Transforming Health Insurance Marketing Success with Enterprise Marketing Return 

The health insurance industry has a complicated business model. To make money, providers must consider more than just the total number of members they acquire.

They must also consider factors like social dependents of health that drive profitability like benefits, claims, and how long members will stay enrolled in a plan. The business model is further complicated by things like government funding and state-by-state plan differences, which can also affect profitability. 

Marketing teams must consider these challenges while trying to answer the same questions all marketers try to solve:  

What value is my marketing investment truly driving for the business? 

How do I grow revenue while maximizing profit? 

What’s the lifetime value of a new customer? 

Industry standard metrics like applications, enrollments, cost per application per enrollment or ROAS fall short of answering these questions, because they don’t account for operating and overhead costs, how healthy a member is, and subsequently how many benefits they will use (determining how profitable they will be to the business over time). 

Additionally, many testing, analysis, and measurement methodologies can provide insight into incrementality and profitability independently, but they do not provide a holistic view of marketing’s enterprise impact. So, what’s a marketer to do? 


Ovative established Enterprise Marketing Return (EMR) to address these challenges and provide visibility to marketing’s enterprise impact in a single, actionable metric.  

We originally developed EMR for retailers using four core components: ecommerce and store revenue, incrementality, margin, and new and reactivated customer lifetime value. Together, these metrics have helped numerous retailers measure the full enterprise return on their marketing investments and drive profitable business growth.  


To make the metric applicable to health insurance marketers, we maintained the same philosophy and core components of EMR for retail—but applied them to the nuances of a Fortune 5 health insurance company. EMR reimagined for health insurance considers two primary dimensions: incrementality of marketing on sales and the value of those sales over time. 

Incrementality of marketing 

Incrementality of members acquired is particularly important for health insurance, as marketing mixes in this industry typically have large allocations in channels with wide variances in incrementality (e.g., branded TV vs. paid search). Here is how we incorporate incrementality for health insurance clients into our EMR calculation:  

  1. Members – In place of retail ecommerce and store revenue, EMR for health insurance considers how many members were acquired across channels.  
  1. Incrementality – For both retail and health insurance, incrementality measures the causal impact of marketing efforts. Incrementality for health insurance quantifies how many members would not have been acquired without marketing investment.   

Value of sales over time 

Understanding the value of members over time is crucial for health insurance, as it may take years for members to be profitable to the business if they are unhealthy (i.e., using benefits before paying into their premium). Here is how we incorporate incrementality for health insurance clients into our EMR calculation: 

  1. Profitability – In place of retail product margin, EMR for health insurance measures member profitability: What is the cost to acquire a member? How many benefits will they use compared to the premiums they will pay?  
  1. Duration – In place of retail acquired and reactivated lifetime value, EMR for health insurance measures how many months each member will stay enrolled in a plan. 

Through EMR, we bring these components together to measure the enterprise value that marketing drives for the business. You may be wondering how four simple components can truly capture all the factors that influence how profitable a member is to the business. These components balance what influences value with what is actionable to activate against in marketing channels. For example, marketing cannot impact how healthy a person is and subsequently how much of their health insurance benefits they use. However, marketing can leverage mix and targeting strategies to account for incrementality and profitability, leveraging things like gender, zip, household income, etc. that have a higher or lower correlation with a consumer’s health and thus their potential profitability.  


An EMR equation alone is not enough to transform the measure of marketing success. Ovative works with clients to provide a clear roll-out plan with the right people, process, and data to successfully implement and operationalize EMR: 

People: Ovative works with marketing and finance teams to understand EMR, how it’s calculated, and how marketing levers can impact business to set up new goals that more accurately measure marketing success.  

Process: Once teams are aligned, Ovative phases and tests the roll-out of optimizing to EMR. From there, Ovative will work with marketing operators to consistently use EMR to make all marketing decisions and optimizations. 

Data: Ovative works with your team to define a new measurement approach with EMR at the center—defining how marketing optimizations are impacting the overall business. Our experts work with your team to tie EMR data back to marketing channels and create new reporting to better understand business health. 

