DM News' Essential Guide to E-Mail Marketing: Anthem Blue Cross Relies On E-Mail for CRM

Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield and parent company Wellpoint have a philosophy of promoting healthy lifestyles and offering value-added benefits to members. With 28 million customers in 13 states, getting the word out about their programs and special offers is enough to make an experienced marketer feel ill.

As a regional company, each market has unique characteristics that require tailored approaches and messages. Without these, Anthem couldn’t meet its goal of building lasting customer relationships. At the same time, it needed an efficient means to communicate all this customized information to members. Anthem decided to use e-mail and approached ExactTarget to devise a program that would establish and maintain customer relationships.

With ExactTarget’s dynamic content feature, Anthem can create flexible, personalized e-mails that target the needs and interests of all its audiences. Using one e-mail template, content boxes can be dynamically changed depending on any number of demographic factors.

To keep interest high, e-mails are personalized and embedded with graphics, Web sites and links. A typical policyholder’s e-mail will include Anthem’s latest insurance offerings as well as product or service discounts and value-added services for things such as gym memberships or flower delivery.

A recent e-mail campaign to more than 200,000 policyholders contained 53 embedded links. The 41 percent open rate beat the industry average of 34 percent, and the third-most-popular link was to the “My Anthem” area of the Web site, where policyholders access their benefits information and value-added health programs and services.

Since launching e-mail communications to policyholders, the number of policyholders who have registered at My Anthem has increased 600 percent.

Anthem has begun using e-mail to communicate with other constituents as well, who until now were contacted through faxes, mailed correspondence, telephone calls and other verbal communication.

The organization uses e-mail to convey product and service updates, professional development and recognition information to its 300 sales representatives. The company also sends this information as well as news of training opportunities to 8,000 Midwest independent insurance agents and communicates administrative updates, product/service updates and added-value programs to thousands of employer customers.

In addition, Anthem started using ExactTarget’s On Your Behalf feature to deliver approved, personalized e-mails to independent insurance agents, with plans to expand this feature to customers. These e-mails contain both custom and standard content to ensure compliance in this highly regulated industry.

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