Home / Internet Marketing News / How Amanda Todorovich and the Cleveland Clinic Monetized Their Blog (And Why the Resulting Revenue is Just Gravy)

How Amanda Todorovich and the Cleveland Clinic Monetized Their Blog (And Why the Resulting Revenue is Just Gravy)

In a room overflowing with content marketers hungry to find out how to turn a blog audience into a monetizable asset, Amanda Todorovich delivered.

Todorovich, Content Marketing World’s 2016 Content Marketer of the Year, became Director of Content Marketing at the Cleveland Clinic in 2013, when their blog was only six months old and had roughly two hundred thousand views per month. Now, the Health Essentials blog gets six million views per month and is the number one most-viewed hospital blog.

So, how do Todorovich and her team continue to grow their blog and turn that traffic into revenue?  “You can’t think about the money first.” She stressed that trying to answer the question “what do we need to sell today?” is no way to decide what content will be most valuable for your audience.

Below are 5 steps that helped Amanda and her team grow and monetize the Health Essentials blog:

#1 – Make Your Audience Your Universe

Content has to be interesting, valuable, and useful above all else. @amandatodo #CMWorld
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Growing and monetizing a blog starts with amazing content that’s not about you, explained Todorovich. If you’re not considering the needs and wants of your audience, you won’t keep them coming back, much less be able to monetize the traffic. Providing content that’s “interesting, valuable, and useful above all else,” is a must, and requires content marketers to know and listen to their audience.

Todorovich recommends that content marketers to define the audience with as much data and detail as you can. “Make them as real as possible to your team. Give them a name. Give them a picture. What are their problems? How can you make decisions easier for them?” This important concept ran deep at #CMWorld this year, and jibes especially well with with the “Doris” callout from Ann Handley’s keynote. And no wonder the know-your-audience theme resonated; Once you you’ve made data-informed decisions about what your audience wants and can think of them as individuals with real questions, you’ll know what content will resonate and keep readers coming back. By letting their audience inform their content strategy, Todorovich grew the Health Essentials blog from 250,000 views per month to one million per month in just half a year after joining the team.

Take this example: Todorovich jokes that her team can keep track of the flu season—among other things—by their audience data. Sometime around October each year, search volume grows around influenza prevention tips, then treatment methods, then “clean-up.” Ick, right? But, you better believe that the Health Essentials blog is providing content for that audience. The flu-season breakdown that Todorovich describes may be niche, but her strategy of in-depth analysis and response is something that all of us content marketers should be providing for our audience before we even think about monetizing our blogs.

#2 – Know the Landscape

Only when Todorovich was confident that the content of the blog was becoming more and more interesting, valuable, and useful to her audience did she seriously consider options for monetizing. From her time working for a digital publisher, Todorovich knew of the three most common monetization tactics: Advertising, Syndication, and Acquisition of other publishing sources.

Todorovich confessed that the Health Essentials blog first focused on syndication “because people asked,” and that some of that syndicated content was written “in exchange for eyeballs, not money.” But with the blog’s quickly growing traffic, Todorovich recognized the biggest opportunity for monetizing the blog would lie in advertising.

And there was no shortage of obstacles to selling advertising: “We’re non-profit. Internally, nobody wanted us to advertise.” Knowing the internal and external landscape surrounding the Health Essentials blog is what allowed Todorovich find her way to monetizing it. “We weren’t going to make enough money to be profitable. The problem was perception.”

To protect the brand and address the specific needs of the Cleveland Clinic (and it’s PR and legal departments), Todorovich and her team wrote a disclaimer that is shown on every ad unit on their site. It informs the reader that the ad supports the mission of the Cleveland Clinic, and links to the full, often-updated advertising policy. Sure, the policy limits the potential of advertisers—the clinic doesn’t accept advertising from alcohol or tobacco companies, for example—but creating it was necessary in order to navigate the landscape of the healthcare industry and continue to grow trust from their readers.

The same knowledge of the hospital’s internal landscape is what led Todorovich to engage a partner to help manage the advertising rather than take it on herself. In a 50/50 revenue share partnership, Todorovich and her team provide the content while their partner manages and sells all of the advertising. Both companies allow the other to focus on strengths without pushing comfort boundaries. While content marketers may not all face the same obstacles, the emphasis that Todorovich put on the need to remain flexible enough to navigate circumstances without sacrificing the integrity of the content or brand was well-received.

