Healthcare and pharma are regulated industries, causing many marketers to feel hamstrung by legal limitations, but if you focus on user experience, content marketing success is within your reach.
Tracy Rosecrans is Healthline Media's senior vice-president of marketing and product. Using data, UX, and SEO to inform the site's content strategy, Tracy transformed Healthline.com into the fastest-growing health information site in the United States.
Two years ago, the site ranked No. 36 among health information sites; it's now No. 4. By looking past pag views and using newer methods to measure ad impressions, engineering and retrofitting content to achieve better results, and minding SEO, Healthline increased monthly site sessions from 2 million to 56 million.
Tracy's "You've Got This" social ad product differentiated Healthline in the marketplace and enabled pharmaceutical brands to engage in social media and patient conversations in a whole new way.
Here are just a few highlights from our conversation:
Build business success on owned content (02:11): "I started at Healthline about four and a half years ago and we had to completely rebuild the site. Heathline.com has been around since 2006. I'd encourage you to go look at the site pre-2011 and then today, and you'll get a pretty good indication of how much work went into rebuilding the site, from the site IA and technical structure to the content....
"The site used to have over 1,000,000 URLs indexed, and today we have about 20,000. We went from focusing on just pure quantity to 'let's actually focus on quality and provide the best user experience and the best content for every given query.'
"Most of our content...a few years ago was licensed. It was probably 98% licensed content and 2% original. Today it's the opposite: It's 98% original content. We have an editorial staff of close to 50."
Simplify the user experience to score big traffic wins for your site (12:00): "Our overarching philosophy...that has guided our success has been [to] provide the best content...and the best user experience for every query. We take user experience [UX] very seriously, to the point where we have a cross-functional team from product, editorial, marketing, and engineering that meets on a weekly basis and they look at both site-wide at a template level and at the page level, 'What can we test to improve overall user engagement?'
"We've tested everything from the size of images to the size of font to the layout of a particular template. We've seen some major traffic wins from using that approach. One particular template, our article template, constitutes roughly 70% of our total traffic, so we spent a long time about a year and a half ago really focused on 'how can we improve the user experience?'
"We'd created this sort of forced paginated experience, and when we transitioned from that kind of forced experience to 'let's put all the content on the one page and a cleaner layout,' we ended up seeing a 12% increase in average session duration and user engagement. Within a six-week period we saw a 20-30% increase in site-wide traffic."
Forget standard KPIs—choose your own metrics (16:32): "Four years ago when I started, we, like most media companies, focused a lot on PVPV [pageviews per visit] as a way to increase overall ad impressions.... Our philosophy was to provide the best user experience, but we obviously still care deeply about revenue. So we introduced a core metric internally that we called 'KIMPs' or 'key impressions per session,' and so we basically transitioned form 'let's use only PVPV to increase ad impressions and instead let's create really great content that keeps users on the site longer that leads to increased average session duration and let's incorporate an ad refresh every 10 seconds to replace that.... Focusing in KIMPs...ended up leading to both increased traffic and increased revenue."
Tracy and I talked about much more, so be sure to listen to the entire show, which you can do above, or download the mp3 and listen at your convenience. Of course, you can also subscribe to the Marketing Smarts podcast in iTunes or via RSS and never miss an episode!
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Music credit: Noam Weinstein.