The whole country has been in turmoil this year over the health care debate in Washington.
Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield and Highmark Blue Shield, independent licensees of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, market health insurance to individuals and families who purchase health care coverage on their own. The importance of having insurance is top-of-mind for many of these people.
The individual and family market has grown significantly over the last several years, and the Highmark team wanted to see if direct marketing could help them reach this diverse audience — and gain new customers at an acceptable cost.
Health insurance is a complex product for people to understand. The sales process can be daunting with response, information fulfillment and application steps.
At each step, the numbers drop. The key indicators Highmark watches are response rates and application rates. A high application rate means far greater efficiency — but this can’t come at the expense of overall response, or else growth goals won’t be met. The primary goal with this campaign was to find a way to increase the application rate by 15%.
Using Hacker Group’s proprietary PowerTest® methodology, Highmark was able to simultaneously test:
- Packages — a branded vs. a more general approach
- Audiences — targeting students, parents of students, home-business owners and a general under-65 age group that was further refined by employment status and interest
- Offers — information-only against an information offer that included a small gift
- Products — a portfolio approach vs. a particular product approach
- Price — information about monthly premiums vs. leaving out that information in the first step
- Lists — compiled lists, responder lists and interest-targeted lists
A reassuring creative approach helped get
The target audience and the list selection had the greatest impact on response, which is typically true in direct mail. The general target was more responsive than parents, students or business owners.
Offering a small gift for requesting an information kit helped improve the initial response rate without appearing to negatively affect the applicant rate.
Overall, Highmark got a higher response rate and was able to increase its application rate in just about every category. In fact, rather than just meeting the 15% goal, the application rate from this test doubled previous efforts. The higher response and higher application rates were also associated with a 33% lift in conversion to sale over prior efforts. The right message sent to the right audience gave excellent results all the way from lead generation to sale.