Please join KERN Health at the 10th Annual Medicare Marketing, Sales & Product Summit at the Grand Hyatt in San Antonio, Texas on Monday, March 20 through Wednesday March 22nd, 2017 at Booth #9.
Please join KERN Health at the 10th Annual Medicare Marketing, Sales & Product Summit at the Grand Hyatt in San Antonio, Texas on Monday, March 20 through Wednesday March 22nd, 2017 at Booth #9.
Before answering questions regarding “social selling” I feel that it’s important to define the term.
Let’s look at how others define “social selling.”
“Social selling is when salespeople use social media to interact directly with their prospects. Salespeople will provide value by answering prospect questions and offering thoughtful content until the prospect is ready to buy.”
“Social selling is leveraging your own professional brand and social network to gather insights and connections, then use that information to help you discover new opportunities, sell, and get business done.”
Defining social selling itself has become the topic of many blog articles, including this one by Jeff Zelaya of Triblio- “10 LinkedIn Influencers Define Social Selling”
On a very high level, it is my belief that marketing needs to own the customer experience. Since social media is, and is increasingly becoming an important aspect of the customer experience, it is logical that marketing must strive to own social media.
Yet, one has to wonder is the concept of social media counter-intuitive to the concept of social selling?
Building trust with our customers is one of the, if not the highest priority of most marketing organizations. Social media etiquette requires organizations to provide information and interactive communications that have value to our community of customers and prospective customers, without appearing to persuade or convince those customers, as in traditional marketing or advertising communications. Therefore any attempt to “sell” within the social media universe would immediately be viewed as disingenuous or as blatant self-promotion.
Therefore, a marketer’s role in the practice of social selling would be to create a content strategy that would support the provision of important valuable information to the reader that would be relevant and compelling, and would position the organization as an authority on the subject without self-promotion of the organization. By constructing a content strategy that enables sales to provide this valuable information, marketing would be enabling sales to engage with prospects within the social universe by taking the authoritative and helpful position to stay top of mind and in the prospects consideration set when a purchase decision is imminent.
In order for salespeople to leverage social networks to gain connections or to engage further with connections already made; salespeople must be able to engage their connections or future connections with something (content) that is relevant and compelling to foster interaction.
Based on my vision of social selling, the infrastructure of a well thought out social media program must either exist or must be built in order to support a social selling initiative.
In the case where an organization has an existing social media program, the most impactful quick hit would be to develop a strategy for sales to engage with customers and prospects within a few selected social networks such as LinkedIn and Twitter.
To do this, Marketing would provide a program, or playbook that would educate and enable sales by utilizing the content assets available through the organizations social media program, such as blog articles, studies, surveys, info-graphics, where sales can learn to offer these assets within the construct of each social property in an acceptable communication to gain awareness and interaction with the prospect or customer.
Of course, for marketing to truly enable social selling, there must be alignment between marketing and sales. There are entire books, and entire marketing practices that are dedicated to the alignment of sales and marketing. I don’t believe that a one or two line answer here is going to communicate the importance of aligning sales and marketing and it certainly will not enable any readers to tackle an issue of this magnitude.
I would suggest that regular weekly or monthly meetings between sales and marketing is a great place to start this conversation with the future goal of SLA’s (Service Level Agreements) developed as a result of these meetings which can help guide both sales and marketing on the path to true alignment.
Organizations must be fundamentally sound in their development of goals, objectives, strategies and tactics to implement any successful program or campaign. On the subject of social selling, the fundamentals are essential to building a campaign that enables sales to engage with prospects and customers within social networks.
The very same tools that best-in-class organizations use to develop and manage social media are the tools needed to support a social selling campaign, such as Content Strategy, Editorial Calendars, Activation Maps, and especially for sales, a Social Selling Campaign Playbook that details the tactics used and the assets available to be used.
