How the Cleveland Clinic Has Increased Blog Traffic 800% in 12 Months

drive traffic to your blog with Facebook

Amanda Todorovich is the Marketing Manager of Digital Engagement at the Cleveland Clinic. She oversees all content marketing strategies including the blog, social media, and email marketing. The Cleveland Clinic has been blogging for about a year and traffic has grown from 250,000 visitors per month to over 3 million visitors per month.

In this interview you will hear Amanda explain a couple of really important things that you need to understand if you haven’t started inbound marketing or haven’t yet found success with it. We discuss the importance of buyer personas, how to figure out what to write about, and how to get eyeballs on the content.

The Cleveland Clinic has put a huge amount of focus on Facebook and made a significant investment in building their following there. If you want to learn how to maximize reach and drive traffic to your blog using Facebook, listen closely!

Listen now and you’ll hear Amanda  and I talk about:

  • (01:00) Introductions
  • (04:15)  Is Digital Marketing a big deal for hospitals?
  • (08:50)  How did you determine what to write about?
  • (11:00)  How did you define your persona?
  • (15:15)  Why did you choose to focus on Facebook?
  • (19:00)  What are some of the specific tactics you are using on Facebook?
  • (20:35)  How do you track the results of your variant testing?
  • (22:15)  How did you first get started building your Facebook following?
  • (24:40)  How did you target users with your paid acquisition?

Resources Mentioned

More About This EpisodeGroove Digital Marketing Podcast - Inbound Marketing Success Stories with Trent Dyrsmid

The Groove Digital Marketing podcast is the podcast for entrepreneurs  who want to discover how to use online marketing and sales automation tactics to massively grow their business. It’s designed to help entrepreneurs discover which proven tactics and strategies  are working most effectively today – all from the mouths of expert entrepreneurs who are already making it big.

Listen Now



Hey there all you groovy marketers. Welcome back to episode number 24 of the Groove Digital Marketing podcast. I am your host Trent Dyrsmid and this is the podcast where we help marketing executives to discover ways to use digital marketing and marketing automation to dramatically increase revenue.

If you are a marketing executive and you’re looking for proven strategies to help you increase traffic, get more leads and ultimately get more customers well you are in the right place.

So how do I make good on that promise? Well rather than talk to you about untested theories and ideas I focus my energy on this show on getting proven experts on to the show to share with you and me exactly what is working for them in terms of strategies and tactics to achieve the extraordinary results that they are achieving.

My guest today is a perfect example of that, her name is Amanda Todorovich. She is the manager of of digital engagement over at the Cleveland Clinic. They started blogging just over a year ago and in the last year traffic to their blog has gone up by a factor of eight; from 250,000 a month to now 3 million visitors a month and it has been steadily growing.

In this particular interview I get Amanda to explain to us a couple of really important things you need understand if you are not yet having success with inbound marketing or you haven’t even started with inbound marketing. How to really define you buyer persona is critical.

She is going to explain how and why they did that at the very start. And then how to figure out what to write about because obviously if you are producing content that nobody cares about then you are not going to get any good results and you are just going to be spending or wasting a bunch of money.

So making sure that your content is relevant; or her words, “Useful, helpful and a valuable resource,” that’s where the results come from. She is going to explain how they did that. And then the third part is you got to get eyeballs on that content.

And in their case they chose to put a huge amount of focus on Facebook and make a significant investment in building their following on Facebook and using it to drive traffic.

Facebook does now account for around 60% of their total traffic. They’ve got over a million visitors on their page and so we are going to spend the last part of the interview talking about the specific lessons that they have learned on how to maximize reach and engagement with using Facebook as a platform to spread your content and get it out in front of the eyes of the people that you wrote it for.

We are going to welcome Amanda to the show here in just a second. Before we do that if you are looking to increase your knowledge on inbound marketing, here at Groove we have a marketing library of free resources for you. There is our blog of course at but there is also the resource library at

So with that said please join me in welcoming Amanda to the show.

Hey Amanda welcome to the show.

Thanks for having me.

No problem it is a pleasure to have you here, so we’re going to talk about some things to do with how the Cleveland Clinic is using digital marketing to grow its business here in this interview but before we get to that (because most of my guests probably don’t yet know who you are) please take a moment and just introduce yourself.
Who are you and what do you do?

