How Apollo 24|7 reinvented its content marketing strategy during the pandemic

In this episode of Pepper Content’s Top of the Funnel series, Shamik Banerjee, Marketing and Customer Acquisition (CMO) at Apollo 24|7, talks about how content is about being relevant and timely today. He also gives some hacks that Apollo used to create a content marketing strategy during COVID-19.
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Health app Apollo 24|7 is a platform for every Indian to have access to quality healthcare, anywhere and anytime. Within a year of its launch, the application has managed to attract over 7 million registered users, with over one million weekly active users.

Today, Apollo 24|7 is a leading healthcare player in a few cities in India, and the app is on its way to replicating the success across the country. Shamik Banerjee, who is at the helm of the app’s marketing team, has previously worked with popular brands in the health insurance segment like Reliance, Aegon, Apollo Munich, and IFFCO-Tokyo, amongst others, and comes with 20 years of experience. He has witnessed the changing role of content first hand, about which he says that creating relevant content has taken the front seat today.

Content relevance is important than ever before

“In my first role in market research, the content was mostly one way. Customer feedback was scarce due to no real connectivity. Then I got into insurances, and in 2005, the government gave insurance companies the freedom to decide their own prices. This is when market forces took control and we decided to strategise content and build a strong brand for my company. Since people could choose which insurance they wanted to go for, we introduced the concept of hassle-free claims. It was one of its kind and one of the first steps in the insurance sector about creating relevant content,” Shamik explains.  


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He adds that over 20 years, as market forces keep getting stronger content relevance has become more important.

“If the industrial revolution solved the problem of speed, the digital revolution has solved the problem of distance. Things have changed, and the next five to six years are going to be more interesting content-wise,” says Shamik. 

Content in healthcare and birth of Apollo 24/7

Distance has always been a big impediment in healthcare. Sometime in 2019, Apollo 24/7 realised that it must create a platform that gives customers a concept of a continuum of care. Customers usually go to a search engine or a pharmacy before going to a doctor when they fall sick and so it was important to democratise the accessibility of doctors that Apollo has. This is when they felt the need to create a platform -- Apollo 24/7.

“It is not an ecommerce medicine platform. It is where you go when you fall sick. You read about your sickness and in 15 minutes you can consult a doctor from anywhere. If the doctor asks you to take medicines, you click and medicines will be delivered to your home. If the doctor asks you to take a test then click and someone will come home and take your sample and the doc will see the results and so on. We started this platform on February 5, 2020, and as the pandemic started, we grew and challenged ourselves accordingly,” says Shamik while explaining that content is at the center of their business concept.

There is a dearth of relevant personalised content in healthcare, and hence Apollo engages people by answering their questions through such relevant content. This has helped them:

·       Have about 3 to 5 million weekly active users from whom around 85 percent come only for content

·       Service about 17,000 pin codes in the country 

·       Consult from about 400 cities 

·       Have 10 million users registered with them

·       Have two million transacted users on the platform 

Integrating data and content to utilisation

At Apollo, content is run like a pod. They don’t have any content or social department but they have a growth marketing team and support for this team in terms of CRM, branding, and account marketing. 

Shamik informs that this pod runs on two things: 

1.    Customer data lay where we have a complete understanding of the customer, like types of customers and their needs

2.    Huge bank of medical content

“These pods connect the data and content and give it to the utilisation team. At present, we have four pods with three to four people each and a layer of tech to assist us. It’s extremely important to understand what people are searching for and quickly getting there,” he says. 

Measuring the efficacy of the content

Apollo 24/7 goes by the philosophy of not putting a huge amount of content, but putting out relevant content. Shamik explains this with an example.

“When the pandemic struck, we were sitting on piles of data based on who was at risk of COVID. In two days, we studied it and we made a COVID scanner. In March 2020, we launched it and within 6 days, 15 million people took that test. So it is not about the quantity of content but about making it bite-sized, engaging, and relevant,” he says. 

Being an authority in the industry, it is important that Apollo 24/7 maintains the quality of the content continuously, and for this Shamik explains that when content is created, it should serve two purposes - being personalised and being viral

“Content needs to target an individual but it should be infectious having the quality that this person will send it to everyone. This is what happened with the COVID Scanner. When we sent the test to people it was personalized. But 98 percent distribution happened when people shared it among themselves,” he says.

This proves how important targeting and segmentation are in digital marketing. Whatever the format, if you can get the time you want from the reader, it will be successful. 

How the pandemic changed the health industry  

Digital as a platform took shape when demonetisation happened, what pandemic did is connected the digital pace to healthcare and accelerated its growth. Conventionally, everything in the medical genre happened physically. Now, that has changed. The acceptance of this new concept has increased where in 15 minutes you can consult with the best doctor and have medicines delivered at your doorstep. Suddenly, this segment has become much more relevant. 

Edited by Megha Reddy