Social networks have a purpose, and that purpose is to allow people to socially interact and share ideas. Social selling infringes on the “social” part of social communities, since salespeople obviously have an ulterior motive, which has nothing to do with building an information exchange for the greater good of the community and has everything to do with gaining a competitive advantage to entice prospective or current customers into purchasing by providing valuable and relevant information (content.) Hiding or cloaking this duplicitous goal of salespeople is the greatest challenge to social selling.
Social selling can be used in Account Based Marketing (ABM). The strategies that need to be developed for social selling in ABM are slightly different than in non-ABM, where in ABM any current event or relatable information regarding the key strategic account may be in play during the content strategy construction more so than in non-ABM content strategy.
There is great confusion within organizations about the difference between social selling, and information gathering using social network information. Gathering and seeking information on social networks that help enable sales to sell through the insights of the intelligence is in my opinion of far greater value to both sales and marketing organizations than the practice of social selling, which is a deceitful way to endear salespeople to their prospects through disingenuous social engagement and interactions.
I certainly understand the need for marketing to enable sales to sell.
I would prefer to either enhance a robust social media program, or if need be, build a robust social media program for clients from the ground up, and then use those assets created as part of an overarching content strategy rather than build a patch-work band aid solution as an isolated social selling campaign.
Building, earning, gaining and keeping the trust of our client’s customers and prospective customers is always our goal, and if I feel that implementing social selling tactics would undermine that goal, I would recommend against it.
However, when goals, objectives, strategies, tactics are aligned with our client’s brand and brand value, we are very comfortable in developing a program that enables our client’s salespeople to sell using all channels, including social selling.
B2B Marketers always have 2 clients. The end user client who uses the product or service sold by the company, and the company’s sales force. By enabling sales to practice social selling, B2B marketing is fulfilling the mission of catering to the two customers that B2B marketers must accommodate.
Digital Display is a wide term for a category that includes banner advertisements, promoted or sponsored advertisements including those on social media, native advertisements, video, rich media and sponsorships for all devices. Unlike strictly text based ads, display advertising relies on images, audio and video to engage the audience and convey the advertising message.
Revolutionizing the way digital display ads are managed.
There are many vendors whose products and services have completely transformed the management of digital display ads.. When looking at the Display Lumascape above, you may find that some of the category topics are unfamiliar. Let’s take a closer look at what goes into implementing digital display advertising.
Agency Trading Desks and Programmatic media buying
ATDs or Agency Trading Desks manage the bidding of programmatic digital display media through a system that is customized to execute the digital display strategies of a specific client or group of clients of a specific agency. Programmatic automates the ad buying and selling process through the use of software and technology at a speed and scale that makes it more efficient and effective. Programmatic Ad Buying (also known as RTB Real Time Buying) helps marketers take advantage of unsold or “remnant” digital inventory. When ad serving sites have unsold inventory, programmatic rates are offered at considerable discounts compared to the site’s direct rates.
And programmatic offers advertisers the ability to incorporate large amounts of data, to serve users with ads that are more likely to be relevant on psychographic, demographic, behavioral and intent levels. Accuen is Omnicom Media Group’s Agency Trading Desk within a programmatic agency, operating the industry’s first open and flexible platform for programmatic media buying for the world’s leading marketers. Accuen delivers market-leading solutions across channels, transforming data into competitive media advantage.
Dynamic Creative Optimization DCO or Dynamic Creative Optimization allows marketers to test and optimize banners or other digital display ads based on real-time feedback from multi-variate testing. Multi-variate testing tests a hypothesis in which multiple variables are modified. The goal is to determine which combination of variations performs the best out of all of the possible combinations. The data is analyzed in real-time through an algorithm and results are interpreted simultaneously to serve the right banner via real time data dependent on a searcher’s intent.
