Health insurer exceeds goal

Client: Blue Shield of CA
Agency: Rauxa Direct, ConvergeDirect, AMP Agency
Objective: Meet sales goals despite Medicare Advantage enrollment timespan. 

Part of the Obama administration’s health reform legislation shortened the annual marketing and enrollment period for Medicare Advantage, from six months to three months. To hit sales goals in a condensed time frame, Blue Shield “took a critical look at untapped [consumer] segments,” adding additional media channels, geo-targeting, and for the first time, a “market warmer” DRTV spot, according to Seth Berman, director of direct marketing at Blue Shield of California.

STRATEGY: Blue Shield relied on primary volume drivers — DRTV and direct mail — but also launched additional tactics, optimized the media mix to leverage strong performers, implemented incentives to drive response, and “expanded messaging to include community integration and dialogue with prospects, providers, employees and brokers,” Berman says.

On November 7, 2010, the health insurer launched a market warmer TV spot that aired prior to the official start of the Medicare Advantage marketing period. Blue Shield also optimized DRTV media buys weekly to reduce cost-per-lead during a highly competitive and shortened sales window. DRTV spots featured altruistic messaging to appeal to consumers in an economic pinch, and to bring “new to Medicare” baby boomers into the fold. Blue Shield also reached out to Hispanic consumers, launching 60-second and 30-second Spanish language ads to drive prospects to local sales events.

Direct mail executions were enhanced with predictive modeling, and offered a free tote bag as an incentive. New direct mail creative featured member photos and testimonials, and an improved business reply card. Blue Shield also introduced print inserts packaged in Red Plum, Pennysaver and other circulars, and local newspaper ads helped geo-targeted direct mail drive attendance to “strategically selected event locations,” says Berman. Online media included paid search, handled by AMP Agency, and affiliate programs.

RESULTS: New creative resonated with the 65-plus target audience, and direct mail performed above expectations, achieving 106% of its goal for sales leads. “List suppression allowed us to better target the audience and drop zip codes that performed poorly,” Berman says, adding that money saved from dropped zip codes was reinvested. Blue Shield increased total DRTV spend this year, and sales lead goals for that channel increased by 10%. This helped to capture an untapped Hispanic segment with radio and print.

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