Written by: Brooke Snelling
The healthcare industry is one that is ever-changing with new regulations and is often affected by a precarious legislative landscape, so it comes as no surprise that healthcare professionals are used to adapting. But, how do you develop effective marketing campaigns that not only show results but evolve and improve year-over-year amongst all the change? Furthermore, there’s no denying the rapid growth and increasing competition happening in the Medicare Advantage space. This also needs to be considered when creating your campaign and evaluating your place in the healthcare space. It’s more important than ever that your organization is positioned to grow your risk population and educate consumers about the services and outcomes you may be able to offer.
Extensive research is necessary to fully understand your target audience (e.g., their location, behaviors, mindsight, etc.) This information may vary extensively by market especially when drilled down by county or zip code. What we know is seniors primarily make the decision to switch health plans before AEP– 88% of those who decide to switch by the start of AEP actually do.  This type of information is helpful when mapping out the consumer’s journey and determining when, where and how your brand can best educate and influence your target audience during the decision process.
Integrated & Multiple Touchpoints
Not only is having a consistent presence among the senior audience important, you must also ensure you are reaching them with multiple touchpoints throughout their buying journey. We know that this audience spends a significant amount of time perusing and identifying the right health plan and doctor for them. Their discovery to find a new health plan may include online searches, speaking with friends and family, reading print publications, attending events, or meeting with licensed sales agents. To effectively influence this audience, your brand should be present at each touchpoint. According to Deft Research, seniors are more likely to switch if they utilized both human and self-service channels – 75% enrolled through a human assistance channel. The rate of those who switched using only self-service channels is much lower at 4%.  Seniors are utilizing an integrated approach to find the information they need and you should be using the same approach to reach them.
The Right Message, at the Right Time, in the Right Place
Obviously, you must ensure your message is being served to the right audience through the most effective channels, but that’s not all. Is your creative and message compelling enough for the consumer to take an action? To develop ads that deliver ROI, it is essential to gauge the marketing channel and consider the need state the senior may be in when viewing or interacting with the channel. Imagery must be relatable and evoke emotion, while headlines must speak to a specific place in the consumer journey, drawing seniors in to learn more about what you have to offer. Placement of these messages will be determined by your research with the messages varying by medium. A senior on social media will be in a different need state than someone who’s searching online for Medicare Advantage plans. The creative should be tailored to the outlet in which it’s being displayed.
The amount of research that goes into creating a Medicare Advantage campaign can be extensive. However, if it’s done right it should dictate your messaging and the placement of your ad dollars, resulting in a strategic marketing campaign. Tracking and monitoring your multiple efforts along the way will allow you to make necessary adjustments to increase ROI.
 Deft Research: 2017 Medicare Shopping and Switching Study