Medicare Marketing Attribution That Can’t Be Questioned

Is attribution of your Medicare marketing performance campaigns still an issue? Speaking to a CMO the other day on the subject of AEP and Medicare, they remarked how “seniors are getting younger every day.” This statement spoke volumes, and it got us thinking: are marketers evolving how we approach seniors quickly enough?

And when it comes to reporting attribution—which is so essential to tracking the true performance and ROI of your marketing—how can you keep up? After all, targeting seniors’ and their changing media habits is already a complex discipline. 

The big question: How can your Medicare marketing attribution catch up with—and stay ahead of—senior media consumption habits?

Seniors have more in common with millennials when it comes to media consumption than you may think. In fact, a recent survey published by AARP illustrated how seniors “use smartphones, wearable technology, and smart home technology at about the same pace as younger adults.” And consider these numbers from that same survey:

  • 81% of people aged 60 to 69 have adopted smartphones
  • 62% of those 69 and older use smartphones
  • Senior digital home assistant ownership doubled in the last 2 years
  • 75% of seniors use social media on a regular basis


This survey isn’t alone. Research released by Pew showed that since 2018, seniors’ social media usage was the fastest growing of any age segment. If one word could sum up media trends among seniors, it would be “fragmented”.

Does fragmented media consumption spell chaos for medicare marketing?

Reaching the right seniors with the right message at the right time isn’t a high hurdle for marketers to get over anymore—even as their media consumption habits become more millennial. The real questions keeping most medicare CMOs and marketing managers up at night revolve around attribution.

The reason for this is clear. Reliably tracking, knowing and forecasting which channels are pulling the most weight for your program is the biggest determining factor for medicare marketing budgets and investments. And when you have a window as accelerated and shortened as AEP, decisions about which attribution models to rely on can mean the difference between making a proper investment and wasting your budget. Proper attribution can mean the difference between your success and failure.

The one attribution model that remains unimpeachable

Attribution is sometimes like alchemy: a scarcely understood, mysterious discipline that has seduced CEOs and CMOs into costly contracts with “experts” who never deliver simple, rock-solid, unassailable answers. The most frustrating part? If you ask seven experts about the best attribution method, you’re likely to get eight opinions masquerading as facts.

First touch, last touch, multi-touch? The proper weight to assign each? Even on a good day, attribution can quickly become a complex, time-eating and costly project that leaves marketers with more questions than answers. That’s why—especially in a fragmented media landscape—the only attribution model you can completely rely on to tell the whole truth about your marketing ROI is a holistic approach—the overall cost of a member.

Let us be crystal clear on this point—because we know how important tracking ROI is for medicare marketers. We’re not saying not to track and measure performance of every channel discretely. On the contrary, this is essential to gauging the health, direction and needs of your marketing program.

The key is to know the difference between indicator metrics and the metrics that truly matter to the C-suite. It’s about the importance of the whole ROI of your marketing, as opposed to the sum of its parts. 

And the reality is that when the dust settles and the curtain closes on another AEP season, there’s only one metric you can completely count on to define your success—the overall cost of a member.

As senior marketing gets more complex, keep your attribution model simple.

As more seniors age in and their media habits become more like millennials and fragmented among new and traditional media, there will be no shortage of decisions to make. While new social media platforms, cultural moments and world events will continue to influence and affect seniors’ attention, smart marketers will do more than create work that cuts through the clutter and lands effectively. They’ll also continue to be able to separate real signals from ground noise—and evolve their attribution models accordingly.

For something as important as guidance on your marketing investment and priorities, you need clear, reliable answers and numbers. That’s why your attribution should focus on the whole (as opposed to the sum of the parts). A smart, informed approach to media and this kind of holistic approach to ROI attribution will always let you know if your medicare marketing is on the right path—and how to stay on it.