How To Book New Clients Automatically Using Your Website

 
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Let’s be honest, running a private practice requires way more work than our grad school professors let on. It’s not just about seeing ideal clients and curating a cool office space. There’s a ton of behind-the-scenes work that needs to happen to sustain a healthy business.

A huge part of this behind-the-scenes work revolves around getting more clients, especially in the first few years of business. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know the importance of defining your ideal client and niche, setting up a marketing plan, and building the right website. But what happens when you’ve built a website, clarified an ideal client, and marketed your buns off, but people still don’t seem to be picking up the phone in droves to schedule their initial consultations?

I see this happen to therapists all the time; they’ve followed all of the rules and implemented all the best marketing strategies, but their websites don’t seem to be converting visitors into clients. 

When I take a look at these therapists’ websites during a brand strategy audit, one of the things I usually find is this: there’s no easy way to book an initial session.

Sure, a phone number and an email address are usually listed, and it seems like it would be easy to just pick up the phone and call. But think about what your potential clients are going through as they’re considering reaching out to a new therapist… they’re probably anxious about being vulnerable, frustrated or worn-out from the therapy search, and/or emotionally depleted to the point that even a phone call is a ton of work.

The last thing they want to do is leave an awkward voicemail to someone they don’t know, only to likely go back and forth for a few days trying to schedule.

Making it as easy as possible for potential clients to book with you is the best way to increase the effectiveness of your existing marketing efforts.

Not to mention, an easy booking experience will make your life so much easier! You already have so much to do as a business owner - wouldn’t it be awesome if you didn’t have to play phone tag with potential clients to try to set up an initial appointment? Wouldn’t it be amazing if your website did all of your booking for you?

My website (that you’re looking at right now) does all of my initial booking for me. So I can confidently say: it is, in fact, amazing.

In this blog post, I’m going to outline three ways to add online booking to your website so that you can start booking new clients automatically.

Before I dive in, I want to highlight a couple things:

  1. All types of businesses can utilize online booking to streamline their client lead processes, but the method of online scheduling that’s best for your business depends on your business. You know your needs best, so read through my suggestions and decide what’s right for you.

  2. Implementing online scheduling requires a bit of work up front. When I ask therapists, “Have you considered online scheduling?”, the most common response is, “I have, but the set-up seems complicated.” Does this remind you of anything? Just as your potential clients resist picking up the phone to call you because it’s challenging, we, as business owners, can fall into the same habit. However, it’s our job to push past these mindset blocks in order to make it easier for our potential clients to get the help they need.

 

CONTACT FORM

One of the simplest (and cheapest) ways to book new clients automatically is to create a custom contact form. Website builders, like Squarespace, include customizable contact forms that you can embed on any page of your website. But here’s the thing: I don’t recommend using the default form (with Name, Email, Subject, and Message fields) - instead, include fields that will minimize back-and-forth emails.

How to set it up:

  1. Include the identifying fields, such as Name, Phone Number, and Email.

  2. Ask what days/times they would prefer to meet. (Pro Tip: choose consistent days and times to set aside for initial appointments only, then list those days/times on your contact form. Then, all you have to do is send an email to confirm.)

  3. Ask for a brief summary of why they’re seeking your services. This will give you an idea of whether or not you will be a good fit for them.

  4. If you take insurance, ask them to select their insurance provider from a list or write it in a text field.

Pros:

  • Easy to set up

  • Free

  • Customizable fields

  • Provides structure to the email contact process

Cons:

  • Still involves back-and-forth communication, which may deter some website visitors / potential clients from using it.

  • Not HIPAA compliant

 

ACUITY SCHEDULING

If you’re looking for a more automated scheduling process than a custom contact form, Acuity Scheduling is a great option. This is the booking software I use for my business, and I couldn’t be happier. It allows website visitors to book both free and paid appointments, and after they book, Acuity automatically sends confirmation and reminder emails on my behalf. All I have to do is show up for the appointment!

