Making an Impact: How HubSpot Made the Impossible Work in Affinity Insurance

inbound marketing successAmid the chaos and confusion of changing laws during the ACA Open Enrollment period, how do you market a commodity insurance product to a finite number of busy professionals who, for the most part, already have a connected relationship with their own insurance professional?

hubspot inbound marketingBy using an assertive, multi-faceted Inbound Marketing strategy: leveraging the power of targeted emails and video, social media posts, compelling blog writing, and targeted digital ads that direct to easy-to-use landing pages.

hubspot impact inbound marketing This campaign yielded incredible results —  among them: a 95% increase in new visitors to the site, a 173% increase in landing page views, over 600 new leads, and a nearly 800% increase in group insurance sales over the prior year.

Our Client

TMAIT hubspot impact entry

The Texas Medical Association Insurance Trust (TMAIT) is a full-service insurance agency created by the Texas Medical Association, the largest state medical society in the US. TMAIT markets insurance products exclusively to the 48,000 Texas physicians who are already members of the Texas Medical Association.

In 2015, James Prescott, President of TMAIT, decided to invest in HubSpot and embark on the Inbound Marketing path. In 2016, to fully utilize their HubSpot portal, they hired a new marketing team: Bodden Partners, a traditional marketing agency with a specialization in association insurance marketing and Seapoint Digital, a HubSpot Partner and digital marketing specialists.

Our Client’s Challenge

In Texas, the majority of TMA member physicians are employed by hospitals and receive health insurance as an employee benefit. It was only independent physicians who were actually shopping for health insurance during the Open Enrollment period. Therefore, our already finite number of prospects was reduced dramatically.

As the first day of Healthcare Open Enrollment neared, the individual health insurance market went into upheaval. The team watched as many insurers abandoned the individual health insurance market completely, and the remaining insurers stopped offering individual PPO (Preferred Provider Organization) plans. Because physicians know how vital a quality health insurance policy is, they are very selective and greatly prefer the coverage of a PPO; however, there were only undesirable HMO plans left on the individual marketplace.

Most physicians already have a relationship with an insurance agent, and these agents had access to the same options that TMAIT was able to offer. With little advance notice and no competitive product advantage, the challenge was clear: How could we capture the attention of this limited number of physicians and convince them to purchase insurance from a professional association instead of their personal agent?

Strategy: The Big Picture

The team carefully reviewed the situation and discovered an exciting possibility: there was an eligibility exception that would allow some physicians who would have applied for an individual HMO to potentially qualify for coverage under a “group of one” PPO plan. There was a limited window of time to act, but if members could be made aware and met conditions, a “group of one” PPO plan could be an option even more affordable for them than the limited HMO plan.

Through strategic targeting and thoughtful creative development, we crafted a marketing plan that took advantage of the upheaval in the Texas marketplace, uniquely positioned TMAIT against its competitors, and dramatically increased sales.

Challenges from a Digital Perspective

In addition to the overall challenges in marketing, we had to overcome several obstacles to accomplish what we needed to do from a digital marketing perspective. 

First, TMAIT utilized Salesforce as a CRM, sharing data from their parent organization, the Texas Medical Association. Seapoint Digital was brought into the project after a third party had installed the HubSpot Integration, and we discovered thousands of contacts were not properly syncing between platforms. Some custom coding in Salesforce was preventing certain fields from automatically updating Hubspot contact records. There were also issues with duplicate Salesforce fields; these contained different values for important marketing data (such as practice setting: whether the physician works for a hospital or owns their own practice.)

Secondly, we knew that there was no possible way to grow our prospect base since TMAIT could only market to TMA members. Furthermore, many on our membership prospect list would be precluded from marketing messages, since they already received health benefits from their employer.

We also needed to find an effective way to create a feeling of connection between potential clients and TMAIT, knowing that the local insurance agents were doing so through personal contact with TMA members.

Enacting Our Solutions

Making HubSpot work with Salesforce: After auditing Salesforce and HubSpot settings, our team began creating lists based on various Salesforce fields for contacts and opportunities, and making sure they synced with HubSpot criteria. We were able to manually identify contacts that had not properly updated between platforms and worked with the Salesforce vendor to correct issues so we could properly attribute physician classifications to the correct marketing materials.

Maximizing Email Deliverability and Exposure: Bearing in mind the finite nature of our contact lists, we wanted to further improve the 96% to 98% deliverability range for marketing emails, so we worked directly with the HubSpot Email Delivery team and audited all emails that soft bounced during the beginning of the campaign. HubSpot worked with us to correct email servers that were rejecting marketing emails. We were also able to identify contacts who had changed employment and had a new email address. This created new records in HubSpot which we merged with historical data.

In addition to maximizing email deliverability, we developed strategies that would increase interest and expectation of emails. To do this, we used HubSpot’s personalization tools based on employment type, age, and other criteria we had at our disposal. We were pleased that their previous benchmark of 12%-15% for an open rate increased to 18.66% for all Open Enrollment campaign emails, with a 40% open rate for the PPO offer email.