Sure, I am Amanda Todorovich, I am marketing manager of digital engagement at Cleveland Clinic. I oversee all of our content management strategies specifically our blog, social media and email marketing.

Prior to joining Cleveland Clinic about a year and a half ago I actually co-founded a start-up; it is still in existence and works with hospitals all over the country on different digital content projects.

So would it be safe to say that digital marketing is a pretty big deal for hospitals?

Absolutely, it is critical to what we are doing. We can’t create demand for our services so being that resource helping users find answers; making sure that they get from us what they need when they need it is absolutely critical to our business.

If someone is listening to this; and we are going to get into the Facebook stuff in just a minute; but there is a little rabbit hole I want to go down.

If someone who is a leader of an organisation, whether it be a hospital or not, is listening to this and they are not yet (for lack of a better expression) drinking the inbound marketing Kool-Aid and they are having a look at doing so, what would you tell them about why they should get involved with inbound marketing for their organisation?

Content and inbound marketing is really about relationship building and I think that it gives you an opportunity to create conversations and have a dialogue with customers even though they are not necessarily looking for your product. It is really more about how do you become useful and be a resource.

People flock to brands that help them solve problems and content helps you do that in a really meaningful way.

And when they feel that they can trust you and the content that you are providing isn’t all self serving all the time, they have a very different perception of your brand, they have a very different relationship with your company and when they do need your products or services you have a much higher likelihood of being in that consideration set.

That is the answer that I thought you were going to give. Do you find that (and we are going to get into the specifics of this) but I guess we can jump to that right now. A year ago traffic to your website was around 250,000 visitors a month and now it is up to three million visitors a month, contents played a pretty meaningful role in that?

Absolutely, it is the star of the show for sure. The Healthblog launched in April 2012 and had zero visitors, like you said a year ago we were on 300,000 visitors and now we were really close to three million this month and I am hopeful we will hit three million by October and really all we’ve done is create meaningful, useful and relevant content that is not about the Cleveland Clinic.

It is really about what consumers are looking for answers about. What do they need to know from us, what types of questions do they have that we can help them answer whether it is to take care of themselves, to take care of their children, their spouse, their aging parents what have you.

We have really focused our strategy on serving consumers in a really meaningful way and absolutely embraced brand journalism.

Our team is made up of a lot of former journalists, we write the posts with a very objective point of view. There is hardly any sales type of language in our posts and we have used that content on the blog to fuel all of our social media channels.

Our focus have really been on driving that traffic back. Strategically our biggest objective with all of this has been around brand awareness. So we’re really focused on reaching as many people as possible so traffic has been the metric we picked as defining success until everything we do is geared at that growth.

I am happy to report that those numbers have steadily grown and like I said we are close to three million visitors a month to our Healthblog alone.

What is the URL for that in case folks do want to go and check it out?

It is

Folks, that is going to go in the show notes so if you are driving a car do not try and write it down. I’ll give you the URL at the end. You mentioned something there, you focus on being useful, helpful and a valuable resource.

So from a strategy perspective, because I think a stumbling block for a lot of the folks is they don’t know what to write about.

When you first started out, what did you do to figure out what are we going to write about because there is a lot of things you could write about?

We looked at what we already had available to us. The things like our A-Z health information on the website, what are people gravitating towards, what are they searching on our website. When we have done different kind of chats at community events, what sort of questions are people asking the doctor.

We asked our doctor, “What kinds of questions are you getting constantly from patients?” How can we put that information online and answer it for lots of people whether they are patients or not. We have evolved that a little bit, now it is really about the data.

When we were starting it was about other places and other sources of data. But now it is really about the website itself and seeing what is resonating, what is not, what different social audiences are engaging with what types of content. We are constantly tweaking and evaluating as we go.

So if I was to boil that down very simply, at the beginning you made the best educated guess possible, you started to publish content, you got traffic, the traffic gave you data, then looking at the data you were really able to figure out what topics to create even more content on because the data was telling you that was the topics that was of most interest to your audience.

Absolutely and we have also done some work around personas and exactly who are we trying to reach. Everybody is a house care consumer, right? We have honed in on women 50 plus or so because we know they are the chief medical officer of the family; making health decisions for everybody.

