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Nov 15, 2012
Case Study

Content Marketing: Interactive infographic blog post generates 3.9 million views for small insurance company

SUMMARY: As a smaller company with big competition, HCC Medical Insurance Services needed a way to distinguish its content. The company found success in embracing nontraditional and interactive efforts to reach its consumers and engage them year round.

By moving toward interactive infographics, the team was able to achieve a 1,000% lift in blog traffic, as well as significant lifts in social media followers and email revenue.
by Courtney Eckerle, Reporter

CHALLENGE

As a smaller insurance company, HCC Medical Insurance Service (HCCMIS) "had to find new, nontraditional ways to reach our target consumers," said Muhammad Yasin, Director of Marketing, HCC Medical Insurance Services.

HCCMIS started out as an online company a decade ago, according to Yasin. Incorporating cutting-edge technology and trends into its content is an expression of the company identity and culture, and is what first led HCCMIS to develop infographics, and later led the company to make them interactive.

"We were one of the first insurance companies to actually sell policies online, and we have always held on to that as our competitive advantage -- being quick, nimble online and trying new things as frequently as we possibly can," said Yasin.

HCCMIS's challenge, according to Yasin, was turning the "boring" topic of insurance into a piece of content that its customers wanted to view, talk about and share.

CAMPAIGN

HCCMIS has a unique value to offer travelers looking to purchase insurance, and needed a way to draw consumers’ attention to it through the content on its blog.

"We just made a big change to our product, which was including coverage for extreme sports activities," he said.

According to Yasin, most insurance companies offer coverage for activities such as rock climbing or skiing, but "with most companies, you have to buy an extra up-sell in your policy in order to get to it. They call it a rider. So it’s extra protection on top of the normal cost of your insurance. We decided we were going to go ahead and just include it in our policies."

To promote this unique value that an HCCMIS policy could offer to consumers, the team decided to go beyond static infographics and create the "Extreme Guide to the World," as the beginning of its highly interactive series.

The infographic has three sections:
  • The anatomy of an adventure traveler

  • An adventure quiz

  • World-wide bucket list

In the first section, pop-out bullets give the reader information on different necessities for adventure travel, according to Yasin.

"So what you click on first is maybe his shoes, and it will tell you these are the types you need to look for. … We look into the backpack, and it has tips but it also has a real thumbnail video … [of] one of our prior customers who is a backpacker, talking about how to pack your backpack for a trip," Yasin said.

In the adventurer quiz, participants collect "Extreme Points" and can share their score via Facebook or Twitter. Points are given for checking off items such as, "Nap while sky diving? Yeah that sounds like a good idea" and "You know how to ask for malaria pills in 6 languages."

The third section, a worldwide bucket list, features extreme activities to participate in around the world, such as alligator wrestling in Florida, extreme ironing in England and Ireland (it requires ironing along difficult terrain and locations), or bridge swinging in Namibia. The ski stunting bullet in Canada also features a video of a previous customer skiing off trail.

The team took five steps to execute this campaign.

Step #1. Make infographic as interactive as possible

Yasin said the team had a lot of past success creating infographics, but to spark more interest, it decided to make them interactive.

"We have to differentiate ourselves in some way, instead of basically creating the same static infographic over and over and over with different content," said Yasin.

Static infographics are "what the infographic marketing phenomenon is becoming," Yasin said. "The same vertically long … four, five sections of just data after data point after data point after data point. That was really awesome three years ago; it’s not so much anymore."

Developing multiple layers and areas for consumers to share via social networks has made a huge difference, according to Yasin.

"One of the reasons why people spend so much time on a page with [the interactive infographic is] because there were more and more things to find," Yasin said, especially once video was added inside.

"It wasn’t something that you could just go outside it, scroll down really quickly and go about your business," he said.

Step #2. Find the topic people want to talk about

The biggest thing in creating content, "is in understanding who the person is," said Yasin. While insurance may not be the most obviously share-worthy topic, he asserts that any industry can find some segment that will catch the attention of current and potential customers.

By focusing on a topic travel medical insurance buyers are interested in -- travel -- HCCMIS is able to "create content that is valuable to the right people, people that we can actually turn into customers," said Yasin.

Creating an effective graphic hinges on finding out what the potential customer is interested in, from the perspective of why they are purchasing your service, according to Yasin.

"What kind of event did they have that is necessitating them buying this product? Once you know that answer, you will find something that is actually interesting to talk about that can then tie back to the product you are trying to sell," he said.

Current events

With another product HCCMIS sells, short-term medical policies, Yasin leveraged a topic in the news for a recent interactive infographic.

"People are in between jobs, or are out of college and were dropped off their parents' plan, and need something to hold them over until they get a new job," said Yasin.

The hunger for news about unemployment led to focusing the infographic as an "Unemployment Guide."

The guide goes through things like, "if you lose a job, how to communicate with your family, how to find a new job, how to save up while you are hunting for that job," said Yasin.

It also gives unemployment rate statistics around the country by state, as well as by industry. Another feature informs you on how to file for unemployment by state.

Time of year

Regarding travel, Yasin said the team continually looks to what people will be interested in with the season, and where and how they will be traveling.

For the holiday season, HCCMIS will focus "family travel, or coming up on Thanksgiving … how to get your kids on an airplane and keep them happy. … Even how to recuperate after you get back -- those sorts of things."

Step #2. Conduct a micro-test

Yasin said a test was done earlier in the year with an infographic that was slightly interactive. It allowed people to click countries to see what international vaccines were required or other health concerns for that area.

The test run, posted on the blog and promoted through social media, had an unexpected result.

