Open enrollment season is here and a well planned employee communication campaign is critical to success.
How do you make employees aware of the open enrollment period? How do you educate and explain new benefits offered or changes to employee contributions? How do you make sure employees don’t miss any deadlines or get them excited about participating in open enrollment at all?
The answers to these questions should all be part of an HR professional’s open enrollment communications campaign. The communication tools you use and at what stage of the open enrollment process are also very important. Emails, printed posters, digital signage and in-person benefits meetings all play a role — but the secret sauce to cutting through all the noise? Text messaging.
Employees are More Likely to Read Text Messages
One of the greatest advantages of SMS rather than traditional email is it boasts an impressive 98% open rate compared to a 22% email open rate. Additionally, approximately 90% of text messages are read within the first three minutes, whereas emails can sit in inboxes for days untouched, unnoticed or in junk folders. Your employees are already familiar with text messaging as a form of communication and may even prefer getting important reminders from HR this way, so as not to miss important dates concerning benefits that affect themselves and their families. Plus, employees do not need to download an app to receive messages from you since most every mobile phone can receive texts.
SMS is Cost Effective
As mentioned earlier, there are many open enrollment communications tools that are likely part of your marketing arsenal, but these may not work as well or can be expensive. Sending mass emails is a common and inexpensive method but for many companies, it isn’t effective — as shown by the low open rate. Printing various information guides, letters, postcards, brochures, etc. and mailing them to employees are also popular methods but they can get quite expensive.
When you utilize text messaging as a form of communication, you can reach hundreds, even thousands of employees instantly for a few cents per message. Text messages are short so you know they will get read, and you can always send links to more detailed information online.
Tips for Using SMS During Open Enrollment Period
Adding SMS into your open enrollment communications takes some planning, but can easily be implemented right away. Take a look at your communications calendar and audience segments and see where you might benefit from the urgency of a text message. Open enrollment deadlines or educational meetings are a great example where you might want to send a series of scheduled SMS reminders to increase response rates. If your employees are often on the go, then add texting as an option for them to request and access information. Need to make your campaign more interactive and fun to get attention? Consider using text as a way to engage. Below are some other tips for you to try:
- Send a mass text to all employees announcing the beginning of the Open Enrollment period. Add a link in text to a landing page that explains the process, answers frequently asked questions, and provides detailed plan information.
- Create incentives for enrolling by the deadline. Add a text-to-win campaign into your plans and choose winners randomly from all texted entries.
- Add an SMS call-to-action on all printed materials asking employees to text to receive an automatic link back with more information. For example, you could create a keyword like 123ENROLL for your company and add “Text 123ENROLL to 41411 to begin the open enrollment process! It’s that easy!” to your printed collateral.
- Tailor your text messages by employee demographics or other relevant segment. What you communicate to your younger employees who may live alone may be different from your older workers who may have families. Create different text groups based on your segments so your messages are more effective and well received.
- Send an SMS survey to your employees after the open enrollment period ends. Ask them to rate their experience and get feedback so you can improve.
Using text messaging as an employee communications tool does not stop at Open Enrollment. Employee engagement year-round is always a priority, so investing now in a reliable SMS provider like TextMarks can help HR teams well into next year and beyond. Plus, other departments can also benefit from communicating to staff using the same SMS platform, which can help keep overall costs down. Learn how Next Generation Enrollment has successfully used text messaging for open enrollment here.