How to Evolve Your Custom Magazine into an Integrated Content Marketing Strategy

Get more out of your custom healthcare magazine with an integrated content marketing strategy approach.

If you already publish a custom magazine, congratulations: You’re ahead of the curve! The Content Marketing Institute recently suggested that marketers consider using print because everything else is going online. Of course, this doesn’t mean you need to ditch digital, but it does mean you need to create an integrated content strategy. 

 (And if you’re not already publishing, here are six reasons to rethink print from content marketing guru Joe Pulizzi.) 

 According to a By The Numbers report from the Society for Healthcare Strategy and Market Development, healthcare marketers leveraging the power of print are actually in the majority. They found that 80% of its members produce community publications and 71% produce employee publications. In addition, nearly half (44%) produce publications for physicians. 

 While healthcare marketing often gets a bad rap for being behind the curve, if print is part of your marketing toolkit, you’re also in good company. Facebook, Airbnb and other global brands are embracing print to engage their “always on” audiences in a “lean-back” format with less distractions

 Success Stories: Expanding Custom Magazine Content Beyond Print

While print remains viable—and usage is even increasing among younger demographics, an effective custom magazine is now part of a larger engagement or growth strategy that leverages content marketing tools and multiple digital touchpoints to promote, integrate and measure content developed for the publication. 

 Here are a couple examples of health systems that have evolved their content strategies:

HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital — A centerpiece example of an integrated content strategy is a blog called Inspiring Health, which leverages content from an award-winning community publication of the same name and is then optimized for search and promoted through paid and organic social media, native advertising and email. Following its February 2019 launch, the blog received more than 2,000 page views during the first month—including 1,500 new users. Engagement metrics for Facebook and native advertising are beating industry benchmarks, meaning the audience is engaging with this content at a higher rate compared to other healthcare-related promotions.

magazine and digital display

Methodist Health SystemMethodist produces a 48-page, quarterly print publication titled SHINE along with infographics, videos, patient stories and other types of content to reach the community. In 2019, the marketing team partnered with True North to launch SHINE Online and deliver a multifaceted content experience with relevant nurturing and conversion opportunities. Within the first two months, the site was already driving engagement at unprecedented levels. In fact, August and September of 2019 produced over 1,000% more traffic than the same time frame in 2018 on Methodist’s former blog, which was housed on their main site. Learn more about the evolution of SHINE in a detailed case study.

Methodist magazine and digital display

Read the Case Study: Methodist Health System Boosts Consumer Engagement With Integrated Content Marketing Strategy

The Advantages of an Integrated Content Marketing Strategy

As these examples illustrate, extending the content in your custom magazine to an integrated content approach offers several benefits for your audience and your organization.  

  • Grow Your Audience. Broaden the reach of your content beyond the publication’s defined circulation, which is typically targeted based on demographics, geography and other parameters.
  • Multiply Your Channels. Add value and depth to your web, email and social platforms through content already created for your magazine.
  • Measure the Impact of Your Content Marketing. Connect your content to digital touchpoints to allow for real-time monitoring of site traffic, open rates and other metrics that demonstrate the value of your content marketing investment.
  • Generate Increased Outcomes. Increase exposure to your content to build relationships with online consumers, positioning your brand as the best choice when seeking solutions to their healthcare needs.

So the question is: How do you evolve your program from a print-centric silo to a more integrated content offering that engages the audience via web and social channels? Try these three techniques. 

 1. Integrate custom magazine content into your website.

To begin, start by identifying a place on your existing website to incorporate the content. A blog or health news section on your site may be perfect. If you do not have an area that acts like a blog, invest some time into creating a space that can be easily integrated into your company’s site. This addition will enhance your online presence and make your organization more competitive, paying dividends long term. 

 “By optimizing content for the web, you naturally kick-start organic search visibility for people searching for the keywords included in your content,” says Ashley DuFrene, senior digital marketing specialist at True North Custom. 

