Author: Patricia Uhrich

Health plans should expect record ACA enrollments in 2022 — thanks ARP!

Back in April we promised to follow up on the American Rescue Plan’s (ARP’s) impact on the health insurance market. As you may recall, the ARP offered larger premium tax credits to a greater number of people who obtain coverage through Affordable Care Act health plans. It also created an extended special enrollment period (SEP) that’s slated to end on August 15th.   Here’s the good news from the ARP’s impact on 2021 enrollments: CMS reports that over 1.2 million Americans signed up for health insurance under the extended SEP as of June 1st.   3 million consumers reduced their monthly health insurance rates by applying for additional premium tax credits.   State-based marketplaces and healthcare.gov helped spur additional enrollments by promoting the SEP along with health plans. This included CMS teaming up with Stride’s Portable Benefits platform to help independent contractors enroll in an ACA health plan during a “Gig Workers Week of...

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Why your marketing plan MUST consider short-form video.

If you’ve been wondering if it pays to make the leap from online image ads to short-form video the answer is most likely a resounding, YES!  Even with the added production costs, video is too powerful to be ignored.   According to Social Media Today, video is the best performing content type on all social platforms. Video wins on engagement, response, shares and other metrics.   Consider these mind-blowing video ad statistics: Facebook: Video gains 2-3x higher click-throughs and a 20-30% increase in conversions compared to image ads (adQuadrant)   Instagram: Video posts gain 60% more engagement than photo posts (Hootsuite)   Twitter: Video delivers 10x more engagement and 50% savings on cost per engagement (Social Media Today)   LinkedIn: Video delivers 3x the engagement as text posts (LinkedIn)   YouTube: Best ROI for video with 34.6 billion visits per month (the world’s second most popular website after Google).   What qualifies a short-form video ad? Anything under 1-minute. 66% percent...

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A Quartet of Awards — Music to our ears.

Awards season is back for 2021 and Direct Choice is off to a strong start. Last week, our team attended a virtual presentation of the Philadelphia Direct Marketing Association’s Benjamin Franklin Awards (AKA Bennies) via Zoom. Other than the “Creative Only” category, these awards are judged based on a blend of marketing strategy, creative and response metrics. Direct Choice was recognized with awards in four categories:     Integrated B-to-C Winner: Blue Cross of NC Medicare Advantage Campaign. While face-to-face sales were made impossible by the pandemic of 2020, this campaign managed to drastically increase direct sales and decrease the cost per sale. The campaign included traditional direct mail and DRTV together with new social media strategies for highly targeted marketing.       Broadcast (TV or Radio) Campaign Winner: Blue Cross of NC Medicare Advantage DRTV: As part of the above campaign, we expanded our DRTV efforts with a new spot that leveraged the localized power...

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TikTok ‘til you drop. Why and how to use social media’s fastest growing app.

Did you know TiKTok is the fastest growing social media platform of all time? According to the Digital Marketing Institute, it has grown faster than Facebook and twice as fast as Instagram since its inception. Yet only 4% of U.S. social media marketers use the platform.   Why aren’t more marketers jumping in?  There’s a misconception that TikTok is for teenagers. Yes, that’s where the initial rapid growth took place but now, as with previous platforms, its user base is broadening. For example, 54-year old celebrity chef Gordon Ramsey has amassed 23.3 million followers on TikTok.   Check out this distribution of users in the United States as of March 2021.    Source: www.statista.com/statistics/1095186/tiktok-us-users-age/     How can you make TikTok work for your brand?  TikTok is all about short-form mobile video entertainment. If you’re not already on the platform, have a look at TikTok’s top 100 from 2020 to get an idea of what attracts eyeballs and gets shared. Here...

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American Rescue Plan equates to huge opportunities for insurers

Here at Direct Choice, we’re capitalizing on a new wave of marketing opportunities for our health insurance clients brought on by the American Rescue Plan (ARP). That’s the self-aggrandizing title for what you may more readily recognize as the most recent COVID-19 stimulus/relief package. Signed into law on March 11, 2021, Biden’s $1.2 trillion package includes direct stimulus payments, extended unemployment benefits, expanded child tax credits and other safety nets for struggling Americans.   One of the less publicized aspects of the plan includes a big win for people without employer-provided health insurance, including middle-income folks. Here’s a breakdown of how the new law is expanding access to affordable health insurance for Americans in 2021 and 2022:   Larger premium tax credits According to HHS.gov, monthly premiums will decrease by an average of $50 per person after credits. Four out of five enrollees (up from 69% pre-ARP) will be able to find a plan for...

