Imagine growing your blog from the ground up to over three million visits a month in just a couple of years. Imagine growing your content marketing team from zero to 20 full-time employees.

Sounds like a dream, right? This dynamic growth is reality at Cleveland Clinic, one of the world’s leading healthcare systems.

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Launched in April 2012, the Health Hub blog was originally intended to be a mechanism for repurposing existing offline content and to earn the health system additional search traffic. The blog is the starting point of an epic journey in content marketing at Cleveland Clinic.

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Today, renamed Health Essentials, the blog reaches nearly four million users each month, generates revenue (via advertising and syndication) for our organization and has measurably increased Cleveland Clinic’s national brand awareness.

Here are the five keys to our content marketing success:

  1. Define success. You can only be successful if you know what success looks like. Establish goals and objectives that can be measured with tools readily available to you. The primary goal of Health Essentials is growing national brand awareness for Cleveland Clinic, and there are specific questions included in quarterly surveys about the sources of brand awareness that we use to measure this KPI.
  2. Document and adhere to a content strategy. Health Essentials is a consumer-facing blog dedicated to publishing content that engages users in daily conversation using health, wellness and clinical content that is unique to Cleveland Clinic. Every word in that statement is important and drives our entire process. By adhering to this strategy, syndication partnerships have emerged with media partners and brands, content is included in the Google News Network, and we have been able to connect with and reach people far outside of our core audiences.
  3. Mine and mind data. Data drives everything. Test. Measure. Test something else. We use Google Analytics, Chartbeat, Atomic Reach, social media insights, and email data every day to measure and constantly optimize everything we do. We are able to execute a very sophisticated distribution strategy. Every social media channel has its own publishing schedule based on data specific to those audiences.
  4. Communicate and collaborate. Great content cannot be created in a bubble. Including stakeholders from across our enterprise has elevated our content quality and given us an infinite supply of content ideas. We meet monthly with every clinical marketing team to brainstorm new ideas, review data, and collaborate on content development. Every piece of content we publish is written and/or reviewed by a medical expert. They are an essential part of our process, and we consistently share data with them as well.health
  5. Be aggressive. Set goals and develop action plans to achieve them. Leadership did not tell our team to reach one million visits in October 2013, or three million visits in 2014 or four million visits this month. We set those goals based on data, and we plan our publishing schedules, watch the data, adjust, tweak, experiment, and aggressively pursue those goals.

Creating great content that serves the needs of your customers is the bottom line to successful content marketing.

Useful. Helpful. Relevant. Those three words drive the Cleveland Clinic content marketing team every day. We strive to provide content that is actionable to people all over the country – whether they are patients or not. We want to empower them to make healthier decisions for themselves and families.

To drive this effort, Cleveland Clinic combined the offline creative and digital engagement/social media team into one new content marketing team, and together, we are a powerhouse of incredible scope and scale.

We continue to raise the bar, but it is important to remember we started from zero in 2012. We started small and stuck to a smart strategy. That is the secret to our success, a consistent effort over time.

The Author

Amanda Todorovich (@amandatodo) is the Director of Content Marketing at Cleveland Clinic. She manages a team of writers, designers, digital engagement strategists, and project managers to serve enterprise content needs both on- and off-line. Her team is responsible for the #1 most-visited hospital blog in the country, health.clevelandclinic.org. Amanda joined Cleveland Clinic in February 2013, after serving for four years as Chief Content Officer and Co-Founder of MedCity Media, one of the fastest growing online publishers in the healthcare and life sciences industry. With more than 15 years of storytelling experience, Amanda is passionate about finding innovative ways to leverage every piece of content her team produces.

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1 Comment on "Secrets to Growing a Successful Consumer Health Blog from the Cleveland Clinic"


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1 year 9 months ago

Thanks for sharing this inspiring journey with us. Start small and use a smart strategy might be my new mantra…

 
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