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Getting Ready for Open Enrollment, Part 2

Memorial Day kicked off the unofficial start to summer and long lazy days of lounging around the pool, backyard barbeques, and family vacation time. Screeeeech! Wait, what? If you work in healthcare and marketing, then summer is your busiest time of year. Summer? What summer? All you know are deadlines.

It’s June and your open enrollment (OE17) campaign is in full development. In Q1 you analyzed last year’s performance, the competitive marketplace and established this year’s budget. In April, you developed an open enrollment marketing plan grounded in that data with top performing channels and control creative at the core, plus a healthy test plan that encourages your campaign to find new wins. By the end of April, you had a thoughtful creative brief with key insights that will result in relevant messaging to get the attention of your target audience. Then in May, you presented that creative campaign to a captive audience who selected the concepts that will move forward.

What should you be doing through the summer to prepare for OE17?

While creative is going through the necessary approvals by marketing, sales, brand and design, product, legal, compliance and CMS, and/or the state, you move into a media brief. The media brief captures the strategy from the marketing plan and further defines the budget and in-market dates by channel so media planners can go to work on how best to maximize that spend. Today’s media — both online and offline — changes at lightning speed and you want to be sure your media plan is fully loaded with the latest opportunities available to target your specific audience.

July is also the time to think about criteria for direct mail target selection. If you are fortunate enough to have a response, lead or member conversion model, this makes that exercise easy because top prospects will be the model’s top deciles. Even with a model, you can get more precise with decile selection by geo, like zip or county for instance in direct marketing, we are all about being laser focused and eliminating waste. If the holy grail is delivering the right message to the right target at the right time, your direct mail file is at least 50% of that formula. So think about how you might further refine targetability. Look at where your plans are most competitive or conversely, eliminate geo locations where they are not, in an effort to mail more of those prospects with a likelihood to select your plan. The wonderful benefit of direct mail is how surgical you can be with aligning proven creative to top prospects. It’s money in the bank, iPf you do it correctly.

For Medicare, August signifies the time when all approvals should be secured so the team can move into production of assets and ensure an October 1 launch. For DRTV, this may start in July if you are producing a new spot. Whether it’s DRTV, direct mail, digital, print or out-of -home, August is the time to release and look at proofs while everyone else is on vacation.

Your Health Exchange campaign launches one month later in November, so you can stagger production and prioritize efforts. Health Exchange should be in production by September.

June, July, and August are key to a successful open enrollment launch. Start with a detailed schedule and make sure everyone understands the process, the timeline, and their role in aiding each task. It’s easy to recover from one or two missed dates, but major stress sets in when it amounts to three, four or more times. No matter what anyone says, my experience is that in August it is tough to get anything done because of rotating vacations. Try to make sure that key approvals are not happening during that month because the campaign will be set-up for failure. Since Medicare is in production and Health Exchange campaigns are still in creative, make sure that key stakeholders are communicating their time out of office and that they are committing to approval dates in the schedule. Its’ definitely not easy, but the more communication around expectations with specific dates, the better.

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