Pushing marketers toward a privacy-first approach.
Over the past 18 months, several new policies have been enacted (or are fast approaching) that will push marketers everywhere — including insurers and health plans — toward a “privacy-first” approach.
Here are some examples of recent changes:
Google phasing out third-party cookies (delayed until 2023)
The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)
First-party data is unique to your company.
Unlike third-party data, which is currently available to many different marketing entities, first-party data is unique to your organization. Some examples of first-party data include contact form submissions, email marketing signups, enrollment-related data, inbound call center data, and website behaviors.
One of the most widely collected types of first-party data is an email address. So, let’s take a deeper dive into how using those email addresses can play a crucial role for digital marketers in a future without cookie-based tracking.
1. Email is at the core of one’s online identity.
An email address has a life beyond the inbox. It goes anywhere an individual goes online — from visiting Facebook and Instagram, to accessing our Amazon® Prime accounts, to signing into an app via a mobile device. And, most individuals likely remain logged in to their accounts while surfing the net via Chrome (the most widely used web browser).
Each of those platforms mentioned all share one data point: a required email address to utilize their services. This is how Google and Facebook will continue to provide marketers with targeted ad opportunities that do not require relying on a cookie.
Emails are unique. So marketers can use email data to create a unique view of prospects or members. When we combine email addresses with information from other data sources, such as a CRM, an enrollment platform, a call center, or other data sources, we suddenly create a very detailed picture of prospects/members and their specific behaviors when interacting with any product or service. Health insurance plans are a prime example.
At the core of a person’s online identity, email delivers a 1:1 message.
Critical to employing this strategy will be how organizations and marketers collaborate to aggregate this often-siloed information and create meaningful marketing opportunities. Customer Data Platforms (CDP) have started gaining popularity amongst marketers as a means to collect and aggregate first-party data.
While CDP’s may hold the answer, cost-effective, homegrown data warehouse solutions may be adequate, too. Regardless of the specific technologies employed, the key here is that you must work very diligently to collect, aggregate, and store first-party data.
2. Email can help you reach like-minded audiences within media channels.
Google and Facebook both offer options for marketers to upload email addresses into their platform. The algorithms for each of these platforms can then match back to known profiles containing that same email address.
Now, a health insurance plan can utilize email addresses from their email marketing or CRM platforms to target messages to both prospects and members. Depending on the campaign, we may incorporate “custom audience matching” to target “look-alike” individuals who have profiles similar to the email addresses within the uploaded list.
One possible use case for health insurers: targeting individuals age 65+ currently enrolled in your prescription drug plan, but not in one of your Medicare plans. They would be ideal to target with an offer for an appropriate health plan.
We may also suggest exploring an acquisition strategy, segmented to reach “look-alike” prospects similar to your plan’s most proven most valuable members. Facebook, for example, enables us to accomplish that using the profile strategy discussed above.
3. Email is one of the only digital channels that delivers a 1:1 message. Every time subscribers open an email, click on a link, or update their preferences, your members are providing further clues to the information that resonates with them the most. Personalization is vital, and should extend beyond a “Dear <First Name>” salutation. In fact, the more an email campaign can be individualized to a subscriber, the greater likelihood that individual will perform the specific action requested.
Targeted email messages can send messages to subscriber audience segments based on specific behaviors. But to truly target those messages, consider opportunities to create audience segments based on such factors as past and predicted behavior. You can then dynamically adjust the product offer or copy points featured in those emails. This information can also inform custom audience matching, which was highlighted earlier in this post.
Triggered email can be tied to calendar events, like showcasing plan changes during AEP or OEP.
Triggered email messages have also proven their value over the years. They allow us to closely target individuals who perform select behaviors. One example: moving prospective members over the “finish line” should they abandon a partially filled application. A trigger may also be tied to calendar events such as email messages to showcase plan changes — prompted by the AEP or OEP — and versioned in both retention and acquisition “flavors.” Another use case may be reminding prospects or members of important dates, like seminar/webinar reminders.
Just because a company has an email address does not necessarily indicate that person is looking forward to receiving unsolicited email. Contact forms often require email addresses that are verified before someone can access a downloadable asset. Health plans can use this information to their advantage by keeping tabs on which subscribers are not engaging with emails.
One strategy may include segmenting out these non-responders and stop emailing them, helping boost your overall engagement metrics. Then you can try reaching those individuals via other marketing channels to keep them in the fold. If they ultimately convert, you know that the email address is not inaccurate, the individuals simply prefer interacting with your brand within another channel.
What if you are missing email addresses for members? There are many solutions.
Incomplete data is a challenge for most health insurance plans, and many marketers in all industries. If you are lacking email address for all of your prospects or members, it’s time to implement strategies to collect them. Some of the many ways to gather this information include:
Offer downloadable assets (e.g., guide, info kit) on your website or landing page(s) in return for an email.
Feature automated pop-up messages when a user attempts to leave your site.
Include an option for signing up to receive email updates within seminar/webinar signup forms.
Feature email signup forms within social media channels.
Utilize surveys to collect email as well as other first-party data.
Add on web-based chatbot tools.
Encourage email signup with a prominent (but friendly) option as individuals are enrolling.
Provide opportunities to collect emails via offline marketing channels like direct mail.
Offer email signup after a prospect attends an event.
Consider call centers/customer support asking for an email address over the phone.
Generating leads and conversions will always be DMW’s first priority!
Whatever happens with changes to third-party data/privacy policies, it is clear that email will continue to be a key component of a first-party data strategy.