Health insurance advertising is one of the most competitive and therefore expensive industries in paid search advertising. Now with open enrollment only two to three months out of the year, health insurance competition is even more severe.
Adgooroo, a PPC competitive spy company, performed a study on the health insurance industry between January through June 2014. They found over 28,000 advertisers spending $103 million on just desktop and tablet devices. Keep in mind that this study did not provide information as it relates to mobile investment. To learn more about this study from AdGooroo, click here.
We realize that not all health insurance companies have millions of dollars per year to invest in their digital advertising efforts. In order to maximize your return on investment (ROI) through paid advertising for your health insurance organization, it’s essential to follow the steps below:
- Properly align budget with open enrollment periods – both individual and Medicare health insurance have very small windows through the year when consumers can switch insurance agencies. For individuals and families, the date range is November 1st, 2015 to January 31st, 2016. For seniors (65 and up), open enrollment period is Oct 15th, 2015 to December 7th, 2015. These two periods are when the majority of consumers will be enrolling and it is imperative you allocate your budget to maximize the demand.
- Have separate campaigns for each service line – this should be an obvious practice to follow but it’s extremely important to have separate campaigns for each service line. This will allow you to properly budget spend and have relevant ads and ad extensions.
- Bid on and protect your brand in separate campaigns – in addition to having separate campaigns for each service line (individual, Medicare, and group), it’s imperative to have budget dedicated to brand. Why? For one, we have seen that competitors are more likely to bid on your brand and even use your brand in their ad. This is usually due to the usage of dynamic keyword insertion, but if your brand is trademarked, you can report them to Google if they are using your name in their ad copy via the AdWords trademark complaint form. Just as importantly, brand keywords are your best converting keywords since many users have done their research and are ready to convert. The last thing you want to happen is to have a competitor bid on your brand (ranks above your organic listing), and steal a new member.
- Don’t forget about special enrollment periods – yes, open enrollment is when the majority of consumers will enroll and become new members. However, there is still a market for those that qualify for enrollment based on life events. This is especially the case for Medicare where individuals are 64 and turning 65. Make sure you allocate some of your marketing dollars towards this initiative, but keep the budget low and the keywords extremely targeted.
- Landing page testing and conversion rate optimization – when you are investing as much as you are in this industry (especially during open enrollment), it’s essential that you test multiple variations of your landing pages to determine what messaging/content, design, and calls to action resonate most with your consumers and convert the most visitors into leads and enrollments. Landing page creation and testing tools like Unbounce make this process relatively painless and free up the need to tie down IT resources and design team members. It also allows you to quickly deploy responsive landing pages at a very low cost.
- Use negative keywords…a lot of them – with the average cost per click (CPC) for health insurance keywords exceeding $20 per click in some instances, it’s crucial to use negative keywords (and even strict match types) to avoid wasting marketing dollars on existing customers or irrelevant types of insurance. Common negative keywords to exclude existing customers might be: payment, customer service, phone number, login, portal, etc. Common negative keywords for excluding irrelevant types of insurance are: car, automobile, auto, motorcycle, pet, dog, cat, dental, life, etc. Make sure you apply these to your campaigns, especially if you are using broad match keywords.
- Utilize retargeting – being that health insurance is such as consumer-driven, open marketplace, it’s essential to continue targeting users after they have been to your website. Users are going to shop around, get frustrated with long application processes, take breaks, and delay enrolling until the last minute. Retargeting will allow your health insurance organization to stay top of mind and push users down the buyer’s journey.
- Advertise outside of Google – yes, Google is the most important advertising channel to advertise on and you should allocate the majority of your advertising budget here. However; there are certain instances when you should test other advertising channels such as Bing Facebook, and LinkedIn. For example, we witnessed an instance when the Medicare service lines of two separate health insurance companies, saw a significantly lower cost per enrollment on Bing. We also saw that for an age-in Medicare campaign, Facebook generated a much lower cost per lead than Google. Facebook, for instance, will allow you to target users that are 64 years old; you are not able to get this granular when targeting on Google and the volume of users was much higher for individuals aging in on Facebook.
- Pro Tip: How about targeting users that are 64 years old and have a birthday coming up within 7 days (i.e. turning 65)?
With the majority of your success spanning from just a few months out of the year during open enrollment, it’s important that you start planning and testing NOW. And if you’re looking for a strategic partner to help increase your health insurance enrollments and revenue, contact us to see how we can help!