Background

In July 2008, Ambulance Victoria was formed after the merger of The Rural Ambulance Service, The Metropolitan Ambulance Service and The Alexandra and District Ambulance Service with the objective that a single service organisation will enable substantial improvements to be made to the overall performance of the service across the state.

Client: Ambulance Victoria
Agency: Reactive

Objective

The organisation needed a new integrated digital strategy and a new website would be part of that. The key objective being that it had to offer visitors information about membership, which should be targeted at different groups in the community including singles, families and, corporates. Prior to this the old organisation’s site focused on the heroic side of the Ambulance Service’s work and was primarily an educational site.

Strategy

Rather than just replicating the good aspects of what all three organisations had before, Ambulance Victoria decided to invest time, money and resources into usability testing prior to embarking on the project. This mean the Ambulance Victoria site would deliver what its target audience wanted.

This usability research was conducted in November 2008, and its key findings identified that 70% of users came to the site to find out about membership. With this intelligence in mind it meant that a completely fresh approach was required for the new site.

The website architecture was designed with the organisation’s key objectives in mind, which were:

  • increase membership of the Ambulance Service
  • increase awareness about the Ambulance Victoria’s work
  • demonstrate that paramedics are highly skilled, and
  • drive recruitment by presenting Ambulance Victoria as an ‘employer of choice’.

“We want Victorians to know that ambulance drivers are not just that. They are highly skilled paramedics that are trained to deal with all kinds of major and minor emergency situations,” said James Howe, communications manager, Ambulance Victoria.

Execution

Having worked with digital agency Reactive for over ten years, Ambulance Victoria trusted its team there to do a great job with the new organisation’s website. The site went live on August 7th, 2009.

Educational

Two educational elements of the new Ambulance Victoria site are to ensure consumers know to dial 000 in an emergency and also to raise awareness of the costs that are charged to non-members that need to use the Ambulance Service at any point.

“Membership for singles costs only $5 a month, but an emergency ambulance pick-up could cost an individual in the region of $5,000 – $7,000,” said Howe.


Features for kids

To support its existing Ambulance in School Program, Ambulance Victoria wanted to include features in its new site that would appeal to kids, while being educational. Flash games showing kids how to react in an emergency, as well as showing them virtual tours of Ambulance Service equipment and vehicles.

Video and social media

Due to the increasing popularity of online video, Ambulance Victoria’s site incorporates an extensive collection including the organisation’s current TV commercials, instructional videos about first aid and dramatic rescues.

Ambulance Victoria has introduced Twitter, Facebook and Digg as part of its overall digital strategy. The public can now engage with the organisation and find out its news via its Twitter and Facebook pages.

Bushfires and other major emergencies

Due to the risk of bushfires, Ambulance Victoria can now change its homepage to reflect a current major emergency situation immediately. Ambulance Victoria can now update the public and its members about what is happening on the ground during a disaster and it can provide advice and hotline numbers to contact during an emergency.

Results

As a result, Ambulance Victoria has: 


  • grown its site visitor numbers by 15%
  • 
reduced its bounce rate to 25%

  • increased membership applications by 10%

  • achieved number one Google ranking for ‘ambulance’ and ‘paramedic’
  • 
an emergency response procedure to inform the public about bushfires etc
  • 
a social media community to increase membership with thousands of members
  • 
raised awareness of the costs involved in ambulance services without membership
  • 
used online video of dramatic rescues to raise awareness of the work of paramedics, and

  • included five flash games for kids to explain the best approach in an emergency situation including the triple zero number.

“Our new website has already had a major impact on membership applications, with membership traffic up ten 10%, converting into increased new membership joins. We are now delivering what the citizens of Victoria actually want and we believe that our website will help us achieve our business objective of driving membership for the organisation, to ensure that Victorians can get access to ambulance services without experiencing bill shock,” said Greg Sassella, CEO of Ambulance Victoria.