Biscuits, Hot Chicken, and Health Consumer Engagement! Marketo @ AHIP Institute Conference

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Posted: June 9, 2015 | Engagement Marketing

Returning home from America’s Health Insurance Plan’s Institute 2015 conference in Nashville, I’m coming back a few pounds heavier after eating biscuits and BBQ for three days—but I’m also coming back totally energized. Healthcare has loooong been ready for a change, and from the exciting welcome address to Former President Bill Clinton’s closing keynote, it was abundantly clear that the time for consumer empowerment is now.

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Endocardial Fibroelastosis…Triple Therapy for Refractory Immune Thrombocytopenia…I think I heard almost every term in the New England Journal Medicine, but as attendees sat in on sessions like “Healthcare’s Empowered Consumers: Owning the New Customer Lifecycle” and “What if navigating healthcare were as easy as shopping for gifts online?”, I started hearing a more familiar term—engagement. Specifically, attendees stopped by the Marketo booth to ask, “I get that we have to better engage consumers, but how do I do it? And how do I do it when my leadership—my counterparts—are afraid of digital?”

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Shopping Is Shopping

Change is hard, especially in an industry like healthcare that’s held to regulations and security precautions that other consumer industries are not familiar with. But that doesn’t mean they can’t employ some of the same strategies for engagement. It starts with no longer thinking about people as patients or populations, but as people like you—consumers.

Think about the way people shop for things today, like a car. They might google a brand, look at pictures of the car and end up on a dealer’s website. They might compare packages, features, and estimate the monthly cost. They’d need to know how convenient it would be to get to the dealership and what kind of added services they could expect. Everything a consumer needs to make a decision is right there online at their fingertips, arming them with what they need to know to purchase the car that fits their budget, needs, lifestyle, and family. Shopping for healthcare shouldn’t be any different.

So what does a health consumer need to empower them to make those decisions? Let’s start by breaking down the consumer lifecycle into three buckets:

  1. Education and Awareness Building: While most health plans offer the same core services, not all plans are one-size-fits-all. As a healthcare marketer, you need to start the journey by educating health consumers on what their options are. It’s also critical to be where they’re searching for information; most people regardless of age are researching their options online. Make sure they can find you!
  2. Teach Consumers How to Select a Health Plan: Being empowered when it comes to making healthcare decisions is new for a lot of people and they need guidance on how to “shop”. Give them the digital tools to compare features, benefits, price, convenience, and service. And make their path to purchase clutter-free.
  3. Engage and Retain Existing Members: This may go without saying, but once you acquire a new member, please don’t forget about her. Remember that she is going to become a shopper during the next open enrollment period. It’s important to continue nurturing the relationship and driving value, whether that’s in the form of an email about upcoming wellness events or integrating stellar customer service into their journey.

Engagement: Modern-Day Customer Service

A lot of great consumer brands have built their companies around amazing customer service (e.g. Zappos, Nordstrom). When you actually take deliberate measures to engage with consumers, you move past the transaction and can build deep loyalty. Health plans can use the same tools and techniques to implement a more member-focused strategy. Since engagement is a tangible metric, it’s easier to influence with targeted marketing efforts, and it is more connected to a company’s revenue growth.

How Do I Do Consumer Engagement?

This is the question I heard so many times last week that I lost count. The old approach of blasting out direct mail and untargeted communications isn’t going to work in the new consumer-driven world. Consumer engagement means personalizing communications, creating cross-channel engagement, nurturing healthcare consumers, and analyzing the results. Consumer engagement is what is going to deliver a better customer experience overall and yes, healthcare can absolutely do it.

To learn more about how healthcare can benefit from consumer marketing strategies, check out our ebook, Health Insurance Plans’ Guide to Consumer Marketing.

Kristen Kaighn is a Senior Product Marketing Manager in the Strategic Consumer Industries Group at Marketo. Kristen helps Marketo customers better understand and engage their consumer audiences, with a special focus in healthcare, and prior to Marketo, spent over nine years in healthcare education and data-driven marketing. During the few months that it’s not snowing or freezing cold in Philadelphia, Kristen can be found hiking with her two dogs or biking along the Schuylkill River.

Read Kristen's Blogs

How #engagementmarketing is making an impression on the #healthcare industry

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