Behavioral health organizations that provide addiction recovery services must be able to reach people needing help where they consume information. These days, that largely means through digital messaging, especially on mobile devices. A 2019 ScienceDirect report found that 94% of those surveyed with an opioid use disorder owned a smartphone, 67% used the Internet every day, and 88% searched the Internet for health information.¹
Yet, Google, Bing, and Facebook, some of, if not the, most popular digital advertising platforms, do not permit advertising of addiction recovery services without obtaining a certification from LegitScript, a third-party certification provider. The reasoning for this requirement is well-justified as, in the recent past, there were a number of unscrupulous treatment centers advertising on these platforms that were of poor quality or, worse yet, after collecting their fees, did not provide the advertised services at all. So, the purpose of the LegitScript certification is to vet addiction recovery providers to make sure they are competent and do what they say they are going to do.
While this makes sense on paper, in practice it doesn’t always. The process to get the certification is not easy. It requires a lot of information about the organization and its operations. Also, and maybe most importantly, the certification is not cheap. Pricing is based on the number of unique facilities an organization has, with “unique facility” defined as either the number of entities under an organization’s control or the number of locations providing addiction recovery services. For each unique facility, there is a non-refundable application fee, plus a recurring annual fee. So, pursuant to the LegitScript certification pricing table, an organization providing addiction recovery services at 4 locations would pay an application fee of $5,980 ($1,495 per unique facility) and a recurring annual fee of $11,500 ($2,875 per unique facility).
Granted, the burden and cost of getting LegitScript certified may not be a big deal for some organizations. However, for those largely nonprofit organizations that rely heavily on government and/or donor funding, and operate with lean staffs and very tight budgets, it is a big deal. There just simply isn’t the person power or available funds to warrant the time and expense. Meanwhile, to many of these organizations, the reason for the certification seems overkill since they are already highly regulated at state and/or federal levels to ensure competent, ethical services.
Of course, behavioral health organizations like these still need to reach the people they’re trying to help. But, if they can’t justify getting a LegitScript certification, what are they supposed to do? Fortunately, there are alternatives to advertising with the big boys. If the LegitScript route is not right for your organizations, here are some suggestions for reaching your target audiences.
You will also want to make sure you are listed with relevant directories. This includes generic sites like Yelp, Facebook, Yahoo, and Bing Places but also more industry-specific sites like SAMSHA, Psychology Today, Rehab.com, and Rehabs.com. Because these sites rank high, they get a lot of SEO traffic, which means more people will see your organization’s contact information.
To promote your blogs, always post about them on your social media sites, with each post directing viewers to the post itself. You may also want to consider submitting them to local publications as commentaries and to other community-based organizations for their newsletters or websites.
Advertising with Google, Bing, and Facebook are powerful ways for behavioral health organizations to reach the people they want to help recover from addiction. But, for those organizations with lean staffs and tight budgets, a certificate from LegitScript just may not be in the cards. Thankfully, there are other paths available. If you’d like to chat about how we might be able to help your organization reach your audiences, email us or give us a call.
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