Here’s how it works: you place a small, unobtrusive piece of code on your website (this code is sometimes referred to as a pixel). The code, or pixel, is inconspicuous to your site visitors and won’t affect your site’s performance. Every time a new visitor comes to your site, the code drops an anonymous browser cookie. Later, when your cookied visitors browse the Web, the cookie will let your retargeting provider know when to serve ads, ensuring that your ads are served to only to people who have previously visited your site.
Retargeting is so effective because it focuses your advertising spend on people who are already familiar with your brand and have recently demonstrated interest. That’s why most marketers who use it see a higher ROI than from most other digital channels.”
Filling out the eye chart of the Digital Display Lumascape are the following: DSP is an acronym for Demand Side Platform which is software used to purchase advertising with a platform that allows buyers/advertisers to buy the inventory from various ad exchanges and data exchange accounts through one interface which is RTB or Real Time Bidding. A Supply-side or Sell-side Platform (SSP) is a technology platform which enables the publishers to manage their ad impression inventory and maximize revenue from digital media
Exchanges are ad exchanges, which is a “market” for ad buying and placement, as are Ad Networks which come in various iterations and flavors such as Vertical/Custom, Targeted Networks/AMPS (Audience Management Platforms which is a vendor that offers both DSP and DMP, Data Management Platform), Performance enhancing software, Mobile specific platforms, ad servers and then a multitude of vendors that work to supply measurement and analytics, verification and privacy, retargeting, testing and optimization and media management systems and operational systems.
Medicare marketers will usually rely on their agency partners to manage these aspects of their programs, as the technical nature and knowledge needed to staff marketing operations to facilitate all that is associated with best practice digital display marketing and advertising prohibits Medicare marketing organizations from building their own in-house digital display marketing teams.
According to EMarketer: “In 2016, digital display ad spending will eclipse search ad spending in the US for the first time. Combined, the categories of video, sponsorships, rich media and “banners and other” will account for the largest share of digital ad spending: 47.9%, worth $32.17 billion.”
This monumental shift from search to display is not reflected in the current usage that I’ve observed by Medicare marketing organizations. Some organizations are “getting their toes wet” in the digital display water, and some haven’t provided themselves with adequate dedicated digital display budget to be effective. Others have completely stayed away from digital display putting all their eggs in the search basket for digital advertising investment.
What does the term “Programmatic” mean as it relates to Display Advertising?
By definition, Programmatic ad buying refers to the use of software to purchase digital advertising, as opposed to contracting inventory from a specific site over a specific time period which has enabled marketers using Programmatic ad buying to buy digital ads more efficiently and effectively.
According to eMarketer, U.S. programmatic digital display ad spending grew 137.1% to $10 Billion in 2014, which represents 45% of the U.S. digital display ad market. And a recent article in Advertising Age noted that “Programmatic buying is on track to make up $14.88 billion of the approximately $58.6 billion digital advertising pie this year, a nearly $5 billion leap from 2014, when it accounted for $9.9 billion.”
Why does it matter to Medicare marketers?
Programmatic Ad Buying provides marketers with the ability to grow, scale, gain media efficiency, enjoy wide targeting capabilities and deliver ads with cross platform (device) accessibility.
“A demand-side platform (DSP) is a system that allows buyers of digital advertising inventory to manage multiple ad exchange and data exchange accounts through one interface” states Wikipedia, and this access to thousands of sites on which we can serve ad impressions provides us with the ability to be extremely efficient, effective while increasing our digital display targeting capabilities with virtually limitless scalability.
Programmatic Ad Buying (also known as RTB Real Time Buying) is an automated way to take advantage of unsold or “remnant” digital inventory. When ad serving sites have unsold inventory, programmatic rates are offered at considerable discounts compared to the site’s direct rates.
As with search, digital display ads bought through programmatic means, can be targeted nearly every which way from Sunday.
Banners Banners are the most common form of digital display advertising and come in a variety of flavors and sizes. The Marketing Tech Blog provides this comprehensive listing of popular banner sizes:
Top Performing Ad Sizes on Google
Other Supported Ad Sizes on Google
See the entire list of banner sizes from The Marketing Tech Blog here.
