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4 Top Marketing Strategies to Help Chicago ABA Services Connect With Parents

September 14th, 2023 | 4 min. read

By Michele Potts

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An ABA therapist helps a young girl with autism

Autism therapists in Chicagoland provide vital services for children on the spectrum. In particular, Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) has become essential. So has helping parents understand what it is.

After all, as many as 1 in 36 kids are now affected by autism. That’s more than 76,000 kids in Illinois alone, according to the latest Census numbers. There’s a lot of demand for help — and more ABA clinics to meet that need, which makes standing out more challenging.

It can feel stressful, and we get it. Since ABA gained traction in the early 2000s, Zoe Marketing & Communications has helped these clinics through our sister company, Chicago Parent. We link ABA therapists in the Chicago area to families that need their services most.

And, in the past 20+ years, we’ve identified some of parents’ core concerns and the four marketing tactics that best address them:

  1. Content marketing
  2. Search engine marketing or SEM
  3. Targeted email marketing
  4. Native programmatic ads

These strategies will empower you to address your audience’s core needs — and meet them exactly where they are.


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Show you understand Chicago parents’ autism concerns

At the heart of every ABA specialist is a genuine desire to assist kids with autism. Yet the real test lies in directly communicating how it all works — and making Illinois’ insurance procedures straightforward for parents. Concerns our ABA clients consistently hear include:

  • What is ABA and how does it work?
  • What is ABA going to do for my child?
  • How much is it going to cost — and will my insurance cover it?

Address these pain points in your marketing campaigns, and you’ll soon be seen as a source of help and hope for Chicago families. In other words: Answer their questions.

4 strategies that work best for ABA service providers in Chicago

To reach parents and caregivers, combining four autism marketing approaches brings top results. These include content, SEM, targeted emails and native ads.

Content Marketing for ABA Autism1. Content marketing distinguishes you in the Illinois market

It all starts with content. When worried parents search for answers, your helpful blogs should appear to clearly and calmly explain in down-to-earth language.

This builds trust with your future clients and sets you apart as an expert. And it doesn’t stop with written content. Videos showing your staff and services can also put minds at ease.

Think about your content through several lenses.

  • Assess the content landscape. What are your competitors in Chicago doing? Where are the gaps?
  • Avoid self-promoting. Whatever the content, make sure it’s focused on the reader. Don’t mention yourself more than 20% of the time.
  • Write regular blogs. Demystify topics like insurance and the nuances of ABA.
  • Create clear, concise landing pages. Answer common questions and explain how things work, especially on service pages.
  • Feature videos on key pages. Personalize your therapists. With caregivers’ consent, consider filming children during sessions to show the therapy in action.
  • Explore partnerships. Sponsored content with a trusted platform like Chicago Parent is one local option.

Be mindful to not gather testimonials from any current clients, though, to stay in compliance with behavior analyst ethics.

Well-curated content attracts more visitors, which, in turn, boosts your Google rankings. And that ties into the next strategy.

Art-SEM for Autism ABA Chicago2. Search engine marketing boosts your visibility to Chicago parents

So how are parents finding your content? Most likely by Googling. An autism diagnosis can feel overwhelming, and they’re hungry for information. That’s why it’s imperative to ensure they see you while searching. And that’s where search engine marketing, or SEM, comes in.

You’re paying for a chance to appear as a featured ad in Google search results. It’s all tied to search phrases, so it’s essential to do keyword research to find out what your ideal clients are searching for. Google Analytics can get you started.

SEM can help drive more visibility and clicks — but, it’s worth noting that it’s even more effective when you appear as an ad and in the organic search results. That’s why your content matters, too.

Email Marketing for ABA Autism3. Emails directly answer caregivers’ concerns, right in their inboxes

Next, share that valuable content — and your in-house resources — through targeted email marketing. With this strategy, you can reach Chicagoland parents who are possibly interested in your ABA services.

Privacy laws prevent targeting people based on autism, and that’s a good thing. It protects families’ sensitive medical records. But you can still reach some of these families through email.

The key is creating campaigns that hone in on specific demographics, such as families with children under age 8. Then, you can retarget people who open your emails. This means sending a few additional emails to this more engaged group.

Impactful email types include:

  • Event focus. Highlight a valuable event you’re hosting, like a free webinar or open house. These emails typically include a lead image and 50-200 words of copy, complete with a clear “call to action” button. 
  • Content focus. Include an entire blog in an email. Choose one that answers a tough question or highlights a success story. And offer a button to click to your website to learn more about you.

Keep in mind: These emails should lead with empathy and education. You’re reaching out to people “cold” in their inboxes. The idea is to be helpful without making a hard sell.

Art-Programmatic for Autism ABA Chicago4. Native ads boost your reach on Chicago Parent and other sites

Finally, once you have compelling blogs or sponsored articles, consider promoting them with native advertising. These ads blend in smoothly with content on other websites. You might see them as “related content” in a relevant article. Or they show up in a blog feed.

What sites do they show up on, exactly? There are two common options: 

  • Another website that your target audience reads. This audience is pinpointed with a process called programmatic. In these cases, the ads often promote a blog from your website.
  • An aligned media partner’s website, such as Chicago Parent. Here, the ads typically promote your sponsored content that lives on their website.

These ads offer readers valuable reading based on related content they already like. And it helps build your brand and visibility.

Next steps for effective ABA marketing in Chicagoland

Autism therapy can be transformative for children. But for providers, success hinges on more than being present in the Chicago market. 

With a combination of content, SEM, targeted emails and native ads, you can reach the right parents with the right message. And you can ultimately bring them to your clinic. 

If you want to make inroads in the Chicago region, we're here to help. Talk to Zoe Marketing & Communications about how our sister company, Chicago Parent, can bring your message to a wider audience.

And be sure to keep refining your approach. Discover more about:


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Michele Potts

Michele Potts is sales director for Zoe Marketing & Communications. Constantly evolving during her 20+ years in the field, she values building trust and helping clients in various industries understand the basics of complex digital marketing.