by Courtney Eckerle
, Manager of Editorial Content
John Sjölund, Co-Founder and CEO, Timesulin, has been living with Type I diabetes for over 30 years, and often struggled with remembering whether or not he had taken his insulin injections.
"The consequences of screwing that up are pretty profound. You can really end up in the emergency room right away," he said. After setting out to find a solution for himself, he realized that his problem actually affected about 93% of insulin users in a month.
"Almost accidently, this became a company," he said. Now, he added, Timesulin has hundreds of thousands of users and is distributed in Rite Aid, Kmart and nearly 10,000 pharmacies nationwide.
"Our journey was to try to figure out as a very small company in the states dominated by the 'Pharma giants,' how do we get any share of voice? And we used our blog among other channels to do that."
"We used to have a very personal blog that was focused on the company, people, product and not very broadly focused on diabetes. You needed to be very involved in our company and the people behind it such as myself to find our blog interesting," Sjölund said, adding that it was very much a "corporate company blog."
He was working together with a family member who came from PR and communications, but as the blog started to gain a little momentum, it was clear it needed a different focus, as well as a more formal publishing process and schedule.
"We were struggling with what we thought was an appropriate frequency to publish. I'm not a good writer, and none of us in the company are very captivating writers, so we were struggling with … finding interesting content and writing enough," he said.
They had been publishing one post every one to three months, he estimated, which was "not a lot at all."
The blog frequency was increased to two articles per week, which Sjolund said they found to be a good frequency, but recently they have slowed down the pace to once a month "as we've been looking to measure the impact of marketing with the content marketing strategy and what the long tail of that is."
Since they are publishing less frequently in an effort to further optimize posts, the objective is also to find ways to distribute the content farther using channels such as social media. Because the content focus has changed to issues that are more broadly interesting to people with diabetes, they have a "sharable" element that works on social media.
Timesulin began increasing brand visibility and awareness by creating highly-targeted content utilizing keyword research and content focused on diabetes-related topics.
Step #1. Begin SEO project and research
Timesulin started an SEO project totally unrelated to content marketing and the publishing process, Sjölund said.
"We started with some technical SEO to fix our sites and do some keyword analysis," he said. Having done this, they were fixing most of the technical SEO issues, but they also had a realization that the path to reaching and growing customers going forward was through content marketing.
"[Content marketing] complements other paid acquisition channels, of course," he said, adding that they decided to invest in that rather than more traditional SEO techniques, like link building, that they didn't see as viable for Timesulin.
They decided to take a data-driven approach to content marketing, to ensure that what was being written would be interesting to consumers while serving a higher SEO purpose.
Combining data and analytics "with good writing … that was really appealing to us," he said.
Sjölund and his team began working with a content marketing vendor in sets of strategy revolving around keyword research, understanding key social influences Timesulin content should be speaking to, down to "the mechanics of creating an editorial calendar and how we'd work together to brainstorm around topics and publish them," he said.
What began as a simple SEO project transformed into an opportunity to use "content marketing as a way to broaden our reach," he said.
Step #2. Analyze keywords
When brainstorming topics and deciding what will be published, Sjölund said, "we start with trying to keep a data-driven approach, so we start looking at what are potential keyword opportunities, and what is the community interested in at the moment and what are they searching for."
Then, he added, they begin linking that together to their own personal experiences and the company experience, "to see if we think we have a relevant opinion and a relevant view on that. And if we do then we decide to write about it."
When it comes to blue sky topics, the team looks to Google Analytics or Google Trends for the most relevant brainstorming ideas.
Step #3. Continue to include personal content
As part of the content strategy, Timesulin also incorporates customer testimonials
onto the website, which is part of the personal content approach and anecdotal success.
"What it does is, it gives validation that other people are using it, that it's for real and that we're helping people live an easier life with diabetes," Sjölund said.
Also highlighted among the customer testimonials are those from influencers who are diabetes advocates, such as doctors, nurses and chairs of diabetes research foundations.
