In our Anatomy of a Solution series, we take a look at some direct challenges and disruptive solutions that Amsive has driven for clients. This week, we look at challenging AEP assumptions by rigorous testing with surgical precision to drive acquisition growth.
A large regional Medicare plan had used a set rollout campaign that included five direct mail touchpoints for years, but due to budget cuts, ultimately sought a way to reduce its marketing expenses while simultaneously driving aggressive Medicare Advantage[amsive_tooltip term=”medicare-advantage”] member growth. The ability to test new rollout options during the relatively short AEP window during this campaign led us to try to question industry assumptions on how channel and messaging strategies were done. A new rollout could be optimized for campaign efficiency — and we set out to prove it.
The hope was to be able to zero in on delivering effectively connected campaign experiences to those audiences across all channels. But finding the right strategies would be key to reducing cost per lead[amsive_tooltip term=”cost-per-lead”] and per acquisition.
The Medicare client was in a bind — they had a set number of touchpoints across direct mail and digital display, but wanted to effectively reduce their budget to achieve their desired acquisition outcome for the AEP season. They wanted to figure out how much to whittle the cost on a set number of touchpoints, but the question was: which ones could achieve this budgeting and creative balance?
The tricky first step on such a campaign is that effective Medicare services are broken down by county, so we set out to create modeled audiences on a county level. Filtering to that relatively granular level may seem easy, but remember — no two neighborhoods are the same. Take the New York City metro area, for example. Audiences in the city in the Bronx may not respond to the same type of strategy to audiences in Westchester outside of the city; audiences in the heavily populated city borough of Brooklyn may not respond to the same type of strategy as audiences on suburban Long Island.
With that critical step in mind, we had to build and test rollouts using a control group and shifting different mail drop and messaging cadence patterns. The primary reason we suggested a testing strategy? Many clients had simply never done it before. They assumed a strict cadence worked and didn’t budge from that within the relatively limited AEP sign-up window.
We set out to challenge that assumption and were confident in moving ahead bearing that out with our testing strategy.
Developing a data-based audience strategy to create prospect models[amsive_tooltip term=”predictive-model”] at the county level meant using our in-house statistical tools to collate potential audiences. Such lookalike[amsive_tooltip term=”lookalike-model”] audiences allowed us to test the channel and messaging strategy using a control group and two different messaging patterns to find the perfect mix of direct mail and digital advertising. The desired outcome was achieving the highest return on marketing investment.
The testing phase primarily looked at whether we could reduce the client’s preferred five direct mail touchpoints — which consisted of an initial pre-heat message before the annual enrollment period starting, then three drops of enrollment-specific messaging, and a last chance message before the enrollment window closed.
The control group from the lookalike audience — who were randomly selected and sectioned off based on deciles — helped challenge that typical cadence. By taking away the initial message in one group, or limiting the messaging rollout to the first four drops only, we were able to crunch the numbers to figure out the optimized number of touches and the optimized timing of when to achieve the highest ROI.
With our understanding and definition of the key business outcomes in terms of three key metrics of cost per lead, average net lift from timing tests, and cost per acquisition[amsive_tooltip term=”acquisition-cost”], we determined one less mail touch with focused and efficient messaging achieved the highest return on marketing investment.
By using the testing cycle, we were able to increase results and yet still lower costs to give the Medicare plan provider:
- A 16 percent reduction in cost per lead
- An 88 percent average net lift from the timing test
- A 5 percent reduction in cost per acquisition
For a mature Medicare client in an industry that rarely changes, this was huge. This data-centric approach, with key insights to determine which is the optimal time and cadence, challenged industry assumptions about channel and messaging strategy and created a repeatable blueprint for future cost savings and campaign alterations.