15 min read
Healthcare digital marketing transformation
This past year, Ntara launched a 2500 + page website for our client, Vidant Health. After hundreds of hours of stakeholder interviews, thousands of data points for every location and healthcare provider, and almost three years later, we’re proud of the digital ecosystem we’ve created for our friends in eastern North Carolina.
Marketing & Partner Manager
The VidantHealth.com flagship site is the final major piece of the first phase of digital transformation. We have completed scores of other projects and launched a dozen other websites with the Vidant team prior to completing the main .com. The truth is, transformation takes a significant time commitment by both a digital agency and a client in any industry.
However, this project goes beyond the time it took to complete it.
Vidant had already clearly articulated their organization’s overarching goal: become a national model for rural healthcare. This was an incredibly ambitious goal that our team knew we could support.
Ntara strives to incorporate a very human element into everything we touch, build, and do. To accomplish this, we work with the very people who create the foundation of our client’s organizations—leaders in marketing, sales, IT, human resources, and operations. Ntara partnered with Vidant to fully understand their business goals and objectives and formulate a plan to achieve them.
Our team knew that to ultimately help Vidant pursue this goal, we needed to provide an avenue that touches people’s lives through digital. Vidant needed an entire digital ecosystem that could reach every healthcare consumer in eastern North Carolina. And we decided to do just that.
This blog post is one of the many case studies that features Ntara’s digital expertise. After reading this post, you’ll understand WHAT we built, WHY Vidant Health created this ecosystem, and HOW it aligns with Ntara’s values by helping the communities Vidant serves.
But first, the results
VidantHealth.com did very well in the first month after go-live, and continues to perform.
In July 2017, mobile traffic exceeded desktop traffic for the first time in Vidant’s history, with an increase of almost 19% total. Overall, there was also a 5% MOM (month over month: June vs. July) traffic gain and a 15% YOY (year over year: July 2016 vs. July 2017) traffic increase.
These metrics were achieved without any promotions, digital media spend, or centralized email campaigns. The site was a quiet, soft launch. While there are many possible factors that contributed to this increase in mobile and overall traffic, our team attributes much of the success to the hyper focus on mobile users and strategic SEO strategy. Ntara worked with Vidant to develop specific content and design choices around the mobile experience…but more on that later.
Within the first month of go-live, we saw the following MOM:
- Website visits increased 13.42%
- Unique users increased 19.16%
- Page views increased 28.21%
- Pages per session increased 13.04%
- Average session duration increased 6.96%
- Total time onsite increased 26.5%
We’ve also been able to track the site’s success over time. Comparing January – July, year-over-year, the site achieved:
- 3.5% increase in pages per session
- 12.2% increase in average session duration
- 9.5% increase in total time onsite
- 13.4% improved bounce rate
- 2.3% increase in number of sessions per user
- 12.8% improvement in mobile bounce rate
- An increase in percentage of mobile traffic as a total at 50%–the highest it’s been in site history.
The data is important to both us and our client. But remember—we will explain WHY these things happened. So, let’s back up a bit.
When Ntara originally set out to help Vidant in 2014, we knew the journey would be a long one.
During the partnership, the Vidant team completely redefined its mission and vision as an organization. Vidant Health’s overall mission is to improve the health and well-being of eastern North Carolina. And, as an organization that has set its sights on becoming the national model for rural health and wellness by creating a trusted health care delivery and education system, it needed to provide an up-to-date, easy-to-use digital resource for its patients.
Vidant had 14 disparate web resources with duplicate—and sometimes conflicting—information. The web content was hard to manage, and the digital team had a hard time updating information in a timely manner because it appeared in multiple locations.
The Vidant team had also not clearly identified its target audiences. The information on Vidant’s old web properties was more internally focused, as the team had no data on what an external user was looking for when visiting VidantHealth.com. For this reason, most of the available content was not valuable to patients and other users.
