Every health plan leader in the country is asking the same three, critical questions:

  • How can we acquire more members, more cost effectively over the lifetime of the customer acquisition and retention journey?
  • How can we retain our most profitable members for multiple years, instead of one?
  • And, most importantly, Why aren’t we able to get these two things done?

The problem is, most plans are still taking a very fragmented approach to marketing and member outreach. One group interacts with members, another develops plan programs through plan design, while an outside agency creates commercials, direct mail or other types of campaigns, without fully understanding the people they’re trying to reach.

So, while organizations are spending a lot of money to get their message “out there,” they’re doing so without knowing if it’s the right message delivered through the right channel at the right time to motivate the right prospective members to take action.

By using data analytics to truly understand your member population and their program needs, and applying those insights to drive targeted marketing programs, your plan can improve pull through, lower acquisition costs and retain your most profitable members.

The idea is to replace the current, fragmented approach with one, cohesive, integrated program, with data at its core.

Here’s how it can work:

Step One:Using Member Personas for Smarter, Targeted Marketing Programs

Health plans already have a wealth of data on existing members. By combining this information with data sets from other sources, like FICO scores, education level, drug claims and medical data, as well as public data on the propensities of individuals living within specific geographic locations, you can build “consumer personas,” profiling the different buyer types your plan serves.

By applying analytics, you can evaluate the risk level of each of these persona groups, and see who your most profitable members can beand where they’re located. You can also determine which plan features are most important to the members you want to attract/retain. All of this information helps you focus your marketing expenditures on the zip codes with the types of members you want, and design your messaging around what is most important to them.

At the same time, you can focus on other populations such as moderate-risk members with chronic conditions, and create campaigns to ensure they’re taking the appropriate action to keep their conditions under control. Knowing the segments of your population who are likely to have increased risk in the future can help you build specific programs to deter them from moving into the high-risk category. We believe that many members do not truly understand their plan programs, or know that they’re available. If these members start utilizing those programs,and see their value, they likely would stay with the plan for many years.

The key is applying analytics to gain the population insight needed to use your marketing resources more smartly to maximize gains, and focus your outreach efforts where they will generate the greatest impact.

Step Two: Reviewing Programs Based on Member Propensities

Now that you know what your plan’s members need, the next step is assessing existing programs to ensure they line up with these needs. Do your members want expanded physical therapy options, or coverage when they’re traveling? Will they pay more per month for lower urgent care costs or prescription co-pays? Do you have plans that give them these options? Does your competition?

If you are creating plans in a vacuum, instead of basing these on member insight, all of the marketing in the world isn’t going to help you attract the right members—or keep them for the long run.

Adjust your plans to your customer personas, and you’ll gain a competitive advantage, increase retention—and improve member satisfaction and loyalty.

Step Three: Integrating Analytics into Your Marketing Programs

In today’s healthcare environment, brand advertising and blanket campaigns aren’t enough to capture market share. Health plans need a cohesive, end-to-end approach in which everything—from to the target zip codes and specific messages to the communications style and delivery channels—is driven by data.

The process begins with a look back at past campaigns, their frequency, types of outreach and response rate, and identifying why, based on the buyer personas, the poor performers didn’t get a response.

Then, with this knowledge in hand, design programs to fill in the gaps and deliver expected results.

For example, a past campaign targeting individuals getting ready to turn 65 might have been a five-paragraph letter in 10-point type, with an image of a 75-year-old couple sitting on a porch swing. However, the buyer persona for your target group is actually comprised of physically active, highly educated people who value fitness and travel and plan to defer retirement until age 70. A less-copy-intensive, larger type email or mailer with more relatable images, and messaging that emphasizes the plan’s top four, relevant features, including discounts for health clubs or travel coverage, will generate a greater response than its lengthy, generic predecessor.

An unsuccessful outreach program to encourage younger members with diabetes to take specific actions to better manage their condition might be revamped with gamification to drive interest. This approach enables members to earn points they can redeem for prizes or gift cards for participating in programs or regular screenings, so it incents them to do the right thing.

Every campaign is measured, with every positive response and false positive tracked and fed back into the analytics engine. This intelligence enables health plans to refine the personas and zero in on the best messaging and channel for each through continuous fine-tuning of their marketing programs. Instead of a fragmented operation, everything is a continuum, with a single point of accountability and a cycle of continual improvement and member insight.

Competing and profiting in today’s healthcare market takes more than “getting the message out there.” By using data to inform how you’re going to market, where you’re going to market and what you market, health plans can finally achieve the results they want, and reduce their costs in the process.

To learn more about how EXL can help your organization reduce costs improve outcomes with a comprehensive, data-driven marketing program, contact us.

David Hom,
Chief Evangelist, EXL

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