That is really who we have in mind when we are looking at this too to make sure; *inaudible* this is something she would talk about with her friends, this is something she would want to read and share with her family.

Let’s talk about the creation of the persona for just a moment if we could. So you just mentioned the woman who is the chief medical officer of the family. When you were defining that persona, what was the process that you went through to arrive at (and you probably have more than one persona but we’ll just use this one) this persona definition?

The Cleveland Clinic has been in business for a long time. So we have a lot of data and strategy driven around this woman that we are trying to hit. We started with that as our base at a high level who overall was just about everything we’re doing from a marketing perspective we’re trying to reach.

Then *inaudible* specifically sat around and sort of thought about what problems is this content really going to be able to resolve. For social; who are those users, who is most likely to engage with us. We defined her, we gave her a name, we actually have created a Pinterest for her where we we’re sharing things with each other.

That sort of keeps her top of mind, what does she wear, what types of devices is she using, where is she looking for information, who would she share it with, we’ve defined what her family looks like, she’s got kids to care about, grandkids to care about, aging parents to care about.

Because we know that is really absolutely who we want, she is the most engaged healthcare consumer, she is looking
for all kinds of health information, not just one specific condition. That was really important because health topics are really broad, that we cover just about every health topic possible.

We started broad and got really specific and defined her and created this crystal clear reality so we know exactly who we are talking to.

In creating that personality, Amanda, did you look at the customers you had, or patients I guess I should say, and simply described them or did you think about the ideal patient that you really wanted and described her?

Well and this is a good point because it is really not necessarily about the patient per say because our overall objective was this particular strategies around brand awareness. So it is, “Who do we want to know about Cleveland Clinic?”

Because if you get into the specifics of the patients we had, that is not ideal, we are trying to reach new people here. It was really a little bit broader, we had to think about who might be willing to travel for healthcare. We had to paint her financial picture and understand that.

But she doesn’t live in Cleveland, she doesn’t know the brand. This is somebody who is looking for health information and wants the best for her family. We really painted the picture from there.

Okay so you thought about who you really wanted and then described her in detail so that you could create content that would resonate with her. Was there focus groups or any primary research or did you simply just say, “These are the criteria that we believe would be relevant to this persona that we are trying to attract.”?

It was just really these are the criteria that, we didn’t get too crazy with focus groups and things like that.
This is a pretty broad persona, we’re experimenting and iterating our way fairly loose. She initially was just a starting point and as the data evolved we would refine it and look at it and make sure we were still accurate in who she is. And we’ve done that.

Okay, so earlier on you talked about, you create all this content and I think the expression you used was “to feed social media” and that was really why we decided to do this interview in the beginning; as you’ve had a lot of success with Facebook.

75% of your traffic I think in the pre interview you told me is from social media and Facebook provides the biggest portion and you have over a million fans. You are getting all sorts of organic reach and so forth. Let’s start at the beginning of that. First of all why did you choose Facebook as the one to put so much effort into and is it your top social media focus?

Sure, it absolutely is the top social media focus. Very early on in the social media world we were limping along just like everybody else; we just started the more of a scrapbook approach on things that were going on at the Cleveland Clinic. It really wasn’t all that successful for us. We saw a little bit of growth but nothing tremendous.

Once we launched the Healthblog in 2012 and started sharing that content on Facebook we started to get traction very quickly. And that is really when we made the strategic decision to totally focus on the helpful content as our social media strategy. So we post three to five blog posts on Healthblog every day. But we do six to seven Facebook posts seven days a week.

About 60% of our traffic is coming from Facebook alone. That number as held steady even as we’ve grown traffic and as we’ve grown a Facebook audience.

We have made investment; so this is both organic follower growth as well as paid acquisition but we just started posting content, started to see the traction, started to see that it was really getting lots of comments that were saying things like: “thank you this is exactly what I was thinking about today.”

Or “This was super helpful.” We were getting thanked for doing our marketing which really made us realise, “Wow, we’re really on to something.”

We all have to play the game with Facebook, the algorithm changes, things change, the way you have to build the post changed. We are always looking at that, constantly optimising the way we approach things, the way we’re writing the posts, different combinations of words, testing everything we can.

But basically even when we have seen lots of brands struggling with organic leads; our low end is around ten percent, we’ve seen upwards of 85%-90% on some of our content.

