The online counselling industry has been growing at a fast pace, especially in the last few years. Be it career counselling, mental health counselling, legal, business, or astrology consultation, there has been a massive shift in consumer behaviour and people are preferring digital channels over traditional methods.
Especially, millennials are more open to the idea of taking help from experts through online modes, contributing to the “digital revolution”. Online counselling platforms can prove to be an instrument to cater to the needs of people, who need guidance from someone knowledgeable and trained in the industry.
And when the demand is this huge in the counseling business, it is apparent that the counselors will try to cater to the demand. Hence, counselors are going online to best meet the consumer’s shifting demands. Being an entrepreneur you can use this opportunity to provide an eCommerce platform dedicated to counseling services, where counselors and people who seek counseling can be connected.
If you have made up your mind to start your own virtual counseling marketplace, we have got you covered in this article. Here is everything you need to know before building your own virtual counseling business.
Select your Niche
Once you have decided to enter this industry, the first thing would be to select your niche. Defining your niche will help you in narrowing down your target market and allows you to easily reach out to users you want on your platform. Think about whose pain points you want to cater to, and get specific about your niche.
Do you want to help students with their careers? Do you want to help people who want legal consultation? Or you want to help startup owners by providing strategic planning. Once you are clear about your niche, you can think about developing a marketplace.
Build Your Platform
After you have selected your niche, the next step would be to build the platform, and there are a couple of ways to do that.
You can get your virtual counseling website custom developed by an in-house or outsourced team of developers. It gives you all control over it, you can decide its features and how it should look. It can easily cater to the needs of your growing business and is highly scalable. It is also highly compatible with future integrations you want on your website.
The only con we can see of this development method is that it is a little costly and time taking process, as we are building a platform from scratch.
Saas (software as a service) is a development method in which a third-party provider hosts your platform on their company’s server, and offers subscription-based services. This could be a great solution for those entrepreneurs who don’t have the technical knowledge and want a quick solution.
The main disadvantage of this solution is that the vendor manages everything, making you dependent upon the vendor’s capabilities resulting in loss of control. Also, it offers low flexibility in functionality and user interface making it the least customizable solution.
A white-label solution is a product that you can rebrand as your own. It is a ready-made solution that is cost-effective and time-saving as compared to a custom-developed solution but offers the same technical features. This solution offers lifetime ownership and no recurring fees are charged. This solution helps you save time and money if you are starting your business from scratch.
It is also integrated with all popular video conferencing and payment APIs. Yo!Coach is one such popular online consultancy software, offering numerous features which can cater to the needs of a virtual counseling business. It is a ready-made white-label solution that helps entrepreneurs and counselors build an online counselling platforms.
This software is fully customizable and highly scalable to meet the needs of any counseling business. For seamless collaboration between consultants and clients, this solution is pre-integrated with all popular video conferencing APIs like Zoom, Lessonspace, and AtomChat which enables software to support interactive features like a virtual whiteboard, TextPad, screen sharing, screen recording, language translation in real time to enhance the online consultation experience.
Yo!Coach is also integrated with secured payment gateways like PayPal, Authorize.Net, Stripe, etc. for a smooth payment process.
Yo!Coach is GDPR compliant which comes with lifetime validity and no recurring charges. The software is 100% white-label and offer lifetime ownership with one-time fee payment
Ensure Data Security and Transparency
Clients are more concerned about their privacy and expect transparency these days. If your platform is General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPPA) compliant, then that would be an added advantage.
Define your Pricing Structure
After the above-mentioned factors, it is time to address the most important aspect of your business, which is to decide on a perfect price plan for your services. It could be a challenge to decide on the right fee for your platform, but you can decide based on certain criteria.
Like you can decide to price your services according to the sessions that will be conducted on your platform, based on hourly rates as per industry standards. Additionally, you can take monthly or yearly subscription fees, depending on the personalized assessment of your clients.
After you’ve estimated the price structure and any additional costs, you need to translate that into a pricing model. Make a clear pricing model and convey it to your clients effectively.
Market your Business
Now that you have decided on your business niche and price structure, the next step would be to make an extra effort to help grow your business. For that, you need to adapt some marketing methods like blogging, podcasting, social media marketing, print or digital media, etc. You need to rigorously use various marketing platforms to advertise your business.
You can even start an email campaign, where you can send emails to your users making them aware of your services and can inform them about your platform. Referrals can also help you spread information about your platform through word of mouth.
In this digital world, providing satisfactory customer service is a prerequisite for the success of any eCommerce marketplace. You need to stay connected with your clients 24 hours a day, and 7 days a week. In other words, it ensures that a customer is able to get their issue resolved no matter what day or time it is. Hence, scaling up your team to provide assistance around the clock is very important.
Also, when you have a global customer base, it is important to consider the difference in time zones. When you don’t account for this, your customers might end up getting delayed resolutions. Stay connected with your clients through email, chatbots, and community forums.
It’ll help you retain customers and grow their lifetime value while also acquiring new customers, which is crucial in any industry.
We can see a gradual shift of people from traditional methods of counseling to digital methods and we can anticipate that this industry will grow by leaps and bounds in the future. So this would be the right time for traditional counselors to shift to online platforms and for budding entrepreneurs to start their businesses in this industry.