3 Things Health Insurance Marketers Must Know During Enrollment Season
Are you ready for another open enrollment season? On Nov. 1, national and state health insurance exchanges will kick off what one blog referred to as a 90-day Black Friday that “… is a make or break milestone for health insurers.”
Brands that enjoy a broad, loyal customer base don’t get there by treating customers as one homogenous group; they get there by treating each customer as a unique individual.
While the technical problems that plagued the inaugural website launch are no longer a major stumbling block to enrollment, health insurance companies still have their work cut out for them. The reason? Healthcare consumerism. With millions of people shopping for health insurance plans and taking on a greater share of the costs of their healthcare, they’re transferring the customer-centric expectations that have for retail, banking and travel brands to health insurance brands as well. As a result, the one-size-fits-all approach that was typical in the past, won’t cut it with a more demanding audience.
Connecting with Consumers Demands More Relevant Marketing
Many consumers anticipate Black Friday—and increasingly, Cyber Monday—with glee. They comb through advertisements and map out their routes to incredible deals. They wake before the crack of dawn in anticipation of a shopping adventure with family or friends.
But health insurance plans don’t offer the same appeal as a 60-inch smart TV for $500 or—or a $10 waffle iron, for that matter—so convincing consumers to put as much research into choosing the best policy for their needs is a hard sell.
Here are three things you need to know about your audience:
• Consumers need to be educated about health insurance.
Two years ago, Kaiser Health News reported that a national survey to assess people’s health insurance literacy found that 75 percent of consumers say they know how to use—and we suppose, choose—health insurance, but only 20 percent could define common terms like “out-of-pocket costs,” “HMO” or “PPO.” Key groups, including Millennials, minorities and individuals with low income or education levels fared the worst. As a result, health insurance companies need to develop engaging educational resources, not just marketing campaigns.
According to a study by Aflac, 89 percent of employees said they would welcome more support and guidance in evaluating health insurance plans. That shouldn’t come as a big surprise, given the complexity of health insurance plans in general. Benefits News suggests that health insurance companies set goals around their marketing efforts to focus on the “relevance, convenience and potential savings” of various types of plans to help consumers make the apples-to-apples comparisons they regularly use when considering what car to buy.
• Consumers can’t be defined by their diagnoses.
Brands that enjoy a broad, loyal customer base don’t get there by treating customers as one homogenous group; they get there by treating each customer as a unique individual. Psychographic segmentation can help health insurance companies see customers more clearly by offering insights into the individual perceptions, beliefs and attitudes that influence any conversation about health insurance.
Consumers across all age demographics sought out information about insurance plans online, in print and by phone, to varying degrees.
As we noted in a previous blog, a Harvard Business Review article points out that psychographics compliment demographics, giving marketers a better understanding of how a person may respond based on individual personality traits. Someone who is a “Willful Endurer” for example, is less likely to respond to marketing appeals surrounding health goal-setting than a “Self Achiever.” The article contends that psychographic segmentation “… gives you a roadmap for navigating these types of divisions and sensitivities.” It goes on to say, “Indeed, in the best-case scenario, thoughtful use of psychographics will help you develop not only the messages and campaigns but also the products and services that specific customers want and need.”
In addition to providing relevant messages, however, health insurers also need to offer those messages in a variety of formats across a range of channels. According to a PNC Healthcare survey conducted last year, consumers across all age demographics sought out information about insurance plans online, in print and by phone, to varying degrees.
As you might expect, 50 percent of Millennials preferred digital channels; what might surprise you is that 52 percent of Gen X and 44 percent of Baby Boomers also relied on digital for health insurance plan information. Getting information via a phone call was the least popular option except among individuals age 72 and older. Within each demographic or socioeconomic group are psychographic segments, which help define these communication preferences.
The bottom line? Enrollment season may only last 90 days, but health insurance marketing needs to take place year round and have a strong foundation of customer data, including psychographic segmentation, to ensure that you’re providing informative, relevant and persuasive messages that keep your current customers engaged and your prospective customers interested.