Two questions – Two important answers.

Does Direct Mail work? & Does Direct mail work for AEP?

Despite the fact that the answer to both questions we frequently hear is an absolute, affirmative and positive yes, permit me to step past the empirical evidence, (the TargetLeads team receives and distributes many tens of thousands of requests for information each year – especially during the Medicare AEP season) and present several documented studies by various organizations, such as USPS, Media Logic, Daft and Gallop, The DMA, Epsilon, and more.

First, does direct mail still work?

  • According to Gallup, 41% of Americans of all ages look forward to checking their mail each day.
  • Though older generations are more likely to say they enjoy getting mail, 36% of Americans under 30 also feel this way.
  • 42.2% of direct mail recipients either read or scan the mail they get according to the DMA (Data & Marketing Association).
  • Email might be cheaper, but it’s easily ignored. Direct mail will get read, or at least scanned by your target audience. The DMA, reveals that 42.2% of direct mail recipients go through the material you send.
  • Advertising mail is kept in a household for 17 days on average. If you were wondering why direct mail works, here’s your answer. If mail sits around for 17 days, all members of the household have plenty of time to review it and take action.
  • 73% of American consumers say they prefer being contacted by brands via direct mail because they can read it whenever they want according to Epsilon.
  • 50.9% of recipients say they find postcards useful. The fact they don’t come in an envelope means virtually all postcards get read. Combine this with DMA’s stat that half of consumers find postcards useful and you’ll understand why postcard marketing is possibly the most effective direct mail method available. According to the DMA.
  • Up to 90% of direct mail gets opened, compared to only 20-30% of emails according to the DMA. My own personal research shows that the “up to” number can be interpreted in many ways depending on the message and presentation, but for this discussion, more mail gets opened than not.
  • Only 44% of people can recall a brand immediately after seeing a digital ad compared to 75% of people who receive direct mail.

In addition to higher open rates, direct mail also leaves a better impression on consumers. According to Marketing Profs’ direct mail statistics, three-quarters of consumers are able to recall a brand after receiving a piece of direct mail.

But it is yet another perk of direct mail. It’s much easier for consumers to understand than email, contributing to the longer-lasting brand recall associated with direct mail. The absence of additional content makes it simpler to process than email. When people read an ad sent via email, they can often get distracted by other open tabs or pop-up ads. But when they read direct mail they can focus solely on that task and that task is you!

All of this evidence means one thing – Direct mail is still one of the most powerful marketing tools to be found in your marketing toolbox and TargetLeads is your professional team to help you utilize that tool. We help carriers, agencies, and agents just like you reach out to your perfect prospect and begin a profitable relationship.

For more on this simple and robust answer read “Does Direct Mail Still Work?”

Now, does direct mail work for Medicare’s AEP?

Again of course, yes, but here’s what we know from a bunch of smart statistical folks who studied specific AEP marketing.

TargetLeads, Kent Merrell

When asked in a 2023 Medicare AEP Experience Study,

42% reported they paid attention to AEP but chose to continue with their current plan.

32% were aware of AEP but let their current plan continue.

17% said they considered new plans and changed.

6% had no clue

3% did something else (who knows what)

1% wanted to change plans but put it off till it was too late.

Consider this: During the last AEP window only 60% paid attention (42+17+1%) and considered their options. The 32% that were aware of AEP weren’t unhappy enough with their current plan to worry about it. The other 9% were busy in their own little world and were likely happy with their plan or unaware they could change. To summarize; Everyone is not equally as hungry as we are to get involved in Medicare Plan choices.

TargetLeads, Kent Merrell

Another interesting finding was 31% were positive about their AEP experience, 47% were either overwhelmed, stressed, confused, or bored with it and the remaining 23% had no opinion of the consequence.

So this may help you get a feel for the emotions associated with AEP.

TargetLeads, Kent Merrell

Another set of findings which may seem in conflict with the earlier example of those changing plans vs. those who do not shows that 59% had no interest in changing plans. (I fell into those numbers) The remaining 42% indicated they had an interest to varying degrees in getting a new plan.

What does this have to do with direct mail during AEP?

The next two findings which illustrate when and how people became interested in their AEP options answer that question.

TargetLeads, Kent Merrell

Only 17% decided they were interested in getting a new plan before AEP. Another 18% decided as AEP began but before they had any information. The information sent from their current health insurer about upcoming changes to their current coverage sparked 21% to look into options. The key number here is 25% became interested when they received information about their options. That number is key in several ways. Look at this chart provided by Media Logic.

Yes, you get the point. Outstripping all other sources, direct mail is the clear leader. I am not the Ph.D. statistician my mother paid the university for, but I feel safe saying nearly all the other 75% were influenced to some degree by direct mail.

TargetLeads, Kent Merrell

Let’s look at one more set of data findings to learn how direct mail is perceived, read, and accepted.

When asked what recipients do with AEP Medicare mail, four numbers illustrate why direct mail and AEP are bosom buddies.

TargetLeads, Kent Merrell

Review immediately and discard. 34%

Review immediately and keep for reference 15%

Save them and review them later 20%

Discard them without reviewing 29%

That’s 69% of the recipients are impacted by what you send through the mail.

Next, of all the crazy things to ask, the survey folks wanted to know if a mailbox full of Medicare AEP direct mail bugged the heck out of them.

TargetLeads, Kent Merrell

70% said they were unbothered, were OK with it, or even liked it. 21% felt it overwhelming. 7% were furious and the remaining 1% probably forgot to go to their mailbox for three months.

So what does all this mean for you this AEP season? First direct mail is here to stay. Historically it’s been a significant marketing channel to reach and impact respondents. More than 70% review and/or keep it for future reference and nearly 25% report direct mail as their most helpful source of information.

Second, though most people report high rates of satisfaction with their current plans, enough are influenced to change plans that strong retention efforts are worth the effort at the same time you are encouraging the switching plans by promoting unique benefits.

And third, though you might hear how some are annoyed by all the AEP marketing, in reality, the majority of people go with the flow without undue stress and confusion. Especially if you relieve that stress and mitigate that confusion.

With nearly forty years of experience helping relieve your stress and taking the confusion out of AEP marketing, TargetLeads can help you dominate that mailbox and be the one to whom your clients and potential clients turn for answers.