How to Create a Digital Marketing Plan for Your Autism Treatment Center

When creating a digital marketing plan for your autism treatment center, start by identifying the needs of your patients and their families.

In 2000, about one in 150 kids (with an average age of 8) was diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder.1 Today, that number is as high as about one in 54 children.2 While the cause for the increase in the number of diagnosed cases in children is uncertain, it’s clear that the need for treatment centers like yours is growing.

But unfortunately, less than half of existing behavioral health centers treat autism patients.3

To cope with the growing demand for services, new centers focused on providing services and resources for patients with autism and their families and caregivers are opening across the country. These programs are filling a much-needed gap in behavioral health services, but few operators have taken the time to market their centers and let people know their doors are open.

If this describes your experience, you need a digital marketing plan for your autism treatment center to help your prospective patients and local community find you and the services you provide.

What is Digital Marketing?

You’re probably already familiar with traditional marketing. Generally speaking, traditional marketing refers to the tried-and-true greatest hits of promotion. Roadside billboards, television and radio commercials, direct mail campaigns—each of these traditional marketing initiatives can have a large impact on your overall marketing strategy, when employed correctly and targeting the right audience.

So where does digital marketing come in? Think of digital marketing as anything you can consume on a smart device—phones, tablets, or computers. This includes initiatives such as email campaigns, websites, paid digital advertising, and social media, to name a few.

Digital marketing is made specifically for online consumption. Designed to grab users’ attention with a clear and easy call to action, your digital marketing should encourage your prospective patients and their families to take the next step in their journeys with you—anything from visiting your website to calling your center and scheduling a tour.

What are the Benefits of Digital Marketing?

Digital marketing meets your prospective patients and their families where they are—online. The majority of searches for new healthcare providers begin on Google, and you need your treatment center’s name and information to be ranked as high as possible on the search engine results page (SERP) to make it easy for your prospective patients and their families  to find you.

Your digital marketing initiatives also provide valuable information in the form of raw, easily measurable data. This lets you quickly identify when something is working well or needs to be tweaked to increase performance.

Last, but certainly not least—digital marketing is cheaper and consistently delivers a better ROI4 than traditional marketing.

What Types of Digital Marketing Are There?

There are several different types of digital marketing initiatives that are typically combined into your overall digital marketing strategy. The best digital marketing strategies take into account the behaviors and preferences of your target audience and create a customized strategy to meet the specific needs of your treatment center.

Some of the different digital marketing initiatives that you may wish to explore when creating your autism treatment center’s digital marketing strategy include:

  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO): Boosts your website’s visibility for target keyword phrases your prospective patients may use to look for providers
  • Email Marketing: Email promotions and newsletters
  • Social Media: Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and LinkedIn
  • Pay-Per-Click (PPC): Advertising that allows you to pay per lead
  • Content Marketing: Blogs, articles, and videos
  • Relationships: Earned inclusion on industry-leading websites and publications

How Do I Create a Digital Marketing Plan?

After learning about the types of digital marketing, are you feeling overwhelmed by the options? Don’t be! Use these three steps to get started on your digital marketing journey.

1: Identify Your Ideal Audience

Start your digital marketing plan by identifying your target audience: your ideal patient and their families and caregivers. Who are they? What are their ages and genders? Where do they live?

Since you’re working in autism treatment, you should already know that autism has no racial or socioeconomic barriers and affects boys four times more often than girls.5 In this case, as this condition is usually treated during childhood, you’ll most likely lean toward focusing your advertising on the caregivers of your potential patients. 

For other segments of your audience, consider the decision-maker and design your campaigns to engage with that person.

2: Set Your Goals

After learning more about your target audience, think about your goals. What do you want your prospective  patients and their caregivers to do? Visit your center? Schedule an appointment? Or maybe just check out your website?

Whatever your aim, make sure your CTAs consistently communicate the next steps you want your leads to take and are easily followed. 

3: Choose Your Method

After setting your goals, select the method of digital marketing you intend to use. If you’re new to digital marketing and are starting from the ground up, don’t begin by using every strategy at once. You will burn out.

Instead, start with email and social media before working up to content marketing and PPC. Then, when you’re comfortable with those and are regularly seeing a good ROI, consider expanding your digital marketing strategy.

Interested in learning more about digital marketing and what strategies may be right for your autism treatment center? Dreamscape Marketing can help. Call 888.307.7304 to schedule a strategy session with our industry experts today.


For a list of references, please contact us.