2020 was unpredictable and full of disruption due to COVID-19. And, as Medicare marketers, we spent some time reflecting on our Age-in strategies: what we’ve learned from the past year, and where to focus in the year ahead. Here are our top 5 takeaways…
1. COVID-19 has accelerated the pace of Boomer retirements.
Whether due to lost jobs, lost opportunities, or lost hope, millions of people in the age-in and Medicare-eligible age groups have entered an early (and involuntary) retirement. In fact, recent research has found 3 million workers aged 55-70 have left the labor force since March, 2020; a disproportionately high number compared to those under 55.
What does this mean for your age-in planning? It’s a time for action. Be at the ready in 2021 with streamlined messaging and outreach to those age-ins who’ve been caught off guard and are now overwhelmed with Medicare plan decisions and options. And, give special consideration to imagery that features Hispanic Americans or Asian Americans—two groups identified by Pew Research as being most-impacted by these forced retirements.
2. Direct mail response rates – and engagement – are up.
At the onset of at-home orders, we weren’t the only ones a bit surprised to find that engagement to various direct mail campaigns was consistently up. As early as March, we experienced an increase in donations to our not-for-profit clients’ donor direct programs. And that was just the beginning. It’s really no surprise that while sitting at home with less distractions, people have been more engaged with their mailboxes. You can bet that in the new year, we’ll be hyper-focused on harnessing that engagement with particular attention to the age-in audience for our clients (Why? See #1, above).
3. Content (and data) are predictably more critical for age-in strategy success.
Reflecting on 2020 took us back to one of our own blog posts from January: The Medicare Age-in Strategy Puzzle Solution. In it, we shared how a wide-open calendar, expanded media channels, and influx of Boomers can all feed into identifying the best Age-in strategy: A strategy that would need to support awareness, engagement, and conversation. Of course, success in all of the above hinges on your organizations data environment—one that enables the clarity, accurate reporting, and deep insights needed to make informed campaign decisions.
So, what’s changed? Everything … and nothing. Age-in strategies in 2021 will need to ramp up outreach (see #1), lean into the success of direct mail (as shared in #2), and approach the inherit complexity of age-in marketing with a coordinated effort—soup to nuts.
4. Skepticism about economic recovery is strong amongst an otherwise optimistic audience.
Baby boomers are known for redefining what “old age looks like” – retiring later in life, staying more active than older generations, and generally feeling younger than they really are. They’re also a demographic hard hit by the pandemic. According to the CDC, 80% of COVID deaths are among boomers. Strangely enough, they are less concerned about their health and contracting the virus than their younger counterparts.
Finances, however, are a different matter. Due to the pandemic, and forced early retirement, many Boomers have less time to meet their financial goals. And, according to Deft Research’s 2020 Age-In Study: The COVID-19 pandemic is among the top shopping drivers for Late-to-Medicare seniors. While these seniors continue to work, the threat of an historically bad economy may have them thinking more about their future insurance options. So meeting them where they are will also require being mindful of their skeptical mindset.
5. The right media mix—with rigorous reporting and measurement—is still key.
The age-in audience is digitally savvy. From our post, Medicare Marketing Attribution That Can’t Be Questioned, we cited an AARP survey that detailed how seniors “use smartphones, wearable technology, and smart home technology at about the same pace as younger adults.” In fact, 81% of seniors 60-69 have adopted smartphones, 75% use social media on a regular basis … all in all, seniors are increasingly spending time online and their shopping habits are following suit. Historically more hesitant to shop online, baby boomers were forced to adapt their behaviors when COVID-19 hit because they weren’t comfortable shopping in stores. And, one recent study found this behavior will continue, with nearly half (47%) of Baby Boomers planning to increase their online shopping post pandemic.
What will this mean for your age-in programs in 2021? Marketers will need to commit to an omnichannel approach with rigorous reporting and measurement in order to stay ahead of senior media consumption habits and capture the true performance and ROI of your age-in marketing.
Ready to talk age-in strategies, attribution, and success? Let’s talk.