Healthcare reform is here, and nowhere is that more apparent than in the new health insurance exchanges (HIEs). Under the Affordable Care Act, Americans can now purchase health insurance for the price of a cellphone plan, meaning millions of consumers are entering the market for the first time. Starting October 1st, government sites have been inundated with interested visitors; for example, on the first day the New York State HIE site received 2.5 million hits!
At Cleveland Clinic’s Medical Innovations Summit, I was able to watch as 3 CEOs of major national health insurance companies discussed the opportunities and challenges in the new HIE environment. With this revolution in purchasing health insurance, here are some digital strategies to get your health insurance company to the top of the pack:
- Adapt to the bugs: Yes, we all know there are tons of glitches in the government site, and that is preventing interested customers from buying your health insurance online. However, you can stay in touch with those people in the long term. Institute remarketing and RLSA ads, capture email addresses, and ensure that when the government portal is finally fixed, you can jump on those frustrated visitors and convert them to customers.
- Embrace a long sales cycle: As we know, most new visitors are shopping for health insurance policies that will start January 1st, 2014. This leads to a longer sales cycle, and health insurance companies are already frustrated. As Rick Chiricosta, CEO of Medical Mutual reported today, his company has only sold 24 new policies via the Web since October 1st. Stay in front of your potential customers by instituting marketing automation and pay attention to what they are clicking on. Are your potential new customers clicking on links about affordability? Access to care? Size of the network? Pre-existing conditions? Staying in touch with what your customers are interested in is critical and will give you an insider advantage over other health insurance companies.
- Go after young people: There are lots of paid strategies to target the younger, healthier demographic. YouTube advertising can reach them where they hang out online. Targeted display advertising where young people hang out—whether that’s edgy sites like Funnyordie.com, sports sites like Grantland.com, or fluff sites like Buzzfeed.com—will drive cheap clicks to your website that could lead to potential customers. If you have content on your site devoted to young people, you can use behavioral retargeting through analytics to track and continue advertising to those young people around the Web. As young people will be the foundation of your company’s risk pool, aggressively advertising to that demographic is critical to long-term profitability.
- Innovate: Just as your company is offering new products and adapting its business strategy to this new market, so too it’s time to adapt your Web strategy. Have you worked on conversion-rate optimization (CRO) to ease the customer’s flow? Are you looking at your organic and paid keywords to understand what content people are looking for on your website? Just as important, have you done an analytics audit to understand whether your content marketing strategy is succeeding?
With the ACA now a reality, it’s easy for health insurance companies to pull back on their digital marketing and adopt a “wait-and-see” attitude. But as they say, in every crisis is an opportunity, and the companies that succeed in 2014 will jump on the opportunities represented in the new public exchanges.