How to set it up:

  1. Sign up for Acuity. If you’re a Squarespace user, you can get Acuity’s Emerging Entrepreneur plan for free ($15/month value). Here’s how: on any page of your Squarespace website, insert an Appointment Scheduling block. A dialogue box will appear asking you to insert your booking link or sign up for an account. Click to sign up for an account, and you’ll be directed to a referral page where you can claim your free account. (If you’re not a Squarespace user, or you want to use an Acuity plan with more features, like HIPAA compliance, sign up here.)

  2. Once you’ve created your Acuity account, go into your Business Settings and set up your availability, appointment types, intake form questions, email settings, payment settings (if applicable), and sync your calendars so that you don’t double book anything.

  3. Embed your scheduler on your website. If you’re using Squarespace, insert an Appointment Scheduling block and simply paste your Scheduling Page Direct Link. If you’re using Wordpress, Wix, or something else, grab your Scheduling Page Embed Code and paste it on your website.

Pros:

  • Streamlined, automatic booking that’s easy for clients to use

  • Free with a Squarespace subscription

  • HIPAA compliance available (Powerhouse Player plan only)

  • Syncs with other calendars to avoid double-booking

  • Automatic reminder emails and/or texts

  • Pre-screen / intake questions

  • Accept payments with Stripe, Square, or PayPal (useful for workshops or events)

  • Multiple staff & location calendars

  • Easy to embed directly on your website

Cons:

  • If your business requires HIPAA compliance, you must make sure BAA (Business Associate Agreement) is in place before collecting client data

  • Doesn’t include practice management features, such as treatment plans, invoices, or insurance billing

 

SIMPLE PRACTICE

If you’re looking for an all-in-one platform that allows potential clients to book seamlessly from your website, as well as manage your ongoing client relationships, Simple Practice is my top recommendation. Not only can you embed a “booking widget” on any page of your website, you can send new client intake forms and collect ongoing payments automatically, bill insurance, file notes, and create treatment plans - all on one platform.

How to set it up:

  1. Try Simple Practice free for 30 days here.

  2. Follow their simple set-up guides and reach out to their support team if you need help.

  3. Embed your scheduling button on your website. If you need help with this step, I created a free tutorial video to walk you through it. You can find it in the Members-Only Resource Vault.

Pros:

  • Streamlined, easy-to-use booking directly on your website

  • Robust, all-in-one platform

  • HIPAA compliance included in every account

  • Client portal for every client

  • Syncs with other calendars to avoid double-booking

  • Automatic reminder emails and/or texts

  • Pre-screen / intake questions

  • Automatic bill pay

  • Customizable notes and forms

  • Insurance billing

  • Mobile app for practice management from anywhere

  • Overall superior ease-of-use compared to similar platforms

Cons:

  • Most expensive of the three options listed here (although incredibly cost-effective considering robust features included)

  • Booking widget can be a little tricky to embed (I created a free tutorial to walk you through embedding and customizing your booking widget! Access the Resource Vault to watch.)


There are several other platform options for adding online scheduling to your website, so I encourage you to do some research on your own. My recommendations here are based on personal experience and the experiences of my past clients. Both Acuity and Simple Practice continue to stand out as top-tier solutions for automating new client bookings, and I recommend them to all of my clients as well.

While I know that learning another new platform might feel overwhelming to you, I encourage you to consider the people you most want to help. If you’re not making it as easy as possible for these people to find and schedule with you, you’re making it harder for them to get the help they need.

Of course, it’s ultimately up to your potential clients to take action, and not everyone who visits your website will schedule an appointment with you. But I promise you this: if you’re implementing a solid marketing strategy, and your website is communicating what it needs to, adding online scheduling is highly likely to increase your conversion rate (the rate of website visitors that turn into clients).

Now I want to hear from you:

  1. Do you use any form of online scheduling on your website? If so, what platform do you use?

  2. What’s one thing you could do today that would make it easier for website visitors to schedule with you?

Share your thoughts in the comments below!

 
 

Some of the links contained on this blog post are affiliate links. This means that I may receive a commission if you click on the link and make a purchase from the affiliate. I only recommend products and services that I know or trust to be of high quality, whether an affiliate relationship is in place or not.