The American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology always had a wealth of information and thousands of members available to improve the lives of millions of people suffering from allergies and asthma. But only a small fraction of those people were visiting the College’s website, and even fewer used its Find an Allergist search tool. Many of them relied on over-the-counter medication or primary care physicians who lack the expertise to find and treat the cause of their symptoms. Most of the people who needed help didn’t even understand what allergists do.
Reingold worked with the College to develop a comprehensive plan to create an allergist brand, raise awareness about allergists’ expertise and services, and engage allergy and asthma sufferers — connecting them to specialized care where they live. The plan’s centerpiece is a user-friendly website, built on meticulous research and data analysis, that capitalizes on how and where people seek information online.
In just five years, the College achieved an eightfold increase in its website traffic, growing from 308,000 to more than 2.5 million visits a year. At the same time, the number of people annually finding and using the site’s Find an Allergist tool — without being directed to it by a paid link or advertisement — climbed from 4,000 to nearly 50,000.
The College first hired Reingold in 2007 to develop a national branding and public education campaign. We laid the groundwork with a brand audit, discussions with allergists and patient support organizations, and a survey of hundreds of allergy and asthma sufferers — supplemented by one-on-one interviews and focus groups.
In 2007, almost 40 percent of allergy and asthma sufferers interviewed had not consulted a medical professional about their symptoms in the past two years.
None could describe an allergist’s specialized training, and their responses revealed a general lack of awareness about what allergists do. Nearly 60 percent said they obtained information about allergies and asthma from the Internet.
Reingold and the College used the intelligence we’d gathered to create an integrated national outreach plan that cut across all of our departments, including message and website development, video production, search engine marketing, advertising, media relations, and outreach to the College’s members.
We discovered the College’s member allergists lacked a distinct brand, so we worked with its leadership to craft one that helps people recognize their value and creates a national identity for the specialty. We modernized the logo and created the tagline “Find an Allergist. Find Relief.” This invigorated the brand and captured the benefits of an allergist’s care in a succinct call to action.
We also produced video testimonials of real patients who found relief with an allergist’s care. Many videos featured women, who research shows typically make health care decisions for their families. These patients and mothers became the face of our print advertising campaign.
We integrated the campaign's national identity the campaign created into other materials and outreach, including direct mail marketing that let individual allergists tie the national branding to their own practices. And we enlisted the College's greatest resource — the members themselves — to join the “Relief Team,” an ambassador program in which they were provided a toolkit of materials to distribute to build their brand. Within three months, more than 700 members signed up to participate.
Building on analytics data that reveals how the College’s audiences find information and what they seek, we created a user-friendly multimedia website for consumers, featuring interactive tools, patient success stories, and resonant images. “Find an Allergist” was the primary call to action, directing visitors to the site’s locator tool.
We created a print, online, and radio advertising campaign to quickly drive traffic to the site, but search engine optimization was the long-term strategy to sustain and accelerate our momentum. Using exhaustive keyword research and website analytics, we crafted content, internal links, and calls to action that attracted users and held their attention.
Reingold and the College continually made data-driven improvements to the website, capitalizing on the strength of keywords that increase site visibility. But in 2014 we broke the mold with a redesign that combined the best of two approaches: lengthy pages of keyword-rich content to boost search engine rankings, and pages focused on a single topic that are easy for users to navigate.
To reap the benefits of both approaches, we compressed the College’s patient information into comprehensive pages of robust content, focusing on broad topics that are heavily searched by allergy sufferers while infusing the text, headings, and metatags for each page with keywords. We opened each page with brief introductory paragraphs that answer 80 percent of user questions, with options that let users jump directly to specific topics lower down the page to learn more.
We also combined the College’s consumer and member websites under a single URL to significantly increase the site’s authority, which improves search engine rankings. And to account for the fact that — by 2014 — 44 percent of the site’s traffic came from mobile devices, we:
The redesign’s results were dramatic. Visits to the site increased 165 percent year-over-year in March 2015. Use of the Find an Allergist tool climbed by more than 220 percent.
Today, the College’s website is the premier online source of consumer information on allergies, asthma, and immunology — and connects even more patients with allergists who can help them find relief.