StrategyBrand awarenessUpper funnel personalization: Kaiser Permanente’s path to positive recall

Upper funnel personalization: Kaiser Permanente's path to positive recall

Kaiser Permanente provides health care coverage, serving over 12.6 million members across nine states in the US. Kaiser Permanente is well recognized in some of the markets it does business – but not in all.

Kaiser Permanente Personalized AdConsumers of Kaiser Permanente in California understand the system being offered and how it differs from that of other health care providers. However, in regions such as the Mid-Atlantic, which comprises Washington, DC, Maryland, and Virginia, there is a lack of familiarity and confusion about Kaiser Permanente’s offering.

Kaiser Permanente of the Mid-Atlantic has only 9% market share. With a huge number of potential customers who lack familiarity with the unique health care coverage model Kaiser Permanente provides, improving awareness, comprehension, willingness to consider is a core priority for market-share growth.

Kaiser Permanente of the Mid-Atlantic recognized the role personalization would play in improving preference towards their brand with potential audience members. It piloted a program in partnership with the national Kaiser Permanente marketing team to explore new ways to reach market prospects. This program segmented the target audience for the mid-Atlantic based on the 12 Jungian archetypes and mapped these archetypes to customer data. This allowed Kaiser Permanente to deliver a personalized customer journey and build messaging for the different customer segments.

A distinct landing page on a freshly developed microsite was developed to deploy this program, and audience perception improved as a result. A June 2022 survey showed:

  • Of the 29% of individuals who recalled Kaiser Permanente messaging on the website, 65% had a more positive impression of Kaiser Permanente.
  • Of the 30% of individuals who recalled hearing about Kaiser Permanente via social media, 76% had a more positive impression of the plan.
  • 66% had heard something positive about Kaiser Permanente from someone they know in the last six months.
  • 71% believed that Kaiser Permanente’s care model was designed to creative positive patient experiences.
  • Willingness to consider Kaiser Permanente for health coverage increased from 52% to 62%.
  • 73% had confidence in the medical professionals at Kaiser Permanente.

We spoke with Franklin Parrish, Senior Director of Brand Marketing at Kaiser Permanente, to learn how this personalization strategy developed and delivered impactful messaging to over two million prospective health care customers.

Understanding your audience

Jungian Archetypes helped Kaiser Permanente with their personalizationAs mentioned earlier, growth is top of mind for Kaiser Permanente in the Mid-Atlantic region and, unlike in California, it is a challenger brand.

In an era of limited budgets and resources, Kaiser Permanente couldn’t approach all four to five million individuals in the DC and Baltimore markets. Instead, they targeted those who would be more likely to appreciate Kaiser Permanente and its model of care. This focus allowed  targeting to people most receptive to Kaiser Permanente’s distinct value propositions.

To break down this audience into distinct segments for personalization, Kaiser Permanente adopted a psychographic segmentation based on the twelve Jungian archetypes. Each of the Jungian archetypes represents a distinct character typified by core motivations. The ‘Lover,’ for example, seeks intimacy; the ‘Ruler’ seeks control. Parrish explains why Kaiser Permanente adopted for this method of segmentation:

“The Jungian archetypes are well established in the marketing world. ‘The Hero and the Outlaw,’ by Margaret Marks, outlines the personality archetypes that brands can use. It’s extremely accessible. We could have done an extensive consumer profile, but that takes time and money. Instead, with tighter budgets, we wanted to develop an easy approach that aligned our brand attributes with the needs of each individual personality segment.”

Kaiser Permanente’s personalization strategy began with developing a two-step survey with their media partner, Baltimore Sun Media Group. A survey of the Mid-Atlantic market identified its psychographic makeup to understand which archetypes were prevalent in the region. The survey revealed clear insights about the psychographic make-up of their audience and gave clarity on what triggered an individual to begin their journey with Kaiser Permanente.

Psychographic segmentation

Kaiser Permanente first identified the respondent’s psychographic archetype. They found five archetypes that rose to the top:  The Explorer, the Lover, the Caregiver, the Sage, and the Creator. These archetypes scored the highest percentages of respondents, which aligned very well with their brand competencies.

Parrish talks through the segments and their value drivers.

“Based on our brand attributes, we developed value propositions for each one of those segments. We had to keep in mind that health care is a utility, which everybody needs and uses to varying degrees. We needed to understand the psychographic motivators that pique the interest of the individual–in other words, what are the primary value drivers that health care can deliver to a given individual?”

The segments and value drivers are as follows:

  • The Explorer: This archetype values freedom, so Kaiser Permanente planned to communicate its flexible options to accessing care.
  • The Caregiver and Lover: These were collapsed into one segment as these archetypes value both relationships and connections. Kaiser Permanente planned to communicate, for example, family and dependent support to this combined segment.
  • The Sage: This archetype is motivated by knowledge, so Kaiser Permanente planned to talk about clinical outcomes and the quality of its care
  • The Creator: This archetype cares about innovation, so Kaiser Permanente planned to talk about the uniqueness of their health care model.

By using this comparatively simple psychographic segmentation, Kaiser Permanente could understand and use the emotional hooks that would bring each audience member into their messaging ecosystem to learn more.

Positioning for personalization

Next, Kaiser Permanente went back to the same respondents and gave them positioning statements to measure their level of agreement. The positioning statements corresponded with the archetypes.

