Cleveland Clinic is one of the top four hospitals in the United States (U.S. News & World Report, 2015), and has the #1 most-visited hospital blog in the United States.
Amanda Todorovich is their content marketing director, and I’ve had the pleasure to connect with her several times on the weekly #CMWorld Twitter chats, as well as in person at Content Marketing World conference in September 2015.
I was thrilled when she agreed to share her insights with us here.
Why create original health and wellness content?
In your 2015 presentation at Content Marketing World, you defined the Cleveland Clinic content strategy as “to engage users in daily conversation using health, wellness and clinical content that is unique to Cleveland Clinic.”
There is so much health information online today. Why do you think it is important to add to that stream with your own unique content?
There is a lot of health information online. There is also a lot of MISinformation online. It’s valuable to utilize the vast breadth and depth of expertise of Cleveland Clinic physicians and other experts to help provide actionable, accurate information that helps people make decisions every day.
Cleveland Clinic offers a unique model of medicine, and we want to help people take care of themselves and their families. Our content strategy supports that mission. We want to be useful, helpful and relevant to people all over the world – whether they will ever be a Cleveland Clinic patient or not.
Our content is conversational, approachable and helpful. It is NOT about what’s going on at Cleveland Clinic that day. It’s about the reader and helping them stay healthy, live with the conditions they do have, and giving content to them on the right channels at the right moment – just when they need it most.
Choosing which health topics to write about
You describe the purpose of your blog’s content as helping your visitors stay healthy, rather than just get them into your clinic. “We don’t get paychecks from [healing] colds,” you noted in your presentation, but since that’s the kind of content that really matters to your users, that’s the kind you produce.
How do you go about discovering which health questions are most important to your audience?
So many ways… we:
- Ask our caregivers what questions patients are asking them
- Mine our data to see what topics are really resonating
- Monitor social trends
- Monitor other health media sites
- Ask our audiences directly for feedback
- Utilize search information (what topics people are looking for most on our own site and also on Google, etc.)
Ideas for posts on Health Essentials come from all over our enterprise, and we collaborate with many different teams to understand what matters to their areas. We couldn’t produce this content without the help of our entire marketing division, and most importantly, without the collaboration of our physicians and medical experts.
Every piece of content we produce is reviewed and approved by a medical expert, and we publish 3-5 stories a day on Health Essentials. We have no shortage of ideas, and we have an abundance of enterprise-wide participation and support.
Mining the data for email newsletter success
You don’t just wait for people to discover or return to your blog; you invite blog readers to keep in touch with your Health Essentials E-News, available from the main blog page. You shared that your open rate is an enviable 40% and your click-through rate is 65%!
How do you account for the newsletter’s success, and what are your tips for other health clinics and wellness practitioners?
DATA. DATA. DATA. Every issue is an opportunity for optimization and improvement. We constantly test subject lines, different images, different headlines for each story. We have evolved our design based on data. We have chosen the content of the newsletter based on data.
Make your emails an enjoyable experience for your readers. Give them content that’s useful and actionable. Be strategic with the days and times you send. Test something. Test it again. Experiment every time. There is ALWAYS room for improvement.
Ignore all the “general rules” of email and consider what makes sense to your audience. Busy moms do NOT have time to read your email at 7:30am on a Tuesday. They are getting their kids off to school. Perhaps a late night send might do better. Test it. Try it. Experiment and find what works for your specific audience.
And put resources behind growing your list. Promote the newsletter. Consider win-back campaigns if your engagement has dropped off. Invite people to subscribe; never force/auto-add people to lists.
Your newsletter is a gift
Think about every email as a gift or package being delivered in their inbox. What does the wrapping look like? Will they want to open it? If they do, will they be excited and grateful or want to return it?
I hope you’ve been as inspired as I have by this glimpse into the leading hospital blog in the United States. How will it shape your efforts to keep your own blog readers healthy?