Data-driven prospect strategies for health insurance

Data-driven prospect strategies for health insurance
By Larry Guerrero
Partner, Media Services
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When insurance payers truly understand their customers and prospects, they can build lasting relationships that transcend the transactional. Creating and delivering meaningful messages leads to deeper loyalty, advocacy, and identity, which translates to higher retention rates and increased positive social chatter and word-of-mouth.

A data-driven approach, paired with human understanding, is critical to uncovering the behaviors and attitudes of high-value customer and prospect segments to ensure that you’re delivering authentic, relevant messaging to the right people via the right channels. While there are many similarities across the demographic and psychographic spectrum, there are also significant differences in lifestyles, attitudes, and behaviors that payers need to uncover to properly meet consumer needs and engage them in compelling ways. Some of these differences are obvious—such as language differences—while others are multilayered—such as the uninsured—which span across a wide range of socioeconomic and demographic attributes including income, education, ethnicity, and geography.

It’s possible for insurance payers to identify high-value target audiences within these segments and deliver relevant messaging that leads to enrollments if they leverage the right combination of expertise, tools, and technology.

Identifying the right customers

A successful foundation starts with analytics platforms that can match CRM data to a wide range of household-level data, like demographics including age, ethnicity, income, language preferences, and lifestyle segmentation. Some platforms have the resources to use 200+ socioeconomic factors to create more than 70 segments. That’s a lot of information to sort through, which is why it’s crucial to understand which segments have a higher lifetime value and propensity to enroll. Further data refinement can be done to identify high-value segments by geography, as these will vary by market. For large insurance payers, a platform that can help determine messaging strategies in a market ranging from DMA-wide to micro-geographies like the U.S. Census blocks can be particularly insightful.

Understanding and connecting with prospects

Customer segmentation systems, like Experian’s Mosaic®, allow payers to understand each high-value segment’s characteristics beyond demographics, including opinions and behaviors. With this data, payers can create personas to bring these segments to life. Syndicated consumer research provides deeper insights to media consumption habits, whether broad—such as intensity by channel, like digital, TV, or radio—or more detailed—such as the type, time, and location of content consumed. This helps inform the strategy for using particular channels with certain segments, but it can also inform other marketing tactics—promotions, for example—by understanding things like leisure activities, purchasing behaviors, and affiliations to sports teams.

With digital media, payers can refine their strategies even more through technologies like Demand Side Platforms (DSPs) and Data Management Platforms (DMPs), which provide surgical targeting capabilities by demographic, context, and behaviors like web use and purchasing choices.

Tracking, measuring, and improving performance

Digital media buyers can substantially improve direct lead and enrollment performance by reallocating dollars to the strongest performing variables, whether that’s segments, channels, ad formats, messaging, or other creative elements. But it can only be done through proper attribution using tools such as tag managers, conversion pixels, web analytics, and ad management systems.

A methodical testing strategy is crucial to continue optimizing performance. If campaign elements remain static, performance will wane over time, so it’s vital for payers to regularly test new channels and tactics. For digital media, this is straightforward provided that attribution is properly employed so tests and iterations can be tracked and measured. The key is creating a clean test by ensuring that “controls” are put in place, similar to scientific experiments—all variables that are not tested should be the same across test cells. A/B testing is the right method for most digital tests, ensuring a clean comparison. Variables to test include everything from channels and content (including branded content) to ad sizes or formats to landing page configurations and messaging.

Traditional or linear media like TV and radio impact sales holistically and should also be tested for optimization. This can present a greater measurement challenge, so keep a few things in mind when testing the impact of these efforts. For a direct approach, unique URLs and toll-free phone numbers will provide a window on responsiveness, but that’s not enough. Since the role of linear channels is to drive awareness, consideration, and purchase intent, consider additional ways to measure their impact using a test/control methodology, including:

  • Pre/post campaign test: If seasonality is not a factor, payers can measure any sales lift during and after the test campaign against a pre-campaign sales or lead baseline.

  • Matched market test: This matches test markets with similar control markets. Payers can then measure sales lift for test vs. control markets. This is a more difficult test since different markets are never exactly alike, so a true control market will never exist. However, payers can mitigate this by pairing markets based on similar size, demographic or lifestyle characteristics, price position, market share, and brand awareness.

Return on investment can be measured by calculating incremental sales dollars (incremental sales multiplied by customer lifetime value) and subtracting the cost of the test media.

The leaky funnel in the insurance marketplace

The marketing phenomenon of a “leaky sales funnel” is particularly acute for Health Insurance Marketplace payers since the vast majority of enrollments cannot be attributed to payer-owned sales channels. Instead, most members enroll via healthcare exchanges, like or state exchanges. The result is a major attribution gap with only a small portion of enrollments attributed to media, whether paid, owned, or earned.

One solution to close this gap is to deploy a payer-owned e-commerce platform and use media to drive prospects there. An increase in direct-to-consumer or direct response media, such as search, email, social, or retargeting, will increase directly attributable performance. These measures can significantly increase payer-owned enrollments. Another way to mitigate the leaky funnel is to use awareness-driven channels to drive product awareness and consideration, which will increase holistic sales. Lastly, clearly mapping out the customer journey from initial engagement to the final lead or sale allows payers to increase conversion rates by better identifying the key points at which they should deploy retargeting messages across channels.

With the knowledge gained by using the right tools and technology, payers can maximize campaign performance and meet or beat enrollment goals and generate stronger short-term and long-term ROI. But with so much involved in healthcare already, taking on marketing and sales improvement can be overwhelming. A partner with expertise in regulated fields—and with healthcare payers specifically—can take the work off your team’s plate and lead to highly successful outcomes. That technical expertise combined with a list of capabilities including paid media, creative, PR, and consulting, means that the right partner can drive enrollments, increase retention throughout the customer journey, and ultimately grow your market share and long-term revenue—all leading to more, healthier clients for you.

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Meet the author
  1. Larry Guerrero, Partner, Media Services

    Larry is a paid media expert with more than 20 years of building engagement and long-term relationships with consumers that generate ROI for clients. View bio

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