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It's Time to Re-evaluate Your Health Insurance Marketing Strategy

health insurance marketing re-evaluationHow do you market health insurance in the post-Affordable Care Act world? As uninsured individuals enter the marketplace and employers begin testing new waters with self-insurance, providers must amp up their marketing efforts. In an increasingly consumerized industry, selling health insurance will become more like selling Over The Counter medicines, soap or any other consumer product. Your health care marketing strategy, from message refinement to online lead generation, must speak to both businesses and individual consumers.

#1: Combine traditional media with mobile and digital.

With millions of 20-somethings entering the health insurance marketplace for the first time, health insurance providers must combine traditional media outreach efforts with a fully integrated mobile and digital strategy. For example, Health Care Service Corp., which operates Blue Cross Blue Shield Plans, identified a unique opportunity in the Latino Market, specifically younger Latino customers, and launched an innovative mobile marketing campaign to reach these new customers.

Darren Rogers told Ad Age, “They (young Latinos) don't typically have jobs where they sit in front of computer terminals all day, but they tend to have a smartphone or at least a mobile phone to get text messages. So we had to develop campaigns that could work via text.” Health Care Service Corp. first targeted these individuals who were searching for information on health insurance via ads on YouTube, asking them to sign up with their phone numbers to learn more. The company then followed up with mobile messages to encourage enrollment.

#2: Educate consumers about their options.

As employers test new waters and offer employees a range of different health care options, both employers and employees need to be educated about these different options. Many terms, such as “self-insurance” can be confusing for individuals who are not familiar with these options. New categories require “category building” education in addition to product differentiation messaging — especially for confusing markets like health insurance.  Otherwise, you may find yourself trying to sell customers on a product they do not fully understand.

#3: Get found online.

Confusion over the Affordable Care Act’s rollout has sent millions of employers and employees to Google in search of answers. It’s not enough to just have a website anymore — if you aren’t regularly publishing relevant content to be cataloged by search engines, consumers will not necessarily land on your website for answers.

Your website needs a way to actively convert visitors into potential leads, a way to capture email and phone information for follow-up conversations.

Since individuals are generally confused about their care options, a simple form with an email sign-up to “learn more” may be able to quickly build your opt-in list. But there are other ways to be more proactive about bringing visitors to your website. A targeted pay-per-click ad campaign — like Health Care Service Corp’s YouTube advertising campaign — may be able to help you boost web traffic and improve lead generation.

Just because you built it does not mean that they will come.

#4: Differentiate your service.

With so many different health insurance options now available, what makes yours different? How broad is your provider network? Do you let consumers manage their care online? How streamlined is the billing process? How consumer-friendly is your customer service? Do you offer a mobile app for tracking coverage or finding providers?

The 2013 c2b Consumer Diagnostic measured the importance of over 30 health insurance plan attributes among a representative sample of adults age 18+. While cost attributes were of top importance, other attributes weigh nearly as highly.  Brand equity stands out as a critical factor when attributes such as “Is one that I can trust” and “Will be here for me in the future when I need care” are top 5 considerations.


Extremely/Very Important

Annual premium is reasonable


Co-pay is reasonable


Offers medical coverage that meets my needs


Getting needed care without delays


Allows me to receive appropriate laboratory tests


Is one that I can trust


Provides easy to understand information on what is covered by my plan


Will be here for me in the future when I need care


Having doctors who communicate well with me


Importantly, think about your target market, such as younger adults, and understand their priorities, highlighting the ways your health insurance coverage is different from the competition.

The Bottom Line

Selling health insurance in the Age of Obamacare starts with consumer education. Both employers and employees need to be made aware of their different health coverage options and the meaningful differences among them. In order to do so, you need to take your health care marketing efforts to where these consumers are, be that a YouTube channel, a traditional television advertisement, or through a sales representative. Integrating mobile and digital strategies with traditional advertising and outreach will yield the best results. Adapt both your message and its delivery to target the right person with the right offering and message, in the right place at the right time.

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