We realised a few things and changed course along the way. But I think that there is a couple of things that we’ve consistently seen work really well is that content should be a little bit humorous if you will. Or around topics that people don’t necessarily talk that much about.

A really good example of that; we have an infographic on the colour of your pee and what it says about your health. That infographic alone has had more than 2 million visits and the organic reached just about every time we posted it on Facebook is at least 50% and that is when we have seen upwards of 90% on occasion.

With other weird things like skin tags and Vasculitis and hemorrhoids; those kinds of articles and information are really useful and helpful to people. So we see tremendous engagement and we see it quickly. We learned that velocity matters. If we get a lot of engagement immediately after we post it then the reach continues to grow and that’s how we think it works the best for us.

That is when we are seeing those 80%, 90% numbers.

I’m on your Facebook page right now, maybe there is folks that are listening to this, they might go and check it out as well. is the shortcut to get there. So, I’m looking at a post four hours ago, “Are You Getting What You Need?” there is a bitly link, there’s a big picture of some vitamin pills, very clearly you can see the article say, “Five vitamins you might be missing.”

You talked about some things that you have learned about what posts and how to write a post; this seems really straightforward, you’re asking a question and you are giving a link. It has an image to your post and 455 people have liked this one, 280 shares. It doesn’t seem particularly complicated, you probably have a really great piece of content but the way you posted it on Facebook couldn’t be any more straightforward.

You say you have learned how to craft posts versus not. What specifically do you mean by that?

So that little bit of copy at the top that we call the teaser. That has evolved for us, how long should that be, how much should you give away, should it be a question, should it be a statement, should it be just a little bit of information and more cryptic like. That copy also appears typically above the headline of the article that is pulling from the link.

We want it to be distinct and different from the headlines, we have also tested and played with the headlines of the articles and what does that look like and what is the optimal combination. Should there be the word you in it?

Should it have a *inaudible*. Maximise and leverage the piece of content as a package.

Every element of that post we are testing and messing with all the time. The image; we have different images on Healhtblog that sometimes pull into the Facbook page, we edit those, we change them because the sizing is a little bit different. We want each post to be the optimal experience and to get the most out of it as we can.

So we are not afraid to test, we are not afraid to experiment. And again, Facebook changes the rules, so just because that is working today, tomorrow it might not be. There was a point in time a few months ago when images weren’t working as well or even before that when you actually had to do just an image and the link was actual teaser text instead of the way it is today.

We’ve iterated our way to what you see on the page today, but that wouldn’t have happened if we weren’t looking at the data and testing things on a daily basis.

How do you record the data on your tests? Is it just a bunch of spreadsheets that you are storing this stuff in? For people that are not testing on the level that you are at and they don’t understand the process; I would love to have some insight into that.

It actually isn’t really all that sophisticated, it is absolutely some spreadsheets. More than the actual written capturing of the data; it is more informal that is the most helpful is a lot of conversation with our team, we do fifteen minute stand-ups every day.

That is first thing in the morning, so there is always just a little bit of that discussion of what we are seeing.

It is really nice because my team is able to make those choices and decisions and tests pretty quickly without a lot of approval.

So that helps too. What we typically do is share a lot of results and little charts and graphs and excel sheets, things like that but it moves so fast and changes so quickly so that it is really not necessarily about all the documentation as it is being able to discuss it, interpret it and use it to make some decisions about what to do next.

So you have right now just shy of 1.1 million likes. Back when you very first started on Facebook, what was the division of resources of paid acquisition to try and get more likes versus organic acquisition? Did you spend a lot in the beginning? When you don’t have any likes and you are putting all this effort in the return on the effort is next to nothing because nobody is seeing it.

Right, we typically view investment in followers as the ends on many social platforms as an investment in annuities because we are able to put content in front of those people again and again. Our leadership is really vested in that content and they believe and see the results.

It’s been easy to continue this trend, early, early on we actually were not spending. We really didn’t start to aggressively spend until we started to see some traction organically. Once we saw that there was a little bit of success then we started moving into the paid space. We started to really strategically target real followers.

We have been pretty aggressive with spend over the last two years. But that is also coincided with how aggressive we have gone with growing Healthblog traffic. So it goes hand in hand. We post a lot of content and we have a lot of content to work with. So that investment in audience is big.

