Digital Employee Communication Tool Delivers Inspiration, Engagement

Cape Cod Healthcare (CCHC) is the leading provider of healthcare services for residents and visitors of Cape Cod. CCHC has two acute care hospitals, with more than 450 physicians, 5,300 employees, and 1,100 volunteers.

Communication with their care team, staff, and volunteers have always been a top priority. The organization had a print publication, The Pulse, which was mailed to staff, as well as emails that were sent from leadership teams and departments as needed.

Both communication vehicles got the word out but left opportunities for improvement. The print publication was costly to produce and made it difficult to move quickly on timely topics with the production schedule. With department and leadership emails, the marketing team wasn’t always part of the messaging. There was no analytics to track engagement, and content “died on the vine” with no easy way to revisit the information later.

When considering how to deliver internal news and information better, the organization considered their intranet, but it wasn’t the right place. It was more focused on being a document repository and less focused on employee engagement and communication. It was also important to the marketing team that employee content was available outside the network so it was more easily accessible. The team recognized this need even before the pandemic, but it became even more important once COVID-19 hit.

To accommodate their needs, CCHC looked to their digital partner, Geonetric, to create a new platform and leverage the strategy and design behind the health system’s popular Cape Cod Health News content hub for a new, more robust, digital version of The Pulse.

Building on a sophisticated foundation

It was essential to the CCHC marketing team to establish a robust content strategy which centered on aligning digital content on The Pulse to key organizational priorities. That meant they needed to use the platform as an amplifier of key messaging. The CCHC team defined strategic objectives for The Pulse which were translated into content categories aimed to build a patient-centered, healthy, diverse and inclusive culture. The CCHC team partnered with Geonetric team to implement a sophisticated framework and taxonomy to organize and prioritize content to support an employee-centered content journey.

The Pulse site was built on the VitalSite content management system and leverages a similar design and build as CCHC’s public-facing news hub on their main website. The Pulse showcases a featured story, the ability to subscribe to the newsletters, submit a story idea, and search by themes, topics, or a general search.

Launching during a pandemic

When The Pulse launched and CCHC sent the first all-health system newsletter was in June of 2020, Massachusetts has just passed its first COVID-19 peak. The initial edition shared a timeline of pandemic on the Cape, photos of employees and the community, and an inspirational message from their CEO about adjusting to the organization’s new normal.

screenshot of the pulse article depicting cape cod's healthcare heroes
The Pulse article showcasing images of Cape Cod’s Healthcare Heroes.

Over the months, the CCHC team has created many different types of content for The Pulse, including slideshows, videos, and articles, and see how it performs. One of the most popular content types is their ‘10 Questions with…’ feature. Created to help meet the goal of focusing on employees at all levels of the organization, not just physicians, this interview-style article asks different team members to answer ten questions about themselves, their work history, and their favorite pastimes.

screenshot of pulse interview with Patty Vigneau
The Pulse article showcasing 10 questions with Patty Vigneau.

The Pulse has also been instrumental in CCHC’s launch of EPIC as part of the organization’s large scale transformation vision. Although the EPIC launch has its own microsite, The Pulse has been a critical channel to push messaging and training to teams.

Engaging teams on and off-campus

Since its launch in June of 2020, engagement with The Pulse continues to grow. The newsletter emails have seen open rates as high as 50%, with an average of 43% across five-months. There has also been a 23% unique click rate and 17,315 total page views. Every month, the site continues to see improvement in sessions, page views, and pages per session. Having the site live outside the organization’s intranet has also likely continued to those numbers, as employees can access the content off-campus.

Focused Optimization Efforts Protect and Enhance Rankings Post-launch

Cape Cod Healthcare (CCHC) in Hyannis, MA, understands that SEO is never done. The two-hospital health system worked with their agency Geonetric to launch a new, award-winning site in January of 2019. They took a strategic approach with their redesign, making decisions based on user research and usability testing. And those investments paid off with impressive year-over-year results in just the first 30 days after launch.

Recognizing that optimization requires consistent oversight and investment, CCHC partnered with Geonetric on a post-launch SEO retainer to ensure those initial numbers kept moving in a positive direction.

Support On Launch Day and Beyond

Site launches are busy days for Geonetric’s digital marketing team as they work through a launch list that includes resubmitting site maps to search engines and checking that robots.txt are functioning properly. When a site goes live, impressive investments have been made throughout implementation and launch to ensure the site immediately starts delivering results. But optimization isn’t a one-and-done project.

CCHC made a lot of changes with their new site, from integrating a content marketing hub to restructuring locations, and those changes required monitoring to ensure the users were engaging with the changes as expected. With CCHC’s 90-day post-launch SEO retainer, Geonetric’s digital marketing team was able to continuously monitor rankings and make immediate, continuous improvements, ensuring initial positive results continue to improve.

Focus on Delivering the Most SEO Value

After launch, the digital marketing team ran a site crawl and used the findings to create a roadmap for the next three months of focused SEO work. The team prioritized findings based on what would deliver the most value to CCHC in terms of both overall optimization and what tied to strategic goals, such as connecting site visitors with services and locations.

Some of the work was additional clean-up that needs to happen after a major site redesign, such as setting up appropriate redirects and ensuring there was no duplicate content. One area where the team was able to really make an impact was optimizing the site’s metadata — particularly using keyword research to write thoughtful meta descriptions and page titles.

Some examples of news descriptions included:

Urgent Care:
“Get the right type of treatment for your illness or injury. Learn whether urgent care or the emergency room may be the best choice for you.”

