In the second quarter of 2021, Communications focused efforts on deeper engagement in some of our traditional ecosystems (media and policymakers) as well as building relationships in newer ecosystems, particularly in the commercial health sector. Most engagement metrics held steady compared with Q1, but in some categories there were YoY decreases when compared with historic highs in 2020, driven by the success of last year’s 19&Me amplification.
Our search engine optimization (SEO) research paid off in Q2, as we implemented titling and tagging strategies that resulted in top Google returns for our engagement efforts related to DEI (transgender inclusive communication) and predictive risk modeling.
With 48% more views than our products and services content, our thought leadership content, including blog posts, podcasts, web feature pages, social media posts, and video/multimedia products—remain our most powerful tools for building awareness of our work and creating engagement opportunities within our ecosystems.
In Q2 2021, there were 347K pageviews and 180K visits to mathematica.org, compared with 354K pageviews/198K visits in Q2 2020.
Year-over-year, site traffic decreased from peak 2020 levels reached at the outset of the pandemic, largely driven by the extraordinary popularity of the 19 and Me: A COVID-19 Risk Calculator blog post. However, the year-long trend of exceeding 100K pageviews per month has continued.
586 site visitors signed up to our email newsletter list in Q2 2021, contributing to our current total of 39K email subscribers. Year-over-year, the list size has decreased by 30%, from an April 2020 all-time high of 55K subscribers, which was boosted by an opportunistic list acquisition of 26K registrants of the South by Southwest Conference.
COVID-related thought leadership and resources published in 2020 remained the site’s most accessed content, including Learning in the Midst of a Pandemic: Four Key Education Takeaways and COVID-19 Curated Data, Modeling, and Policy Resources. Newer content features on Our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Journey and Transgender Inclusive Communication the Careers page were also popular.
To broaden the representation within the staff directory on the site, which serves as a key contact touchpoint for visitors, we published 48 new and updated profiles, bringing the total number to nearly 500.
YoY Traffic Change
Quarterly page views
Top 10 viewed pages
New vs Returning Users
To advance our mission and vision and support the objectives of Mathematica’s 2021 – 2024 strategy, Communications is expanding our presence and engagement in key ecosystems. This year we are executing quarterly thematic campaigns that focus on cross-cutting, timely, and strategic topics. These campaigns aim to position Mathematica as a leader on critical and emerging issues and engage evidence communities.
Our content campaign in Q2 focused on promoting content related to diversity, equity, and inclusion. We created a centralized campaign web page that brought together related content and promoted the page through email, social media, and search engine optimization efforts. Q2’s DEI campaign generated a total of 2,367 website visits (sessions) while Q1’s campaign (COVID-19) generated a total of 4,505 visits. There are several reasons for this, including more circulation of COVID-19 content through email, greater content generation efforts related to COVID-19, and higher search volume for COVID-19 content than for DEI in general, as demonstrated by Google Trends analysis comparing search interest in COVID-19 (blue) compared with DEI (red).
COVID-19 vs DEI Visits
Highest Google search rankings
The feature page Transgender Inclusive Communication took the #1 spot in organic Google search results for transgender inclusive communication, and #3 for transgender inclusive language. The page was also selected to be a featured snippet in Google Search results.
Most engaging content
These pages were promoted as part of the Q2 content campaign on DEI and retained our audience’s attention for an average of over five minutes, compared to a site-wide average of 1:47. High-engagement pages are strong candidates for re-promotion and additional amplification throughout the year.
- Resources for Culturally Responsive Teaching [5:22]
- Transgender Inclusive Communication [6:22]
- A Conversation about Diversity, Inclusion, and Justice and Mathematica and Beyond [5:26]
In Q3, we will pivot our focus to data and technology, with our campaign, Data Science for Social Good.
The Mathematica blog featured 27 new posts during the second quarter of 2021, a 33% decrease in content over the same quarter in 2020. The year-over-year decrease in the number of posts reflects a tapering off in bandwidth and content, following the surge of thought leadership activity in the spring of last year, when staff turned to the blog as an initial step for influencing public conversations about how research and evidence could help with the pandemic response. The blog earned 29,000 pageviews during Q2, which represented a 66% decrease from the same period in 2020. Excluding 19-and-Me, pageviews in the past quarter were down 24% compared to second quarter of 2020.
