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Medicare Marketing: 3 Strategies to Address Acquisition Declines

If you’re responsible for Medicare marketing, you are most likely already prepping for the eight weeks in the Fall that have become pivotal to your business strategy. It’s the only time of year that most seniors can make a change to their Medicare Advantage coverage so the noise during this timeframe has built to a crescendo.

For acquisition marketers, the stakes are high and your goals are clear. Entice eligible seniors to switch to your plan during the Annual Enrollment Period (AEP).

But beyond market competition, you face another challenge. In recent years the rate of seniors who switched plans has plateaued or outright declined.

As recently as 2015, 23% of seniors switched plans. Today, it’s a mere 9%. What does a decline like this mean? If you apply the 9% to your marketable universe before calculating your expected return, the math itself will demonstrate the problem.

You need to rethink your approach to Medicare marketing.

But before you move to a new strategy, let’s dig a little deeper into the data. Turns out, the Medicare switchers are largely, if not exclusively confined to those who had an event or interaction that would predispose them to switching during the year.

It could be a customer service issue, a price complaint—or something else entirely—either way, it points to the conclusion of Deft Research that “switchers are not created during the AEP. A combination of consumer experiences and insurer outreach throughout the year creates them.”

How best to react? Embrace the challenge with a proactive approach to change.

3 Strategies to Address Medicare Marketing Declines

1. Rethink seasonality: Only 88% of seniors who had decided to switch plans by the start of AEP, actually switched. Similarly, 90% of those who decided to stay with their same 2017 coverage ultimately did. What does this data imply about seasonality? Although transactions occur during the AEP, the real work—relationships with members are year-round endeavors.

2. Engage with your audience: Embark on a strategy to build or establish a relationship ahead of the transactional AEP. Since today’s 65-year-old was in their mid-40s when the Google search engine launched, they are Internet savvy, social, and will engage. There are lots of ways to keep them warm, informed, and connected.

3. Get to know the “new” senior: Could it be that the new senior audience is misunderstood? Let’s think about that… while “misunderstood” is a term usually reserved for teenagers, today’s Boomers see themselves, and aging, very differently. They are dealing with their own version of being underestimated by today’s businesses. The Boomer generation is dedicated to changing the way society thinks about retirement and aging. Loyalty is a two-way street with this audience. While the “old” senior citizen may have been known for their loyalty, the new senior is discriminating and looking for value to support their lifestyle—their needs come first!

While switching has been down—shopping behavior has not. This dynamic leaves the window open for more change to occur, especially if you take their lead and engage the new seniors outside of a transactional and limited approach.

Read the full article by our own Jill Kourtis at Target Marketing magazine, Thought Quake column.