworkbiz.com/local.