Does it Pay to Go Mobile with Reverse Mortgage Marketing?

While new tech innovations have led to an increase in computer-savvy seniors surfing the Web, it may still be some time before mobile marketing catches wind in the reverse mortgage industry.

Yet some are starting to experiment with mobile, and with some success.

All Reverse Mortgage Company (RMC) has seen significant results in the performance of its website, including search coming from mobile devices.

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In January-February 2012, 82% of All RMC’s web traffic came from computer visitors, while 16% came from mobile and tablet devices.

For the same months during this year, mobile devices (26%) showed a 62.5% increase in usage when compared to computer users (74%).

“Mobile visitors spend less time on your site looking for quick answers or contact information,” says All RMC President Cliff Auerswald, who urges marketers to keep the most important pages above the fold and easily accessible within the website’s header.

The demographics support a move toward mobile with more than 30% of Americans 55 years and older using mobile devices to search the web, according to research based on a 2012 Digital Marketer Study by Experian, a global information services group, says Liberty Home Equity Access.

But the company is still “testing the waters” when it comes to spending on mobile advertising.

“We currently allocate a small portion of our online budget to mobile marketing campaigns,” says Liberty’s On-Line Marketing Manager Michael Seals.

Since Liberty is still learning and optimizing campaigns in the mobile channel, Seals says, the company has maintained a relatively steady pace on spending for mobile advertising over the last six months, which may increase depending on market trends. But going mobile can’t be done halfway, he says.

“Regardless of how you reach your customer, it is important for the user experience to be a positive one,” Seals says. “If you plan to invest in mobile advertising campaigns, then you need a website that is optimized and works well on mobile devices. Otherwise, your campaign performance and conversion rates may suffer.”

Some say the demographics are not yet strong enough for mobile to make a major impact, but that it will be the next major trend in marketing to baby boomers.

A large driver of such trends stands to be an 78-million-strong population of aging baby boomers, says to Kim Schachinger, vice president of marketing at One Reverse Mortgage.

Even though One Reverse saw more than 40,000 visitors to its site since it launched at the beginning of February, the company does not feel as though mobile marketing is an urgent priority. At least not right now.

Schachinger observes One Reverse’s target audience broken down into two groups.

The first is the lower-end age group of seniors 62-70-years old, who Schachinger suggests might be the most computer savvy, but cannot necessarily afford smartphones or data packages on a fixed income.

One Reverse’s other target customer belongs to the over 70 age group.

“These are your kind of traditional old-school seniors,” she says. “These are the people who read newspapers, don’t own computers, and want to still have that voice conversation.”

Prospecting that site views are somewhere near 60,000 by now, One Reverse has found that only about 5% of those visitors are using mobile devices such as smartphones or tablets.

Also admitting that these mobile-device driven visitors have been brought to the company’s website via paid search, most of which are not age appropriate to receive a reverse mortgage, but rather children of reverse borrowers calling on behalf of their parents.

“You can’t just get the word out to seniors and expect them to jump on the bandwagon and buy a smartphone and data package,” Schachinger says. “It has to come with time, with younger seniors moving into our target demographic.

That time may be short, however, with the numbers of boomers who are using handheld web-enabled devices only with room to grow.

“Reverse mortgage lenders are definitely testing the waters when it comes to mobile advertising,” Seals says. “In fact, if you perform a query from your tablet or handheld device, you will find a strong showing among many top 10 HECM lenders. As the industry evolves and the segment shifts from standard desktop usage to mobile those who are not currently marketing on a mobile device will be by year’s end.”

Written by Jason Oliva

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  • The age issue is interesting. With the average age of the youngest borrower at 71.9 years old as of September, that suggests that most of the younger borrowers are still over 70 years old.

    As more and more people within the industry are describing the age of their average prospect as in their sixties, anecdotally this means that most in that age bracket are currently less likely to complete the process than someone who is older. What does that say about where marketing dollars will be most effective?

    One of the most basic issues in advertising on any medium is how difficult is it to meet compliance requirements based on limited available space. While it may takes years for regulators to catch up, items posted in electronic sourced media have a way of just staying in place despite the well intended commitment of users to update and remove on a regular basis.

    • This is a place where averages can be misleading. To be simplistic, a mean age of 72 years old is possible if there are 1/3 seniors at 92 and 2/3 at 62. The reality is of course more balanced, but just pointing out that an average in this case is less useful than it might appear.

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