Search 2.0: Case study – Bupa

For more than three decades, Bupa has grown to be the largest medical insurer in Hong Kong, known for its quality services and expertise in health insurance.

To both consumers and business, e-commerce plays an important part in the market nowadays as it becomes one of the most important channels to stay competitive in an ever-changing market. Hence, Bupa proactively uses search engine as a key channel to support its e-commerce growth.

As an early adopter of online marketing in the insurance industry, Bupa is a pioneer in leveraging paid search as a key medium in driving product awareness and sales leads. Over time, the market has become more competitive with an influx of other insurance companies of which many have moved into the digital marketing space.

Bupa’s first-mover advantage faded and driving ROI from its search investment had become a key challenge. The click volume had been greatly diluted by the presence of other insurance ads appearing around its properties.

CPC on generic keywords had lifted up four times in a quarter. Relying on a single medium could no longer generate the desired level of site traffic and sales lead to Bupa. And, hence, the marketing objective was to explore new channels to complement search to generate more leads and restore ROI.

The core of the strategy designed for Bupa was to adopt multi-digital channels to its simplified customer conversion funnel: awareness, interest and purchase, with the aim to not only engage a much broader base of audience, who are scattered across channels, but also influence customer preference along the funnel to increase the likelihood to convert.

1. Wider reach of audience:
Despite search being ranked top among all online activities, online users’ attention has been spread across other online channels supported by the fact that 93% of HK’s 4.8 million active online users are engaged in social media (source: comScore) and there are 4.6 million of 3G or 3.5G mobile users accessing mobile content (source: ADMA). Adding social and mobile to the media mix will greatly enhance the reach which cannot be captured by search.

2. More relevant messaging to cater to channel-specific behaviour:
Online users demonstrate different behaviour in different channels, and it was analysed Bupa’s customers typically go through an awareness-interest-purchase conversion funnel. Adopting a cross-channel strategy allows Bupa to customise its ad messages to online users who are at the different stages of the buying cycle.

3. Cost efficiency:
Although mobile search generates less traffic than desktop search, mobile users show a much stronger buying intent that helps in driving ROI. Also, mobile search is still in its infancy in HK and so CPC is lower than that in desktop search by as much as 60% to 80%. Therefore, mobile search acts as a perfect hedge to the cost fluctuation in desktop search.

4. Create a sense of trustworthiness:
Blog recommendations are perceived as more trustworthy over commercials. Bupa has made use of HK’s top discussion forums to create positive viral. This in turn gave rise to a spillover effect which drove interested clients to search for more information.

5. Long-tail strategy and in-depth keyword diagnosis:
Adopting long-tail keywords helps to attain cost-efficiency, but Bupa’s optimisation tactic uses an innovative keyword diagnostic model to
evaluate keyword effectiveness and generate actionable insights.

6. Creative adaptation to mobile environment:
Instead of a lengthy lead form, mobile search results would lead to a call button where consumers could get a quotation instantly over the phone.

7. Wide selection of local forums and customised topics:
A wide variety of forums were chosen, including mass-focused (Yahoo knowledge+), men-focused ( and parent-focused
( to generate interest for the wide spectrum of Bupa’s products. The topic of the posts in each forum was carefully selected to arouse users’ interest.

Restored awareness and CTR in desktop search: With the buzz and iWOM generated in local forums, 100% and 60% of search result pages in Google and Yahoo respectively was client-controlled content when branded keywords were entered. The increased impression share in search results allowed Bupa to restore the high CTR at around 0.17% on average.

A 318% increase in web traffic and a 288% increase in leads from desktop search: The unique keyword diagnostic tool was effective in identifying keywords, especially the long-tail ones, with up-bid potential.

This allowed Bupa to make use of the low-cost, high-performance keywords that were not bid by its competitors. On the other hand, the web analytic tools used by Bupa has shown that 18% of the increased web traffic was coming from new customers.

This was largely attributed to the adoption of the multi-channel strategy which identified new customers that had not been reached by Bupa before when leveraging only search channels.

A 38% increase in ROI overall: Paid search optimisation by taking in-depth analysis has itself improved desktop search ROI by 30%. Unexpectedly, the overall ROI was lifted up by mobile search where the total sales volume coming from mobile search was accounted for 15%.

Download the full PDF of the report here.