Before it was the content marketing powerhouse it is today, Bupa was communicating with its members using, almost exclusively, traditional marketing and sponsorship campaigns. Matt Allison, the company’s Health & Care Content Marketing Manager, gives us a behind-the-scenes look at the journey from ideation to The Blue Room’s inauguration.
Mahlab The task of acquiring C-suite buy-in for a content marketing program is a tall order for many. You appear to have won it effortlessly. How’d you do it?
Matt Allison We were lucky enough to have someone on the ANZ executive team who championed our efforts. Our marketing director recognised that a lot of people were effectively doing similar things in isolation, and brought us together to work up a strategy around how to re-position Bupa – a strategy in which content plays a huge part. From there he engaged other key stakeholders.
I’ve had dozens of formal meetings where I did workshops or presented to people internally. You and I can go and build a hub tomorrow, but without engaging each and every facet of the business, we wouldn’t have the quality of product we do. There were so many instances where we thought we should do one thing but when we spoke to people, to potential and existing customers, we realised they wanted something very different. Because of this approach, Bupa was able to not only unify from the top down but also capture the IP across areas of the business. We took a co-creation approach to content, which was incredibly insightful and quite inspiring.
M What’s your advice to marketers struggling to get C-suite buy-in?
MA One of the ways to positively influence the decision makers is to first collaborate with your customers to pin-point what it is that they want and expect from your business – often many of their demands can be met through content, although this must be integrated into broader activity.
We recognised the need for our business to be providing greater utility to our customers. We ran internal workshops to firstly, figure out exactly how we could provide this utility and, secondly, to identify our competitive advantage. We examined the work of our competitors, conducted market research and engaged in a series of discussions with various other departments, after which we initiated conversations with real customers. We talked with them about content, about how they access health-related content and what information they wanted and needed.
Thanks to these conversations, we were able to collate a collection of comprehensive customer insights that we could then use to assess whether we wanted and/or had the ability to be providing our customers and prospects with content that addresses these challenges.
M And when you did that research, you found that many customers weren’t aware of the full suite of services Bupa offers.
MA Exactly. Bupa has produced so much content, like many big businesses, but we weren’t always putting the right content in front of the right customers at the right time. Or when we did, it was not part of a long-term content strategy. Throughout the launch process, we’ve been able to repurpose some of that existing content, which has been a good base to work from.
Ultimately, we want to find out if our content can shift the behaviour of customers. For example, Bupa run The Coach Program, through which we can identify members who have had a heart attack and offer lifestyle coaching over the phone. There’s a high percentage of people who have had one heart attack for whom the second one is fatal. For people who go through these coaching programs and make the lifestyle changes, we’ve seen that rate drop dramatically.
I look at that and ask myself, how can we leverage this across the digital sphere, and use content to help customers navigate the health system and improve their health.
M You mention Bupa’s business objectives. How closely tied is the new content program to these goals?
MA Our content strategy has been specifically designed to drive business outcomes. Our research shows that when people find out more about the services Bupa offers – from aged care, GP, optical and dental services to health, pet, car and general insurance – they like us a lot more as a company. We want people to know about how we can work with them to help them improve their health.
M Health is a hugely technical and expansive area of expertise. How have you made sure that the quality of your content is both technically sound and correctly targeted?
MA The business has always put a lot of effort into this, and we have really strong governance, as well as a dedicated health content team. We recognise that when customers turn to us for advice, they’re seeking information that is medically correct, as well consumer friendly. The focus is on simplifying without losing that technical credibility. I’m big on a pyramid structure, where you have snackable content at the top, such as a two-minute video, with increasingly technical information underneath. Then you can have a 30-page research paper available if people want to opt-in. Regardless of the person’s appetite for knowledge, you have different levels of that pyramid to accommodate them.
M When designing The Blue Room content hub, did you maintain a mobile- or desktop-first mindset?
MA It was mobile first. In terms of business strategy, our focus has been on taking a strategic content approach to truly engage people, and to do so in a way that drives retention, acquisition and cross-sell opportunities.
What we’re trying to achieve is so much bigger than just the content hub and our social media presence. Experimentation and testing are a part of this journey. We’re evaluating whether we can create a stronger presence building communities in our own channels or by using LinkedIn. Whether we decide to work with partners or bloggers. Then stepping back and looking at the roadmap to see how it lines up with business goals.
M Many people continue to mistake content marketing for a wholly isolated comms entity, separated from the rest of a business’s customer-centric endeavours. Can you elaborate on how you’ve integrated content marketing into Bupa’s overarching marketing and communications strategy?
MA We’ve been working really closely with the marcomms arm of the business because we all recognise that content marketing is going to build a mid-term pipeline of customers.
Bupa’s various business entities all have their own priorities, so what we’re doing is looking at how we can engage customers using content that’s relevant to each entity. As we take customers down the marketing funnel, we transition them over to the sales pathway. Again, the goal is to showcase the breadth of our services. Looking at our content marketing efforts holistically, as one part of an intricate whole, means we get that equal weighting and representation across Bupa’s many offerings.