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It's Already May, Are You Ready for Open Enrollment '17?

An informational guide to planning, developing and executing a successful open enrollment marketing strategy

Your hometown hockey team may not have made the finals but baseball is in full swing. April showers have brought May flowers and tulips are filling the garden. So what time of year is it? It’s time to get ready for the next Open Enrollment season. Are you ready?

By May, you should be in creative development. Right now some of you are saying “check”, while others are panicking because they have not even written their open enrollment plan. So, how do you get from January 1 to the next open enrollment campaign? Here is a breakdown:

First Quarter

  • Spend time studying the performance of your last campaign: by channel, by creative unit, by geo location, by plan type, by segment, by daypart, by day / week / month, etc. The more micro, the better. You are looking for those golden nuggets that can honed in the next campaign to find true success. Find out what worked, what didn’t, and have the statistically significant data to support it. Hopefully, you had a robust test plan in place but if not, please plan one now for next enrollment season. If you market both Medicare and Affordable Care Act (ACA) plans, be sure you update your analysis in March when full ACA membership from January activity is available with a March 31 effective date.
  • During Q1, you’ll also want to spend some time looking at the marketplace. You know what your campaign consisted of, but what did competitors do? What works for them? What channels did they use? What was their messaging? Can you identify any control creative; meaning it’s used year over year with little change? Study your top three competitors and look for hints about what works for them and translate that into a test for your next campaign.
  • Know your budget. Is it the same as last year? Can you make a case for more funding based on stellar results? Is this a down year and you have less to work with?
  • Robust campaign analysis, competitive marketplace intelligence, and available budget are three key data points that inform your next open enrollment strategy and tactics. 

Second Quarter

  • By mid-April, have your open enrollment strategic marketing plan developed. This includes defining the target, channel selection, marketing spend allocation by channel, and a media flowchart indicating in-market dates. You’ll also need to develop a forecast for responses, for leads, and for sales by channel with an overarching creative strategy and media strategy by channel, a test plan, and a timeline for full campaign rollout.
  • Remember, the open enrollment marketing plan is informed by the results from Q1, so stay grounded in the data and ensure your plan is built on solid past performers but continues to challenge with new and exciting opportunities to test in the ever-changing media landscape.
  • Once the marketing plan is approved by key stakeholders, move into creative brief development during the second half of April.

By following these guidelines, by mid-May, you’ll be presenting the next open enrollment campaign creative!

As you are planning, have you thought about the trends and channels that are influencing shopping and switching in the ACA marketplace? Check out the on-demand webinar where Deft Research dives into their recent research. 

Keep an eye out for my next post, which will include where you should be in the planning process for OE17 for June, July and August.