Heart Care:
“If you have a heart condition, turn to the expert interventional cardiologists at Cape Cod Healthcare in Hyannis and Falmouth, MA.”

The Geonetric team met with CCHC each month of the retainer, reporting performance on key site metrics and discussing goals and tactics for the next 30 days.

Build on Results

Since the retainer included monthly check-ins, the CCHC team was able to see how investments compounded month after month. At site launch, organic traffic from search engines was at an all-time high, with a little over 60,000 sessions. Each month of the retainer, organic sessions continued to improve over the previous month. At 30 days it was a 24% year-over-year increase, at 60 days it was at 25%, and they ended with a total 29% year-over-year increase over the three months.

Bounce rates have decreased since go-live as well, indicating users are continuing to find relevant content on the site and stay engaged. Desktop bounce rate decreased by 7% and mobile bounce rate by 14%.

The site continues to see success in keyword rankings as well. Since launch, there has been a 76% increase in the number of pages ranking in organic search, and a 52% increase in organic keywords the site ranks for, including phrases such as “primary care physicians cape cod” and “having a baby after breast cancer.”

Investing in Strategy Ensures Redesign Delivers Value to Consumers and Health System

It had been three years since Cape Cod Health Care (CCHC), based in Hyannis, MA, redesigned their website. But their team had been planning months before the redesign officially started. From cross-team meetings to a marketing off-site to outline goals, the CCHC team knew what they wanted going into the process: to increase traffic and pages per session, improve engagement with their popular Cape Cod Health News hub, and focus on the consumer at every turn. With clear goals in place, CCHC’s long-time agency Geonetric got to work designing and building the site. But the strategic approach was just beginning.

Taking a Strategic Approach

Together, Geonetric and the CCHC team embarked on in-depth pre-launch strategy. The team invested in user-behavior data analysis, heatmapping, and scrollmapping, as well as performed usability testing on key elements of the new site, including tree testing the information architecture and first-click testing the new design. All this happened in conjunction with comprehensive content, location, and search engine optimization (SEO) strategy led by Geonetric’s experts to create a guide for the upcoming redesign.

Iterating on a Popular Content Marketing Hub

One of CCHC’s strategic investments is their popular Cape Cod Health News. The content marketing hub launched in April of 2015 and has been an integral part of how CCHC connects with and engages their community as a health partner. To better leverage this popular content, CCHC wanted to move it from a separate WordPress site into their main system-wide site. Bringing the hub into their VitalSite content management system (CMS) would facilitate better connections between content marketing articles and service, provider, and location content. Integration would also enhance SEO of both content marketing and foundational service-line content.

To make the move, Geonetric worked with CCHC on a sophisticated content strategy, thoughtfully looking at how to structure the content, pages, and taxonomy. The Geonetric team also took inventory of what was moving from WordPress to VitalSite, identifying new opportunities to seamlessly connect Health News audiences with the topics and services they’re interested in.

The result is a new content marketing hub that builds on the strong foundation CCHC had created but offers more integration with their site and an improved user experience. New custom panels also allow the team to display hub stories with related service-line content, as seen on the heart and vascular care page.

Indicating Great Things to Come

The site launched in early January 2019, boasting many new features and functionality in addition to the content hub, including robust location profiles and geographic targeting personalization, providing an enhanced, unique experience for site visitors who share their ZIP code.

In just the first 30 days since launch, the strategic approach is paying off. Year-over-year, users are up 31 percent, new users are up 35 percent, sessions are up 40 percent, and bounce rate is down 7 percent. For the Cape Cod Health News hub, its new home in VitalSite is working out well. The team is enjoying the stability and flexibility that the CMS provides, and users are engaging, with almost 10,000 pages visited and 25 site visitors contacting the health system through its hub in the first 30 days. Search rankings are also moving in a positive direction. Since go-live, there have been 332 new keyword rankings on search engine results pages (SERPs) and 30 new keywords in the top 10 of the SERP, plus a 7 percent increase in organic position and a 9 percent increase in organic clicks.

The first month after go-live can be rocky for a new site as it works to get indexed and regain rankings. Taking the time to invest in strategy before and during the redesign protects those rankings, delivers immediate value, and sets the site up for continued success.

Using Content to Compete

With a saturated healthcare market like Boston in your backyard, it’s important to educate health consumers on the level of care available close to home. Enlisting Geonetric’s expert writing team, Cape Cod Healthcare (CCHC) transformed its reputation from a quaint, community hospital to a major player that can compete with Boston-area health systems and academic medical centers.

Compelling Content

After in-depth research that included stakeholder interviews, Geonetric’s writers developed new content that better communicates the benefits of the health system’s expert doctors and excellent services. In addition, the agency produced new content for 46 service lines, including in-depth content for six key service lines CCHC targeted for increased market share.

Publication of a new, robust heart and vascular section aligned with the launch of CCHC’s Heart and Vascular Institute. All content improves SEO by focusing on users and the benefits they receive from CCHC. Site visitors now understand they can stay close to home while benefiting from CCHC’s medical expertise, superior care, comprehensive services, and clinical partnerships with renowned Boston health care facilities.

Promoting Blood Donations

In addition to winning back market share, CCHC has another, secondary goal for the new site: promoting blood donations.  Through a dedicated page on the website, Cape Cod residents are encouraged to donate blood that will stay on the Cape to help their friends and neighbors. This gives CCHC a unique opportunity to use blood donation as a brand builder, creating a positive experience for donors with the hospital. As an added bonus, these efforts have reduced the amount of blood CCHC has to buy back, saving the organization thousands.