Cover Story: Invincible Marketing
A young woman wears a wide smile and a bike helmet as a display ad captures her gleeful moment of pedaling down a New York City street. "YOU'RE NOT INVINCIBLE," yells white type on a purple background below her image. "SO GET HEALTH INSURANCE NOW, BEFORE YOU NEED IT," loudly suggests the next display ad image, which hosts a smaller "learn more" button next to the EmblemHealth logo.
It's messages like these on direct mail letters, postcards, banner ads, Facebook ads, DRTV, email and online that helped NYC-based insurance company EmblemHealth acquire 33,000 to 35,000 new "qualified health plan" members from Sept. 1, 2013, to March 31, 2014, says Shirish P. Dant, the company's head of consumer marketing and market insights. Insurance providers think of those six months as the first member enrollment period for the new Affordable Care Act. "Qualified health plan" members are 26- to 64-year-old Americans who aren't covered under Medicaid or their parents' health insurance.
In 2012, Dant thought of the 370,000 prospects in NYC, Long Island and Westchester County as unknowns, because they hadn't had health insurance before, and that meant Dant had no insurance data to help target marketing to them. So in April 2012, EmblemHealth hired Columbia, Md.-based customer relationship marketing (CRM) agency Merkle to help it create a prospect database; develop analytics, predictive models and segmentation; and enhance the insurer's focus on digital marketing.
Hence, the "young invincibles" segment was born, as was the happy cyclist's targeted banner ad. Other segments—such as "trusting families" and "pragmatics"—saw other messaging.
It seems the results make EmblemHealth smile as wide as that cyclist does.
"We met or exceeded our goals, but on different metrics," Dant says. "In terms of responses, direct mail did not meet our response goal, but … it exceeded our goal when it came to response-to-lead conversion."