Creating a Health and Wellness Hub With a Southern Sensibility
With the help of C/A, Vanderbilt University Medical Center created a digital content hub to connect with current and prospective patients — and to contribute to a healthier South.
As one of the nation’s leading hospitals and research facilities, Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) wanted to connect with current and prospective patients by providing helpful, expert-informed health content. The answer: My Southern Health, a digital content hub reflecting the health needs and sensibilities of people living in the South.
Upon its launch in 2015, My Southern Health quickly became a hub for health content told through a Southern lens in a friendly, conversational tone. Its content — geared toward Southern women, seniors and families — celebrated the region’s focus on family, expansive culture and longstanding traditions. In its first seven years, My Southern Health published more than 1,400 posts — a wealth of content that elevated organic search traffic and provided a trove of material for VUMC’s consumer-focused marketing initiatives.
More recently, to align the site more closely with the Vanderbilt Health and Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt brands, C/A guided My Southern Health through a transformation to create My Vanderbilt Health. Though the name and branding may have changed, the content and strategy remain the same: to support the end-to-end VUMC patient journey, encouraging patients to seek out expert health care and to maintain an ongoing relationship with the Vanderbilt Health system.
Content Marketing Strategy
C/A started by determining the primary goals of the content marketing program:
- To offer patients guidance on everyday health and wellness decisions.
- To position Vanderbilt Health as a leading expert on topics related to its core service lines.
- To inspire patients to take action, driving them to other VUMC-owned sites to research providers, book appointments and entrust Vanderbilt Health with their care.
To that end, C/A devised a content strategy founded on a rich mix of content types — expert Q&As with VUMC physicians, as well as useful infographics, videos, recipe roundups and the like — that feature a Vanderbilt Health POV and are written in a warm, familiar tone. The posts are a mix of evergreen health topics and service line-specific initiatives. All feature clear calls-to-action to entice the patient to make a desired next step. Along with developing the content strategy, C/A also developed a multi-channel distribution plan that included owned, paid and organic channels.
Both content and imagery reflect My Vanderbilt Health’s primary demographics: women, families, seniors and diverse populations living in a region disproportionately affected by diabetes, obesity and heart disease. The overall design identity is approachable and uplifting, in keeping with the atmosphere Vanderbilt Health strives to create for its patient community. And while the site has its own distinct look and feel, it aligns closely to the overarching Vanderbilt Health guidelines, reinforcing the institutional brand.
Current and prospective patients are at the core of the site’s design. A smart navigation, tagging and taxonomy system elevates the user experience and guides users to critical actions. A secondary, drop-down navigation menu helps readers explore more content, while researched tagging and nomenclature makes sure no content is left behind. Hello, bone health; goodbye, orthopedics (or orthopaedics!).
Digital Content Creation
A quarterly editorial calendar guides the creation of all content and is informed by service-line priorities, search trends and content marketing needs, which range from social and email channels to paid search and lead-generation campaigns. The editorial team balances the publication of new content with the rehabilitation of older content, refreshing posts to update information, improve SEO value and freshen up headlines, descriptions and imagery.
With such an immense backlog of content, C/A has more recently focused on repackaging My Vanderbilt Health content into pillar pages, thematic landing pages and downloadable PDFs to support paid search campaigns, email sends, social posts and lead-generation efforts. Posts intended for moms-to-be, for example, have been edited and repackaged into engaging gated content that patients can download as they begin their journey into parenthood. C/A has reformatted oncology posts into guides cancer patients can lean on from diagnosis though their treatment and beyond. Pillar pages round up the best My Vanderbilt Health content on broad topics like women’s heart disease and movement disorders into a one-stop (and SEO-friendly) source for expert information.
C/A supports the My Vanderbilt Health team by creating monthly emails with the assistance of an email builder hosted directly in the CMS, which allows for efficient creation of HTML. Each email is based around a theme —heart-healthy recipes, back-to-school wellness, stress-busting tips, holiday health and wellness — and features My Vanderbilt Health content paired with compelling calls to action. The content intended for these emails is included in the quarterly editorial calendar to ensure that there’s plenty of fresh content to include in the sends.
Helping to ensure that readers find all this great content, C/A manages organic and paid search campaigns to drive traffic to My Vanderbilt Health. The campaigns focus on capturing users searching for health information and driving them directly to relevant My Vanderbilt Health articles. The paid campaigns are updated on an ongoing basis based on seasonality and search behavior, and all new and repackaged articles begin with keyword research to identify what users are searching for. From there the articles are crafted or updated using the focus keywords, and all final content includes optimized on-page elements to meet SEO best practices. In addition to the organic and paid search campaigns that C/A manages, the Vanderbilt team also executes digital campaigns across organic and paid social media.
C/A also designs compelling ads, including programmatic ads targeting physicians through third-party audiences and Google search ads tailored to users seeking more health information from My Vanderbilt Health.
Now, nearly 10 years since its inception, My Vanderbilt Health receives more than 500,000 visits per year from paid and organic channels, with visitors spending an average time-on-site of 1 minute 45 seconds. Paid search campaigns deliver an average CTR of 14.98% – more than 4.5 times the industry average.