Medicare Marketing in Our Digital World

Chapter 1:

Why are Medicare Marketers struggling to develop a Digital Marketing Strategy?

Have you recently been to a music concert where more than half of the audience is watching it through the camera screen of their smart phone?  It’s amazing how many people are holding their phones high above their heads in order to capture a personal video memory of the concert rather than just enjoying the moment.

Have you noticed that increasingly more and more people in public places have their heads down laser focused on their smart phones?

Just recently, Augsburg, a German city was the first municipality to install traffic signalsin the sidewalk so that smart phone-distracted pedestrians would see them after a 15 year old girl there was killed by a tram when according to police reports she was distracted by her smart phone while she crossed the tracks.

People are tethered to charging stations at airports so they will have digital access throughout their trip, even at 30,000 feet with on-board pay-to-play Wi-Fi.

Some have identified a psychological state known as “Nomophobia” which according toWikipedia is the fear of being out of mobile phone contact, as Nomophobia is an abbreviation for “no-mobile-phone-phobia.”   In Psychology Today, an article that discusses “Smartphone Addiction” points to symptoms such as “Feeling anxious whenever you do not have your smartphone in your physical possession, constantly checking the phone for new texts with the compulsion to respond instantaneously, phantom cellphone vibration symptoms, not listening to people in front of your while checking your Facebook page” and more.

“For the first time ever, time spent inside mobile applications by the average US consumer has exceeded that of TV” noted in Flurry in a report published last month that goes on to say “the average US consumer is spending 198 minutes per day inside apps compared to 168 minutes on TV.”

Digital has become woven into everyday life, and those marketers who are ignoring it or pretending that it isn’t, should check how long their heads have been buried in the sand, because they are in danger of suffocating their careers.

And Digital is not only phones.  Digital is tablets, PC’s, planes, trains and automobiles. The IoT (Internet of Things) is all things connected, and according to Cisco’s Internet Business Solutions Group (IBSG) some 50 billion things will be connected by 2020.

Digital has expanded into home appliances, connected homes, connected cars, and more importantly, connected health.

We are indeed living in a Digital World. 

People are increasing their time spent with newer and emerging touch-points which are predominantly digital.

According to a recent 2015 Forrester report: “US online adults now report that they spend more time online than watching off line TV (20 and 11 hours, respectively).”  Stop for a moment and think of how that statement should impact your Medicare marketing strategy, however most Medicare marketing organizations haven’t realized that the shift from television to digital has already occurred.

Why then, are Medicare Marketers struggling to develop a Digital Marketing Strategy?

“Health Insurers Fall Flat with Consumer Marketing” was the topic of another Forrester report, which uncovered the fact that Health Insurance marketers are laggards in consumer marketing.  “John Bowen of Acxiom said that insurers’ biggest barrier is they don’t have the efficient best practices or similar skills in place as B2C marketing veterans have.”  The insight provided by this report included that “plan providers need to mimic other industries in similar positions (such as auto) and focus on driving an ongoing relationship through relationship marketing strategies that generate loyalty.”

And maybe it’s because up until now, some Medicare marketing organizations have viewed Digital as an additional channel, when it really isn’t.  Digital is a way of life.  Digital considerations must be made for every marketing strategy and tactic, even if the origination tactic is offline, such as television.

The phrase “Omnichannel” has reverberated throughout the hallways of every marketing organization for the past few years, and now, Omnichannel has become the hot buzz phrase for every channel of marketing, which most translate into digital channels, since no one ever mentioned “Omnichannel” until we were well into the digital age.

Up until now, those brave Medicare marketers who dared to peel some budget away from the traditional work horse channel of direct mail to experiment with digital have done so in very limited ways.

For most Medicare marketers, digital only means search and display.  For an adventurous few, digital may include retargeting or remarketing.

And some Medicare marketers are unaware of digital tactics such as programmatic, content marketing, native content marketing, native advertising, direct site alignment, social advertising and marketing automation.

Even for basic SEM (Search Engine Marketing) there are many new cutting edge tactics that marketers from other industries are capitalizing on, such as conquesting, targeted ad copy, targeted non-brand keywords, targeted devices, contextual CPC (Cost Per Click) and targeted day-parting, most of which Medicare marketers aren’t considering.

Considering that the leading-edge Boomers are turning 65 at the rate of 10,000 per day in the United States which will continue until the year 2030, and that according to eMarketer, by 2018 there will be 10 million more 65+ year olds using the internet than in 2014, Medicare marketers must take off the blinders to see that the digital marketing handwriting is on the wall.

There is a great opportunity for Medicare marketers to become great digital marketers for their audience which is becoming increasingly digital as time quickly passes.   And it’s only a matter of time before the same digital consumer expectations that have impacted nearly every other industry will heavily impact the way that Medicare marketing is practiced.

At KERN HEALTH, we have been working on an expanded whitepaper of this subject: “Medicare Marketing In Our Digital World” which will be available this summer.  Please watch for it, and please stay tuned here on LinkedIn for more in this series.

Read the next installment now:

Medicare Marketing in Our Digital World: Chapter 2: A Digital Beginning 

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