Rich Media Digital Display As Google so aptly defines it “Rich media is a digital advertising term for an ad that includes advanced features like video, audio, or other elements that encourage viewers to interact and engage with the content.” While text ads sell with words, and display ads sell with pictures, rich media ads offer more ways to involve an audience with an ad. The ad can expand, float, etc. You can access aggregated metrics on your audience’s behavior, including number of expansions, multiple exits, and video completions to get granular data on the success of your campaign. If you have a simple objective to generate clicks or a more ambitious goal to create brand awareness, rich media is the format to go with.
There are various types of Rich Media digital display ads available to Medicare marketers and you will find wonderful examples of these different types at Google’s Rich Media Gallery here.
Every year Luma Partners, a unique investment banking firm that lives in the digital media world, releases several different “Lumascapes” . These provide an infographic look at the landscape for a given digital area. There is a Lumascape for Digital Display Advertising, another for Digital Search Advertising, and for mobile and for video.
As most Medicare marketers are in the nascent stages of both search and display, let’s take a look at the Lumascapes for each beginning with search.
Search involves more than just Google AdWords as you can see from this very busy infographic. It begins with the agencies at the upper-left-hand corner (Disclaimer: KERN HEALTH is an Omnicom Group Agency) and progresses to those agencies that specialize in search such as KERN HEALTH’s media partner, Converge Direct.
In between you’ll see the inclusion of SEM (Search Engine Marketing) tools such as Google AdWords, SEO (Search Engine Optimization) tools like MOZ, analytics including both search and web including Google Analytics to all of the various search engines such as Google, Bing & Yahoo, and search retargeting, verification and search networks.
Skipping the elementary basics of SEM (Search Engine Marketing) which marketers are generally familiar with, let’s take a deeper dive into what different SEM variations are available to Medicare marketers. Fundamental Keyword Selection strategy will not be covered here, which is of itself the subject of literally libraries of books.
Medicare marketers are familiar with and have experience and historic benchmarks to reference regarding their selection of keyword search terms. Basic search advertising is usually done on the largest platform, which is Google AdWords. Google has an excellent educational section on the AdWords site which can be found here.
The following technologically driven tactics are usually used together, and not as isolated tactics, as a campaign can include many of these tactics integrated to achieve the strategic vision.
SEO and SEM (Search Engine Optimization and Search Engine Marketing)
Best practice digital marketers don’t view SEO and SEM as an either/or asset; since experienced and successful digital marketers know they must have strategies for both SEO and SEM in place to achieve success. Ensuring that the website and landing pages are search engine friendly (can easily be crawled and indexed by search engines) is essential to the success of any SEM program. Having a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategy supported by a SEO driven content strategy lifts the effectiveness of both SEO and SEM short term and long term.
SEO continues to be a “cat and mouse” game, as Google changes algorithms, SEO experts change tactics to exploit the new algorithm. If you’d like to learn more about SEO, there are some excellent books on Amazon that cover the subject in detail.
Search Engine MarketingToday, there are a variety of targeting tactics available to the modern Search Engine Marketer beyond demographics. Savvy SEM strategists must constantly keep themselves current with new technological changes to fully leverage the latest best practice tactics.
The tactics listed here are usually used together, not just individually, as a campaign can integrate many of them to achieve the strategic vision.
As Medicare marketers have just begun to scratch the surface on what targeting tactics are available, here are today’s modern SEM targeting tactics.
Search Engine Marketing Targeting Tactics For Medicare marketers
Brand Keywords Campaigns can be run for both Branded and non-branded search terms, depending on campaign emphasis. Brand keywords are obviously keywords that include the brand. People searching for brands have high intent on finding the brand that they’re searching for and therefore provide marketers with a high or good ROAS (Return on Ad Spend.) Many organizations have branded their products so that they are able to make people aware of their brand right when they’re searching.
