Inside the Engine that Built BetterHelp into a Billion Dollar Business

Inside the Engine that Built BetterHelp into a Billion Dollar Business

The Strategies Your Business Can Steal to Dominate Your Niche Like They Dominated Therapy

Published by: Team AdSkills
August 23, 2023

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Hey everyone, Jason Stogsdill here. I've been keeping a close eye on the digital therapy industry for years now, and one company consistently stands out as the clear leader in the space - BetterHelp. Now, you may have heard their name being thrown around because over the past few years, they've transformed into a true brand powerhouse. But how exactly did they pull this off?

In this edition of The Edge, I'm going to break down the specific strategies BetterHelp used to catapult themselves from a relatively unknown startup in 2013 to becoming one of the largest online therapy providers worldwide. We'll take a deep dive into their laser-focused approach to SEO, paid advertising dominance across platforms like YouTube, customer acquisition funnel tactics, strategic partnership model and more. I'll also address the privacy issues that arose and important lessons we can learn as marketers.

Stick with me and you'll walk away with concrete tactics you can implement to see explosive growth for your own agency and business. Let's get started!

Optimizing Content for Search Pays Off Big

When it comes to SEO, BetterHelp left no stone unturned. I was seriously impressed by the depth and quality of their SEO content engine. Diving into their site, you'll find thousands of articles tailored towards common therapy-related search queries.

Some of their highest performing pages dive deep into explaining counseling concepts like codependency, anxiety disorders, depression symptoms and more. It's obvious they invested heavily in research to establish themselves as true experts on these topics. Beyond educating readers, their content smoothly incorporates subtle calls-to-action to "start counseling online" or "talk to a therapist."

It's also clear they monitor search trends closely. Emerging queries related to new counseling ideas or life challenges are rapidly covered with new articles. One piece I checked out broke down the concept of "liminal spaces" which was getting over 8,000 monthly searches. Beyond search terms centered on their services, BetterHelp owns the therapy space in organic results.

It's no surprise that with such an extensive content marketing strategy, they pull in over 2 million monthly organic visitors and control 4 million backlinks. If you're not investing heavily in valuable, search-optimized content to answer questions and build authority, you're losing out to competitors like BetterHelp.

YouTube Spending Alone Tops $25 Million Monthly

Now while their SEO engine is massive, BetterHelp truly separates themselves from the pack through their paid advertising dominance. When I dove into the tools, the numbers I found were absolutely eye-popping - over $25 million spent per month on YouTube alone!

You read that right. They are clearly leaving no dollar unspent in the biggest channel available.

Through strategic video campaigns, I'm sure they're constantly building their brand in the minds of millions. Beyond YouTube, they spare no expense bidding big on major therapy keyword queries through search engines. We're talking high intent terms like "therapist near me" getting millions of searches per month.

Over 300,000 monthly visitors from search ads is no joke. It's the kind of traffic volume most decent sized companies can only dream of. Through deep pockets and flawless targeting, BetterHelp owns the digital therapy space online and offline.

If you're not highly focused on pay-per-click and paid social campaigns, you're getting beat. Take notes from the spending levels of an industry leader. Advertising is essential for demand generation and needs to be a top budget line item for sustainable growth.

Streamlining the Journey from Click to Customer

Now all that paid media would be useless without efficient acquisition funnels to turn visitors into customers. After analyzing BetterHelp's setup, it's clear they perfected this process. Whether from search results, social ads or their homepage, traffic is immediately directed to a streamlined intake page.

Stripping away unnecessary fluff, this page smartly focuses prospects on a vital assessment quiz. It gives just enough credibility information while collecting data to match prospects with suitable therapists. All the while, simple calls-to-action are prominently displayed to turn visitors into paying subscribers.

What's most interesting is they even shortened this page from their full home page experience. Testing undoubtedly showed simplifying increased conversions. It's a lesson that direct, optimized landing pages outperform complex homepages for focus and results.

Once prospects complete the quiz, I assume they're seamlessly transitioned to counseling sessions or paid subscription checkouts. It's the sign of a well-oiled machine for customer acquisition. Don't underestimate how important funnel design is for business success. Take a page from BetterHelp's book and optimize each step of your process.

Leveraging Partner Networks for Low Cost Reach

While BetterHelp pours major bucks into direct response campaigns, they’re also strategic networkers.

Diving into their social and partnership activity showed a heavy focus on influencer relationships. Whether sponsoring top YouTubers and podcasts or co-branded Facebook/Instagram ads, they’ve reached new audiences at scale.

It’s smart too - seeing experts in mental health openly endorse and talk about BetterHelp lends powerful social proof. I even spotted ads run straight from partner pages, a win-win that amplifies both brands' messaging. It’s clear they’ve struck multiple high-profile deals over the years as the space became destigmatized.

In fact, when I searched online I found countless discussions around these arrangements. Some praise the extra exposure while others question financial motivations. Either way, it proved their partnership engine worked like a well-oiled machine for awareness growth.

If you aren’t tapping authentic allies in your industry, you’re missing out big. Don’t be afraid to cold outreach and form strategic relationships. When leveraged right, partners can introduce your business to huge new audiences for minimal budgets.

Learning the Hard Way That Compliance Can’t Be an Afterthought

Now while their growth tactics achieved wild success, it seems BetterHelp got a bit too aggressive in some key areas. After diving into reports, it became clear privacy became an issue down the line.

In 2017, the FTC apparently caught wind that BetterHelp uploaded the emails of nearly 2 million past and current clients straight into Facebook! This was a major no-no considering the sensitive health data. This understandably didn't sit well.

Then in early 2020, more reports surfaced that BetterHelp shared customer mental health information with third parties, such as advertisers. Not cool when you’re entrusted with people’s private struggles. The FTC came down hard on them for these privacy fails, rightly protecting consumer well-being.

It’s a serious lesson for all marketers.

While growth hacking is crucial, you must zealously comply with privacy laws like HIPAA and the FTC when handling medical customer data. One slip can ruin a business. Make sure you and your partners clearly respect regulations. Customer trust should always come before quick wins.

The upside?

This experience will now make BetterHelp hyper-vigilant on legalities moving forward. If you address problems, you can regain stability. Just be careful or authorities will bring the hammer down hard and fast these days.

Wrap Up

Well there you have it - a deep breakdown of BetterHelp's strategy rise to dominance and the important lessons that can be taken away. While privacy issues arose, their growth tactics achieved massive success that still inspire today.

Here are the top takeaways:

  • Invest heavily in extensive, high-quality SEO content to build expertise  
  • Spare no expense in paid media like YouTube, search and display
  • Perfect streamlined online acquisition funnels to maximize conversions
  • Form strategic influencer and partnership deals for multiplied reach
  • Remain hyper-vigilant of privacy laws, especially with sensitive user data

I hope you found this edition of The Edge helpful and can apply actionable tactics for your own business.

Thanks as always for tuning in. Be sure to subscribe so you don't miss any future strategy breakdowns. Talk to you next time!

Jason Stogsdill