“Geonetric brings an expert perspective to every project they work on with Avera. For Avera Balance, their deep knowledge of SEO best practices, combined with their content strategy and design expertise, was instrumental to this project’s success. Geonetric really understands our health system and works to find the best solutions for our unique digital marketing needs. It’s a true partnership.”
Alicia Schumacher, Director of Digital Media
Avera Health, based in Sioux Falls, SD, knows that effective content marketing builds trust and attracts new patients. The organization has been investing in content marketing efforts for years, starting with their popular WordPress blog, Avera Story Center. Although the blog was popular, the content was location-focused and didn’t reflect the fact Avera had moved to a system-centric marketing approach.
In addition to the rebrand, the Avera team wanted to be more thoughtful in the way they used content marketing to engage with women in the community, and they knew there was an opportunity to build more efficiency into their efforts by repurposing content across channels.
The organization created a content marketing initiative called Avera Balance, with the goal of engaging women in meaningful ways with valuable health information. The initiative has three main components including a print magazine that is distributed once a year, ongoing email marketing, and an online content marketing hub that replaces Avera Story Center. Avera turned to Geonetric’s content strategy and design experts to bring the online Avera Balance hub to life.
Building a Content Machine
During the redesign of the main health system site in 2016, the Avera team worked diligently to reduce the number of pages and streamline the user experience. The team knew if they were going to increase page count on the site with blog-style content that it should be done strategically. They needed to create actionable content that users really wanted, written in a compelling and shareable way.
Geonetric’s content strategy team trained the Avera writing team on how to write for content marketing, keeping the user in mind and connecting the content back to a service line or a product they deliver, such as a support group or health evaluation. We also discussed how to repurpose content effectively, including how to take a media release and revamp it for other platforms and audiences. The training also covered how the tone and voice of content marketing differ from other types of marketing writing.
As part of launching the Avera Balance initiative, Avera also developed a new editorial calendar. The marketing team needed a resource to help them see what content could be repurposed, and where they had content gaps. Their new content calendar is a valuable resource that allows them to track all content in one place – including Balance stories, media stories, social media, and videos they produce with their local news channel.
With Avera Story Center, the writing team was posting 3-4 stories a month. With Avera Balance, the same team is posting new or repurposed content almost every day.
An Integrated Content Marketing Strategy
When the Avera team began to consider how to develop their new content marketing hub, they had more than one option. They could rebuild the hub on a separate platform like WordPress, but this would send traffic to a separate site. Or, they could build the blog in their current CMS, VitalSite.
Avera chose the second option because it prioritized the connection between service line marketing and content marketing. With content now organized around service lines and topics, the new Balance hub offers an improved user experience, while social and promoted traffic stays on the main Avera site. This option also has the potential for SEO benefits, as search engines send traffic to a single site that has quality content, which in turn, continues to strengthen the avera.org domain authority.
Powerful Functionality, Engaging Design
The new Avera Balance hub allows site visitors to easily search by keyword or filter content by topic or service, thanks to VitalSite’s sophisticated taxonomy system. Geonetric’s content strategy team guided Avera on how to appropriately tag all content –by service and topic, author, and format – such as text, audio, or image – to make the filtering possible.
The content strategy team also identified multiple cross-promotion opportunities, helping to integrate the content marketing content and website content more effectively. In fact, provider profiles automatically pull in Avera Balance stories based on the author taxonomy.
The design complements the Avera Balance print magazine and offers a Pinterest-inspired look with engaging photos, captivating headlines, and social sharing features that encourage users to share stories organically through Facebook, Pinterest, and LinkedIn.
An eye-catching call to action—placed front and center on both the Avera Balance home page and on individual posts—encourages site visitors to subscribe to the wellness enewsletter.
The health system unveiled Avera Balance to the community on Mother’s Day 2017, with both the Avera Balance magazine and the online marketing hub available for audiences to enjoy. In the 30 days after launch, the hub had 25,315 page views and 261 enewsletter sign ups. Digital marketing and social posts were able to drive more people than ever to the site, which helped to send engaged consumer to the hub.
In addition, the content has caught the eye of more than just community members. In the summer of 2017, NBC called to do a feature based on one of the Balance articles. The news outlet spent two days shooting the story last July, and the feature ran under the title “Finding the Right Medication: Gene Test May Help Treat Depression.” Almost a year later, Avera still receives several calls a week from people who want to travel to South Dakota to receive genetic testing.
Content Marketing Hub Connects with Community