If we didn’t have as much content or we were still doing one or two posts a day, then the strategy I think in how we spend the money on Facebook would be different. Because you are not necessarily going to see that strong return in the investment in follow so you end up doing more things with listed posts or other strategies.

For us, we also at certain points started to hit milestones and then so once we had 500,000 fans, how can it work next? So do we focus still continuing to scale followers or do we focus on engagement? And at that point we made the decision to still focus on scale because we were really honed in on friend awareness and national education and wanted to reach more and more people.

We made a big investment to hit that one million landmark. That was really important to us. We already hit that several months ago, then we went dark after that. We hit the goal so we spent some time reassessing and looking at what we should do. Should we spend any more, shall we just continue to engage the audience we have?

We changed the dynamics of the page a little bit too, when you are not growing followers exponentially just be very
mindful about how much new content are you producing and things like that. So we actually did pick that up and are advertising again right now but that is just for a couple of more months then we’ll see what we get by the end of the year.

2015 could look very different. It just all depends on where we are by the end of the year.

With your paid acquisition, how did you target?

We are really focused on national brand awareness so it is not really all that granular in targeting. We target people with specific interest in health and wellness. Real targeting is just national in scope, we are optimising it pretty much every day; looking at ways to refine it, looking at fresh and creative more than we are refining targeting so much because we are pretty broad with it.

You mentioned earlier, the What Colour is Your Pee infographic and it is actually on the page right now. There is a nice role of pink toilet paper sitting on the side of a nice clean white toilet.

We just posted it again last night.

Did you guys shoot that image or is that a piece of stock photography?

That is stock photography, most of what you see on the page is stock photography. We do very little original photography. We do more original photography when it comes to patients of our own division but others are primarily stock.

Is that the most popular post you guys have ever used?

That is the most popular post we have ever done for sure.

Do you think it is because of the pink role of toilet paper and the title? Because you can’t see the infographic until you click through.

It is not the pink role of toilet paper because we have used different images as well. That is not the only image we have used with that post. We have done it different ways, we’ve shown little bits of the infographic in the post, we’ve used different stock images and things like that.

It has to be the actual information in there because every time, no matter what the image is we are getting lots of traffic from it.

Interesting, so there is actually a pretty valuable lesson there; that perhaps as long as the image is somewhat interesting it is the headline and the question beforehand that are really the differentiators.

It absolutely is. You have to tell people what they are getting themselves into because time is valuable, people are selfish, what is in it for me, tell me why I should click.

Absolutely, what haven’t I asked you about your Facebook strategy that I should, if anything?

I think we covered quite a bit, Facebook is a really big, important focus for us. Again it brings us 60% of our traffic consistently. The audience is really there and really engaged. I get asked all the time, “Do you realise that Facebook is dying or people are dropping off?”

I think it is totally dependent on the demographic of your user. For us, our persona is absolutely on Facebook, she is all over the place looking at stuff for her family and grandkids. We know that she is really interested in what we have to say. So we want to make sure that we maintain that trust, we are really consistent and we stick to our guns and our strategy.

I think I spend half my day telling people “no” who ask me to post things on Facebook. That is really because we stick to the strategy and we stick to the objectives and that it really works because people know we’re not there to be pushing specific clinics and different things that are going on, locally or here or at our own facility so they trust us.

We’ve built that relationship and we get thanked every day for doing that thing on Facebook. It is pretty amazing.

Alright well Amanda, well now you are going to get thanked again for being a guest on my show. It has been a pleasure to have you here. Thank you for making some time to come and share some very valuable insights on what has been working exceedingly well for the Cleveland Clinic.

So again, thank you for making some time.

Sure, thank you.

Alright, to get to the show notes for this episode, just go to and if you enjoyed this episode and would love to help other people discover it, just go to
So that is it for this episode, I am your host, Trent Dyrsmid. I look forward to having you back again for another episode soon; until then, take care. Bye-bye

 About Amanda Todorovich

amanda-todorovich_0Amanda Todorovich – Marketing Manager, Digital Engagement at Cleveland Clinic – is a content marketing and social media leader with more than 15 years of experience in a diverse collection of business environments – hospital/healthcare, start-up online publisher, corporate consumer PR. Passionate about digital communications and customized strategic content of all kinds.





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