7 Addiction Treatment Website Mistakes That Are Costing You Leads

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Your rehab website is not a newfangled business card or a nifty computerized brochure for your business.

But unfortunately, this old-fashioned way of looking at websites persists—especially in the addiction treatment world.  

Here’s the thing, websites aren’t static billboards for your service.

They are dynamic sales machines that should attract and convert leads into patients seamlessly. That means your navigation, design, and copy all need to work together to usher leads down the road towards conversion—without falling into the gaping potholes that litter the path along the way.

Believe me, too many addiction treatment websites are stuck in these gaping potholes and they are struggling. Try as they might, they just can’t take leads down the sales funnel because they have unknowingly sabotaged their ability to sell.  

Today, let’s look at the 5 most common website mistakes that are costing addiction treatment centers leads.

1 - Too much copy

What’s that? A copywriter who says there’s too much copy on my page?


So. Much. Yes.

Let’s be honest: there are very few people who actually read.

People read about 20% of the text on a page online when they are engaged in “serious reading.”

When looking at sites online, most people are NOT reading word for word. They are skimming. It’s your job to direct the reader’s eye and tell them exactly WHAT they should be skimming. You do this by inserting headers and summing up content so that it can be digested quickly and easily at a glance.

But it doesn’t stop there.

You also need to ensure that you’re not hitting readers with the dreaded wall of text. I’m a pretty big reader and even I am taken aback by a wall of text.



  • It’s not inviting

  • It’s not easy to read

  • I can’t even tell quickly and easily if I’m going to get any value out of it

Big problem! If a site is giving leads these kinds of feels, they’re clicking out of there and going to a site that can prove to them that it is worth their time.

So, how can we make them stay?

In other words, how can we fix walls of text?

Easy. Convert all that wordiness into bullet points, like I just did. SHORT bullet points.

If it can’t fit into one short bullet point, then maybe it’s actually two bullet points. Fine.

Less is more. Stop using big words to sound smart—it’s not working! Stop repeating yourself in order to make a point—that’s not working, either.

The “too much copy” problem is particularly troubling on sales pages—meaning your landing page, home page, and any other pages that are geared towards selling your service. These pages should be focused on getting the lead to take ONE action: calling your center, downloading a lead magnet, or setting up a free consultation. Each word should push readers towards that ONE action. Too many words and too many topics here can distract the reader from taking that one action, which results in fewer conversions.

The “too much copy” problem is less of a problem in content marketing situations—like long-form blog posts or free ebooks. Readers expect a decent amount of content in these situations. That said, it’s still important to structure that content. Break up big walls of text with bullet points, headers, and images. Make each chunk more digestible and quickly prove that the content is valuable in order to ensure that readers keep reading.

2 - Talking about yourself too much

Got a lot of “I, Me, Mine” splashed across your site?

As I’ve talked about in two other recent posts, here and here, the focus of your site should not be you and your center.

I know this is a shocker for a lot of you out there. Stick with me.

The focus of your site should be the reader.

Before you can sell anything to anybody—and yes, you are selling treatment—you need to build a relationship with them. The way you build a relationship online is to talk about your reader: who they are, what they need, what problems they’re having, how they feel, etc. Demonstrate that you get them—because you do. You’ve done the research on your audience, you know what their pain points are, and you’re ready to help.

By doing this, you actually tell your readers everything they need to know about you. By talking all about your readers, you’ve demonstrated that your service a) cares about people, b) meets people where they’re at, and c) understands what it’s like to struggle with addiction. Sounds like the perfect rehab to me!

Once readers feel decent about that relationship you’ve built and are starting to feel a bit of trust in your service, that’s when you can start satisfying their curiosity about you. Then—and only then—are they ready for “about us” pages and more details about your center.

3 - Not enough content

Not enough content? Isn’t this a contradiction with “too much copy?”


Too much copy on your sales page means that you are using too many words to sell your service. Not enough content on your site means that you are missing opportunities to build relationships with patients and failing to make friends with Google.

