The health care insurance industry is preparing for open enrollment (OE) in the fall. Insurers are plotting their approach for effective use of consumer advertising to drive OE success. There are three unique and challenging characteristics of OE advertising for insurers:
- specific, short time period (October – December)
- marketplace is cluttered with advertisers
- enrollment is a complicated, multistep process
The following are some OE advertising best practices using these three attributes as a guide. They serve as both a reminder and, in some cases, a “checklist” during successful planning and deployment of OE advertising.
- Short window demands starting early
- Begin as early as possible. Don’t wait for October to start.
- Plan your approach by layering awareness tactics first then followed by direct response marketing.
- Most consumers don’t respond until the week before the end of the OE window so consider incentivizing earlier enrollment with deadlines —e.g., “get peace of mind before Thanksgiving by enrolling today,”. There may be limitations with government–funded program.
- Break through the clutter
- It is critical to differentiate in a crowded market and especially given increasing parity across product offerings.
- Invest in creating a unique message and imagery.
- Maximize the currency and ease-of-use of all information sources and channels
- Craft proactive, authentic messages that deliver information needed to make decisions – remember to simplify the concept of insurance.
- Robust websites with in-depth and proactive content should feel authentic and build trust with consumers.
- Layer in a steady stream of social media content.
- Employ a standalone landing page for open enrollment to keep messaging laser-focused.
- Deploy a full-funnel marketing strategy
- Have a strong call to action that drives to high-touch contacts — e.g., phone, in-person enrollers.
- A call center with well-informed, trained staff is key to helping consumers through the consideration process
- Valuable to have “brick and mortar” locations
- Collect leads from digital advertising.
- Don’t forget the importance of direct mail.
- Tightly integrate CRM and sales into advertising.
These advertising best practice approaches, when implemented thoughtfully and effectively, can help ensure a successful OE. While these tactics are effective for many consumers, they might not be sufficient to overcome certain barriers to obtaining coverage (e.g., gaps in healthcare literacy, language or cultural barriers or internet access). That’s why it’s important to start as early as possible.