Benefits Communication: Budgeting, Timing and Evaluating Your Campaign Plan

Benefits Communication: Budgeting, Timing and Evaluating Your Campaign Plan

Let’s say you’re on a roller coaster. You’ve gone through twists and turns and have just reached the top of the last hill before making your final descent. And…it stops.

That’s not an ideal situation. You were counting on the designers and engineers of the roller coaster to think through every detail when building it so that you wouldn’t be in this situation.

While building a communications campaign may not be as thrilling as a roller coaster ride, the same concept goes for when you reach that final hill in your overall plan. You can’t stop there. You have to think through the final details.

In previous posts, we discussed the seven-step formula, straight out of the marketing playbook, that you can apply to your open enrollment communications plan with an in-depth look at setting the foundation and determining your strategy, tactics and materials.

Now that you’ve made it this far, there are just a few more steps to building a complete communications campaign.

Establish Your Evaluation Metrics

How will you measure your success?

As a benefits administrator, numbers are integral to evaluating your overall benefits strategy, right? You most likely consider the overall cost of your benefits package to your business, how many employees elect one benefit type over the other and the list goes on. Those numbers can tell you a lot about how well your overall benefits strategy is performing.

So, when it comes to your benefits communication strategy, you want to be able to gather insights on how well it performed. How well did it drive employees to take the action you wanted them to take?

This is when you look back at those SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time Bound) objectives you built when you were laying your benefits communication foundation. What are the measurable components of those objectives?

Here are the objectives for reference:

Objective 1: To increase enrollment in HDHPs by 20% and increase participation in HSAs by 10% by December 31.

Objective 2: To increase employee adoption of voluntary income protection benefits (i.e. accident, critical illness, and/or hospital indemnity) by 30% by the end of the open enrollment period. 

Based on those objectives, here are the metrics you could consider tracking:

  • % increase in HDHP adoption
  • % increase in HSA participation 
  • % increase in adoption of voluntary benefits

Additional metrics may include other areas such as:

  • Reduced employee support calls by x
  • Overall completed enrollment by x date

Ultimately, you can’t measure what you don’t define, so make sure you can clearly link your objectives to your evaluation metrics and milestones. Plus, this has the potential to support your budget efforts. Taking results to internal stakeholders showing that your communication strategy helped to drive the right action could mean more resources (i.e. budget, services) in the future. More on that later.

Set Your Timeline

When will you do what you say you will do?

Timing is everything. We’ve all heard this before and it’s true in any arena.

Marketers especially know the value of and adhere to this principle. It’s about getting the right message to the right person at the right time. You’ve built out the right messaging and you know the right audiences you want to direct those messages towards. Now, it’s a matter of focusing in on the right timing so that those first two steps – messaging and audience – don’t get lost because you were working with a bad time frame.

Using a calendar, word document or excel file (we’ve created one for you already here!), build out your timeline. Of course, depending on the size or variation of your audience and your objectives, there could be multiple messages that need to go out over the course of your communications campaign. But by outlining your activities in a timeline, you have an organized set of deadlines with your plan of action for each message.

Clarify Your Budget  

How much will you need (or have) to spend to execute your plan?

This can be a step where benefits leaders hit some roadblocks. You may not have much control over how much budget is allocated towards your benefits communication plan and there are a lot of factors that influence it.

The truth is that it’s still an important final step to outline — especially if you want to make the business case for why these budget resources are needed. Presenting internal stakeholders with your complete benefits communication strategy – including the tactics and materials that will drive specific, strategic outcomes for the business – can make a compelling argument. Show them the value! Putting dedicated resources towards your overall benefits strategy is vitally important, but if there aren’t resources dedicated to the communications behind it, we know that employees won’t be able to use or appreciate those benefits to the fullest.

When considering the budget, first ask what in your communications plan has a related expense? Some that you may want to keep in mind include:

  • Printing costs
  • Video
  • Postage for mailers
  • Outsourced work (i.e. creative design, etc.)
  • Events (i.e. benefit fairs, etc.)

Now, is there anything that can be sourced within the walls of your organization? If your organization has a separate internal communications or marketing team, they may be able to lend a hand in the creative elements of your printed materials and help offset printing costs by using internal resources.

Your Complete Plan

Regardless of the size of your organization, putting together a complete benefits communication plan means you’ll see better results for your employees and your organization.

Articulating the value of benefits in a way that employees understand starts with a little prep work. Then, you move into the hard work of creating messages that make an impact and determining the best channels to deliver those messages. Finally, you outline the key metrics, timeline and resources needed to pull it all together.

The good news? You have the tools to make it easier! In the Open Enrollment Success Kit from Benefitfocus, you have access to email and messaging templates, timelines and best practices to put together a complete employee benefits communication strategy. Click here to get yours today!