With the onslaught of seniors occupying the online space and increasingly using search engines to research the products and services they seek, online marketers, including reverse mortgage lenders, are taking specific actions to cater directly to that population.
What they’re finding is that while a direct sales approach may work for some age groups, a less aggressive and more relaxed approach is best when working with older online users. The key to this approach is the use of search engines.
“This tactic reaches in-market shoppers who are actively researching reverse mortgages,” says Robert Burch, Digital Media Supervisor for Martino Flynn, an advertising, public relations, and digital media company based in Rochester, New York.
Burch, who has experience with reverse mortgage clients, says those clients are finding search engines to be the most effective method in generating leads online.
The success seen from this method has much to do with seniors’ general buying preferences. They may not be ready to make a decision right away, but through their own search, they can better control the buying process.
“Rather than pick up the phone and speak with a sales rep immediately, they can simply fill out a request form on their own schedule and in order to receive more information, or have their local reverse mortgage consultant contact them,” he says, adding that this also gives marketers the opportunity to better “personalize” the information consumers receive by linking to specific items that may interest them.
The prevalent use of search engines for reverse mortgage marketing is evidenced by the current cost of advertising for those products through keywords.
If a senior types the phrase “reverse mortgage” into Google’s search engine, for example, a list of results will pop up, topped by two to three sponsored reverse mortgage ads. The average cost-per-click for the companies who sponsor these ads, according to Google AdWords, is nearly $12.00. If a consumer searches for information on “reverse mortgage lenders,” the sponsored ads cost just over $16.00 per click.
As more seniors turn to the Internet as a source of information for products such as reverse mortgages, advertising through search engines could be worth looking into.
A recent study from the Pew Research Center shows that about 80% of adults regularly use the Internet. Seniors are represented very strongly in this online demographic, with 87% of people aged 56-64, and 82% of 65-73 year olds utilizing search engines such as Google, Yahoo, or Bing.
Plus, Burch says, the seniors who are using online resources are becoming more savvy.
“While they may be a little behind the general population, we expect to see rapid growth with the use of social networks and mobile devices (smart phones, tablets, etc.) over the next two to three years, which will certainly mean that online campaign strategies will continue to evolve,” he says.
The industry still seems to be catching on, according to a recent poll of Reverse Mortgage Daily readers. The poll of nearly 80 respondents found that 34% of their companies spent less than 10% of their budget on online advertising. However, 32% put 10-50% of their budgets toward marketing online, and 16% said more than half of their budget goes toward developing an online awareness among consumers.
While online marketing may not take up a large chunk of reverse mortgage companies’ budgets just yet, Burch believes that they’re increasing spending and will continue to do so as the older adult online audience continues to grow. But, he says, planning is key, and it’s important to remember that the same regulations apply to online that would other media advertising.
“Do not jump in without doing a full assessment of the competition and developing a detailed plan to launch a campaign. Also, be sure to establish up front what you are willing way to pay for any desired action,” he says, referencing whether seniors will merely click on an ad, fill out a form, or actually end up closing on a loan. “And as with any direct campaign, always test and refine your offers, messaging, creative, and landing pages prior to rolling it out and throughout the campaign.”
Editor’s note: The costs for Google Adwords keyword searches have been updated to show U.S. currency rates.
Written by Alyssa Gerace