"We actually got a random phone call from the [Center of Disease Control] (CDC) a week after it went live, saying that the person in charge of their outreach … one of his friends had done it on Facebook and sent it over to him, and he really loved it," said Yasin.

The response from an unexpected source was invaluable, according to Yasin.

"We actually got a relationship with the CDC, and chat with them on some of the projects, as well. It was amazing for me, as a marketer in a small organization," he said.

Step #3. Reach out to influencers

Reaching out to influencers and thought leaders is a vital part of the process in creating a detailed infographic that resonates with the target audience, said Yasin.

"I talk to them first to get a few ideas and make sure we are going in the right direction, and then we will continue researching, once we get those first few pointers," he said.

Developing relationships with influencers, as well as people who are simply interested in the topic, can lend vital knowledge to content, according to Yasin.

"A lot of times I will first reach out to people that are interested in that topic, whether they are influencers or not. Just reaching out to people I know in town or through Twitter," he said.

This aspect raises awareness of keywords Yasin should be using, what to avoid, and simply discovering what they would find interesting about the topic themselves.

Ask for input throughout the process

Yasin said they continue to use influencers to guide them in the development phase through a certain series of questions, all the way through to the final phase before release:

  • Development phase

    "Is this going to be static? Is this going to be interactive? If it is interactive, how is it going to be laid out? What will the wireframe look like, what does the imagery look like?"

    All of those aspects are "determined by what the target persona is," said Yasin, and influencer’s input is valuable in determining the look of an infographic.

    "I am very big on making sure that we are creating material that, [when] the target persona gets that piece of material, they see themselves in it. I want them to see their face in that piece of content," he said.

  • Draft phase

    Going through the draft phases, Yasin said a few influencers are pulled in to "help us out with the editing process."

    This enables the marketing team to know if they are on the right track with their content, and if they are hitting the points their audience is interested in.


  • Final phase

    While coding and design is happening, Yasin said influencers who gave input will simultaneously be reached out to again.

    "As well as maybe one or two people that we haven’t spoken to yet that we didn’t want to approach without actually having something at hand -- sometimes with those high-level influencers you are not going to have a lot of time."

Step #4. Distribute content

Generally, Yasin said he prefers to have a few months in advance, where he can develop relationships with influencers who can promote the content once it is launched.

Once an infographic is complete, Yasin said influencers first receive it, to promote it within their circles. By including influencers in the content throughout its development, the influencers have a personal investment in its success, and this will encourage their communities to take an interest.

The infographic is usually released a day or two later through HCCMIS’s own communities, such as social media and email.

Social sharing is a large component of promoting the interactive infographics, especially within the quiz section, where sharing scores with Facebook and Twitter followers is encouraged.

Use distribution avenues to test

Once the full Adventure Traveler infographic was completed, Yasin said HCCMIS sent two emails to its list: one without the infographic and one featuring it a couple of weeks later.

"Versus the average … we tested, sending just a pure insurance one, and insurance with the infographic. [The infographic email] blew the other one out of the water," said Yasin.

The infographic with the email received a 96% lift in email revenue. Also tested was the reaction on Facebook -- previously HCCMIS had averaged 10 interactions per post, and the Adventure Traveler had more than 2,000.

Step #5. Repurpose content

Yasin said repurposing content is a big part of how they create, starting "from a high level and saying, ‘We have this great piece of content, how can we take portions of it and create other pieces of content off of it?’"

Repurposing is underused, according to Yasin. Online marketers "often think, ‘Do I need to start all over again?’ It’s not really the case; usually you have something else already in your back catalogue that will at least get you 90% down the road."

Repurpose to the motivations of different groups

"We have a network of about 350,000 … and they are all broken down into groupings as well. So they make sure the right people get it and get our folks down," said Yasin.

For example, Yasin said a large group of its audience is mission travelers, to whom the adventure traveler infographic would have had little appeal. So, they repurposed that into something that would specifically appeal to that group, while also containing value for the entire audience.

"They actually got it as content that was based off of that infographic, but redone for a missionary group," said Yasin.

It was the same basic idea, with essentially the same sections as the Adventure Traveler infographic -- the anatomy of a missionary, checklist and destinations sections -- simply repurposed for a different audience.



RESULTS

Since the Adventure Traveler post generated 3.9 million views, Yasin said the blog has been averaging much higher hits.

"We have been averaging two … three million brand impressions a month, since then. ... It kind of gave us a huge boost and then just kept us there," he said.
  • Blog traffic up more than 1,000%

  • 90% of visitors to the infographic were unique

  • Revenue from email up 96%

  • Impressions for the Adventure Traveler Facebook post up 815% over average monthly reach of all social activities

  • Averaged 10 interactions per published social activity previously, and the Adventure Traveler infographic obtained more than 2,000

"Don’t be afraid to make that piece of content really deep and really in depth because contrary to popular belief, not everyone on the Internet has a short attention span. They will stick around for longer than 30 seconds if you give them something to look at," said Yasin.

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Creative Samples

  1. Adventure Traveler infographic

  2. Unemployment infographic

  3. State unemployment infographic

Sources

HCC Medical Insurance Services blog

Related Resources

Content Marketing How-to: 7 steps for creating and optimizing content in any size organization

How to Create an Awesome Infographic (via Mashable)

Content Marketing: Mindjet’s infographic strategy boosts blog traffic 420%, Facebook views 313.4%

10 Steps To Designing An Amazing Infographic (via Co.Design)

Content Marketing: Four tactics that led to $2.5 million in annual contracts

See Also:

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