Month: August 2017

The Future of Modern Medicare Marketing


Take a short break from the hectic throes of Medicare AEP marketing, kick your feet up, breathe deeply and ponder with me, for a moment about what the future-state of Medicare marketing may be like.

It’s August of 20-something, and you’re a Medicare marketer. You are in the midst of a flurry of marketing activity aimed at completing your marketing materials for the next AEP submission and review by CMS.

Your team has made it through the winter months. You watched as the days on the January calendar passed by, as you and your team had just recovered from the previous AEP, while watching the disenrollment figures closely.

February brought on the post-AEP assessment, the post-mortem of what marketing went right and what went wrong during the previous AEP. The post-AEP assessment of previous years had been painful. However this is 20-something and this year, your team was working under a new philosophy of “Modern Medicare Marketing” and your results were the best-ever delivered to your organization.

March was a busy month, researching and assessing the market, the competitors, both old and new. And along with March came two Medicare conferences to choose from, but your budget was limited and you were only able to attend one.  You gleaned some insight and you learned some new tactics that were successful from several of the speakers and attendees.

April, May and June were planning and implementing this year’s AEP marketing.  From the strategic decisions made by your team to address the shortcomings of the previous year’s AEP performance, to your team’s ability to test given the limited budget you have been provided, to some “nice-to-have” marketing luxuries that are on your “wish-list,” you have decided what is possible and probable based on budget, resources and staff. In late June your team, and your agency set out to create the materials that have been planned to accomplish the strategic mission.

Throughout August and September the CMS approvals come back, and your team readies the marketing assault on the designated market area for implementation. Your warm-up direct mail is all queued up, the media has been planned for broadcast, cable, radio, and since it is 20-something, all digital channels are in play.

It’s October and the AEP moment of truth is upon you. Except, because this is 20-something, you have all of the modern marketing technologies that are available in 20-something at the ready. You walk into the “Marketing Operations” department to speak with the marketing technologists who are running the 6 areas of modern marketing technology.

·        Advertising and Promotion

·        Content and Experience

·        Social and Relationships

·        Commerce and Sales

·        Data

·        Management

These future technologies have enabled your team to deliver up marketing experiences that those who were marketing in 2017 have only have dreamed of.

A prospective member receives your warm-up direct mail piece in early October of 20-something. They are interested. They aim their phone at your direct mail piece and using an image recognition technology (not a QR code, but an app that recognizes the print piece itself) they are redirected to your website.

When that prospective member, let’s call her Mary, arrives at your website, your marketing tracking technology tags Mary with 2 identifications. Since Mary hasn’t registered yet, the anonymous identifications will track her movement and behavior as she navigates the site.

Mary is interested, however since she arrived at the website prior to October 7, there was no call-to-action to enroll. She ignored the other calls-to-action to download guides, but she did watch a video and looked at an info-graphic. She did not register to receive additional information.

Mary did receive touch 2 of the direct mail campaign, and it is now past October 7. Mary received a lot of other direct mail too.  She goes online to search for other solutions, and Mary is being retargeted by your marketing.  She sees one of your banner ads as she is on a network site, recognizes your brand from the DM piece and clicks on your banner. (Mary could have easily been exposed to your brand via digital video advertising, native advertising, social network advertising, or any other digital means.)

Mary arrives at your best-practice landing page and is asked to register.  Even though she is on a different browser, your technology knows that Mary is a previous anonymous visitor tagged by her tracking number and as soon as Mary registers, her digital history on your website is then transferred to her name and email address.  Mary is now re-marketable. Since you are using technology that can discover who Mary is by having Mary enter her first and last name and zip code, she doesn’t even have to enter her physical address or email address- your technology has the ability to discover it through her entry of name and zip code.

Marketing automation technology kicks in. You have developed a lead scoring matrix that scores Mary’s digital behavior, so every time Mary has looked at a particular marketing asset on your site, such as that video and the info-graphic that she viewed when she first visited your site as an anonymous user, her score increases.  Your lead scoring also takes into account the recency and frequency in which Mary has visited your site.  For simplicity, let’s say that Mary scored 5 points for the video, 5 points for the info-graphic and 10 points for coming back to the site within 10 days.  If you had set the criteria for a lead to be mature at 20 points, Mary would be passed over to sales to be contacted.

