With the roll out of the Affordable Care Act, many businesses have rolled out health plan blogs directed towards prospects, customers, and employees. We happen to think this is a good idea. For starters, while implementation of the ACA has stabilized since its disastrous roll out, individuals remain confused, overwhelmed, or simply ignorant about its implications. Furthermore, the Open Enrollment period for 2015 coverage is November 15, 2014 to February 15, 2015, meaning that as you read this, most policyholders now find themselves scrambling to either renew their plan or find a cheaper alternative.
Blogging for health plans may not be the most glamorous thing in the world, but it shows your customers and prospects that your brand is attuned to their needs. Better yet, California remains ahead of the curve thanks to its Covered California program. As a result, blogs can direct readers to the Covered CA site for information and helpful advice.
So where to begin?
First and foremost, make sure your blog, regardless of its content, adheres to some universal blogging best practices. This means:
- Adopting an easy-to-use blogging tool like Wordpress or Tumblr.
- Having writers and a pipeline of interesting content lined up. The latter piece shouldn't be a problem. There's a seemingly infinite amount of information out there pertaining to the ACA and health care plans. We suggested setting up a Google Alert for "Covered California." As you'll see below, it'll prove helpful.
- Rolling out an editorial calendar if you plan to blog regularly and for the foreseeable future. An editorial calendar will provide much-needed structure around all elements of your blog, including authors, subject, blog length, keywords, and scheduling.
- Optimize your blog's interface with select widgets. These widgets will draw attention to your posts and ensure readers stay on your page longer. (Which reminds us: also don't forget the importance of compelling post titles.)
Next up, turn your attention to the posts itself. We suggest narrowing your scope by identifying the primary concerns facing your readers. From our standpoint, readers will be faced with two main issues before Open Enrollment closes on February 15, 2015:
- Signing up for a plan for the first time.
- Renewing or switching plans.
At this point, let's turn to our previous tip for setting up a Google Alert. We went into Google News, typed in "Covered California," and a litany of helpful articles popped up, like this helpful FAQ sheet. You'll find that any informational piece regarding ACA enrollment will, in most cases, equally apply to first-time Covered California users and those looking to renew or switch plans. Simply extract some key text, hyperlink the source article, and post a compelling title like, "Are You Covered? Open Enrollment for 2015 Coverage Ends in February 2015."
This bring us to another, important point. Given the inherent complexity of the ACA, we suggest you don't position your blog as an "expert" on the topic, but rather, a clearinghouse of information whereby you can direct readers to more authoritative sites. For example, there's been a lot of confusion and discrepancy around the specific health plan details. Readers will be best served reading up on the plan details on the Covered California site.
Oh, and another thing. Be sure to mix up these detail-oriented posts with posts that generate conversation. Take this LA Times poll, which claims, "Nearly 4 in 10 Say California Obama Exchange Not Working Well." Publish it and ask your readers if they agree.
Lastly, you'll also want to remember things to help market your content and move readers through the sales funnel. This means employing effective calls to action (when applicable) and guiding readers from the post to a customized landing page. And of course we can't forget promoting your posts on social media.
Now we'd like your feedback. Has your brand considered blogging for health plans? Why or why not?
Health plans or otherwise, your brand needs a killer blog. So download our Business Blogging eBook.