The lack of responsive design also posed a serious problem for Vidant—many of its service areas in rural communities did not, and still do not, have broadband internet access. This meant that the only way patients could access information about Vidant was through a mobile device.
Vidant recognized its immediate need for digital transformation, but they needed specific help from experts to accomplish it. And this is true about many of the healthcare organization with which we work. There are dozens of software platforms, conflicting priorities, complicated technical requirements, and sometimes a lack of resources that make it seem impossible. Add these factors to the dizzying changes that impact the way health systems prioritize initiatives due to the constant regulatory shuffling in Washington, and you’ve got a very complicated environment.
That’s where we fit in. We partner with organizations—healthcare systems, manufacturers, and technology companies—to navigate the complex journey of digital transformation. Our consultative approach helps our clients identify the right-sized path for success. And that’s exactly what we did for Vidant.
Through our proprietary roadmapping study and customer segmentation process, Ntara partnered Vidant to identify the business requirements of its new website, the persona groups who access the site most frequently, and a digital roadmap for future growth and optimization.
We met with more than 80 stakeholders at Vidant to understand the ins and outs of the organization and how that information impacts each individual patient. This exercise was not just about redesigning a website for a better look and feel. Interviewing the Vidant team provided Ntara with the ability to more effectively communicate to Vidant’s constituents in 29 counties across eastern North Carolina.
Our team talked to employees and non-employees alike. We asked a series of questions that centered around brand awareness of Vidant Health and the reputation of healthcare in the region. In the beginning, Ntara focused on Vidant’s internal team, their needs, and how they operated. After understanding the organizational structure, our team worked with Vidant to identify business goals and align those goals with solutions that would provide the best return to the company and the community.
ROI in healthcare can be challenging. But once our team examined the data and understood common threads between certain business groups, we identified specific projects (with a plan on how to get there) that would be beneficial to the organization. Ntara built a 36-month roadmap to identify what needed to be done first, what could be accelerated or decelerated based on changing business needs, and how quickly they could accomplish these challenges in working with our team.
How we addressed the problem
Prior to conducting stakeholder interviews, Vidant’s new CEO integrated a core set of values for the entire team across eastern North Carolina: ICEAST.
ICEAST is an acronym for Vidant’s values as a healthcare provider.
I – Integrity
C – Compassion
E – Education
A – Accountability
S – Safety
T – Teamwork
These tenets are the guiding principles for Vidant when communicating with patients, employees, and providers, both internally and externally. Throughout our team’s interviews, it became obvious that no one value was more important than another; instead, Vidant strives to demonstrate each of these values through every interaction. Naturally, these principles needed to be reflected through Vidant’s digital footprint, too.
ICEAST quickly became the heartbeat of the Vidant Health system. Every caregiver, provider, and employee embodied these standards to drive the very best service for each patient, across the diverse communities this system served.
We decided that to fully encompass Vidant’s values and principles as a healthcare organization and communicate that effectively to its population, we needed to identify different segments of constituents for Vidant. As mentioned above, Ntara deployed its proprietary process to identify these segments. Our team conducted hours of stakeholder interviews. These interviews are specifically designed to help the client identify what problems they’re trying to solve and articulate what business challenges they’re facing. From the most tenured executives to brand new team members, we listened to honest and raw feedback.
We used that information to formulate an approach in a survey for Vidant’s constituents—employees, patients, caregivers, healthcare providers, etc. Based on our previous experience, our team created a line of questioning that first gets to the heart of the attitudes, needs, and behaviors of Vidant’s consumer base, and second, uncovers potential solutions based on the identified business goals and challenges.
Based on the varied responses from the surveys, Ntara identified similar segments of responses, separated into specific groups. These groups are diverse across the entire data set, but homogenous within each group. These groups became the personas for Vidant—personas that would eventually drive Vidant’s approach to its entire digital ecosystem.
Our team identified the following personas:
- Current employees
- Prospective employees
- New consumers
By developing these personas, both Ntara and Vidant could make informed decisions on different aspects of the project—everything from design, to user experience, to content could now definitively rely on these homogenous groups. Instead of anecdotal evidence or an educated guess, we knew which groups Vidant needed to engage with and, in turn, which groups most needed Vidant.