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One year into the pandemic … thoughts from Direct Choice

It goes without saying that we are eager to put the pandemic in the rear-view. Up ahead but not yet in clear view, we anticipate our return to the office, vacation spots, concerts, sporting events, etc.   Before getting too far ahead ourselves, we felt it would be remiss not to look back on the past year and consider the impact of such a sudden shock to our daily lives. With that in mind, we put together a few quick questions for our staff. See how your answers align with ours…   What was the hero of the pandemic for you — i.e. something that made life easier throughout the past year?   Nick: From a serious perspective, the hero(es) of the pandemic are the front-line healthcare workers — many risking their lives every day to save lives, as well as having to keep a distance from their families when they returned home from their shifts. ...

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Why it was good to see some Big Brands sit out the Super Bowl

For marketers, the Super Bowl traditionally begins in the summer when budgets and creative ideas are set in motion. This year was anything but traditional. Although all 256 regular season games were played, some advertisers chose to sit out the Super Bowl. In fact, it was the first Super Bowl in 37 years without Budweiser airing a spot during the game.   Clydesdales, Mr. Peanut, Korean cars, Mexican avocados and Coca Cola were all conspicuously absent. Whatever their PR people may have said before the game, we know it’s all because most big brands aren’t risk takers and couldn’t handle this year’s uncertainty — but that’s a good thing and below are three reasons why:   1) Budweiser, Kia and Planters diverted money to good causes.   According to Ad Age, Planters is shelling out (ha ha) $5 million to support unsung heroes this year while Kia plans to expand its giving to support America’s youth....

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Marketing Year 2021 – More social, influential and self-aware than ever

As we enthusiastically leave 2020 behind us and wonder what the new year will bring, we have some predictions for our marketing community. Actually, they’re more like suggestions for staying on the cutting edge of what’s working in today’s world.   Social commerce – where sharing meets shopping   Ever buy something you saw on social media without ever leaving Facebook, Instagram or whatever platform you were on? That means you’ve already participated in a swiftly growing trend. Amped in 2020 by the fact that the entire world was shopping from home during the pandemic, social commerce is predicted to rise steadily with a compound annual growth rate of 28.4% from 2021 to 2028. Besides simplifying the purchase for consumers, it also allows them to immediately share purchases in a post which helps marketers reach new customers – brilliant eh?   Video, video and more video   The meteoric rise of TikTock since 2019 reveals our strong appetite...

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Gettin’ GIFFY Part 2: Social Media Marketing

How effective are GIFs in social media marketing and how should you use them?   The short answer: They are highly effective and you should promote and share them everywhere you post and respond to customers.   Now, for the long answer: Yes, using a GIF over a static image is going to grab more eyeballs. It’s well known that GIFs are a simple and powerful way to show off products, highlight a special offer and latch onto popular trends.   That’s all wonderful but the GIFs largest potential lies in people sharing your brand.   For those unfamiliar, the ideal situation goes something like this: Your brand creates and shares some highly appealing GIFs possibly through your GIPHY channel. If your GIFs gain traction, people looking to add cute little GIFs to their Instagram stories, text messages, etc., will find your GIF in top search results. Very suddenly, your GIF could be reaching millions of people.   You’ll find...

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Gettin’ GIFFY with it.

As a new year approaches, perhaps it’s time to update your stable of favorite GIFs. We’re talking GIFs used to spice up conversations with friends and colleagues, not GIFs for marketing your business.   We’ve pulled together some marketing and office life-related favs for you to share. Of course, you can always choose your own from GIPHY which is now owned by Facebook. That’s right, back in May the social media empire paid a reported $400 million for GIPHY. Apparently we can’t get enough of these charming little loops.   First up, some marketing-jargon gems from Schitt’s Creek:   via GIPHY via GIPHY via GIPHY     And when you need to remind someone that you’re still working from home:   via GIPHY via GIPHY     When you’re back in the office and someone books a tiny conference room for a big strategy meeting (but there’s still no vaccine):   via GIPHY via GIPHY     Or, you’re working with someone who clearly needs a little caffeine:   via GIPHY via GIPHY     And when we’re all...

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