Finding the right Rx
There seems to be a consensus that digital marketing and healthcare just don’t fit together. Between regulatory compliance, data limitations and privacy constraints, healthcare marketers have plenty of reasons to validate steering clear of digital. While it’s true that digital marketing isn’t the panacea for all healthcare marketing strategies, avoiding digital advertising is simply no longer an option.
Recent statistics showcase the rise in consumption of digital information from consumers while determining a new healthcare insurance plan and the opportunity it can bring.1
- 77% of online health seekers say they began their last session at a search engine such as Google, Bing or Yahoo
- 72% of internet users say they looked online for health information within the past year
Digital Marketing’s Appeal
Marketers in healthcare insurance and every other industry for that matter, need to find the right combination of digital campaign strategies; it’s just like finding the right combination of treatments to cure ailments. But why is digital becoming more appealing to marketers of healthcare insurance?
- Targeting: In the past, marketers in healthcare insurance have cast a wide net through TV, radio, and print ads to build brand awareness. However, with digital marketing offering such a wide variety of targeting, advertisers can skip the guesswork and directly target an online audience that is most likely to convert. Data targeting uses online and offline data from third-party data companies to reach individuals across video, mobile, display, and social mediums. These data segments can include everything from past purchase behavior, including health products, to demographic and psychographic behavior, including household income or family size.
- Flexibility: Unlike traditional marketing channels, digital marketing provides the optimization of campaigns on the fly. Not only does digital advertising offer transparency across ad inventory and audience pools, but the programmatic model of media buying provides the ability to make adjustments to these areas in real time. Knowing what inventory and audience lead to the strongest web traffic enables marketers to make smart and efficient campaign optimizations. Success in the world of digital marketing depends on marketers being clever – willing and able to adjust budgets quickly as inventory, market conditions, and customer focus fluctuate.
- Measurable: With the ability to carefully monitor digital campaigns and act on real-time metrics and feedback, healthcare insurance marketers are empowered to optimize their campaigns to drive results. Healthcare marketers say digital’s measurability helps them defend their budgets and track progress. “Our objective is to provide our clients full transparency and visibility into the performance metrics of digital campaigns for healthcare insurance,” says Matt Russell, media planner at Clarity Coverdale Fury, an agency that works with healthcare brands. He added, “Through targeted digital advertising on a programmatic basis, we can provide our clients instant optimization and metrics to support using digital advertising as a continued strategy.”
More marketers are flocking to digital for their health insurance marketing, and there’s no denying that the American healthcare landscape is shifting: individual health plans now make up 40% of the health insurance market — a major increase from the 10% they had represented before the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was implemented. The ACA has opened new opportunities to healthcare consumers, who are taking a more proactive role in shopping for and selecting their health plans.
However, insurance companies all understand that digital is having an impact on their business, only a few appreciate how fast and how fundamentally the market is changing. In a recent McKinsey survey of the digital practices of more than 30 leading U.S. and European P&C and life insurers, 39% had not articulated a digital strategy across the customer decision journey at all.2 While most insurers do focus their digital efforts in marketing (83%) and sales (78%), carriers have focused on the early stages of the customer decision journey, supporting research and quotes.
So how can health insurance companies integrate digital strategies into their marketing approach?
- Align digital marketing budget with open enrollment periods. Just like traditional marketing strategies marketers of healthcare insurance need to reach their customers as they are at the moment. Both individual and Medicare health insurance have minuscule windows through the year when consumers can switch insurance agencies. Plan digital campaigns around those periods to capture the right audience at the right time.
- Test Audiences & Creative. In digital marketing, it is essential to use multiple variations of creative and targeting strategies to determine what resonates most with health insurance shoppers and convert the most visitors into enrollments.
- Utilize retargeting. Being that health insurance is such as consumer-driven, open marketplace, it’s important to continue targeting users after they have exited a website. Users are going to shop around, get frustrated with long application processes, take breaks, and delay enrolling until the last minute. Retargeting allows healthcare insurance brands to stay in front of the potential customers that are most likely to convert into enrollments.
Patients are increasingly more likely to interact with digital channels as they approach their decision for selecting a healthcare insurance plan. As more healthcare patients move online, it is imperative that marketers use the right marketing strategy to keep them engaged – a tactic that should always include digital advertising.
- “Information Triage.” PewResearchCenter. Available at: http://www.pewinternet.org/2013/01/15/information-triage/
- “Insurance companies’ untapped digital opportunity.” McKinsey&Company. Available at: http://www.mckinseyonmarketingandsales.com/insurance-companies-untapped-digital-opportunity