Then our team took it a step further. It wasn’t enough to simply identify who would access Vidant’s digital ecosystem most frequently. We also needed to determine the jobs each of them needed to accomplish within the site, and what path they would take to do it. For each persona group, Ntara created a customer journey map that identified appropriate channels and communication tactics at every step of their interaction with Vidant’s digital ecosystem.
It’s important to note that simply because an online user isn’t physically purchasing something, it doesn’t mean that there isn’t a logical process to conversion for each customer segment—or in Vidant’s case, its patients, providers, and community population. In creating a relevant customer experience and subsequent journey, we helped Vidant better inform and educate the citizens of eastern North Carolina about the healthcare services located right within their region. Furthermore, as a result of our work on Vidant’s digital ecosystem, we’ve helped their team cut healthcare recruiting media spend in half. We have also quadrupled the efficacy of the site by targeting potential candidates using this data-driven approach on a national level.
We created intuitive paths with the goal of enabling users to register for membership at local wellness centers, to bring at-risk patients in for lung cancer screenings, and to provide pre-surgery patients with easy-to-use wayfinding maps. With these enhancements and more, Vidant is now providing accessible information to each of its personas, in an effort to create a healthier community through awareness and prevention.
Ntara’s approach is different
A lot of digital agencies help segment customers and then create a content strategy. What differentiates our process is understanding the business goals and requirements of an organization and reframing that through the lens of a consumer. We base all content, design, and user experience choices on the personas our team develops, not internal processes or requests.
This brings us back to the heart of what makes Vidant a fantastic healthcare provider—its number one priority is the health and well-being of the surrounding community. Ntara has helped Vidant strike a balance between accomplishing its long-term strategy and reaching its constituents, no matter how remote they might be.
Our work isn’t finished at Vidant. Both our teams have worked hard to anticipate the needs of users, and we’re still collecting data and building an on-going strategy based on our findings. In fact, our team conducted an additional roadmapping study later on to analyze other areas of Vidant’s digital ecosystem and continue to drive positive changes to population health. By continually monitoring, analyzing,and adjusting, Vidant can shape their content and future projects to better impact the health and well-being of eastern North Carolina.
Kudos to the Vidant team
We’d be remiss if we didn’t give a virtual fist bump to the team over at Vidant. They have been, and continue to be, a wonderful client who has trusted our team and our processes.
Our experience in working with other healthcare organizations and businesses in other industries provided our team with a good foundation of best practices we could pass on to Vidant. With a deep understanding of conversion funnels, successful ecommerce paths, and discovering how consumers access virtual care, we know that digital can have a huge impact. A huge proponent of this impact is support at the executive level of any organization.
The courage and investment of Vidant’s leadership team in the C-suite is worthy of praise. Their team committed to making significant changes in an era when healthcare is known for lagging behind the curve rather than leading it. Digital transformation must start, and be sustained by, the C-suite. And Vidant is no exception.
Vidant’s leadership and marketing team understood what needed to be done, and they knew it couldn’t be done alone. They knew when to ask for help. The healthcare industry is built on the expertise of professionals who know how and when to react. Vidant called us to help refocus their priorities on the aspects of digital that require a proactive perspective.
The Vidant team activated digital transformation because they knew they needed it, AND because they knew their consumers demanded it. Their approach to recognizing a need and then taking action with a well-equipped partner was only the first piece of the puzzle. Even with an agency, healthcare organizations (and other businesses alike) still need team members in place to champion digital transformation internally, help guide decisions, and fully rely on an agency as a strategic team member, not a silent order taker.
The Vidant team helped Ntara get the right people involved at the right time. They understood what the organization had power to change and what they didn’t. And this self-awareness led to the ultimate pairing of collaboration that inspired the most impactful measures to improve the health and well-being of eastern North Carolina.