Too Little Too Late for Some Health Insurance Marketers


Recent media coverage about how healthcare reform is encouraging marketers in the health insurance industry to shift their way of marketing begs the question … Why now?  If an insurer hasn’t recognized the need to become consumer-friendly in the past, is it realistic to think it would now just because the legislation is creating greater demand? Will those insurers that have already been consumer-minded in their marketing have a leg-up on the competition post-reform?

Here are several health insurance industry trends prompted by healthcare reform reported recently by DMNews in “Reform spurs changes in health marketing”:

  • People are usually uninsured because of their economic situation, so (insurers) are going to have to be sympathetic and targeted about how we message these consumers.
  • Health insurance plans need to become much more like retail products …
  • (Health insurance plans) need to be more targeted when they are released in the marketplace.
  • (Health insurance companies) will be marketing (complicated plans with diverse options) in easier-to-understand ways.
  • Health insurance companies will also emphasize retaining existing customers.
  • (Insurers) should take time to educate consumers through online channels, that is where consumers are going to get information.
  • Healthcare companies will also have to understand their customers better than they have in the past.
  • (Healthcare companies) need to recognize (consumers) to start to understand what motivates them …
  • It is going to become much more about word-of-mouth and digital …

Doesn’t it strike you as curious that these are trends being reported just now as becoming en vogue?

It seems logical that if health insurers had been thinking about the consumer before healthcare reform, they’d be in great shape post-reform. As a full service marketing agency, we work with a lot of health insurance companies here at Johnson Direct. For more than a decade, we’ve been advising on and delivering campaigns that address the consumers’ needs, breaking-down the complicated options and convoluted jargon in a way that leaves them with a clear path to the right decision for their personal situation.

No, it’s not always an easy pill for our insurance clients to swallow. “Doing it right” can require a bit more time and budget than “just doing it.” And yes, often, to fight for our targeted consumer audiences we have to prove our case in front of our fiscally-minded clients. To do this, we use fact-based research and best practices in presenting our strategies … rationale that convinces our client to educate and guide the consumer toward his/her decision through multiple touch points and channels that make him/her comfortable and confident with his/her choice.

CASE IN POINT: A client recently asked Johnson Direct to produce a website for a new individual health insurance product. The site would enable consumers with no coverage or sub-par coverage to enroll online. The site was to include up to 5 pages of product information and an online enrollment process. However, Johnson Direct’s proven approach to creating insurance marketing that’s truly consumer friendly and direct response driven, the website ultimately grew to 12 pages all guiding qualified consumers toward the simple, 3-step enrollment engine.

While gently walking visitors through a well-lit decision making path, we offered two distinct ways for our visitors to enroll: 1) for those who understand what they need, the ability to go directly to the product page where options are illustrated and compared in plain layman’s terms; and 2) an easy-to-navigate course that educates the consumer who is not sure where to start, leading visitors toward their options and empowering them to make the right choice for their personal situation.

Experience and dozens of case studies dictates that the additional cost to building a more consumer-friendly, robust website will pay for itself in the end. That’s because they’ll become well-educated buyers of your product; enjoy the process of confidently buying a product that can be confusing and intimidating; and perceive your brand as one that is looking out for the little guy within an industry that can be viewed as self-serving and greedy.

Ultimately I expect healthcare reform will mean much more than more customers for insurance providers. I anticipate it will mean those insurers who’ve been consumer-minded as well as those who have not will be seeking marketing counsel from agencies that are experienced in standing in the consumers’ shoes. That’ll lead them straight to Johnson Direct, and we’re happy to help.

Denise B. Hearden
eMarketing Director

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