There are 3 stages of lead qualification- MQL (Marketing Qualified Lead,) SQL (Sales Qualified Lead,) and SAL (Sales Accepted Lead.) If the criteria had been set to 50 points, Mary would still need to score 30 more points to be a “Sales Accepted Lead” (SAL.) The scoring criteria has been previously set through a series of meetings with sales and has been optimized over time. Sales understands that NO LEAD will be passed to them until the lead achieves the prescribed score.

Let’s say that Mary is at 20 points and is not yet considered a Sales Accepted Lead.  Mary is then automatically placed into the Lead Nurture communications stream, which automatically delivers Mary predetermined communications through the marketing automation software.  If Mary responds to any of these communications, she is placed into a different “responder track” of more targeted and more aggressive calls to action.  The nurture track is not limited to email communications, there can be a DM touch, or a call center call touch, or several of each. It’s up to the marketer.

In the meantime, Mary is still being retargeted by banners on the network of websites where the media is placed.  Mary is still exposed to the cable and television commercials. Mary is still receiving DM pieces, and is exposed to print and other media that has been planned.

Mary enrolls, and is automatically removed from the acquisition marketing communications program, and is now placed in the automated member nurture program.

Or- Mary doesn’t enroll throughout AEP, however, Mary has been thoroughly exposed to the brand and may consider enrolling next year, and your organization has Mary on the radar ready to market to her in the future.

Would it surprise you to learn that this description of Modern Medicare Marketing isn’t a future state at all?

This is a current state.

Yes, all that has been described is not only possible, it is being done by the most forward thinking Medicare marketing organizations.

Imagine how it would be to have this in place at your organization.

Here’s a link to the “MarTech 5000” a super-info-graphic by Scott Brinker that details the brands of technology available to marketers segregated by these 6 categories:

  • Advertising and Promotion
  • Content and Experience
  • Social and Relationships
  • Commerce and Sales
  • Data
  •  Management

Medicare marketing and marketing technology are often disconnected subjects even if they shouldn’t be.

After all we are more than halfway through 2017, and as modern marketers we are all well ensconced in a technological avalanche of digital capabilities that is as new as the last 5 years.

Medicare marketers are laggards in the adoption and use of marketing technology.


Perhaps the cause of slow adoption of marketing technology by Medicare marketers is connected to the heavy reliance on direct mail as the workhorse channel. And it could also be the reluctance by Medicare marketers to deviate from the tried and true traditional channels of Medicare marketing such as direct mail, DRTV and event based marketing that has slowed innovation and adoption of modern marketing technology by the Medicare marketing industry.

B2B Marketers are more apt to be discussing marketing automation, lead scoring, the various levels of lead qualifications such as MQL (Marketing Qualified Leads) SQL (Sales Qualified Lead) and SAL (Sales Accepted Lead, while Medicare marketers would be quite happy to discuss any type of lead.

And, for Medicare marketers, any lead that comes into the house is rapidly transferred over to a sales channel, whether that channel is inside sales, the broker channel, or agents  of or for the company. This is quite different than best-practice B2C or B2B marketing which is now operated by a team of marketers in a function which is called marketing operations and which almost never turns a lead over until the lead is deemed mature and ready to be sold.

Let’s take a step back and look at the purpose of marketing in your Medicare insurance organization.

The #1 function or Medicare marketers is to generate leads for the Medicare insurance sales team. For those Medicare insurance plans that are launching, or do not currently have a well-known market presence, the work of creating awareness, and familiarity with the new to market brand is also a prime charge for the marketing department.

If you’d like to be the agent of change in your organization and have Modern Medicare Marketing in place for your next year’s AEP, I’d be happy to help.

Please contact me and let’s continue the conversation about Modern Medicare Marketing.