Jennifer: Hey, there. Welcome to the Dr. Marketing Tips podcast. I’m Jennifer.
Corey: And I’m Corey.
Jennifer: And we are here today to talk to you just a little bit about something we are all getting used to, every year, around this time, and that is open enrollment, and maybe give you some tips on what we think you can do to capitalize on this open enrollment period and make sure that your potential patients know that you accept their insurance. So, Corey, why don’t we just give a little bit of background here on open enrollment, in case our practice managers don’t know what we’re talking about?
Corey: Sure. So you guys are most likely aware of what open enrollment is, but obviously that’s the timme people can buy new health insurance through their work or other methods including healthcare.gov or some of those state-run exchanges depending on where you’re listening to us. The 2018 period runs from Thursday, November 1st, through Saturday, December 15th, and if patients don’t act or do anything by December, 15th, they have to go through some special enrollment period to go ahead and get that coverage.
You may remember that the period used to be quite a bit longer, but the Trump administration shortened that so it’d end on December, 15th, rather than through January like it used to be, and it is not as top of mind for a lot of patients as it used to be, because before the Trump administration they actually spent quite a bit on advertising just to let people know, basically saying, “Hey, go enroll somewhere.”
And I just looked up this stat, and it said that the advertising budget was reduced by 90% this last year, from $100,000,000 down to $10,000,000.
Jennifer: Absolutely, and I think open enrollment is an opportunity to reach potential patients where your competitors down the street are not necessarily gonna be thinking about this as a marketing opportunity, and so why this may not on the surface appear like something that we would talk about, typically, in this podcast, because we’re very marketing-focused, there are some real marketing opportunities when it comes to marketing in terms of what level of insurance or what type of insurance your potential patients have, and that goes even further than open enrollment and goes into targeting specifically using digital campaigns, being able to target specific employers that maybe you know accept certain types of insurance that you also accept.
So I think there’s some real opportunities when it comes to open enrollment, and there’s some tried and true ways out there to do it.
Corey: Yeah, definitely, and I would say too that even if you don’t wanna get into the specifics of marketing to a certain carrier or something like that, we know that this is a time when people are gonna be switching, so it may make sense just to have some general marketing sort of ramp up to say, “Hey, we’re this practice down the street, we have great results and we’d love to have you as a patient.” You know, it might make sense just to have some marketing focus during this time because you know that people are going to be looking.
Jennifer: Absolutely. So, let’s go over a couple of tried and true ways that practices out there might be able to go after this potential patient. I think first and foremost probably a letter to your current patients, just to make sure that they know what plans that you’re on and what you’re accepting, and maybe even I would go further and say not just your current patients but maybe some patients who have dropped over the last handful of, three, four, five years, and revisiting those patients to give them an update from your practice.
Corey: Absolutely the best patient is the one that you’ve already got.
Corey: So it certainly makes sense to reach back to them, and like you said, if you can run through your EHR system and see for whatever reason, if patients stopped coming, you should be able to kind of pull a list and then send them a letter, as well. And I think traditional advertising is very effective, here, whether that’s print, TV, radio. Just sort of getting, again, that awareness out, because people are going to start having these conversations in the workplace and at home, so it makes sense for you to kind of put a focus there.
Jennifer: So, Corey, what about digital? I mean, we’ve had some success in digital campaigns over the year related to open enrollment, and to really targeting and microtargeting certain employers that types of insurance. So, what are your suggestions here?
Corey: Yeah, so when you’re gonna talk about a digital strategy, remember that it’s more than just Facebook. So yes, I think social certainly plays a role, but we’ve had experience in seeing that Google ads do really well in this particular arena, because, again, people are looking for an office close to them that accepts their insurance, so they’re gonna be typing and searching queries that say, “General practice or family practice near me, Blue Cross.”
Something to that effect, and so you can target them based on location, but then you can also target based on keyword, and so people that are searching for that on something like a Google Ads, they are going to … they’re wanting to take an action. They’re looking for a provider that is close and that will accept their insurance so they can switch, get this done, and move onto something else in their life.
Jennifer: Is it possible to do negative keywords for this type of thing, on Google? Where, you know, somebody’s searching for Blue Cross Blue Shield specifically and you are trying to pop up against certain insurances.
