Our hats go off to all our Medicare Advantage marketing partners this time of year. We know their to-do lists are long leading up to October 1, when marketing can officially begin for the Annual Enrollment Period (AEP). There are marketing plans to finalize, prospect databases to compile, creative to develop, and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) approvals to (not so) patiently wait for. And, in a blink of the eye, enrollment closes on December 7. I am exhausted just thinking about it!
Alan Sherman’s SpeakingDIRECT post from last year mentioned some of the most important aspects of AEP marketing plans. These aspects still hold true. Although the Medicare-eligible population engages with a variety of marketing channels, direct mail is their preference. In the months leading up to the AEP, it is important for Medicare Advantage marketers to develop (or update) predictive data models, use the model insights to refresh and inform creative, and determine a complementary digital strategy. And pretty please, don’t forget to include testing in your plans.
Testing is Vital to Medicare Advantage Marketing Success During the AEP
Many Medicare marketers eliminate testing due to the short-term pressures of the AEP. From our perspective, this also eliminates your chance to truly optimize your creative, format, data source, omnichannel experience and, ultimately, success the following year.
According to a study by the Kaiser Family Foundation, during last year’s AEP, on average, individual Medicare beneficiaries had access to 21 plans from six different providers. The mail plans we develop and observe typically have three to five direct mail touchpoints. If you do the math, you’ll find the average household receives 24 pieces of acquisition Medicare Advantage marketing mail during the AEP. How can your mail become the piece that causes a recipient to open, respond, and enroll?
That is the exact question we work to answer with our clients. Since every provider is different, so are their strategies—but in general, our Medicare direct mail testing has shown the following elements for Medicare Advantage marketing success:
- Letter packages outperform self-mailers,
- Localization and personalization drive response and meeting attendance, and
- Using a model to target the most likely responders makes the best use of your marketing dollars.
From there, we have the opportunity to fine tune messaging and creative elements with the goal of a stronger campaign the following year. And don’t forget—what we learn from those efforts can be used to guide Age-In marketing efforts to enroll those turning 65 throughout the year.
If you are interested in learning more about our approach to Medicare marketing and working towards the best possible direct mail plan through disciplined testing, please drop us a line. Don’t worry—we know it won’t be until after December 7.
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