Sites that have lots of content on them—useful blog posts, news updates, and infographics—are a valuable resource for the community that naturally draws readers into your site. If the content is really awesome, it’ll get shared on social media and you’ll reach more people. Other sites will link to your content. You’ll build your reputation as an authority in the field.

Even better, you’ll improve your SEO and Google will start to take notice of your site. Sites that have very little content—like only a few pages and no blog—are like tiny dust specs in the desert sands of Google. Sites that get updated frequently with long-form content are prioritized in Google’s algorithm, meaning you’ll rank higher for your keywords with a nice content-rich site.  

4 - Too many calls to action

Calls to action (CTAs) are the most important thing on your site.

If you screw up your call to action—or worse, leave it out altogether—then there’s no point in having a site at all. Seriously—it’s important to get your CTAs right.

As a general rule, there should be only one CTA  per page. Unfortunately, I frequently see addiction treatment sites that are littered with tons of CTAs.

How can your lead “call an intake counselor,” “download a free ebook on addiction,” “watch the video,” and “read what alums have to say” all at once?

They can’t.

So don’t try to make them. You’ll only confuse your lead and weaken the call to action that you really want them to take: “get help now.”

5 - No chat

Let’s face it—it’s 2018 and a lot of people are phone phobic.

As I’ve written elsewhere, chat is the preferred method of communication for a lot of your leads. Forcing leads to physically call you on an actual telephone is costing you leads, especially millennial leads.

They’re just not going to do it.

In the past, in-site chat windows have (justifiably) raised HIPAA security concerns with practitioners in the addictions treatment field. Today, there are many different HIPAA-compliant chat platforms to choose from, so that old concern is no longer valid.

Don’t use HIPAA fears as an excuse for opting out of this powerful lead conversion tool.

6 - Too many options in the navigation menu

I see this especially with larger sites, although smaller sites are occasionally guilty, too.

You’re guiding your lead’s journey towards conversion, so don’t point them in 20 different directions at once. This is similar to the “too many CTAs” problem, but even more widespread.

Readers are overwhelmed with options when they see more than 4 or 5 choices in front of them. Studies have shown that you want to give the average human no more than 5 choices in order to keep them engaged and focused.

So, clean up your site and try to batch information together. For example, you don’t need a different page for each treatment modality you offer to pop up in your main navigation bar. Why not batch all that information together and create one long page with many headers?

Simplifying your site will make it feel more well-designed and easier to understand but it also imparts a more upscale feel. Simplicity is actually the result of meticulous planning and it takes a lot of effort and resources to achieve. Readers can sense this care and thoughtfulness and it translates into a perception of higher value. Think of Apple products and how their navigation is always super clean—it’s no accident that their products are also more expensive than the competition.

A simple navigation menu makes your brand look neat, clean, and valuable.

7 - Unclear calls to action

While we’re on the subject of CTAs, let’s look at another way you can screw them up: making them unclear and confusing.

An unclear CTA invites uncertainty. “Submit” or “click here” are the worst offenders and they are EVERYWHERE on addiction treatment websites. Leads don’t know what will happen if they click a “submit” button or a “click here” button, so they’ll stay away from CTAs like these.

A good CTA is clear and specific: “download the ebook,” “subscribe,” “message intake counselor.” You know what you are clicking on and you know what’s going to happen next. A good CTA can usually finish this sentence: “I want to…” For example, "I want to download the ebook” makes perfect sense in the “I want to…” format.

Use this trick to test your CTAs for clarity and effectiveness.

Addiction Treatment Websites: More than a billboard

By now, you understand that a good addiction treatment website is much more than a static billboard for recovery. Rehab websites that boast full beds and overflowing wait-lists usually avoid these 7 common pitfalls while centers that struggle to get clients frequently fall right into them and don’t know how to get back out.

Now that you know these 7 mistakes, you can make the appropriate changes to your site and start converting more leads into patients.

As always, if you need help, let me know—I’d be happy to chat about how to make your site the best it can be.  

Erin Gilday