Corey: Yeah, absolutely. So, there’s a couple of different kind of loopholes and things that you can do the to really sort of maximize your spend. If you’re gonna be doing this yourself, then I would say probably don’t worry about that too much and just sort of worry about the basic stuff where, you know, you come up with a list of ten to 15 things that you know people are gonna be searching for, you’ve set your geographic area. You know, you probably want it 15 or 20 miles around your office, and then sort of go for that. Let it run for a couple of days and sort of analyze and measure and adjust from there, because the open enrollment period is so small that you don’t wanna kind of set it and forget it, because then you’re gonna miss out on some opportunities.
Jennifer: Absolutely, and I think that, you know, we talk about digital campaigns all the time and it’s something we’re in each and every day. Do you have any examples of some campaigns that we’ve done that could be a learning experience or a jumping off point for some of these practices?
Corey: Yeah, so we’ve done some stuff on Facebook and Google Ads that have worked really well. Last year, we did something for a family practice that we work for. There’s a big employer that they wanted to target. The employer was now accepting a new type of plan, so we put together some ads, and some Google Ad Words at that time, they’ve switched to Google Ads, that really targeted that particular employer to say, “Hey, we are now a part of your insurance network, so if you wanna switch, now’s the time and here’s why.”
Jennifer: So when you say “Targeted a specific employer,” how do you target that specific employer?
Corey: Yeah, so if you’re on Facebook, if you’re running a campaign that way, then you can actually … if the employer is large enough, then you can target employees of that particular company. So it’s not gonna work for everybody, but if you’re in an area where you know that you have an employer that has over a couple hundred employees, that would work.
Jennifer: Yeah, and sidebar on that one, we have a couple of really competitive practices who have actually tossed around the idea of buying ads to serve to employees of their competitors so that they can screw with them a little bit in the head.
Jennifer: Certain ones.
Jennifer: It’s always done in good fun.
Corey: Different podcast, different day.
Jennifer: Different day, absolutely. Did we do … ? We did some, not insurance necessarily, but very targeted ads that kind of went after certain geographic areas and certain demographics for our fertility client, didn’t we?
Corey: Yeah, so actually we’re still running that one. It’s for a fertility client and it is LGBTQ focused, and again, because we know that people are gonna be looking at this time of year, and sometimes certain insurances will have fertility as part of their coverage, so we’ve put that campaign together and it’s done really, really well for them.
And just some general tips and things to be aware of, if you’re gonna set this up for the first time, it may seem kinda daunting but once you’re in there it’s not super complex at the top level. So, just remember that you wanna geo locate wherever you are, so let’s say we’re talking about Facebook, so you probably want 15 miles around the office, maybe a little bit less depending on how much population there actually is there.
And you can also target your ideal patient, so for example you could say, “I want to show this ad to females that have kids that are 35 to 55 within 15 miles and they’re interested in fitness.” So that’s your ideal patient, you can reach them through Facebook, and a tip that I would give is stock images are great if you’ve got ’em, but you try and make it personal. You know, use photos from your office, or better yet, have a video of your physician or a testimonial from your patients talking about results. We always like to lead a patient forward and say that’s what really differentiates you. So if you have some of those, now is the time to use them and put some dollars behind it.
Jennifer: Awesome. Any other kind of practical advice when it comes to open enrollment?
Corey: I would say as you’re getting ready to put this campaign together, just make it memorable and simple. You wanna keep it personal, relevant, and highlight that when the patient leaves the office they’re gonna be happy, they’re gonna feel better, and that’s really a good rule of thumb, I think, for any advertising or marketing that you’re doing.
Jennifer: Yeah, I think so, and I think open enrollment, just like holidays, just like certain months that are healthcare-focused months, they give you an opportunity to go in and do some real microtargeting or run some marketing campaigns that you typically wouldn’t, and test the waters on maybe some new things that you’ve been wanting to try but you might need an excuse to do them. And so, you know, sometimes it’s like when you have an event and the most important part is inviting people to the party, it’s the same type of thing in marketing.
You don’t wanna just do the same old, same old every single day, and so open enrollment provides us … once again, it’s an opportunity to try out what we’re doing, and I can tell you right now, your competitor down the street is not paying attention unless they’re listening to the Dr. Marketing Tips podcast. So, with that, I’m Jennifer.
Corey: I’m Corey.
Jennifer: And we’ll see you next time on the Dr. Marketing Tips podcast. Thanks for joining us.
Corey: Thanks guys.
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