New posts in the last quarter were contributed by 42 different authors, including 16 coauthors from outside Mathematica, an indicator of our deep bench of experts and our strong partnerships with other leaders in the evidence-building ecosystem. Although the blog continued to explore timely insights and evidence-based solutions related to COVID-19, several of the most popular posts of the quarter focused on advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion, including a piece by Jill Albanese and Dawnavan Davis previewing Mathematica’s activities in honor of Celebrate Diversity Month. Other popular posts included Paul Decker’s post about the importance of equity in Mathematica’s 2035 vision and reflections from Amy Berridge about the success of the internal Humans of Mathematica series in using personal storytelling to celebrate staff diversity and increase empathy within the organization. Pageviews from blogs represented 8.4% of overall traffic to Mathematica website, down from 24% in the second quarter of 2020. Readers spent an average of more than four minutes (4:01) on blog pages, significantly more than the overall website average of 1:44.
Average Time on Post
% of Total Traffic
Top 3 Posts
- Supporting Maternal Mental Health During COVID-19 (473 pageviews)
- How Fatherhood Programs Supported Dads During the Pandemic (384 pageviews)
- Advancing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Through Reflection, Discussion, and Sharing (369 pageviews)
Mathematica’s podcast, On the Evidence, had 4,066 listens in the second quarter of 2021, which was about a 32 percent decrease from the same quarter in the previous year. We continue to earn ~1,000 listens, on average, per episode, but with fewer episodes (four instead of the usual six), our overall listens have decreased. Guest availability and scheduling challenges, as well as time required for client review of project-related content contributed to the reduction in number of episodes released.
Although the COVID-19 pandemic continued to be a theme in many of the episodes, the podcast also explored topics related to diversity, equity, and inclusion. As part of an ongoing effort to feature a wider range of voices and perspectives on the show, On the Evidence included 13 guests during the quarter, including independent members of Mathematica’s Board of Directors, a thought partner from philanthropy, as well as program participants and staff at local community-based organizations. In this quarter, we published the following episodes:
- The June 23 episode featured Mathematica’s Danielle DeLisle with Anthony Sessoms and Ryan Pratt of Bright Beginnings discussing the D.C.-area nonprofit’s strategy to include fathers in social services programming as a way to improve the well-being of children and families.
- The May 12 episode featured Mathematica’s Jia Pu and the Public Health Foundation’s Ilya Plotkin discussing the importance of building an equitable and effective contract tracing workforce in the next phase of the pandemic.
- The April 28 episode featured five guests, including Mathematica’s Rebekah Selekman discussing ways fatherhood programs pivoted during the pandemic to support fathers and their families.
- The April 21 episode a conversation between current and former members of Mathematica’s Board of Directors, Patricia A. King, LaVerne H. Council, and Akira Bell, about advancing diversity, inclusion, and justice at Mathematica and in the broader evidence-building community.
YoY Listens Change
Top 3 Podcasts
Mathematica content was distributed nearly 900,000 times during the second quarter, and we’ve connected and collaborated with peers, clients, and thought leaders across platforms. Highlights include:
- In May, Mathematica was honored with a national award for its Primary Care Covid Chat, a Twitter chat series we’ve led since early 2020, thanks to a partnership between the Health Unit and our Communications team. The Digital + Social Media Award for Best Use of Twitter for Community Engagement from PRNews and the Social ShakeUp recognized the performance and strategy of our Primary Care Covid Chat, which has so far earned more than 2 million impressions (displays on Twitter) and brought 26 leading health care organizations on board as cohosts.
- In Q2, we used our social media accounts to feature our work and voices from our company during Pride Month, Celebrate Diversity Month, Juneteenth, and Teacher Appreciation Week. We were also proud to use social media to share the news that Mathematica was named 2021 ESOP of the Year by the New York/New Jersey Chapter of the ESOP Association. Together with the ongoing amplification of our research and evaluation partnerships and work for clients whose social media efforts often work in tandem with our own, Mathematica content was distributed more than 890,000 times across social platforms in the second quarter.
- Our social media accounts together now have more than 50,000 followers, a milestone we reached in June.
