In marketing, it’s easy to get wrapped up in the need to acquire new customers. But it’s just as important to take a step back and think about your current customers, specifically when it comes to health insurance. These people are your advocates and keeping them as customers is just as essential as garnering new ones.

Some are of the mindset that retention is needed just a few times a year. But keeping your members in mind year-round is a necessity, and will actually cost less and drive down the rate at which members may switch their coverage.

It’s not too early to start thinking about your 2017 member retention plan – and we’ve got some marketing tips that will help take you above and beyond the competition.

Build member loyalty

Member loyalty for your health insurance organization might be strong, but it can be made stronger through marketing efforts that encourage and enforce it on a regular basis. Initiatives that can help you do just that include:

  • Member surveys/questionnaires: Showing members that their opinions matter is a great way to build trust through ongoing marketing and communication tactics. Taking those opinions and implementing them are an even greater way to encourage that type of trust.
  • Engaging members at strategic times throughout the year: There are times of year when any provider knows to pump up their marketing efforts. This might include notifications in advance of Open Enrollment and Annual Election Periods. But it’s just as important to market to your current customers during the months in between. Marketing teams should also alert members to changes and updates made to their plans throughout the year, so that they’re not caught off guard by anything down the road. The more open these lines of communication are, the better.

Provide education

Educational marketing helps build trust and confidence, for both potential customers and current customers. You cannot forget about your member audience when developing pieces of educational collateral, as they could potentially be looking elsewhere for this information if you don’t actively communicate with them.

A multi-channel, interactive marketing approach to educational, retention-level content can reach your customers in a variety of places and even span across months. Most importantly, educating members about health insurance utilization can help increase your overall lifetime value.

Consider the following ways to disseminate this type of content:

  • Microsites: A site that’s separate from your brand’s website is an effective means of producing educational, non-biased content geared toward a specific audience. It can contain meaningful information conveyed in a creative way – and it’s a fantastic way to reach out to and engage your current customers.
  • Visual Content: This can be a cost-effective, creative way to get your message across to current members, as it can easily catch the audiences’ attention through understandable formats and digestible content. The best part is, visual content is easily shareable so your current members can share with their own personal network to increase reach.
  • Social Media: It’s easy to use social media as a sounding board for customer acquisition, but this is where you can showcase true member-specific, educational content. You can even conduct polls or ask questions to spark engagement and keep your members informed. It’s a fast, quick way to engage and educate your member-base, building upon an already strong relationship. 

Be responsive

Speaking of social media, it’s time to get serious about customer service through this channel. Today’s member care goes beyond the call center. If you’re a health insurance provider and you have a social media account, you can be sure that there will be a customer service-related topic posted across this channel – for the rest of the social universe to see. The benefit of this is that social media is a great way to showcase positive customer service experiences and create brand advocates.

And because of this, it’s important to enforce some social media best practices when it comes to customer service.

  • Be direct. Say you’ve used social monitoring to track conversation about the brand and you notice a disgruntled customer tweeted something negative about your company. This person tweeted it, their entire network saw it, and it could potentially be shared with an even larger audience. Respond directly to this individual, take the issue offline, and direct him or her to a customer service representative. A thoughtful social media response to a disgruntled customer can quickly shift the exchange from negative to positive.
  • Respond in a timely manner. Social media is where you can deal with customer service issues in real-time. A slow response time can cause more frustration and even make an issue spiral into something larger. The quicker you respond to member issues on social, the better.
  • Listen to your members. There should be open lines of communication between social media managers and the rest of the team. They’re on the front lines of customer service. They see what members are talking about and they know where things could potentially improve. If you’re seeing a common issue bubble up across social media, address it at a larger level.

It’s never too early or too late to think about member retention. Whether you’re a Medicare provider, a small health insurance company, or a large one, your members are your advocates and the more you concentrate on them, the more likely you are to keep them.

What other member-retention tactics are you using on a regular basis? Share them with us on Twitter @QuattroPhilly!