Making a Personal Connection Online: We utilized HubSpot lists and uploaded them to Google AdWords to target TMA members on YouTube. We were able to show an introductory video as a pre-roll to TMA members in order to create and reinforce a personal connection with the team at TMAIT.
 This video, once promoted, has gone from having 40 views to over 10,000 views.

Our Multi-Faceted Marketing Plan

An Inbound Marketing plan uses many different avenues to work effectively, and HubSpot was invaluable in creating and managing the many parts of our strategy. It truly was the platform on which our entire marketing strategy was dependent. We utilized HubSpot to either create and/or execute the following: targeted emails, the TMAIT blog, subscription emails and newsletters, retargeting ads, social media posts, and landing pages. As the days passed during the campaign, our team reviewed results via HubSpot Analytics, and was able to use the helpful data to further refine our program.

Targeted Emails

Research showed that physicians preferred to work with an insurance agent rather than navigate a website on their own. The goal of our email campaign was to make it easy for the prospect to reach out – using the method they preferred. TMA members could click a link to call immediately, they could follow a link to submit a web form and request a callback, and if they preferred, they could also click a link to a 3rd party site to compare plans and receive quotes.


Our weekly blog posts served several key functions:
1) To create a connection with potential customers by relaying our message with an understanding, sympathetic and compassionate tone;
2) To educate prospective customers about the options available through TMAIT;
3) To promote the special enrollment option that allowed some to enroll in a PPO plan;
4) To motivate TMA members to reach out via TMAIT’s website and/or phone center.
We also wanted readers to feel a sense of urgency about their health insurance choices, so we embedded a dynamic countdown timer using the MotionMail application. This kept the deadline for open enrollment at the forefront in their minds. 

Subscription Emails: Welcome Reminders

For those TMA members who subscribed to the TMAIT Insights blog, we provided a weekly notification email featuring new articles. During the open enrollment campaign, the blog notifications helped physicians stay up-to-date while keeping healthcare enrollment deadlines fresh in their minds.
We also provided the TMAIT Monthly Digest to members. This email presented the collection of monthly blog posts along with special topics of interest to physicians. The e-newsletter provided additional opportunities for members to respond – and became a primary source of leads for TMAIT’s insurance advisors.

Retargeting Ads

We knew that because of interruptions and time pressures in physicians’ lives, they may not act immediately on marketing messages. Therefore we created retargeting ads that would display only to TMA members who had previously visited the site. They were directed back to HubSpot landing pages where they could request assistance and further information.

Effective Landing Pages

Members who clicked on digital advertising or read content from the e-newsletter or blog were sent to corresponding landing pages that were designed in HubSpot. The landing pages provided two options for response, “Call Now and speak to an agent” or “Complete a Form for agent follow up.”

The Power of Social Media

Since many TMA members are active on social media, we used HubSpot’s efficient and oh-so-easy scheduling tool to post over 270 messages on every major social media platform during the campaign. Social ads were also created.

Phenomenal Results

Despite the upheavals in the 2017 Texas insurance market and the uncertain outlook for insurance sales, the results of this Open Enrollment campaign far surpassed the prior year’s results. Although our marketing strategy was originally created to overcome issues related to individual health insurance, the program had a surprising result: it educated physicians who owned their own practice that TMAIT offered group health insurance. Many physicians decided to buy coverage, not just for themselves, but for their practice staff. Here are the specifics of the Open Enrollment campaign:

  • Group sales increased almost 800%
  • Email click-throughs increased 89.5%
  • Website visits increased 48.5%
  • New visitors to the site increased 95.6%
  • Site visits coming from social media increased 195%
  • Landing page views increased 173.2%
  • The Open Enrollment campaign resulted in over 600 leads
  • For every $1 spent in marketing, the campaign brought in $243 in revenue.

The results of this campaign were so remarkable that the insurance marketing community took note. At the 2017 Professional Marketing Insurance Association conference, our campaign with Bodden Partners and TMAIT won first place in the New Media category, then took the overall award for the conference: Best of PiMA.

“Seapoint Digital is a great digital marketing partner for us. Since we have been with Seapoint we have seen our website metrics and email campaign performance improve month after month. Bill and his team are very knowledgeable, professional and easy to work with – we have excellent communication. I really appreciate how Seapoint takes the time to learn our business needs, listen to our concerns, and help us develop the right strategies for success with our members. And very importantly for us, Bill is a very skilled operator in working with our other consulting partners.”

—  John Isgitt, Vice President TMA Insurance Trust

Not surprisingly, the new emphasis on Inbound Marketing using HubSpot’s suite of tools impacted growth beyond the Open Enrollment campaign – it made a lasting impact throughout the calendar year: TMAIT experienced a 96% growth in new leads in 2017 vs. 2016.

Looking Toward Tomorrow

Despite many challenges for our digital marketing team, we were gratified to see the strong results that came from a carefully crafted and effectively targeted Inbound Marketing plan. We expect continued growth for our client as we further develop and hone these strategies and utilize HubSpot’s suite of tools to reach their new goals.
If you’re looking to effectively market to your affinity insurance group, we’d love to talk to you about how to make your coming year better than ever. Reach out to us!