#3 – Start Small and Test Often

The first advertisements that were sold on the Health Essentials blog were “just traditional display” ads, said Todorovich. “We did do a small test in google, because we feared there would be a negative reaction.” But, the audience didn’t mind the advertisements on the Health Essentials blog “probably because our content is mostly news-driven. In fact, the advertisements may have even given us more credibility as a news source,” explained Todorovich.

About slowly starting to advertise on the blog, Todorovich said, “we tested our way through it. We test everything.” There’s still some slight discomfort that arises around the monetization of the Health Essentials blog. It’s based on a fear that the ads could negatively impact the credibility they’ve worked hard to build. But reassurance comes from of the team’s own commitment:  “We will always be brand-first. Our content has not changed because of our advertising.”

#4 – Yesterday’s Score

Big goals are sexy, and especially tempting when it comes to monetization. But, warns Todorovich, they can be daunting and distracting, and less meaningful than smaller goals. Regardless, she said, “there’s no magic way to achieve goals. It takes effort and commitment to strategy.”

Strategies, of course, will vary based on industry, subject matter, objectives, and other factors in the marketing equation. What’s worked for the Health Essentials blog team is to huddle every day to ask and answer two questions: “What did we learn yesterday? And, what are we testing today?” Certainly two questions that would be helpful for any content marketing team to ask, especially as they begin to dabble in monetizing a blog.  

The “small” goal that Todorovich and the team behind the Health Essentials blog focus on? It’s not a big annual revenue goal. Simply, it’s to “beat yesterday’s score.”

Every day we should ask ourselves two questions about content: What did we learn yesterday? What are we testing today? @amandatodo #CMWorld
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#5 – The Revenue is Gravy

“If you’re interested in monetizing your blog,” Todorovich says, “focus on great content. Focus on your audience.”  With a data-based knowledge of the audience, a commitment to valuable content, a brand-first approach to navigating obstacles, and the patience to always test new ways to beat yesterday’s score, you’ll be on your way to monetizing your blog.

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The post How Amanda Todorovich and the Cleveland Clinic Monetized Their Blog (And Why the Resulting Revenue is Just Gravy) appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

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About Daniel Rodgers

A lot of news that you will not see in the paper. A lot of technology that is coming out that will not see in the paper.

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Interactive Content Marketing: Why B2B Marketers Should Take Their Content from Boring to Bold

Why B2B Marketers Should Consider Interactive Content

Why B2B Marketers Should Consider Interactive Content

Show of hands, B2B marketers: How many of you know which Hogwarts house you belong in? Or which Disney princess best represents your personality and relationship ambitions?


Don’t be shy. I’m a Gryffindor wizard through and through—and apparently, I’m more of a Jasmine than an Ariel. And I know all this thanks to the rise of interactive content.

From quirky quizzes to ROI calculators to guided eBooks, interactive content is a rising content marketing star. BuzzFeed is perhaps the most prolific example, creating dozens of quizzes each week that are making their way into social feeds and search results. (And almost all users reportedly finish them).

But why should B2B marketers consider adding interactive content to their mix?

Because B2B is often pegged as bland and boring. And in a crowded content market, not to mention the fact that buyers' content preferences are turning increasingly visual, interactive content is the next evolution.

But if that doesn't convince you, read on for a few more reasons why its time for B2B to embrace interactive content.

#1 – Interactive content is more engaging than static content—for the long-term.

Interactive content may seem a little gimmicky for some marketers—especially those in the B2B space. But the vast majority of marketers who use interactive content agree that it not only grabs attention, but can also hold that attention beyond that initial view.

In fact, according to the Content Marketing Institute (CMI) and Ion Interactive 2017 Interactive Content Study:

  • 87% of marketers agree that interactive content grabs the attention of the reader more effectively than static content
  • 77% of marketers agree that interactive content has reusable value, resulting in repeat visitors and multiple exposures
  • 73% of marketers agree that interactive content, when combined with other more traditional content marketing tactics, enhances message retention among their audiences.

