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Mercer Consumer - Outbound Marketing Program of the Year

Gold Stevie Award Winner 2018, Click to Enter The 2019 Stevie Awards for Sales and Customer Service

Company: Mercer Consumer, Des Moines, IA
Company Description: Mercer is a global consulting leader in talent, health, retirements and investments. Mercer helps clients around the world advance the health, wealth and performance of their most vital asset—their people. Mercer's 20,500+ employees are based in more than 40 countries. Mercer is a wholly subsidiary of Marsh & McLennan Companies, a global team of professional services companies.
Nomination Category: Sales Awards Achievement Categories
Nomination Sub Category: Outbound Marketing Program of the Year

Nomination Title: Dental Insurance Mailing

Tell the story about your organization's outbound marketing program since the beginning of July 2016 (up to 650 words). Focus on specific accomplishments, and relate these accomplishments to past performance or industry norms. Be sure to mention obstacles overcome, innovations or discoveries made, and outcomes:

A successful insurance direct mail package takes advantage of best practices — and uncertainty. And few things these days are more uncertain than today’s health insurance environment. We took advantage of this uncertainty to create a test package for a dental insurance product that outperformed a longstanding control by a wide margin.

We’re constantly testing, always looking to improve our response rates, with a target goal of a 20% over our control, plus a reduction in production costs. But this package shattered all expectations and projections:

-Doubled gross applications for the product
-Nearly doubled paid applications (increased by 92%)
-More than doubled our total annual premium (increased by 110%)
-Cut our marketing costs by 20%

For this, we can thank the combination of marketing best practices, spot-on copy, and a major concern that many employer groups are dropping dental coverage from their core benefits package.

Why is this a concern, especially for older Americans? According to the Pew Charitable Trusts* about 1 in 5 seniors suffer from tooth decay, and 2 in 5 have periodontal diseases. Further, 7 in 10 seniors don’t have dental insurance. Since most of our client association members skew older, it makes good sense to offer members this product.

The control we had been using for this product was unbeaten for six years. Until this winning test, which was mailed to those members ages 60-80 who were not insured in the Dental Plan.

The first best practice was to reinforce the members’ affinity with the association; this was done by prominently displaying the association logo on the outside envelope, as well as the letter/app main component. An oversize long window on the envelope allowed for a teaser to prime the recipient for the focus of the message: “Benefit Enhancement for Members Age 60 and Older: In Response to Health Insurance Changes.”

The main component was a combined letter/application. We have used this device, which allows the recipient to easily detach the perforated app, on other projects for its simplicity and its reduced cost for production and postage.

The letter’s tone was educating and comforting: “As the world of health insurance changes,” it begins, CLIENT is committed to making sure you don’t have ‘gaps’ in your coverage.” It adds: “While more Americans now have access to health insurance, many are discovering that today’s medical plans do not include dental coverage. We believe that is a potentially costly oversight.” The letter then pointed out that many employers are deleting dental insurance from their core health insurance and that Medicare and Medicaid do not cover dental. “Clearly,” the letter proclaims, “an affordable solution is needed.”

That affordable solution is the “guaranteed” Association-provided benefit, exclusively for members. Advantages, the letter pointed out, included its wide variety of covered services, and that everyone would be accepted despite their health conditions. As a direct mail best practice, a postscript called attention to a 10-day soft deadline to detach the enrollment form and send it in the included postage-paid business return envelope. Members also could apply via a toll-free number, mentioned in the letter, or call with questions.

To further convince the member of the need for the coverage, a separate insert had a warning, sourced from the respected authority WebMD: “Neglecting oral health leads to more than just gum disease and tooth decay. It has also been linked to other conditions, including Alzheimer’s, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and more.” The insert added: “That means putting off visits to the dentist could be costly to your heart and other vital organs . . .” and closed: “For the sake of your teeth — and your overall health — I urge you to give this association member benefit your most serious consideration.”

Members did, as evidenced by the package results. We are adapting this package to apply to other association clients.

*http: //www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/analysis/2016/01/28/issues-in-dental-health-care-to-watch-in-2016