The Importance of Marketing Segmentation for 2021 Medicare AEP Marketing

• Author: Josh Martin, Group Director

2020 AEP Marketing Segmentation

Heading into 2020, the presidential election and its impact on media landscape was on the minds of many Medicare marketers as Annual Election Period (AEP) strategic planning began. Then, along came COVID-19 and its reverberations on consumer behavior, the economy and overall daily life. Throw the ever-increasing competitive nature of the 10-week sprint into the mix, and whew! We understand the challenges, and as always, look at the best way(s) to accept and overcome them. A focused, strategic approach is always warranted during the AEP. It will be especially critical this year with the challenges mounting and one possible outcome being a dip in the already-low AEP switch rate of 13%, reported by Deft Research’s 2020 Medicare Shopping and Switching Study.  

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A recent piece in Rolling Stone talked about COVID-19, examined the overall diversity of the senior population and discussed the importance of not grouping all people 65 and older into one category. As healthcare marketers, we understand that not all consumers respond the same way to a particular message. Amping up your segmentation game is a good place to start. Successful segmentation comes down to identifying target segments that would respond at a higher rate with messaging, imagery, calls-to-action and/or media mix tailored to the characteristics of the segment population.

The first step is to determine if there are any meaningful segments among your target market. Finding a sophisticated data analytics partner is one way to go. A data analytics firm is likely to employ a rich set of consumer data appends on the prospect universe to uncover a variety of lifestyle-based segments.

But other characteristics, which can be purchased or gathered without a data analytics partner, can be used to segment the population that may be just as fruitful – for example:

  • Geography
  • Age
  • Former members vs. pure prospect
  • Former responder/lead vs. pure prospect
  • Patient with a provider partner vs. pure prospect
  • Current Medicare plan type

The second step is to use the tools at your disposal to create a relevant, resonant experience for each segment. Determine how to tailor each of the following variables to motivate members of each segment:

  • Messaging
  • Imagery
  • Calls-to-action
  • Media mix

Cost can be a constraining factor. It can get costly to develop and produce a multitude of creative versions across a variety of media channels.

It’s helpful throughout the process to remind yourself of the goal – increase relevancy to increase results. If the versioning you are considering is unlikely to generate a higher rate of engagement, then it isn’t worth the time and investment.

The third step is to track and measure each tactic and each version discreetly. At the end of the campaign you should be able to answer the question: Was the segmentation worth it?

Overall, you might think that a “one-size-fits-all” approach makes Medicare marketing more efficient, but overall, it could produce waste if the message does not effectively resonate with all of your prospects. But looking even just a little more closely and identifying target segments along with customized messaging for these segments can go a long way in really reaching consumers. 

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