The third major trend is the explosion of Internet usage on cell phones and tablets. Popular cell phones, such as iPhones and Androids, are part of the trend toward smartphone devices that can access the Internet. Almost two-thirds of all new cell phone purchases for people under 45 are smartphones, and Internet access will be standard in all but the most basic cell phones in the next few years. With large screens, powerful processors, and speedy 3G and 4G networks, these pocket-sized computers now allow unprecedented access to web content anywhere, anytime.
Already 20 percent of online searches are done on a mobile device, 40 percent of which are inquiries about local businesses. Whereas Google now accounts for 65 percent of searches done on desktops and laptops, it has a dominating 96 percent of searches done on mobile devices.
So how can you take advantage of this mobile trend in generating referrals to your practice? First, see how your website looks on a smartphone screen. If you don’t have a smartphone to test this out, you can use a mobile site simulator such as http://quirktools.com/screenfly to see how your site looks on various smartphone screens. If it looks cramped, this will definitely hurt your chances of getting a referral from a mobile search. Consider creating a mobile version of your website. Google has stated that it will give a higher ranking to a mobile-configured website when found on a smartphone search. They even give you a free tool to create a mobile version of your website: http://www.google.com/sites/help/intl/en/mobile-landing-pages/mlpb.html.
You can do two other things to take advantage of the two commonest uses for cell phones: texting and making phone calls. Try adding texting as an additional contact option on your website. I’ve generated 60 extra referrals in the past year since adding this one simple step, which costs nothing but about 10 minutes of time. In addition, you can create a mobile-only Google AdWords Pay Per Click ad campaign. The beauty of this is that your ads will show up only on cell phones, and about 20 percent of people who are interested in your ad will call your office directly by just tapping your phone number on their screen. I’m averaging 16 phone calls a month to my office using this method, for a monthly cost of about $30.
Joe Bavonese, Ph.D., a licensed psychologist, is director of the Relationship Institute, with three offices in Michigan, and codirector of Uncommon Practices. He publishes the monthly newsletter Internet Marketing for Private Practice. Contact: email@example.com. Tell us what you think about this article by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or at www.psychotherapynetworker.org. Log in and you’ll find the comment section on every page of the online Magazine.