Winning AEP 2018 Direct Mail Tactics

Each year, Medicare healthcare providers struggle to create AEP marketing pieces that drive new member acquisition. Like any industry, the marketing landscape and audience are constantly changing. Seniors today are living a drastically different lifestyle than seniors 15 years ago. Internet and smartphone adoption continues to increases among this group, making them more socially connected and digitally engaged than ever before. These behavioral and social changes require new marketing approaches that reflect the evolving attributes of today’s Age-In.

While some plans failed to reach their target acquisition numbers last AEP, three companies updated their Age-In direct mail marketing approaches and saw it pay off in enrollment numbers.

According to CMS, the top three performing companies during the 2018 Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) were UnitedHealthcare, acquiring almost 400,000 new members, Aetna, obtaining 350,000, and Humana, gaining over 200,000.  In an analysis of their campaigns, several unique tactics were found to be leveraged by all three. These tactics that helped to drive response rate success include:

1. Dismantling Stereotypes 
Two of the top three companies with the highest enrollment gains focused their AEP 2018 campaign strategies on the fact that people over 65 look and act quite differently than this age group did ten or twenty years ago. In addition to this age group being more social and active, this audience often even thinks they look younger than they do, and thus can be turned off by marketing pieces featuring models looking too old. Recognizing this reality, Aetna and United carefully selected and leveraged images of vibrant, active seniors to improve the visual relevancy, and in turn, appeal, of their direct mailers. Aetna further dissolved historical Age-In stereotypes with a postcard featuring an older woman at a coffee shop and the bold headline, “I use three different dating apps” followed by the punchline, “The face of medicare is changing.”

2. Focusing on “Extras”
According to Deft Research, “along with drug coverage, dental coverage stimulates the most shopping among seniors.” This is because many seniors currently have unsatisfactory dental coverage. According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III), 57% of Americans ages 65 to 74 have full or partial dentures, however most Medicare dental plans do not cover this necessity. Vision and hearing care also remain inadequate for Medicare beneficiaries, so highlighting these programs in your direct mail marketing can really grab attention. Another Extra that proves of interest to all age groups are wellness program perks, such as discounts on local services and free gym memberships.

3. Offering Access to Personalized Agent/Broker Support
Today’s seniors are increasingly engaging in online shopping activities and while they find the abundance of online information and decision support tools helpful, many still do not feel confident weighing the information on their own. Online shopping resources are proving effective in driving plan awareness and supporting the shopping process, but are still not trusted by seniors as the sole source for plan selection decision making. According to Deft Research’s “2018 Medicare Shopping and Switch Study,” many seniors still need the assurance of consulting with a professional, and agents facilitate almost 50% of the occasions when a senior switches from one plan to another.

Prepping for AEP each year is a challenge for insurance marketers, especially at smaller companies that may not have the resources of Aetna, but incorporating these three proven-effective tactics can help capture the opportunity of the growing Age-In market.


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