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Direct Response Marketing

Healthcare Marketing 2.0

1 Feb, 2009 By: Jacqueline Renfrow Response

Web-savvy consumers push DR marketers to break down emotional, physical and digital barriers.

Mobile is Here!

By the end of 2008, an estimated 10 million adults were using cell phones or PDAs/smart phones to look up health information. STAR sees huge potential in the future of DR marketing over mobile. They can be used to carry mobile versions of pharmaceutical sites or for patients to carry self-monitory data with them at all times. Mobile coupons can be downloaded at doctor's offices and retrieved at pharmacies — encouragement to fill a prescription.

Yeo of HealthVault says the future of healthcare management for consumers is in technology because it is a great place for both consumers and physicians to engage in health conversations. HealthVault is working with a partner on a program to enable mobile data so before you visit a doctor, you can download your health information to the phone and then it can be faxed to the doctor's office.

"Retention in this business is based on customer service," says O'Connor. Customers sometimes need help understanding what their benefits are and how to pay bills. So Aetna is now evaluating the benefits of SMS text messaging for bill paying and service updates. In the near future, when people are ready to get updates on health more often, O'Connor sees mobile as a good place to send daily consumer health tips.

"If we look at mobile, it's ubiquitous and it's no longer just a phone. It's a powerful tool, basically like a digital Swiss army knife," says Lazarus. Today's consumer is a multi-tasker, and mobile is an important part of that mix. As a 24/7 device, Quigley-Simpson will be implementing more campaigns using mobile in the future. Lazarus says it is an important avenue for marketers and clients to explore, considering 20 percent of households are now wireless only.

But Gerald Bagg, CEO of Quigley-Simpson, reminds marketers that television is still a lucrative channel. The average individual still watches five hours of television a day. And while DVRs are changing how they watch, it hasn't changed what they prefer to watch. Bagg says the goal is to be multi-dimensional, using both traditional and non-traditional media outlets. "The key is to differentiate us from the competition through contextually rich programming and developing content that reaches them when they're most susceptible," he says.

Bagg admits he was a skeptic at first when it came to mobile marketing healthcare products and services. But now he has seen how mobile can be a powerful and sophisticated tool for reaching a mass market. "Those that decry it are doing so for two reasons: They don't understand it. And they don't have the capability to be able to serve up creative to use these opportunities," he says.

Recession Proof

Aetna has altered its marketing lately to deal with the realities of the economic recession. Recently, the company launched a campaign geared toward a demographic that was considering retiring early, but after losing a giant chunk of their savings, this group needs to reconsider what they need out of their health benefits.

"In difficult times, while we want to make money and grow membership, our big corporate goal is to lower the number of people that are uninsured and when companies aren't offering benefits anymore, retiree groups need quality products," says O'Connor.

Another campaign is geared to Generation Y in Illinois and is known as the Aetna BodyGuard plan. This is a lower-priced product for a group that has fewer hospital stays but a need for more emergency care. If the program is successful in Illinois, it may go national.

Bagg contends Quigley-Simpson knew there was a recession in the works back in December 2007. The company works with clients that offer high-priced elective procedures and these companies started to see a dramatic downturn in revenue in December 2006, and it was even more significant in the first quarter of 2007.

People are more reluctant to do elective surgeries in difficult times, especially in the case when there is a cheaper alternative, such as wearing glasses instead of having a laser eye procedure. This puts a burden on the advertiser to present a good value solution or a creative way to pay. "So companies marketing Lasik procedures, cosmetic surgery or other types of high ticket products/procedures are offering financing to easy the customer along the adoption curve," says Bagg.

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