Targeted Non-Brand Keywords Conversely to Brand Keyword searches, Targeted Non-Brand Keyword are designed for searchers with less intent than brand searchers, and generally provide a lower or lesser ROAS. Many organizations measure Branded and Non-Branded keyword searches separately since the level of intent for each of these searches is decidedly different.
Conquesting Conquesting is generally considered an aggressive marketing strategy by a company targeting a competitor’s brand name or product names or marketing slogans. Perhaps the most famous occurrence of conquesting came during the 2011 Super Bowl, when Volkswagen ran the famous Darth Vader commercial. In that spot, a kid dressed as Darth Vader, starts his Dad’s VW with what he believed was the power of the Force. Turns out it was really Dad with a remote start button. Chevrolet saw the commercial, and according to this USA Today article: “A team of Chevrolet marketers went into action, paying for links to Chevy’s Super Bowl ads to appear as a top result when people Googled phrases such as “Darth Vader.” As a result, Chevrolet’s ads got 55 million views online in the four days following the Super Bowl — far above expectations.”
Targeted Ad Copy As you might imagine, targeting keywords within an ad or landing page copy is another tactic marketers use to return relevant searches to those seeking a product or service rather than a brand. For Medicare marketers phrases such as “Part D Prescription Drug Plan” or “Medicare Advantage HMO” are common phrases used within the ad copy and can be used as keywords for targeted ad copy.
Medicare marketers can leverage device targeting to reach their best prospective customers on any device. Controlling when, where and on what device your ads appear enables flexible targeting options, as you can combine device targeting with other attributes such as location, day, time, and demographics. And, you can tailor a specific mobile campaign to only target smart phones of one or more manufacturers. By testing device targeting, marketers are able to understand which devices their best performing perspective customers are using and can increase ROAS significantly by targeting those specific devices combined with other top performing attributes. This is especially critical for Medicare marketers as leading edge boomers age in to eligibility.
Contextual CPC (Cost Per Click)
Where and when marketer’s digital advertisements are placed is as critical, or more critical than the message, the offer or the creative. Imagine a brilliant ad with a fabulous offer pasted onto a billboard in an isolated desert town with literally no traffic driving by. The outdoor board will not be effective. The same is true for digital advertising, including search. Medicare search engine marketing must be planned by thoroughly understand the digital media consumption behavior and habits of the Medicare audience. Vendors offer context-based algorithm-based placement of searches to ensure that the ad being placed appears in front of an interested audience who is receptive to the offer.
Using contextual CPC also enables Search Engine Retargeting which is a newer technology that dynamically inserts the searcher’s own keyword queries into your ad copy as the user continues to browse other sites and all this activity is trackable and attributable through the vendor’s analytics reports. There are vendors that allow for cost-per-click contextual traffic specifically targeted to the health vertical. They each have a collection of sites focused on Insurance. Some of the benefits of Contextual CPC include the allowance for CPC traffic similar to Search, but at a lower cost since users only see an ad if they meet the selected criteria such as demographic, geographic, or other selectable attributes. Read more about contextual targeting for Google AdWords here.
There are several vendors that allow for Cost Per Click Contextual traffic specifically targeted to a collection of sites focused on Medicare Insurance
DayPart targeting allows Medicare marketers to reach the audience by the time and day of the week when ads are most likely to be seen based on the media consumption and behavior patterns of the audience. Dialing in the best times of day that the Medicare audience is most likely to be searching for search terms enables marketers to increase ROAS by maximizing the allocated budget for the most impact. Here is another opportunity to test and learn what days and what times of day your prospective audience is most likely going to be searching for Medicare information or assistance so that you can optimize your spend and maximize results. And while many Medicare marketers are using Google AdWords, some may be unaware that targeted day-parting is an option. Learn more about Google AdWords custom scheduling here.
