Welcome to the Future State of Modern Medicare Marketing

The hectic throes of Medicare AEP 2018 are finally over. The long hours strategizing, complying with CMS and ministering to your clients are over…for now. Now, you’re anxiously awaiting the membership acquisition results and trying to catch up on the sleep you lost in the last three months. This might be a good opportunity to imagine how the future state of Medicare marketing could maximize your qualified lead generation. Because it’s never too early to think about how your strategy can be more effective and successful.

Image Recognition and Marketing Tracking Technology

So let’s say it’s early October some year in the future. A prospective Medicare member, Mary, has just received your warm-up direct mail piece. She’s interested enough in your messaging to follow the prompts, aim her phone at your direct mail piece and through image recognition technology (not a QR code, but an app that recognizes the print piece itself) she’s instantly redirected to your website.

When she arrives at the site, your marketing tracking technology tags her with two identifications. While Mary decides not to register at this time, these anonymous identifications track her movement and behavior. Since she arrived here prior to October 7, there is no call-to-action on the site to enroll. She ignores the other calls-to-action to download guides and receive more information but she watches a video and looks over an infographic.

Retargeting and Consumer Recognition

After October 7, Mary receives Touch 2 of your direct mail campaign. She’s receiving a lot of other competitive direct mail, too. So when Mary goes online to research her options and search for other solutions, she is being retargeted by your marketing. She sees one of your banner ads, recognizes your brand from your DM pieces and clicks on your banner. (Mary also could have been easily exposed to your brand via digital video advertising, native advertising, social network advertising or any other digital means.)

From the link on your banner, Mary is sent to your landing page and is asked to register. Even though she is on a different browser, your technology recognizes Mary as the previous anonymous visitor through her tracking number, and as soon as she registers, Mary’s digital history on your website is then connected to her name and email address. Mary is now remarketable. Your technology identifies who she is just by having her enter her first and last name and ZIP code, so she doesn’t even have to enter her physical address or email address.

Marketing Automation Technology That Helps Qualify Leads

Through a lead scoring matrix that you developed, Mary’s digital behavior is evaluated and assessed as a lead. There are three stages of lead qualification: Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL), Sales Qualified Lead (SQL) and Sales Accepted Lead (SAL). Now, every time Mary looks at a particular marketing asset on your site, her score increases. Your lead scoring also takes into account how frequently Mary has visited your site.

For simplicity, let’s say that Mary scored 5 points for watching the video, 5 points for the infographic 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.

Consumer Behavior That’s Continuously Tracked

But let’s say that Mary is at 15 points and is not yet considered a Sales Accepted Lead (SAL). Mary is then automatically placed into 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 differentresponder track of more targeted and more aggressive calls-to-action. This is not limited to email communications. There can be a DM touch, a call center call touch or several of each. It’s up to you.

In the meantime, Mary is still retargeted by banners through the network of websites where the media is placed. She’s still exposed to the cable and television commercials. And she’s still receiving DM pieces, as well as being exposed to print and other media that has been planned. When Mary finally enrolls, she’s automatically removed from the acquisition marketing communications program, and is now placed in the automated member nurture program.

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

All the technology that’s been described here has been around for at least five years and is being utilized by leading brands, B2B and the most forward-thinking Medicare marketing organizations. So why are so many Medicare marketers still hesitant to use the latest marketing technology?

Tried-and-true channels and tight budgets

Maybe it’s the heavy reliance on high-performing channels like direct mail. In addition, the budgets you have to reach your existing quotas are usually conservative. Are you likely to slice off a piece of that precious budget to test marketing technology and/or new unproven marketing channels? Probably not. This reluctance to deviate from traditional Medicare marketing such as direct mail, DRTV and event-based marketing has slowed innovation and adoption of modern marketing technology.

For Medicare marketers, any lead is a good lead.

These leads are typically transferred rapidly over to a sales channel, whether that channel is inside sales, the broker channel or agents of the company. This is quite different than best-practice B2C or B2B marketing, where a marketing operations team almost never turns a lead over until it’s deemed mature and ready to be sold. B2B Marketers are more apt to be discussing marketing automation, lead scoring and the various levels of lead qualifications.

The #1 function of Medicare marketers is to generate leads for the Medicare insurance sales team.

And if your Medicare insurance plan is just launching or doesn’t currently have a well-known market presence, creating awareness and familiarity with the new-to-market brand is also a prime charge for you. The more you know about your customer, the better. Modern marketing technology can greatly improve your understanding of who your customer is and help you generate more qualified leads. Today, marketing, strategy and technology are inseparable. Don’t make the mistake of planning any one of these three, without considering all three.