Click here to see the full version of this creative sample
"We tried to mix it in, and on the blog we thankfully get letters every day of people, really nice letters … and we often write back to them," he said.
When customers send a short note that the team feels is positive, he said, "then we will often write back and say, 'Thanks so much, can we use this as a quote?' or 'Would you be interested in a short interview?'"
The team would then take these interviews, often with customers but also with key influencers, and publish them on the blog
. One example is a recent interview published for World Diabetes Day with "Instagram Diabetes Rockstar" Andreas, who uses the handle @diabetesabbe.
Click here to see the full version of this creative sample
"We really try to mix it up because I think it's important. One of the first things I do when I'm going to buy a new product online is I search for whatever that product name is review. So it's important that people are finding us," he said.
This kind of content offers outside validation of Timesulin that Sjölund said, "takes away one barrier for the person just coming to look to buy a product. Then, of course, we as a company are proud to have happy users. So it's nice to be able to share that also."
Taking away barriers is part of Timesulin's mission overall, so it only makes sense to include it in marketing efforts.
"Our product is very, very, very simple to use; it's nothing revolutionary at all. But what it does is, just by using some smart design concepts that we have taken from our background in software, we think we make life a little bit easier for people with diabetes, and we don't introduce any complexity," he said.
In content, Sjölund said, they want to continue to keep this "notion of simplicity" that surrounds the product with "a glimpse into our company that we're real people, … and we really just want to make life a little bit easier here."
Keeping that element in content is important while they also expand the strategy to include the content driven by data and keywords.
Step #4. Expand content reach using social media
"We're a small company so, as we're comparing different marketing channels and marketing costs, we wanted to just gauge what is the right frequency to publish," Sjölund said.
When the team saw a big jump in traffic consistently improving after starting this effort, they started to change focus from growing traffic to increasing conversion rates.
"We wanted to see how we could optimize that and wanted to take a break from content marketing, evaluate how well it performed without new articles and put more resources into other paid acquisition channels," he said.
Sjölund said that there came a point where "there's a law of diminishing return, hence why we've slowed it down as we've done now for the last period," he said, adding that as opposed to the more immediate results of paid mechanisms, "this takes quite a bit longer to snowball, it starts slow and it gains more, and more … momentum."
Once the team slowed down the publishing rate, they wanted to ensure that the reach of each post — new or previously published — was expanded as far as possible. They did this by utilizing social media, namely Facebook and Twitter.
"We recycle the topics or, if we see people talking about a certain topic that we've written about in the past, we'll share that article," he said.
Timesulin is still building its social media audience, and the team finds that Facebook serves as the best platform for this content.
"With Facebook you can provide a richer community experience. It's easier for people to engage with each other than it is on Twitter. Twitter … it moves so much quicker and it's hard to build a community feeling around a topic or company, while you can do that with Facebook much better," he said.
For Sjölund, SEO is really about "high quality content, and being able to find ways to create and distribute that effectively."
The results the Timesulin team was able to garner from this campaign are:
- Increased website traffic 600% year-over-year
- Decreased bounce rate by 9% in two months
- Increased average session duration by 107.5% in two months
- Increased pages per session by 15%
These kind of results build upon each other over time, Sjölund said, and content marketing is playing the long game. It takes a long time for results to build and significantly impact the company.
"Content marketing is a strategy. It does take a lot of time not only to find those kinds of gems that are good topics that are going to be distributed widely, but also until your content starts to be picked up by different groups and it gets indexed properly. It takes awhile … It's a long approach," he said.
- Customer review
- Blog interview
SourcesTimesulin Stunt & Gimmicks
— Timesulin's content vendor
Related ResourcesMarketingSherpa Summit 2016
— At the Bellagio in Las Vegas, February 22-24Inbound Marketing: Restaurant app increases inbound leads 100% with SEO and content creationInbound Marketing 2015: The top 3 lessons from MarketingSherpa case studies this year