Do Seniors Procrastinate? How It Affects Your Medicare Marketing

I genuinely love and appreciate my elders. My grandma, for example, was such a caring, sweet, intelligent, and peaceful person. Because of her, I associate all “seniors” in a particular way. When I think of senior citizens, this typically comes to mind:

  • 65 years or older
  • Retired
  • Not computer savvy
  • Minimal Facebook presence
  • Overly prepared and organized

To highlight the perception of seniors being overly prepared and organized, my grandma again comes to mind. Nearly every holiday my mom hosted at our house my grandma would arrive at a minimum one hour early to the party. In some cases, it was two hours. Yes, I’m sure she was excited to see family. Regardless, this action has led me to believe that seniors, in general, are not procrastinators.

Now that Medicare Open Enrollment is over for 2016, though, my perception of seniors has slightly changed.

The Senior Timeline for Medicare Enrollment According to Paid Search Data

Fathom works with a couple different health insurance companies that invest heavily in open enrollment for Medicare when it comes to paid media. In 2016, open enrollment started October 15th and ended on December 7th. Medicare providers can start advertising their plans as early as October 1st, but members cannot enroll until October 15th.

Medicare open enrollment happens annually and it is the time where those aged 65 years or older enroll into Medicare insurance, choosing to either stay with their current provider or switch to a new one.

My last assumption about senior citizens—that they are overly prepared and organized—apparently is not the case when it comes to making their health insurance decisions around Medicare Open Enrollment. What we saw in our data for one of our Medicare providers was quite interesting:


Without increasing our daily spend caps, which were set the whole open enrollment period to ensure we were capturing demand, overall search volume was at its highest point the week before the enrollment period ended.

We also saw a similar story in terms of clicks:



Obviously, seniors in this particular market took their sweet time making Medicare enrollment decisions.

We also noticed a similar spike in our Facebook campaigns during the same time (post-Black Friday and Thanksgiving). This spike was likely due to both the fact that the seniors targeted were procrastinating as well as our decision to increase bids to stay competitive during the holiday shopping season.



Oh, and I was wrong again. Seniors do use Facebook.

How Does This Affect Medicare Marketers?

As you can see in the above graphs, impressions and clicks nearly doubled week over week after this year’s Thanksgiving. Could there be additional pressure from seniors’ children to get this done over the holiday? What does all of this data mean for healthcare marketers and Medicare marketers? Find my answers below:

  • Do not go through your entire budget in the first couple weeks of Medicare enrollment and consider back loading your budget to the last two weeks.
  • Make sure you are targeting seniors across the web, including social networks like Facebook.
  • Make sure the messaging in your ads stresses deadlines for enrollment to initiate action.
  • Make sure you’re remarketing to users from the point that they visit your site earlier in open enrollment until they convert later on.

Something else to remember; make sure to let data guide your strategy and marketing, not your assumptions.


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Healthcare consumers’ behaviors and expectations from healthcare providers have changed. Get more insights directly from Google with our blog The 4 Key Takeaways from Google Ignite Healthcare 2016.


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