YoY Impressions Change
QoQ Followers Change
Top Facebook Post
With the launch of three major Biden Administration policy plans (the American Families Plan, the American Jobs Plan, and the American Rescue Plan), along with the Presidential Executive Order on Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government, Mathematica’s government affairs team had a very strong quarter promoting the use of evidence in policy making and within programs. Q2 policymaker engagements included:
- Engagement with Senator Maggie Hassan's (D-NH) office to estimate the net costs, using Medicaid and federal survey data, of helping people remain in their homes and avoid entering institutional care. Insights from this work helped inform the policy changes suggested in the Better Care, Better Jobs Act, which looks to strengthen Medicaid’s Home and Community-Based Services landscape by giving states money to expand their home-based care programs. The legislation sets aside $100 million for states to develop plans to expand access to strengthen the home-based care workforce.
- Mathematica’s research on untreated maternal mental health conditions informed the development of and helped Texans Care for Children make the case for passage of Texas State legislation HB 133 which, among other things, extends Medicaid coverage from 60 days to twelve months following the birth of a child.
- Provided thought leadership content targeting policymaker audiences, including a new webpage promoting the use of evidence and data to implement provisions of the American Families Plan.
- Led efforts to reintroduce the Pregnancy Assistance Fund with partners, including coordination of more than ten meetings with congressional staff and development of several thought leadership products.
Top 3 Topics
- Home and community based services
- Maternal mental health
- Workforce development
Internally hosted virtual meetings requiring Communications support continues to increase. We hosted 134 WebEx and Zoom meetings, with ~10k attendees, compared with 113 meetings and 3,600 attendees in Q2 2020. Externally, we hosted 13 events, with 982 live attendees and 174 on-demand attendees, down from 21 events and a total of 4,984 attendees in Q2 2020.
Among the top external web events produced and hosted were the June T-MSIS National Webinar, with 377 live attendees, and the Strengthening the Direct Care Workforce: Scaling Up and Sustaining Strategies That Work webinar, with 353 live attendees.
Replicating success from Q1, a video produced for our ACO project and featured on a CMS main resources page earned the most views in Q2. Our main brand video, Progress Together, came in second, the video we produced for International Literacy Day in 2019 came in third, due to its heavy circulation on YouTube’s Suggested Videos.
Video content has changed since last year, from Covid-related and Black Lives Matter responses to project-related work to promote our work and the work of our clients – and that work has increased significantly, so that we now have 3 design staff producing animated videos, along with a couple freelancers.
Projects that begun in Q1 and will continue through this year and next include; 3 process explainer videos for the Pathways Clearinghouse; 9 videos for the Sexual Risk Avoidance Education National Evaluation; 5 short pieces for the NextGen employment study; 2 videos discussing tobacco cessation strategies targeting pregnant women for the CoreSet project and 5 short promotional pieces geared towards our data health capabilities as it relates to our work with the state of Arizona.
Total Video Views
YoY Views Change
Top 3 Videos
Accountable Care Organizations
Mathematica - Progress Together
Why is Literacy so Important?
During Q2, our work was covered 87 times in a variety of national, local, and trade media as well as in high-profile blogs. Coverage was evenly split between the Health and Human Services units and augmented by an op-ed by Paul Decker in Route Fifty, a feature interview with Akira Bell, and an article highlighting Mathematica as one of the best places to work for LGBTQ+ individuals. Some articles ran in multiple outlets, boosting the total number of mentions to 434 for the quarter.
Our staff published 13 articles in peer-reviewed journals during the quarter, 5 in human services and 8 in health topics. An article written by Greg Peterson about the Million Hearts program and published in JAMA Cardiology also earned coverage in TCTMD, on online news source covering cardiovascular disease research and practice.
In the second quarter of 2021, Mathematica participated in nine conferences: including AcademyHealth’s Annual Research Meeting, the National Conference of the National Rural Health Association, the Comparative and International Education Society (CIES), the IES Annual Reading Summit, and several others. During the AcademyHealth conference, our team presented their latest insights on a diverse range of topics in behavioral health, long-term care, and primary care.
Top 3 Presentations
- AcademyHealth: Access to Care for People with Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders During the COVID-19 Pandemic, Melissa Azur. [LINK]
- AcademyHealth: Emerging Evidence on the Impact of COVID-19 in Long-Term Care, Patricia Rowan, Debra Lipson, Michael Levere, and Noelle Denny-Brown. [LINK]
- National Association of Counties Future of Work Summit: County Preparation for the Future of Work, Jill Berk. [LINK]
We have created on-demand dashboards in ServiceNow for editorial, production, design, digital, and library services. These reports compare trends from the current and previous quarter, as well as the current and previous year. They are still being refined, and we welcome your input on additional data that would be of interest.