Case Study

Richmond Integrative & Functional Medicine

Dr. Aaron Hartman launched Richmond Integrative & Functional Medicine(RIFM) in January of 2017. We helped him convert local search engine traffic into a fully-funded, membership-based medical practice (in less than a year).


Richmond Integrative & Functional Medicine represents a newer model of medical care that is not presently recognized by the health insurance industry. As such, it is not possible to offer services reimbursed by traditional insurance plans. Instead, RIFM is built on voluntary membership. Our challenge, therefore, was to connect Dr. Hartman to a sufficient base of patients willing, able, and satisfied to pay into a voluntary membership service.

Name & SEO Strategy

When Dr. Hartman approached us with his vision for a new medical practice, our first significant marketing opportunity was to assist him in naming that practice.

Like most entrepreneurs, he had a name in mind already: RVA Integrative. By many accounts it was a good name. It was easy to say and spell, easy to remember, and rolled pleasingly off the tongue. It seemed to have a kind of insiders’ appeal — ‟RVA” is fast becoming an insiders’ nickname for Richmond locals. Finally, Dr. Hartman was making an important assumption: While his practice would focus on both integrative and functional medicine (he is board certified in both), he assumed that integrative was the more appealing of the two words to lead with. In other words, he assumed integrative medicine was more recognizable, familiar, and easily understood than functional medicine.

Functional vs. Integrative

We recognized Dr. Hartman was making an important assumption and tested it against data. We used Google Trends to compare the two search queries “integrative medicine” and “functional medicine” in both the US and Richmond area. We discovered that while integrative medicine was more commonly searched over the past ten years, functional medicine is clearly the rising star. One of the keys to successful branding is selecting the right trends to align your brand to — like a surfer selecting his wave. In this case, the data helped us to align the brand specifically to functional medicine.

RVA vs. Richmond

RVA may be simple to say and spell. It may even be a valuable local trend. Unfortunately, it doesn’t mean much to Google. Businesses that operate within a specific geographic area benefit greatly from optimizing their online presence for local search (local search is a sub branch of search engine optimization with its own rules and strategies). While many factors affect Google’s algorithm, it is difficult to overstate the impact that your business’ name and URL play in that algorithm, particularly when location-based searches are important. In Dr. Hartman’s case, we determined the value of claiming “Richmond” in his business’ name outweighed the simplicity or attractiveness of “RVA.”

A Developing SEO Strategy

Because we decided to focus on the search term “functional medicine,” we established the primary domain The full name of the practice, Richmond Integrative & Functional Medicine, provides further search detail. Moreover, by placing integrative first in the name, we kept the words “functional medicine” together. Consequently, each time we use the practice’s name in our site content, we are reinforcing the practice’s commitment to and and expertise in our key term. The name, therefore, became the cornerstone of a robust local search strategy.


The Brand as a Person

For doctors, in particular, the person embodies the brand. Dr. Aaron Hartman is the face of Richmond Integrative & Functional Medicine. The brand therefore needs to be an extension of the personal interaction provided by Dr. Hartman himself. Of particular significance, we focused on developing both beautiful and information-rich diagrams that help to make complex medical concepts accessible.

The Brand is a Bridge

In order to provide the best level of care, Dr. Hartman makes use of several third-party tools and resources. This has the potential to create a disjointed experience (when a member/patient is directed to a third-party website or receives a third-party resource) that could undermine that patient’s trust in the overall care being provided (and which they are paying for out-of-pocket). By planning out RIFM’s ecosystem of resources, we had the opportunity to build a brand that bridges several independent resources to create a relatively seamless experience of care.

Membership Conversion

While it’s great to capture organic search traffic, it’s better to signup new customers (or patients). A woman visiting is not yet a patient. How do we “convert” her? Hint: It takes more than a prominent phone number. There are strategies devoted to online impulse purchases (buying a product) or conversions (picking up the phone or filling out a form), but signing up for an out-of-pocket membership to a medical practice is not an impulse decision. After all, we captured her search traffic in the first place because she was searching online. In other words, she was researching her options. The website, then, must help to move her from the process of 1) researching her options to 2) making a decision and 3) acting on that decision. With a small subset of site visitors, we are able to move them through that conversion process in a single site visit (across multiple pages). For the majority of site visitors, however, it involves a process of collecting their contact information (lead capturing) and then re-engaging them over time (lead nurturing) with valuable information to help them make a decision, and then providing them with a clear and easy call-to-action.

Sufficient Site Traffic & Engagement + Lead Capture & Nurturing + Clear Call-to-Action + Frictionless Transaction


In less than six months, was the #1 ranked website for our key search term (and several related searches) in the Richmond area. In less than a year, RIFM was signing up enough new members per month to allow Dr. Hartman to transition fully to a membership model practice.

“My website has been my best advertising investment. After one year, 93% of my business is coming from pure web searches and clients routinely say the quality of the site is what made them chose me over the competition. To date it has been my only marketing and I’m presently booking over 4 months out.” —Dr. Hartman


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