Six ways to gain an advantage in Medicare marketing
Every industry has unique marketing challenges, but marketing Medicare Advantage products during the Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) may have more in common with a season of Survivor than a seasonal campaign.
Having led Medicare Advantage marketing programs for several years, we’ve seen competitors move in and out of marketplaces and increase and decrease spends as plan offerings change. We’ve also seen consumers’ needs change and priorities shift. Throughout all the volatility, the constant is that it ultimately comes down to driving leads. Here are six valuable lessons we’ve learned about Medicare Advantage marketing and lead generation.
Start early. It’s natural to want to have all the information before you start to develop a campaign, but the timelines and mandatory review periods of Medicare simply don’t allow for it. Don’t get caught waiting for every detail before you begin; work with the information you have and layer in new information as it becomes available. In order to scale the work, we start planning in April.
Align processes. We find the most successful way to work is for the agency and provider teams to be fully in sync. Design for complete transparency around timelines, build shared project plans, created shared sources-of-truth documentation, and collaborate in each other’s systems across everything from project management to communication channels.
Understand your audience. 65+ looks a lot different than it did ten years ago, or even three years ago prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s easy to focus on the overall increase in digital engagement as a tactical challenge, but we also need to focus on listening to our audience about what matters to them. Understanding the 65+ audience as they are this year – today – may unearth less widely understood health needs such as mental health support, transportation, food, virtual care, or mail order prescriptions. These are keys in designing a Medicare Advantage plan, but also in how to market one.
Don’t forget your brand. The market is completely saturated during AEP, often with very similar messaging. We’ve even heard members talk about receiving enough direct mail to fill an entire car! Cutting through the clutter is increasingly challenging for marketers, making it even more important to differentiate your offering with not only product information, but also your brand’s value proposition.
Build omnichannel funnels. It is easy to get caught up in lead generation goals and lose sight of how much awareness is needed to drive individuals through the funnel. How much brand awareness you need is different for everyone, but a good place to start is to be honest with how well your market knows and trusts your brand and how much outside marketing/sales support you have with brokers and other partners. This will allow you to identify any awareness or perception gaps that might create barriers to conversion.
Leverage data. We can’t stress this enough. Data is critical to your success. It starts from the beginning by ensuring you have data that helps you understand your market and audience. It becomes even more critical when determining how you can best use your marketing dollars to target individuals who are more likely to convert. And is arguably the most important when you are optimizing campaigns, analyzing what messages and/or channels drove the best results, and determining the final ROI of your marketing efforts.
As a business, Jump Company has been driving innovation in data-driven Medicare Advantage marketing for a number of years. As individual employees, this makes us a sought-after resource for our parents, grandparents and family friends who “just have a couple questions before we sit down to Thanksgiving dinner.”