Health Insurance Joins the Ranks of Consumer Marketers


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I recently spoke with a good friend who is a health insurance marketer. While he and his team have had great success growing enrollment (using multi-channel prospecting, lead scoring and distributing leads to the most effective brokers for follow-up), he’s worried about the future.

As a visionary, my friend is increasingly concerned – concerned that his team was not ready for the changes coming to the healthcare marketplace.

As you know, the Affordable Healthcare Act creates exchanges where businesses and individuals can look for the best combination of products, services and pricing for their needs. For individuals, these exchanges offer the possibility of personal, portable health care insurance, breaking the lock between employer and health insurance. Also, the number of consumers obtaining their own healthcare is likely to skyrocket over the next two years.

For my friend, the biggest question was, “How do I build expanded capabilities for consumer marketing into my business-to-business marketing team?”

As we discussed my friend’s concerns, it became clear that he already had many of the pieces in place:

  • His team targets several million small businesses, so they are comfortable with large scale communications
  • The multi-channel marketing (email, direct mail) that they had been doing would apply to the consumer market as well
  • Consumers can be scored for likelihood to convert in the same manner as businesses currently are
  • The company had already offered consumer insurance, just on a much smaller scale

So at a high-level, his strategies should apply to consumers as well as businesses.

But as we drilled down in our discussion, the subtler differences between business and consumer marketing became clear in terms of positioning, channels, data and speed:


  • Businesses generally buy health insurance for a large group of employees, trying to balance cost and benefits, to maintain morale while reducing expenses.
  • In the new model, consumers are buying for themselves and their families. This decision could be more emotional, with the spouse or partner heavily engaged in the decision
  • Consumers will have greater concern with how the system works and continuity of doctors, hospitals, etc. than businesses do.
  • Price is a major driver for business-purchased health insurance plans. For consumers, services and support will playing a heavier role, in addition to price.
  • For consumers, making their first independent health insurance decision, more education will be necessary (e.g. what the plan covers, how to sign up, change plan features, manage expenses, etc.)

On the channel side, social media will play a bigger role in the decision process for consumers than it currently does for my client’s business customers. Consumers will be highly sensitive to the insurer’s reputation for claims processing, denials, customer service, etc., and will seek out that information anywhere they can find it.

In addition, mobile marketing will be more important. Obviously, consumers are unlikely to enroll in health insurance on their smartphones, but they will read information and seek out opinions on their tablets and phones. Optimizing content for those platforms will be important to strong lead conversion.

On the data side, the good news is that many more lead sources exist for consumers than for businesses, and they tend to be a bit more accurate too. The bad news is that my client’s team will have to become even better at sourcing and testing multiple lists quickly.

Finally, consumer marketing offers the mixed blessing of faster feedback on response to communications. The best consumer marketers are reading results and adjusting their marketing programs on a weekly basis, and some even more frequently. They rely more heavily on email than on direct mail, even though the mix of the two tends to be the most effective.

In Addition…
Even more changes are required in when moving from B-B to consumer marketing – such as web site personalization, lead and customer nurturing, the good news is that many of these changes have been in the works for business marketing already.

While tone, speed and complexity are challenges to the B-B marketer facing a consumer market for the first time, the results can be quick and dramatic as well. That “almost real-time” feedback permits marketers to have a much more “hands on” sense of performance, recalibrated frequently.

Changes in healthcare laws will prompt changes in healthcare marketing as well. Those changes will allow both consumers and health insurance marketers to build stronger, “healthier” relationships as well.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Mark Price
Mark Price is the managing partner and founder of LiftPoint Consulting (, a consulting firm that specializes in customer analysis and relationship marketing. He is responsible for leading client engagements, e-commerce and database marketing, and talent acquisition. Mark is also a RetailWire Brain Trust Panelist, a blogger at and a monthly contributor to the blog of the Minnesota Chapter of the American Marketing Association.


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