For employers, driving better engagement in their benefits programs is a constant and sometimes frustrating challenge.
No surprise there. What’s surprising is that more benefits teams aren’t taking advantage of something that their counterparts in marketing are using right now to reach customers. That would be digital marketing, the tools and techniques that reach people online, where many of them spend much of their time.
At many companies, benefits marketing still relies on more traditional tactics such as email, printed brochures and posters, open enrollment packets, intranet sites and email announcements. Digital marketing offers employers a way to get in front of their workers with more precision, better tracking, and potentially, better results.
“The reality is employers need to compete with everyone else to get the attention of their employees, including consumer marketing messages that they’re bombarded with all day long,” said Steve Collins, senior director of marketing at Rally Health. “That requires companies to be innovative, and digital marketing can help them cut through an otherwise noisy environment.”
While the world of digital marketing may seem scary at first, it’s a lot more feasible than many benefits leaders realize. At Rally Health, we’ve been able to help employers overcome the challenges of digital marketing. In this blog post, we’ll go into some of these campaigns to show you how digital marketing can be one of your best levers for boosting engagement.
Tapping into the power of social media
No doubt, email is the most popular channel for companies to use when communicating with their employees — understandably. It’s cheap and effective. But there are other ways to engage a workforce without crowding their inboxes.
Working with a large national retailer, we wanted to go beyond email to reach employees at home while they were logged on to Facebook on the web or on mobile devices. We developed the campaign to increase new member registrations and member engagement on the Rally platform.
We also wanted to find out if employees would respond positively to ads promoting health benefits on Facebook. Our test showed that employees were willing to engage with this type of company messaging on Facebook.
Here’s how we did it: We leveraged Facebook data to find employees who had identified their employer on their public profiles. We then showed sponsored posts or newsfeed ads to these people. When employees clicked on the ad, they were sent to a specific landing page created for the campaign.
Employers can copy this approach for their own campaigns. Facebook’s easy-to-use ad tools enable employers to use this tactic to deploy benefits-related messages to their employees. Companies can also look to employee benefits vendors that have experience managing paid social campaigns to utilize this method.
Top takeaway: The power of this campaign is the ability to get in front of employees where they already are — on their personal Facebook feeds. To reach your population outside of a typical corporate environment, go beyond email!
Advertising at the ‘moment of truth’
In another successful campaign, we sought to reach members who were using Google and other search engines to find content about their health or weight management. These are people who are essentially raising their hand and saying they are interested in weight loss, so they were warm prospects for Real Appeal, Rally’s weight-management program.
Our campaign relied on paid search advertising. These ads were shown at the “moment of truth” when the members were already searching for related terms such as “Real Appeal weight loss” and “Real Appeal diabetes program.” Additionally, we employed extensive A/B testing of the ad to ensure message effectiveness.
As a result of this month-long campaign, we were able to secure hundreds of new signups that otherwise would have been lost. At an average cost of about $4 per conversion, this campaign proved to be highly cost effective — especially when you consider the value of a member who has lost the extra pounds.
Top takeaway: Paid search advertising is a tried-and-true technique that consumer marketers have used to great effect. Find vendors that can help you utilize paid search as a digital channel to reach employees when they are searching for relevant info.
A multi-channel strategy is a must-have
All of your employees have a preference for consuming company-related information. Some would prefer to have it all contained on the intranet. Others want it in their corporate inbox. And some workers would rather read it on their mobile phones while they’re waiting in line for coffee, or even on their newsfeed while catching up on social media at home.
As employers adopt digitally driven campaigns to reach their populations, an integrated communications strategy that goes across channels and devices ensures that you’re getting in front of employees on their terms. Mobile notifications, for example, are a great way to reach distributed or deskless employees.
Rather than focusing on repeated and redundant email blasts, consider adding some of these additional channels: text messaging, mobile app notifications, custom landing pages, digital signage in the office, display and search ads, and social media. Think about reaching employees across desktop, mobile phones, tablets and in-office digital displays — while they’re at work and also when they’re outside of work.
In the age of distraction, deploying a multi-channel strategy is a necessity. According to research from Social Chorus, a workplace communications platform, 71 percent of employers reported that their employees don’t read company news sent via email, and 28 percent identified inefficient notification systems for alerting employees to look for new content. The same report found that only 25 percent of employers use an intranet for distributing information.
Top takeaway: Effective marketing relies on a single channel for reaching audiences. They take a multi-pronged approach, testing platforms, devices, and channels to see how different audiences respond. HR teams can adopt a similar mind-set of experimentation by considering multiple channels when putting together your communications strategy.
Thinking outside the old-school box
The campaigns described here illustrate what’s possible when employers stretch their marketing muscles beyond traditional channels like email, printed materials, and company intranets. At Rally, we’ve been testing more and more digital marketing and believe it’s the future of benefits marketing.
Next time you’re not seeing the kind of results that you want from a marketing campaign, consider how you might target employees outside your corporate walls. This may require working with a third-party vendor who knows the technology. If your budget doesn’t support this route, consider these innovative ways to leverage social media to market your health benefits.
The point is to think more like a consumer marketer and experiment with digital marketing tools to reach your audience in new ways. Check back with us regularly as we bring you more innovative tips and tactics to engage your employees.
Eric Mann heads up marketing efforts for our key partners. He has more than 20 years of technology and health care marketing experience, leading browser marketing for Netscape and product marketing for Oracle Health Science.