 2. Repurpose your print content for an online audience.

Creating a seasonal custom magazine takes time and effort in order to reach your community audience in a way that resonates. To create relevant and newsworthy content readers want to see, include general wellness information with season-specific stories, carefully chosen photography and graphics, and interviews that incorporate quotes from local experts.  

By the time the next season rolls around, your magazine no longer feels fresh and relevant, and the publication you have been admiring should probably be retired. The good news is you do not have to get rid of the content completely. By repurposing the stories in your custom magazine for the web, you can capture and connect with a wider audience for an indefinite period of time. 

“Print material is great for communicating and spreading awareness among your target market. However, all magazines have a shelf life within someone’s home,” DuFrene says. “Optimizing your magazine content for the web creates new paths for people to reference and find healthcare content that is relevant year round.” 

3. Drive traffic to your digital content.

Once content is up and running, your next order of business should be to drive readers to your repurposed articles. Emails, newsletters, native advertising and social media are effective tools to incorporate into your integrated content strategy to achieve this objective. 

 Additionally, driving traffic to the content via social media builds brand awareness, benefitting and positioning your entire organization as an authority in the medical arena. 

 “A strong online presence with unique content builds authority,” DuFrene says. “This positions your hospital or health system as experts in health care in your community, which is the ultimate goal.” 


Let’s Build Your Content Strategy Together

Find out how we’re helping healthcare organizations like yours find, engage and convert patients and prospects.

Integrated Content Strategy Drives Growth for Community Hospital

Delivering custom content across multiple channels has allowed Angie Fabian, chief marketing and development officer at Summit Healthcare in Show Low, Arizona, to increase the hospital’s market share while developing a closer relationship with her audience.

“Our community is very small, so we know exactly what our different demographics want to see,” Fabian says. “And we reach out to them using a variety of media channels.”

Summit Healthcare works with True North Custom to produce print, digital, and social media as part of their integrated content strategy. Custom messages are directed to target demographics with coordinated calls to action (CTAs) that drive readers to Summit Healthcare’s popular community newsletter, which provides news and updates that keep Summit Healthcare top of mind as a trusted healthcare resource within the community.

“A lot of people really like the print newsletter, and many others subscribe to our e-newsletter,” Fabian says. “These sources keep people up to date, even if they’re not coming into the medical center.”

In addition to digital newsletters, Summit Healthcare keeps physical copies in clinics for patients and visitors to take with them. Social media posts also help direct readers to Summit Healthcare’s newsletter and website.

“We really want to educate people throughout the community about preventive healthcare,” Fabian says. “Patients can help stop more serious conditions from developing if they keep up with preventive care.”

Meeting Audiences Where They Are

In order to better educate its community, Summit Healthcare created a YouTube channel that launched in 2017. The channel includes the “Summit Health Cares” video series, which is made up of dozens of podcast-style interviews with staff members and experts about healthcare topics that range from patient safety to pediatric health.

“Our YouTube videos are also shared on our other social media channels such as Facebook,” Fabian says. “In addition to our regular interviews, we post seminar videos for people who were unable to attend in person.”

Direct mail campaigns are also used to notify the community about seminars and services offered by the medical center.

“Not everyone knows that Summit Healthcare has such a wide range of services available,” Fabian says. “This isn’t usual for such a small town, so it’s important that we get the word out, and we use as many media channels as possible to reach a larger audience.”

By providing custom content with clear CTAs in multiple places and coordinating the messages across channels, Fabian feels the hospital has the best opportunity for its message to be heard by the people who need it most — now and in the future.

Let’s Build Your Content Strategy Together

Find out how we’re helping healthcare organizations like yours find, engage and convert patients and prospects.

Digital Trends in Population Health Drive Custom Magazine for Children’s Hospital

After publishing Checkup magazine for more than six years, Cook Children’s Health Care System took a leap. The risk was worth the reward.

They shifted beyond brand building to a community publication focused on at-risk communities. This focus on digital trends in population health allowed the hospital to tap into a critical audience.

