Bupa is an international healthcare group that serves 32 million customers in 190 countries, and employs 84,000 people.
In Australia, Bupa is best known for its health insurance business but it is also a leading private residential aged care provider with more than 70 care homes across the country, operates dental and optical networks as well as provides rehabilitation services.
You can now add ‘media company’ to its list of businesses.
Introducing ‘The Blue Room’
Bupa runs The Blue Room, an online destination that provides “advice and information you can trust, and real stories to help inspire you to live a longer, healthier, happier life”.
Now, you’d assume the whole health information online space is a really crowded, yeah? I mean, Dr Google is everywhere. And here Bupa is, setting itself a goal of becoming a large-scale publisher of health-related content.
But therein lies the opportunity! The tsunami of health information available online can cause confusion for people; throw into the mix much of it has been produced overseas and is not always pertinent for Australians and it’s not hard to see why Bupa has grabbed the chance to position itself as a trusted source of health-related information for Australians.
Bupa’s three core markets are Spain, Australia and the UK; while all three operations have produced content over the journey, it was Australia that led the way in terms of using content marketing more strategically by addressing the question: How can we develop content as a business asset as opposed to just producing content for the sake of it?
According to Bupa’s Head of Global Content Strategy, Matt Allison, Bupa’s foray into content marketing via The Blue Room was grounded in business strategy as well as customer outcomes.
Matt, whose background is in media relations and corporate affairs, has operated under a remit based around developing an enterprise-wide content marketing strategy to better connect Bupa with its customers as well as drive commercial outcomes.
The fact Bupa is well-noted for health insurance but provides a broad range of services for which it is not as well known was a key consideration in developing The Blue Room.
Says Matt: “How do we create a (digital) hub that will let us engage with customers and talk to them about the breadth of services we offer and our skills and the like … how do we do that in a way that we’re operating like a publisher and we’re providing that utility rather than just trying to sell things?”
The goals underpinning development of The Blue Room were grounded in questions the company needed to address:
- How can Bupa increase people’s understanding of its breadth of services?
- How can the brand become loved by more people?
- How does Bupa start to drive commercial outcomes such as increased purchase consideration and ultimately sales through content marketing?
‘Under the hood’ of The Blue Room
The Blue Room is based around four ‘content pillars’:
- Manage & Recover
Under each of these pillars are a number of content ‘themes’ that dictate Bupa’s editorial direction.
According to Matt, Bupa undertook a lot of customer engagement to get to these four pillars: Did these pillars meet their needs?
“That was invaluable,” Matt says. “It didn’t change the strategy but we tweaked elements of it based on what customers said.”
At last count (mid-2016) some 3500 content assets had been produced for The Blue Room, and it continues to grow every day, says Matt.
In terms of traffic, at the end of 2016 – a year and a half after its launch – the site had clocked up the following statistics:
- 3.5 million unique visitors
- four million visits
- five million page views
- a high level of returning visitors
- 17 million minutes people have spent on The Blue Room engaging with Bupa’s content
According to Matt, these metrics all doubled from year one to year two and are continuing in an upward trend today, coming up to two years on since The Blue Room was launched.
For people who have visited The Blue Room, 70 per cent say that they love Bupa (according to Bupa research; compared to people who haven’t visited The Blue Room, that number is significantly lower, says Matt).
The following measures are also “at least double” for people who have visited The Blue Room versus those who haven’t – purchase consideration and understanding the breadth of services Bupa provides.
“Those sort of metrics are really important … because it shows that it’s actually delivering true business value,” he says.
According to Matt, a long term objective for The Blue Room is to become the Australian health destination for the four (content) pillars of caring, families, becoming healthier, and managing and recovering.
This is not some lofty ‘pie in the sky’ goal developed in a marketing brainstorm session but one grounded in research that identified a key customer pain-point:
There was no Australian site that provided health information all in the one place.
Matt says people wanted an Australian site they could trust that would become their go-to source for health-related information.
Social media and influencer relations
While The Blue Room is a major owned media play, like most savvy brands today Bupa realises that earned media and social media also play critical roles in content marketing, and that somewhere along the line they should all blend for optimum results.
In the video chat I had with Matt (above), he discusses how Bupa approaches social media and provides some interesting background on how the brand integrates its influencer relations activity.
We also discuss the differences between influencer marketing versus influencer relations, a topic I cover in depth in this article.
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