How can we effectively reach the boomer generation?
Historically, direct mail (DM) has been the endearing lifeblood to age-in sales, the workhorse for the Medicare marketer. Despite relatively low response rates, DM gives us a unique opportunity to sell to prospective members — before their eligibility period and without prior consent — where the same does not apply to phone calls, email and other tactics, at least not without a significant finagling of our sales scripts. Direct mail is also doing a good job of delivering qualified leads, but it can be expensive.
So, what can we do to maximize our ROI with DM? We can look toward streamlining our DM campaigns with predictive modeling. By developing a model that assigns propensity to buy based on a set of predetermined characteristics, and then bumping that model against our DM lists, we can index prospects and only mail to those with a higher propensity to purchase our plan. This enables us to streamline spend and maximize return.
DM will continue to be an effective way to get leads in your marketing pipeline, but you can almost guarantee that these prospects will also go online. What does that experience look like for them when they get there?
Introducing a strong online presence will help support awareness, consideration, shopping, conversion and validation/retention. Through effective targeting, digital marketing can provide the right experience and messaging at the right time in the consideration and shopping process. This becomes extremely important as seniors are more commonly delaying retirement. Digital channels also provide opportunities to capture information from prospects, such as when they intend to retire, and then deliver contextually relevant information to aid in their buying decision at the right time.
Direct marketing in today’s age-in ecosystem:
Research has shown that the new wave of Boomers is pretty tech savvy; in fact, 70% of Boomers now own a smartphone and are spending nearly 40 hours per week online. They are using their smartphones to conduct research and then turning to their desktops to shop. They are using the internet for Medicare research throughout their 64th year, prior to aging in. With that in mind, Medicare marketers need to have a strong online strategy to reach these prospects. Here are some best practices:
- Social media — Social media should be used for a means of engagement and education, but if you do it right, you can spark some genuine interest as well. Prospects are not looking for a Medicare plan on social media; they are there to keep up on friends and family and spend leisure time looking at interesting quotes, videos and other light content. Your creative approach should be platform-centric or your ad will get as much attention as a billboard positioned near the fast lane on the Autobahn.
- Email drip campaigns — An effective email campaign will help you stay top of mind via frequent and personalized drip communications. Emails can be triggered following a visit to your online properties or as a follow-up to a delivered ad. When done right, this channel is an inexpensive tool to boost interest and acquisition.
- Search terms — Own your branded keywords, and have presence on high-volume keywords and phrases. Also, be sure you’re giving prospects a compelling reason to search for you in the first place via upper-funnel marketing tactics. Television is still among the top four channels driving search within this audience. In fact, it’s number one.
- Retargeting — Retargeting consumers who have shown interest in your product ensures that your prospects don’t fall out of the purchase funnel. Pixel your pages to ensure you are capturing prospects and remarketing to them with ads relevant to their behavior on your online properties.
- Website — User experience is key in converting prospects online. Confusing or poor navigation will lose your audiences quickly, as will a lack of personalization, competing calls to action, and lengthy or unclear messaging. Keep it simple and easy to navigate the top content your users are looking for. Additionally, make sure your site is responsive to all device types!
- Landing pages — Landing pages are key to moving your prospect down the purchase funnel. They should tie to the ads from whence the prospect came, and should provide a clear next step to gathering more information. As not all boomers prefer one type of follow-up communication or another, be sure to provide more than one option for receiving more information; generally including mail, email and call. Ask for an email address even if it’s not required; this will help you build out an effective drip campaign to drive continued interest.
- Lead aggregators — Marketing doesn’t have to do all the heavy lifting. Lead aggregators are a very efficient way to bring warm leads into your pipeline to augment marketing leads. For aggregated leads, “speed to lead” and call script are key, as many companies are vying for attention from the same prospects.
- Messaging — The age-in audience doesn’t want to be pandered to. They are confident, capable and the most educated generation of any before them. They are hardworking, defiant, proud. They are choosing to work beyond their 65th year, and even when they do retire, they don’t intend to slow down. Recognize that this audience expects more. When we talk to these folks, we should message them in a way that reflects this. We should provide tools and resources for decision-making that assumes they are capable and communicates that we are flexible. We bend to them; they will never bend to us.
They are the generation that transformed the American family, influenced politics and pop culture, launched consumerism and brought about social change. They are a generation comprised of revolutionaries who have instigated change throughout every stage of life, and they will carry that same spirit into Medicare. Remember your audience — they are aging in on their own terms, not yours. Make their experience with your brand as tailored as it can be.