Medicare’s enrollment season is about to gear up once again. With compliance scrutiny at an all-time high, a dramatically shortened selling season, Centers for Medicare Services (CMS) Star rating dictating bonus payments and year-round marketing, competing in the Medicare market is no easy task. Add to the mix a surge of baby boomers entering the Medicare marketplace with different shopping and purchasing preferences, and one thing is certainly clear: You better have your Medicare marketing house in order.
Following are 10 tips every Medicare marketer can use. They will help sharpen your approach and ensure you get your share of this growing market.
- CMS Compliance: Today’s Medicare marketers must understand and respect the important role CMS compliance plays in the member-acquisition process. This means making sure the link between marketing, sales and compliance is as strong as possible, and always supporting the spirit of CMS consumer protections.
- Data Driven: Start with data. It must be sorted, cleaned, refined and turned into actionable marketing intelligence. From building predictive models for most likely responders to variable direct response call-outs to optimize media buys, the goal is to grow while continually lowering your cost per lead and cost per sale.
- Age-Ins: With thousands aging into Medicare every day, new approaches are needed to attract today’s boomer-seniors; remember, “It’s not your Daddy’s Medicare.” It takes a combination of meaningful education, sequenced messaging, and innovative approaches to outreach in order to connect with newly eligible beneficiaries, many of whom are health care “cybersumers.”
- Member Retention: In a fiercely competitive Medicare market, aggressive “switcher” campaigns have become routine. Yet the cost of acquiring a new member is five times the cost of retaining an existing one. Therefore, loyalty-based member engagement plays a big role in a health plan’s long-term profitability under the label of member LifeTime Value.
- Star Ratings: As CMS deploys its 5-Star Rating across Medicare plans, marketing’s role is critical to ensure member communications reinforce customer satisfaction and loyalty. Engagement marketing goes a long way in a plan’s ability to achieve the highest possible Star Rating, as well as and the bonus payments and extended selling that go along with it.
- Customer Interaction: Give beneficiaries a reason to engage and connect with a Medicare plan they trust. Remember, it’s all about them. Therefore, you must master the tested, personalized direct-response marketing necessary to create opportunities for you to interact one-on-one with your clients. This interaction allows you to communicate value, as well as to answer a Medicare beneficiary’s most important question: “What’s in it for me?”
- Digital Medicare: As more and more Medicare shoppers use the Web as their primary research tool, it’s essential that your website offers a Medicare online experience that’s user-tested, compelling and built for seniors. From ease-of-navigation to the images and words on your website, the content needs to be tailored to a Medicare audience.
- Multichannel Sales: Different Medicare customers require different doors of entry: some will call on the phone; others come in through a website; some prefer to respond via mail; many like a discussion across their kitchen table, and still others may even desire a retail experience. Developing and maintaining a multichannel sales distribution strategy is critical to sustainable growth.
- Differentiated Value: Being the health plan of choice for Medicare beneficiaries is achieved by building trust, credibility and relevancy around your value proposition. This means understanding drivers that motivate prospects to select your plan, and an ability to get the most differentiated and preferred product offerings in front of them.
- Marketing ROI: You can’t manage what you can’t measure! Combining sophisticated upfront data analytics, direct response discipline and flawless campaign execution can significantly lower member acquisition costs and increase retention. Tracking, analyzing and measuring results throughout the marketing cycle is a Medicare marketing must.
Medicare customers are a population segment that wants to understand — upfront — what they are purchasing, how benefits work, and how your plan fits into their financial, health care and lifestyle situation. Medicare, like most insurance products, often is intimidating and frustrating. There are complex benefits, tricky rules and a lot of options from which to choose, so there’s bound to be confusion.
Successful Medicare marketing hinges on educating seniors, defining value and creating motivated buyers. It takes connecting with prospects both logically and emotionally and learning as much as you can about your target market so you know what’s important to them, what concerns them, and what they want from their Medicare plan.