3 Things We Learned During This Medicare Marketing Season

Open enrollment for Medicare may be over for this season, but we’re still wrapping up our analysis and recommendations.

One thing is clear: The digitally savvy have finally become Medicare eligible. We’ve been talking about this for several years now and it’s gratifying to see digital channels come to the forefront of our messaging and our results.

People are even responding online to offline marketing. Both DRTV and direct mail had higher than expected response via URL.

And we’re not just hearing from desktop users. When we look at results from search marketing and online display, we are seeing significant growth in the percentage of respondents coming in from mobile and tablet platforms. One of our client campaign sites experienced nearly a 4X increase year-over-year in response volume from mobile and tablet users — jumping from 8% of all digital responses in the 2014 AEP to over 30% in the 2015 AEP. If you aren’t already making your digital resources mobile-friendly, now is the time.

Our second lesson is that people are hungry for useful information about Medicare — and aren’t overwhelmed by large fulfillment kits that point them further down the sales path.

For one client, we tested offering a complete kit that included all the information a person would need to decide on a plan — including a full application form — against a skinny, lower-cost brochure that compared plans. The full kit offer outpulled the brochure offer by 20%.

While we don’t have complete information about sales conversion yet, we’re betting that the extra 20% response will outweigh the cost of sending the initial kit. Plus, those who do decide to buy after getting the brochure will still need to be sent the complete kit with application. Or they will need to go online or call to apply, adding another layer of complexity and friction to the purchase process.

The third thing we learned is that we have far more control over retention than we might have thought.

In highly competitive markets, or when you’re dealing with rate increases in the coming year, you will likely experience a lot of shopping activity across your membership.

To improve your retention rate, it is important to engage current members before the shopping season begins. Educate them on how to use their plans to stay healthy and active. Encourage their use of preventive and wellness benefits to improve member satisfaction and help mitigate the impact of subsequent changes to co-pays or premiums. Done well, these communications also have the added benefit of helping to reinforce and boost your star ratings.

And when premiums do increase, make sure your members are aware of their buy-down options to your lower-premium plans. Ongoing, proactive communications remind members why they chose your plan in the first place and can help offset adverse plan issues that may come up in the next year. By planning ahead, one of our clients was able to beat their retention goal by over 6%.

We’re still refining our learnings from this season. If you want to know more, you should consider attending our presentation at the Medicare Marketing & Sales Summit in March. I’d enjoy meeting you there.