“The value propositions,’ Parrish explained, “were an expression of quality of care–i.e., what does quality of care mean to a particular individual or audience segment? For example, someone’s definition of quality care is a positive relationship with their physician; for others, it would be data that shows the quality of care is superior to all others. These are simple messages that can easily be executed on. We could easily convert them into the benefits our offering provides.”

“Not only did we have the psychographic composition of the market, but also the positioning that would propel someone to start a journey with us. This set us on the journey to move from conceptual segmentation to meaningful actions.”

From theoretical segments to practical personalization

Knowing how your audience thinks and feels is imperative. But if you can’t move the needle through to practical actions, it’s meaningless.

From beginning to end, Kaiser Permanente was able to map survey data on their audience to specific touchpoints where they could build up the appropriate message for each segment across a number of channels. Parrish explains:

“The survey identified Kaiser Permanente’s high-value audience, comprised of roughly 2.3 million people in their market. A deeper dive into the segmentation data produced roughly 500,000 street addresses, 275,000 email addresses, and 237,000 IP and social media addresses. Using media consumption data from this audience, Kaiser Permanente built a media strategy designed to make it as visible as possible to this audience.”

“Consistently across all four archetypes, we would communicate with them across digital display and social media. We also leveraged prospects’ emails, since we had email addresses for our population. As we had IP addresses, we also leveraged connected screens. Connected TV screens are the most influential channel that we have. We’ve found for the average consumer, if it’s on the wall, it’s (considered) TV, and it is high impact. This medium worked for sharing the voice of the patient to help us leverage social proof and get people talking about their patient experience with Kaiser Permanente.”

This laid the groundwork for Kaiser Permanente to deliver the subsequent series of communication as they built up personalized value offerings for each segment.

Building a custom microsite for personalization

Kaiser's personalized microsite

The end destination for each user was a page on a microsite crafted for their specific value driver. Parrish describes this journey:

“We aligned our information architecture on the microsite to the value propositions we were sharing with the market. For example, someone under the ‘Explorer’ archetype who clicked on a digital display ad that spoke to freedom of choice would move through to the corresponding landing page within the website. Initially, we pique their curiosity with an emotional hook, then we enlighten the individual with a deeper story within the microsite.”

“From there you can of course see all the other value propositions that we’re offering to the market, as they’re not mutually exclusive; no one necessarily fits neatly into one Jungian archetype, so we needed to give people the opportunity to explore, to start to shop our plans or watch a video and ultimately to take make a high-value action on the site.”

“All roads led to the microsite. We leveraged retargeting and remarketing to make sure they were coming back to the website. When we could collect an email match or an IP match, we could then activate across different channels.”

This video features on the ‘care built around you’ microsite page personalized  for the ‘Explorer’

The microsite was built from scratch for the purposes of the campaign. The arrangement of their information architecture and its alignment to the relevant value propositions of the individual segments made it a satisfying audience journey and a successful example of personalization. The most recent data shows a 29% recall of messaging on their website from respondents, and 65% of those left with a more positive perception of Kaiser Permanente.

Why comprehension and perception matter

Kaiser Permanente looked deeper than tactics like click-through rates or cost-per-click. The nature of the health care space means it’s not simple for someone to sign up. Instead, Kaiser Permanente focused on improving preference and perceptions, and achieved remarkable success. From a survey conducted in June 2022:

  • 30% of respondents recalled messaging from social media. 76% of those had a more positive perception of Kaiser Permanente as a result.
  • 41% of respondents recalled the message ‘Kaiser Permanente is a health system designed to create better health outcomes for people like me.’ 73% of those had a more positive perception of Kaiser Permanente as a result.
  • 73% of respondents have confidence in the medical professionals at Kaiser Permanente.
  • 66% had heard something positive about Kaiser Permanente from someone that they know in the last six months.

Parrish elaborates on the importance of tracking these metrics.

“Most people get their coverage through their employer, so they first must be offered Kaiser Permanente by the employer for a consumer to even choose them. This means we look to generate and measure comprehension, preference, and positive perceptions”

“These are the leading indicators of whether Kaiser Permanente will grow, and whether their audience would choose us as their provider when they have the opportunity.”

“Not only are we generating positive perceptions through direct touch channels, but we’re also affecting the conversations within the prospect’s social network. This word-of-mouth marketing is one of the most powerful influencers on the choice of health care provider.”

Personalization lessons and looking forward

Delivering a personalized journey to millions of potential customers is a huge challenge. However, this campaign has proved to Kaiser Permanente that it can be a hugely worthwhile endeavour.

“There’s a lot of talk,” says Parrish, “about the about personalization and individualization of content, and I don’t see that the juice is always worth the squeeze. But when we’re talking about the upper- to mid-funnel, campaigns that center on mass personalization can absolutely work.”

“As logical as we like to think we are, all purchases are emotional–even health care. When you’re able to wrap an attribute or functional benefit into an emotional satisfier, these tend to be much more impactful. People are interested in what their personal experience is going to be with Kaiser Permanente, so making your prospect the hero of the story is always an effective way to go.”

Looking forward, this strategy offers long-term sustainability. There will always be new people funnelling themselves into these segments, and that can keep Kaiser Permanente’s messaging evergreen. Because they are developing multiple propositions, there’s a large amount of flexibility for expression. Kaiser Permanente can continue developing messaging that targets the emotional hooks of new audience members and takes them on a journey that builds comprehension and perception of their health care offerings.


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