RLSA (Remarketing Lists for Search Ads)
According to Google, Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSA) “is a feature that lets you customize your search ads campaign for people who have previously visited your site, and tailor your bids and ads to these visitors when they’re searching on Google.” Why might Medicare marketers be interested in this capability? Well, in order to maximize the effectiveness of a smaller digital search budget, having your search engine marketing only return PPC ads to people who have already shown an interest by visiting your site is an excellent way to squeeze every working dollar out of your digital budget. When someone visits your Medicare site, they are most likely interested in your Medicare offerings. When that person continues to search for other Medicare plans, your search engine marketing ad comes up first- and there is a better likelihood that the searcher may be swayed into revisiting your site and reconsidering your offer.
“Geo Targeting” and “Geo Fencing” are terms that are often misunderstood and misused by marketers, so let’s address the difference while defining them. Geo Targeting is the targeting of prospective members within a specified geographical territory such as a DMA that meet other targeting criteria such as demographic or psychographic selected attributes. For Medicare marketers Geo Targeting is an important aspect of every SEM campaign, including testing different tactics including messaging, formats, keywords and more to different geographical locations. Bidding for search terms within broad geographic locations such as zip codes, cities, counties or states is going to be much for efficient and effective driving higher ROAS.
Geo Fencing involves drawing a virtual DMA using either a device’s GPS or a home or business’ IP address as the centralized origination point and targets prospects within the radius selected from those origination points. Utilizing Geo Fencing will enable you to show ads to EVERYONE within a selected area, usually a much tighter location radius than can be used with Geo Targeting. Medicare marketers can use this capability to target areas with high concentrations of boomers or seniors such as large retirement communities to gain efficiency, drive down investments and increase response. Geo Fencing does not provide marketers with the ability to serve up push notifications on apps to those within the Geo Fence radius, although many marketers mistakenly believe that it does.
Search Engine Marketing for Medicare Marketers Knowing what tools are in the toolbox and having expert knowledge of those tools is essential for any master carpenter. Even the novice must survey the tool box before attempting to build a project, and the same is true for Medicare marketing strategists.
There are 10 stages in the modern buyer’s journey which are Distraction, Recognize Need, Search For Solutions, Seek Vendor Solutions, Evaluate Solutions, Justify Solutions, Social Research, Cost Analysis, Purchase, Evaluation of Decision.
While the journey stages of the AEP “Switcher” and the “Age-In” prospects are similar they may have very different needs and concerns when shopping for Medicare. The final messaging for each segment must speak to each audience’s specific needs and wants.
No matter the audience, something is likely to distract or interrupt a Medicare shopper, which acts as a catalyst to consider either their current Medicare coverage (Switcher) or that they are nearing the age where they will have to face a choice regarding Medicare by the time they turn 65 (Age-In). Maybe it was something they heard from a friend or family member, or perhaps they saw a commercial for Medicare on television or online.
Once they have recognized that they have a need (2), both audiences are likely to search for solutions (3) and begin to look for specific Vendor solutions (4).
They will evaluate those solutions (5) and perhaps will need to justify those solutions to their spouse, children or friends (6) and they, or their support group will conduct social research (7) during each stage of their journey.
How much does it cost per month, or what is the total cost of the policy including deductibles? These questions are answered within the Cost Analysis (8) leg of the journey, and the decision to make a purchase (9) is made, and then the important evaluation of the decision (10) occurs, which is increasingly more important as many post their evaluation online for others to see.
Understanding and mapping the Medicare buyer’s journey will enable organizations to determine which tactics are best for early stage, middle stage and late stage funnel searchers. Testing different messaging, positioning and tactical execution, along with landing page versions is best practice, and will allow your marketing to evolve into an optimized program providing great ROAS.
Throughout the Summer of ’16, various types of content will be produced to tell you the story of “Medicare Marketing in Our Digital World.
The purpose of this work is to provide a 30,000 foot view for Medicare marketing CMO’s and other Medicare marketing leaders.