Personalized Drip Campaign Boosts Response Rates

Targeted messaging by major insurance provider focused on developing trust generates big returns.

Choosing appropriate Medicare coverage can be confusing for anyone, given its multitude of choices. Highmark, working with Heeter, hoped that a unique and compelling direct mail campaign, combined with attractive calls to
action, would help it cut through the clutter of the marketplce. The goals were to prompt strong response, produce leads suitable for an ongoing drip marketing campaign, and convert those leads into actual customers for its Medicare products.


Highmark Health faced several challenges in devising its updated campaign called “New to Medicare.”

First, the market is filled with competing companies offering a wide variety of Medicare programs. In addition, Highmark isn’t the only Blue Cross Blue Shield provider of Medicare plans. Multiple providers and their independent marketing campaigns offer diverse messages. Plus, societal changes have had an impact as, increasingly, people are retiring later than at age 65.


In today’s “all digital, all the time” world, choosing the most appropriate combination of marketing channels can be daunting. Given the more mature target audience of the “New to Medicare” campaign, Highmark and Heeter developed a sophisticated drip campaign that featured direct mail, which has high engagement rates with older consumers.

To realize an effective campaign, Highmark was intent on sending mail pieces that looked and felt different to stand out. That meant using paper and die-cuts that were special and eye-catching

Digital variable printing options allowed for personalization that included a cover letter with salutations like “Dear Cynthia” as well as unique-to-recipient bar codes and response phone numbers to better capture leads. In particular, personalization directly matched prospects with Highmark’s network of physical offices,where local agents were able to reach out to respondents.

In addition, A/B testing helped refine the messaging, the types of offers, whether to use envelopes or self-mailers, and even what types of paper stock prompted the best results.


“Our revised pieces show a strong increase in engagement with response rates jumping from 1% to 6% … We attribute a lot of that to the premium paper, disruptive envelope and hand stamping. The cost is higher, but the cost per lead ends up being lower because of a higher response rate.”

     Alyssa Hess,  Senior Marketing Strategist, Highmark Health

Highmark saw an immediate lift from its initial direct mail campaign. Response and engagement rates rose dramatically, in particular as the program became more refined and targeted in response to A/B testing and an analysis of what worked best, with whom and in which regions of the country.


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Industry: Insurance