7 planning priorities for health plan direct mail
A carefully crafted editorial plan can help set you apart.
Reviewed October 27, 2020
Health plans often have very different objectives for direct-mail campaigns than hospitals do. So it makes sense that the planning process—and the content—would differ too. But one thing is true no matter what type of healthcare organization you work for: Readers want engaging content.
Here are a few tips on adapting an editorial plan to your health plan's needs, while still creating content that will motivate, entertain and support your members.
Pick your topics
To choose topics that will engage your readers—and meet your health plan's objectives—start with these steps:
1. Identify your goals. Whether you're launching a new direct-mail newsletter or taking a fresh look at an existing one, start by articulating exactly what the purpose of the piece is. Are you trying to improve certain HEDIS measures? Affect your NPS scores? Increase re-enrollment? Decrease the demand on your call center? Reach out to a specific demographic? These goals will affect your editorial strategy, the topics you choose and how you measure success. So clarity is very important.
2. Listen to what your members want. Health insurance is complicated. Your newsletter should help cut through that confusion. Ask yourself: How can we make it easier for members to effectively use their plan? One good place to start: Ask your call center what the most frequently asked questions are. Then devote some space in your editorial plan to answering them.
3. Personalize your message. Health plans sometimes overlook the value of personal storytelling. But people love to read about other people. It's human nature. So seek out opportunities to tell your members' stories. Maybe someone is using your wellness program to make healthy lifestyle changes. Or a prenatal care program gave an expecting mother the support she needed. You could even tell the stories of your customer service staff. Putting a human face on your content helps show readers you care about people, not just profits.
Refine your approach
Once the big picture of your editorial plan comes together, you can start to perfect the details. To help your direct-mail newsletter stand out from the crowd, try these steps:
4. Find fresh angles. As healthcare consumers, we are surrounded with so many health messages, it can be easy to tune them out. To prevent boredom with your content:
- Find a fresh spin on a familiar topic. Another article on the benefits of exercise? Meh. Playground games for grownups? That might be worth a second look—and a first read.
- Mix up the content menu. Provide a variety of content types: short and long articles, infographics, quizzes, games, etc. And link to online content like videos, blogs and interactives to keep the connection going.
- Tap in to seasonal and trending topics. What's happening in the world around you right now? Add your healthcare-focused spin to the conversation.
5. Choose your tone carefully. When trying to motivate behavior change, it's easy to adopt a parental voice. But a scolding tone can be off-putting to readers. Make it your mission to build awareness—without judgment—and to gently encourage with empathy.
6. Narrow your focus. Your members may need to make big changes, but you can help them by thinking small. Instead of trying to cover everything a person can do to manage COPD, for example, take one step at a time, like stopping smoking. Then limit yourself to three to five tips about that step. According to health literacy experts, that's about how many pieces of information most people can retain at one time.
7. Customize your approach. You members may have unique challenges based on their age, income, housing, preferred language, literacy level, etc. Harness what you know about them to give your content a reality check. For example: Are you giving expensive, family-size meal ideas to low-budget seniors? Are you telling people who live in potentially unsafe neighborhoods to walk around the block for exercise? Instead, meet your members where they are.
Talk to the planning pros
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