Case study:

How Cardinal Health's Content Distribution Strategy Increased Traffic by 3x

A new content distribution strategy turned Cardinal Health into one of the healthcare industry’s top publishers


Cardinal Health’s digital publication, Essential Insights, speaks to a specialized audience of health system professionals, pharmaceutical manufacturers, retail pharmacists, and physician offices. Stories deal with weighty topics like shaping the future of healthcare and improving patient care. Not only is growing an audience crucial to Cardinal Health’s business, it also has the potential to educate the people in charge of America’s healthcare system.

In 2017, Cardinal Health’s Essential Insights team had a standard publishing process. They would commission an article, post it online, and share it on the company Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn profiles.

“We put that structure in place a few months before we partnered with Contently,” said Stephanie Pavol, corporate communications manager for Cardinal Health. “We were just doing organic distribution before. So we might be lucky if we had five hundred views on an article.”

The results weren’t bad for a niche audience. But after a few months, the team noticed that while the content was getting better, the engagement remained the same. That’s when an important realization led to a breakthrough.

“Our content was sitting too much in the middle of the funnel,” said Katie Minister, director of digital marketing and e-commerce for Cardinal Health. “Our work with Contently was to help us build an enterprise program that could serve content to the top of the funnel.”


Together, Contently and Cardinal Health crafted a content calendar and distribution strategy that would amplify the reach of its top-of-funnel content. Tactics included researching target groups, testing headlines, and experimenting across different distribution platforms. Contently’s dedicated distribution manager advised Cardinal Health on how to maximize ROI with paid content distribution.

The biggest challenge came down to overcoming healthcare regulatory concerns. “We worked through the process to make sure every kind of headline was in line with industry guardrails,” Pavol said. “It really helped us drill down into our niche audience within health systems or pharmaceutical companies and optimize our campaigns.”

Together, Cardinal Health and Contently locked in on Facebook and LinkedIn as the primary platforms for its paid program. It also invested in Outbrain to get some initial visibility with a wider audience.

“We’d never have been able to get this level of traffic without implementing paid social.”

As Cardinal Health grew more comfortable experimenting with paid distribution, the marketing team started to publish more efficiently. Distributing content used to take a few days; now it takes less than a day to execute all promotion for a story. The Essential Insights team has the trust of the business to work with Contently’s distribution manager and make smart decisions.

The paid content distribution also supported existing marketing programs. For example, Cardinal Health sends monthly emails to subscribers that recap the most important content. The increase in paid spend correlated with a surge in email sign-ups.

After a little more than a year, the results speak for themselves. Cardinal Health tripled its average monthly site traffic and increased email subscribers by about 200 percent, adding thousands of targeted, dedicated readers to its audience.

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