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. 

Kelsey Pahl

Director, Media Strategy

About the Author

Kelsey Pahl is a Director of Media Strategy at Ovative. She leads the media strategy and planning offerings in the Integrated Marketing practice area on the Consulting team. As a leader in Integrated Marketing, she is responsible for delivering cohesive end-to-end media strategies and plans inclusive of investment and mix strategies, customer targeting strategies, messaging and creative strategies, and... Read More >>

More EMR


EMR Reveals the Best and Worst Marketing Tactics Ahead of Holiday 2023 

As we head into the 2023 holiday season, budgets are tighter than ever, meaning we can expect consumers to... Read More »


Insights Team


Optimize your Media Mix with the 2023 EMR Power Rankings

As budgets are tight, it's important to make every media dollar count. Use Ovative's EMR Power Rankings to find... Read More »

Shelby Tietel

Senior Analyst, Measurement Solutions


Time to Double Down: Updated EMR Holiday Predictions

Based on Ovative’s client EMR (Enterprise Marketing Return) data, Ovative shares our predictions for tactics we expect to be... Read More »


Insights Team

accent bar