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As the old saying goes, timing is everything. Numerous studies have shown that with the market emphasis on consumer driven health plans and wellness, employees are now ready to take a renewed interest in their benefits options. In an Aflac survey last year, 89 percent of employees expressed interest in having more support and decision-making tools to help them during open enrollment.

When customers (read employees) are ready to buy (read your benefits), employers can maximize employee engagement and improve benefits decisions by approaching open enrollment like a marketing campaign. Any good marketing campaign carefully considers demographic factors and develops messaging and information that is readily accessible and in different formats. But what else should your campaign include?

Set goals

Your open enrollment marketing campaign should start with developing measurable goals to give your campaign a solid foundation by giving you something to work toward. For example, are you looking to increase enrollment in certain benefits, introducing a new benefit or hoping to better define benefits options?

Once you determine your goals, set concrete metrics to measure your success, such as gaining a 30 percent enrollment increase in an HSA plan or convincing 75 percent of employees to watch an open enrollment video. The benchmarks you set will be invaluable as you evaluate your open enrollment success and plan for next year.

Who is your target audience?

Who are your employees? What are their generational differences? This is important since we know different generations prefer different modes of communication – baby boomers still prefer face-to-face meetings and phone calls, while millennials are more likely to respond to emails, videos or texts.

Use a multi-targeted approach to address these communication preferences. For example, you might consider sending employees an open enrollment email about their benefit options and the deadline that also includes a link for them to schedule a call or personal meeting to go through their questions.

Develop simple and direct key messaging

Did you know? Ninety percent of the time, employees avoid decision-making during open enrollment by re-enrolling in the same benefit options year after year, resulting in wasted benefits and costly mistakes. One of the reasons for this is the confusion and stress of going through options that have a direct impact on personal finances and the reluctance to admit misunderstanding.

Employers can help to alleviate this stress and confusion by using simple and direct messaging: What does this mean for me? What do I need to do? How much can I save? Help employees and dependents readily conceive the advantages of each benefit by giving them these straightforward answers without a lot of confusing “vendor speak.”

Keep talking

A key feature of a successful marketing campaign is its ability to engage people continuously. Forcing employees to absorb all your benefits information at once raises stress levels and risks disengagement throughout the year. This means you need to engage your employees with a steady flow of information year-round. Email reminders, webinars, posters, newsletters, health fairs – all can help to familiarize employees with their benefits.

Market your benefits with the “customer” in mind and set measurable goals to position your open enrollment for success. By putting in this extra effort, you can create a campaign that truly engages employees about their benefits now and throughout the year.