Open Enrollment Marketing Crash Course – Tip #3 – See the World Through Your Employees’ Eyes

Bob Armour Benefits Communication, Open Enrollment Communication Tips

open enrollment marketing

In marketer-speak, this is ‘Segment your employee base and tailor your message uniquely to each segment.’ But what the heck does that really mean?

It’s really simple. Different groups of people have different needs, triggers and motivations. The more you understand what motivates different groups, the better you’ll be able to motivate them to take action. (Just like we mentioned in a recent earlier post, different people are motivated to go to Lollapalooza for different reasons).

Open Enrollment should be thought of similarly. For example, single 20-somethings are going to be thinking about their benefits selection differently than married 40-year-olds with kids. Ideally, if you could, you’d want to customize your benefits message to each unique person; but since that’s near impossible to do, you should divide your population into ‘look-alikes’ who would be likely to respond to similar messages. You don’t need to segment like crazy. If all you can manage is 2 – 3 segments (i.e. single people and people with partners; or people younger than 30 and people older than 50, etc.) that’s fine. Start there.

(———–WARNING! SHAMELESS PLUG: If you haven’t already, you should check out our benefits decision support software ALEX. ALEX is built to listen to each and every one of your employees and guides them to the specific plan that’s right for them. ALEX is a one-of-a-kind virtual benefits expert that speaks with a real human voice that can do one-on-one meetings with all of your employees. It’s sort of like a clone of you and your team sitting down with all of your employees one-on-one whenever they want to talk. Sounds dreamy, right?! ———-).

Massage your Message

OK, you have your goals determined; we covered this in Tip #1 earlier in this series. We covered how to create a compelling and motivating campaign message in Tip #2 of this series. Those are the hardest parts. Now, you need to massage that message so that it speaks directly to your segments and drives the outcomes you want.

Let’s go through an example of how this might work:

  • Your hard business goals are to drive enrollment and contributions to these programs. Of course if this was a real case, you’d have numbers tied to these. You also may have a goal to drive understanding of these programs higher, and you’ll want to have a plan to follow up on that too.
  • An important priority of your campaign is to focus on how pre-tax programs, like HSA, FSA and 401k, can be a great way to save money on expenses or for retirement.
  • Let’s assume that your planned message to drive this home is ‘Make your bank account fatter.’ (This is something I completely made up).
  • And let’s also assume that you are focusing on 3 audience segments: a) younger, non-married people, b) people with dependents, c) people over 50 years old.
  • So, when you’re communicating directly with these segments, you might want to message something like this:
    • To younger, non-married people – ‘Now’s your chance to make your bank account fatter in just 15 minutes. Get FREE money – as much as $X,XXX or more – when you contribute to your 401k. Sign up for your benefits now.’
    • To people with dependents: ‘Want to save hundreds – or even thousands – of dollars in medical expenses for you and your family? Sign up for health savings programs now.’
    • To people over 50 years old: ‘Tired of paying too much in taxes? You may be able to reduce them now and save hundreds or even thousands of dollars. All it takes is 15 minutes. Sign up for tax saving programs now.’


Bottom Line: Age and marital or dependent status are not the only ways to segment your audience. It may be appropriate for you to segment along part-time/full-time, union / non-union, or in office / in field… whatever is most appropriate for your audience is how you should do it. Just remember to speak in terms that will be most relevant to them and that will drive the actions that you desire.

If you haven’t read our priors posts in this series, here are Tip #1: Begin with the End in Mind and Tip #2: Don’t Be Boring.