How MedHelp Attracts 11 Million Visitors Each Month
A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to interview John DeSouza, CEO of online health community Medhelp. Medhelp is an amazing online success story; with more than 11,000,000 unique visitors per month, it is one of the most visited sites on the internet and a powerhouse in the medical answers space. It also generates millions of dollars each year in revenue through its unique and effective advertising model.
Here are some of the lessons I learnt:
Back To Basics
I like John because he's a very practical guy. In a day and age where people start and run businesses on crazy ideas, John has managed to keep a level head. He focuses all his business decisions around two simple questions – is there a real need, and is there a business model. Everything that Medhelp does is focused around answering these questions effectively.
This may sound obvious, but it's amazing how many silly business mistakes can be avoided by just asking these questions before jumping into a new project.
Growing The Traffic
John takes a very disciplined approach to growing traffic at MedHelp. The key is engagement. You want to create a community that provides valuable content to the community, while encouraging the community to provide as much information as possible.
To this end, John has rolled out a suite of tools that allow visitors to learn more about their health. He determined which tools to design by asking both patients and doctors what they wanted most. This way, he'd cater to the community's needs more effectively.
MedHelp also has a rigorous process in place to enforce good behavior within the community. Spam and offensive language are quickly detected and removed using automated software. Medhelp also employs a team of 10 people to manually monitor the community 24 hours per day.
John stresses that this oversight is necessary in order to maintain the brand and credibility of the site – this is NOT an area where you want to cut resources.
The Importance of Segmentation
As a community grows larger, it attracts numerous visitors with very different needs. What works for one type of visitor may not work for others. Therefore, it's important to segment visitors and quickly direct them to areas on the site that will benefit them the most.
Remember, it is trivially easy to leave a website, and adding value from the start is the only way to maximize retention.
This is also true for advertising. Medhelp sells all of its ads in-house, and emphasizes the importance of targeted, interactive ads. Engaged users are much more likely to produce referrals for doctors, which is a major source of revenue for the site.
What Goes Around…Comes Around
One of the nice thing about the internet is that it rewards people for adding value. If you create good content and let people know about it, they’ll share it with others who might also benefit. This “word-of-mouth” marketing is far more powerful than any spammy advertising could ever be.
This, more than anything else, is the mentality that has made Medhelp successful since Day 1. Give the people what they want, and they will give you a wonderful, thriving business.
It’s that simple.