What’s your plan for marketing to people working past 65?
As Medicare marketers, we generally target three groups of people. The first, called the “Age-In Group,” is made up of people who are 64 and about to turn 65.
The second group is everyone currently enrolled in Medicare. During the Annual Election Period, we try to sway the 10% of this group that is likely to switch plans during Medicare’s Open Enrollment Period.
The third group comprises all the commercial plan members from the first two groups. As marketers, we attempt to keep these members “in the family” by transitioning them into their health plan’s Medicare plan. This group is known as “Feeder Plan Enrollees.”
There also is a fourth group, which we call the WP65 Group (for “working past 65”). These are people who are delaying or modifying their entry into Medicare past the usual age of entry. Strangely, many Medicare organizations don’t have a strategy for marketing to this group.
As KERN Health is a consistent sponsor of the three largest Medicare marketing conferences each year, we’ve had a chance to discuss the WP65 Group with marketing leaders from the nation’s top plans. Over the past few years, we’ve learned that few of these marketing leaders, if any, have a specific go-to-market plan for the WP65 Group.
The WP65 Group is growing every year.
The share of workers reporting that they expect to work past 65 rose from 16% in 1991 to 48% in 2018.
And declining retirement doesn’t stop at age 69. Those past age 70 are also still working. 19% of 70- to 74-year-olds were still working in 2018, up from 11% in 1994.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that by 2024, 36% of 65- to 69-year-olds will be active participants in the labor market. “That’s up from just 22% in 1994,” writes Ben Steverman in his Bloomberg article “Working Past 70: Americans Can’t Seem to Retire.”
Steverman writes that there “are many factors keeping older Americans in the workforce, including the fact that many are healthier and living longer than previous generations. Some decide not to fully retire because they enjoy their jobs or just want to stay active and help. Others need the money. The longer you work, the easier it is to afford a comfortable retirement. Longer lives and rising healthcare costs have made retirement more expensive at the same time that stagnant wages and the decline of the traditional pension have made it harder to save enough.”
According to a Gallup Poll, 74% of U.S. employed adults plan to work past retirement age. As the WP65 Group substantially grows in numbers over the next few years, Medicare marketing organizations must have an action plan in place to compete against this growing group that now has a significant share of the addressable market.
New WP65 Audience = New WP65 Marketing
The old tried-and-true methods aren’t going to work on the WP65 Group. Think that they’ll be included in your Age-In campaign? Think again. Even those enterprising Medicare marketers who begin their Age-In communications very early, such as when the target audience is age 63.5 (63 and five months), haven’t considered that their last Age-In direct mail piece will be delivered when the target is 65.3. Do you think that the 65½-year-old is going to save your direct mail piece for four years until they retire at age 69? They’re not.
And if you feel like your AEP campaign is likely to touch these folks, you’re probably right. They will be included in your demographic lists after all, but even if they are, your marketing message isn’t right for the WP65 audience. AEP messaging is all about switching, the benefits of switching and why people should be switching. Very little AEP messaging is developed for welcoming people to Medicare—which is exactly what the WP65 audience is seeking. During AEP, you might have the right audience, but you have the wrong message.
Medicare Marketing Lead Nurture Program
Medicare enrollment takes place in a condensed period of time, which usually eliminates the need for a formal lead nurturing program. For AEP, we’re marketing to the addressable audience for 10 weeks. For Age-In, we have a seven-month window in which we must convert the prospect into a member. However, Medicare marketing to the WP65 audience is absolutely going to require a long-term lead nurture program. And there’s the rub. Most Medicare marketers do not have a lead nurture program in place, nor do they understand what a best-practice lead nurture program is.
Having experience marketing in B2B and in other long-sales-cycle businesses has provided KERN with many opportunities to showcase our best-in-class lead nurture programs. We have developed complex, intelligent lead nurture programs for some of the best-known brands in the world, including SAP, HP, Iron Mountain and Adobe, and in healthcare as well, for Merck & Company. That experience gives our clients an edge when it comes to marketing to the WP65 audience for Medicare.
Asking your Age-In audience if they’re prepared to retire at 65 is a great beginning for your lead nurture program. Having a process and system in place to record those answers and develop a WP65 marketing database—while checking all the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services compliance boxes—is where you will need to start.
From there, you will need to develop a digital strategy, utilizing marketing automation and precise laser-targeted digital media advertising to enable your organization to really keep your brand top of mind for those WP65s. Then you can track their digital body language through marketing technology to alert your organization best understand when they are indeed ready to retire and buy Medicare coverage.
What’s your plan for marketing to the WP65 audience?
WP65. They’re here to stay, and you need a plan to capture market share of this important and growing segment of the Medicare-addressable audience.
KERN Health is an insurance marketing agency with a specialty focus on acquiring Medicare members from the baby boomer generation. Backed by a proven foundation of experience in healthcare and multiple competitive acquisition industries, KERN Health brings healthcare insurers a powerful agency partnership for large-scale member acquisition.
To request a Medicare Marketing / WP65 Strategic Needs Analysis, please call Tim Hinds, Senior Strategic Health Insurance Acquisition and Retention Marketer, at 818-444-4208.