So, if you’re aiming for awareness, engagement, and attention, interactive content holds incredible potential. But I’d also add that this is only true if you deliver quality, relevant content in an interactive format.

As my colleague Josh Nite points out: “[Interactive content is] absolutely designed to grab attention. But if your content provides value—if it’s worth paying attention to—interactive elements can help you bring in an audience.”

[bctt tweet="#InteractiveContent is absolutely designed to grab attention. But if your content provides value—if it’s worth paying attention to—interactive elements can help you bring in an audience. - @NiteWrites" username="toprank"]

#2 – Interactive content can differentiate you from your competitors.

Content has always been a foundational element of B2B marketing. Buyers don’t make hard and fast decisions. Instead, they do their research, weigh their options, and have multiple engagements with sales reps before they sign on the dotted line. Interactive content can help you make an impression and stand out in a crowed, competitive content landscape.

In addition, according to the aforementioned report, just 46% of marketers report using interactive content right now—which was flat year-over-year. And if history is any indicator, I’d wager that interactive content adoption among B2B marketers is far lower since the industry is typically slower to adopt new tactics.

But that won’t always be the case. Harnessing the opportunity right now has the potential to differentiate your B2B brand from the competition early on, showcasing your commitment to innovation.

For example, Prophix, a leading provider of corporate performance management (CPM) software solutions in the FP&A industry, wanted to drive awareness in a unique way around its report on the evolution of financial planning and analysis, as well as its solutions.

By repurposing its original research and adding influencer perspectives, we created an interactive quiz to help empower their audience to "crush" their jobs to succeed now and into the future.

Prophix Crush It Interactive Quiz

This anchor asset, which was promoted using a supporting mix of blog content, social amplification, email, and more, saw a view rate 6-times higher than the benchmark for a similar resource. In addition, the page where it lived garnered 3-times the average share rate. This unique approach to interactive influencer content made Prophix stand out from the competition and deliver a great resource that performed.

#3 – Interactive tools can provide you with exclusive data and analytics.

Savvy marketers are driven by data insights. And many of the interactive content tools you’d leverage for an asset come with their own analytics dashboards, allowing you to get near real-time data on how your audience is interacting and absorbing your content.

For example, Ceros, an interactive content software that simplifies the creation process, provides all the basic KPIs such as visitors, opens, and pageviews, as well as engagement metrics like time spent and interaction clicks. But they also track inbound referrals, social shares, video plays, and outbound link clicks.

Oh, and that data is viewable in its Analytics Dashboard within second of it happening.

Ceros Interactive Content Tool

While traditional analytics platforms and the data within them is invaluable, from my perspective, this more niche data can help uncover some insights that can help you refine your asset on the fly or consider how to improve other content types moving forward.

#4 – Interactive content can drive results at every stage of the funnel.

From educating buyers to creating customer loyalty, interactive content can serve a purpose (and drive results) at every stage of the funnel. Interactive content users report using the tactic for lead generation, lead nurturing, customer retention, and the list goes on.

And interactive is especially powerful, when combined with other tried-and-true content marketing tactics.

To help promote the Influencer Marketing 2.0 report based on research conducted by Traackr, Altimeter Group and TopRank Marketing, we partnered with interactive content platform Ceros to produce an Influence 2.0 interactive infographic.

Influence 2.0

The infographic was promoted via blog posts, social channels, email, and through the influencers that contributed. With calls to action embedded within the interactive infographic, this content succeeded at attracting over 1,700 prospective customers to download the full report with a 43% conversion rate.

What Opportunity Does Interactive Content Hold for Your B2B Brand?

Interactive content is here to stay. But the real opportunity doesn’t lay in the interactivity itself. The real value creation is in the excitement or connection that you can make with your audience, as well as the potential to hold their attention for long enough to engrain your message or inspire action.

[bctt tweet="The real opportunity with #interactivecontent doesn’t lay in the interactivity itself. The real value creation is in the excitement or connection that you can make with your audience. - @CaitlinMBurgess" username="toprank"]

So, B2B marketers. If you’re ready to break away from boring and drive better engagement, interactive content deserves your consideration.

How can you leverage interactive content? Check out our post featuring five ways of making marketing magic with interactive content.

The post Interactive Content Marketing: Why B2B Marketers Should Take Their Content from Boring to Bold appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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