Overview and Objectives

Cook Children’s Health Care System, a not-for-profit healthcare system based in Fort Worth, Texas, had a unique problem. While its Checkup magazine was extremely popular, the public relations department knew its target audience was already interacting with Cook Children’s in myriad other ways, mainly through its Checkup Newsroom website.

They decided to see if a community publication could be a useful tool for the at-risk, lower income population served by the Cook Children’s Neighborhood Clinics in the company’s six-county primary service area. After reviewing examples of population health campaigns, the process began to shift the magazine.

“We reached out to the Center for Children’s Health [the division of Cook Children’s that is home to the organization’s community health programs] to learn if Checkup would be a useful way to reach that audience,” says Kelly Wooley, marketing specialist with Cook Children’s. “Larry Tubb, executive vice president and executive director for the Center for Children’s Health, thought it was worth a try, and we started the new format with the fall issue in 2015.”

Revised Content Strategy for community publication

“When making a change like this,
it’s important that you think about
what your audience needs—not just
want you want to tell them—and
the right way to get that information
to them. We’ve done that with Checkup,
and the readers appreciate and enjoy
the magazine.”
—Kelly Wooley, Marketing Specialist
at Cook Children's Health System

Because the new version of Checkup was intended for a completely different audience, every aspect of the publication had to be reimagined to focus on population health initiatives and research.

The content focused more on prevention than the previous version, expanding on current digital trends in population health.

“When we talk about our community education and outreach initiatives, you’ll often hear senior leadership say we don’t want to see patients in the hospital or the doctor’s office, because prevention is our goal,” says Kelly, pointing out that the articles focus on the seven children’s health issues identified in the health system’s Community-wide Children’s Health Assessment & Planning Survey (CCHAPS). “We want to be seen not just as a medical center or a doctor’s office, but as a real health resource for our patients and our community.”

Instead of the eight-page format the medical center had used since True North Custom launched the magazine in early 2009, Cook Children’s worked with its True North Custom team to create a 16-page bilingual community publication with a flip format.

The outside front cover and the first seven pages are in English. When the magazine is flipped, the outside back cover becomes the Spanish cover, and the subsequent seven pages are in Spanish.

“We know that the audience for this magazine isn’t all English- or all Spanish-speaking,” Kelly says. “The households we serve are often blended or extended families where grandma or mom might speak Spanish, but the kids might speak English.

“However, we also know that when it comes to medical information—even if a parent is pretty fluent in English—they like to receive it in Spanish because it’s more comfortable to them,” Kelly continues. “That’s why this format works so well.”

The articles, written at a third-grade reading level, tackle relevant topics like domestic abuse and spanking. The articles are highly visual, and they’re typically short and contain a variety of lists, charts and pull quotes that help readers break down content into easily digested information. A puzzle page was added to provide an activity that parents and their children could work on together.

While the earlier format of Checkup was mailed to homes and well received in the community, the new audience for this publication is more transient. A new distribution model had to be developed. Today, the majority of Checkup copies are distributed via the waiting rooms of the Cook Children’s Neighborhood Clinics and the medical center, as well as through community partner organizations with similar goals, such as the Boys & Girls Clubs, local school districts and the YMCAs. It is also mailed to the system’s CCHAPS respondents.


The response to the new Checkup has been outstanding—both from the community publication’s audience as well as from internal stakeholders, who recognize the much-needed shift to align with digital trends in population health.

“When you change the format of a magazine you’ve been doing—especially when you’re happy with the magazine and its results—it’s a gamble,” Kelly says. “But this is one case where we feel like it’s been worth it. It’s been so popular that everyone wonders why we didn’t do this earlier.”

To measure reader engagement, Cook Children’s used True North Custom’s suggestion of a contest that readers can enter to win a $25 gift card. Kelly estimates she receives more than 100 entries each issue—an overwhelming response considering the magazine isn’t mailed to most homes.

Cook Children’s has also performed several readership surveys that yielded these strong results:

  • Half those surveyed read the issue from cover to cover.
  • Everyone surveyed read at least half of the issue.
  • Eight in 10 used the information learned from the publication, and nearly 7 in 10 shared the information with someone else.