With Ovative’s background in optimizing EMR for health insurance clients, we understand the nuances of the business. EMR has successfully transformed the measure of marketing success for businesses across industries, and your health insurance business should be next! Contact us for help in applying EMR to your business and establishing a plan to unlock growth. 

Lillian Smith

Senior Analyst, Paid Social

About the Author

Lillian is a Senior Analyst on the Paid Social team at Ovative.

Dale Nitschke

Dale Nitschke

CEO & Founder

About the Author

Dale is the Founder and CEO of Ovative. After years of operating a large omni-channel business and leading a customer data initiative, Dale knew there was an opportunity to create a marketing firm that helped clients become more customer centric and drove better performance outcomes. A gap existed between business consultancies and advertising agencies that modern marketing approaches demand. He also believed that a strong, healthy culture could attract and develop smart, talented team members. In 2009, he formed Ovative to bring media, measurement, and consulting together under one roof to enable an enterprise approach that drives more revenue and grows clients’ customer base.

Prior to founding Ovative in 2009, Dale spent 23 years at Target Corporation where he served as President of Target.com and grew the ecommerce business from start-up stage to a $1 billion+ business and established the foundation of Target’s Guest database capabilities. Previously he served as SVP Merchandising at the Department Store Division of Dayton Hudson. Dale has advised retailers and brands globally on business, growth, marketing, and measurement transformation strategies.

Outside of Ovative, Dale is a leader on topics including business strategy, change management, and team leadership. He serves on the board of Allergy Amulet and on the Dean’s Advisory Board of the Wisconsin School of Business at UW-Madison.  He enjoys spending time with his family, up north in northern Wisconsin, playing golf, and cheering on Wisconsin sport teams.

Seth Brand

Senior Manager, Consulting

About the Author

Seth is a Senior Manager on the Consulting team at Ovative.

Amanda McCann

Senior Manager, Consulting

About the Author

Amanda is a Senior Manager on the Consulting team at Ovative, specializing in Retail Media Networks.

Jenny Reinke

Senior Analyst, Measurement Solutions

About the Author

Jenny is a Senior Analyst on the Measurement Solutions team at Ovative.

Annie Zipfel

Executive Vice President, Media

About the Author

Annie is the Executive Vice President of Media at Ovative. She oversees delivery and growth across paid and owned media (digital, traditional, and retail media) and creative services.

Annie has more than 30 years of experience in media, brand management, insights/analytics, marketing, and product. She has also developed large, high-performing teams and built new measurement capabilities. Annie led the marketing team at Andersen Windows & Doors, leading the digital, social, content, customer insights, and creative functions. Prior to that, Annie served in multiple marketing leadership roles at Starbucks, REI, Target, and General Mills, with a keen focus on brand, media, insights, analytics, and measurement.

Annie is an industry leader in brand management, customer insights, e-commerce, social media, and analytics. She enjoys hiking, traveling, cooking, fishing, and spending time with her sweet dog and two sons.

Bonnie Gross

Executive Vice President, Talent Services

About the Author

Bonnie is the Executive Vice President of Talent Services at Ovative. She is responsible for attracting and retaining top talent and creating a culture in which our team thrives personally and professionally. Under Bonnie’s leadership, Ovative has defined an industry leading leadership and development program and transformed our approach to talent recruitment with a focus on diversity, equality and inclusion. Prior to her current role, Bonnie led Ovative’s Client and Business Development team overseeing client satisfaction and new growth opportunities.

Before joining Ovative in 2014, Bonnie spent 13 years at Target Corporate as the VP of digital and Digital Marketing where she led the launch of Cartwheel, an industry-leading social shopping application. Bonnie was the VP of Marketing for Fingerhut for 15 years prior to joining Target.

Leander Cohen

Analyst, Consulting

About the Author

Leander Cohen is an Analyst on the Consulting team at Ovative.

Will Silva

Analyst, Measurement Solutions

About the Author

Will is an Analyst on the Measurement Solutions team at Ovative.

Sarah Chang

Sarah Chang

Analyst, Consulting

About the Author

Sarah Chang is an Analyst on the Consulting team at Ovative.

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