Seven Tips for Mortgage Marketers to Improve Online Marketing Results

Mortgage companies and mortgage brokers can significantly improve the results of their online marketing campaigns. Here are a few tips how mortgage marketers can acquire more customers, while reducing their cost of customer acquisition.

      1.) Understand The Online Marketing Ecosystem      

The online marketing ecosystem is very multi-faceted. A few online tactics and media platforms are widely used, e.g., SEO, Google AdWords and Facebook ads. However, these are just a few components of the entire online marketing ecosystem. In most cases, marketers need to have holistic online marketing plans, including many different strategies and tactics working in synergy.

      2) Don’t Overspend On Search Advertising

It is a very common mistake by online advertisers and media agencies to overspend on search advertising, particularly, Google AdWords. Many mortgage marketers commit this mistake constantly – with grave consequences for their online marketing budget and their marketing ROI.

Industry sources indicate that people spend only 3% – 5% of their total time online using search. Even Google, which has every reason to promote the importance of search, mentions in its own presentations that people spend only 5% of their online time using search, while spending 95% of their time on non-search activities.

It is very important for online marketers to understand that people can be exposed to display ads 95% – 97% of the time they are online, while only being potentially exposed to search ads 3 – 5% of the time they are online. Many online advertisers, including many mortgage marketers, spend a large portion, or even their entire online advertising budget, on search ads, trying to reach consumers during the little time they spend doing search, while failing to show ads to consumers during the 95% – 97% of the time they are engaged in other online activities. This might be a viable strategy for advertisers with very narrowly-targeted products or services, but it is a very wasteful misallocation of online marketing budget for most advertisers, including mortgage marketers, whose services appeal to a very broad market.

There are some 85 million home-owners in the US, as well as millions of potential first-time home-owners. Mortgage marketers can catch the attention of more of these potential customers by reallocating more of their online marketing budget to display banner ads.

      3) Carefully Compare Online Advertising Options And Costs

Just as consumers should be well-informed and carefully shop for a mortgage that best meets their needs, the same holds true for mortgage marketers investing in online advertising.

Search word advertising is very expensive. There are many reasons for this. For one, Google has a 64% share of the US search advertising market, and Google and Microsoft together account for an 85% share of the market. Markets essentially consisting of only 1 – 2 suppliers are rarely favorable for buyers (advertisers). Secondly, the inventory of desirable search words is very limited. For example, in New York City (the nation’s most populous city) there were only 11,720 searches conducted for the top ten mortgage-related search phrases during a recent month. (Please see details in the table below.) Thirdly, competition for many search words, including mortgage-related search words, is very high, often with ten, twenty, or more companies bidding in each city. Fourthly, the technological platforms and business models of search engines are predicated on maximizing the cost per click advertisers pay. Pay per Click search ads are clearly a seller’s market.

Mortgage Recent PPC

In contrast to search ads being a sellers’ market, the market for display advertising is very much a buyers’ market. While recent CPC’s for key mortgage-related search terms are typically $15 – $33, as shown above, mortgage marketers can purchase clicks via display banner ads for $2.00 CPC or less. This is for clicks geo-targeted within specific cities. State-wide, regional, or national campaigns have even lower CPC’s.

Conversion rates tend to be higher on search ads than on display banner ads, so one could argue that a click on a search ad may be worth, for example, double or triple the value of a click on a banner ad. That would justify the cost of clicks on search ads being double or triple the cost of clicks on banner ad. But there is no rational justification for search clicks to cost eight to seventeen times the cost of banner clicks. Search ad CPC’s tend to be grossly over-priced.

      4) Move The Needle On Your Business With Display Ads

In addition to search ads being grossly over-priced compared to display ads, search ads also compare poorly to display ads in terms of the level of web site traffic and the volume of business they can generate for most online advertisers.

Referring to the recent Google data shown in the table above, if a mortgage marketer bid Google’s “suggested bid” per click for all of the top ten mortgage-related search terms in New York, and if the click rate were the industry average of 2% for real estate-related search ads in Google, a mortgage marketer could buy a total of 235 clicks (site visitors) per month. Out of these 235 site visitors, a relative few would evolve into leads, and even fewer would ever go all the way through to originating a mortgage. This would have cost a mortgage marketer about $5,000.

Spending $5,000 on display ads would likely generate 2,500 or more clicks (site visitors). Even if it were assumed that site visitors from search ads are twice as likely as site visitors from display ads to “convert” into a lead, it would mean that $5,000 spent on display ads is likely to generate about five times more leads than the same amount spent on search ads. Based upon our company’s ten years of experience buying online media and managing online marketing campaigns for hundreds of companies, this huge out-performance of display ads vs. search ads is the norm.


     5) Unleash The Power Of Remarketing

You’ve probably heard about the power of remarketing (also known as retargeting). I’ve been involved in online marketing for 17 years, and when I’m asked what’s the one online marketing method I would recommend above all others, my response is always “remarketing”.

Remarketing usually involves placing some programming code on a company’s web site, which enables cookies to be saved in site visitors’ computers or mobile devices. In the days, weeks and months after a user has visited a web site, an ad can be served to the site visitor reminding him of the company whose site he visited, re-introducing their brand, and even offering a special deal, e.g., a reduced fee refinancing, etc.

Businesses, including many banks, mortgage companies, and mortgage brokers, spend much money trying to get consumers to visit their web site. Those businesses that understand online marketing very well use the power of remarketing to get a second, third, fourth, and fifth chance to communicate with their prospects to try to convert them into leads and, ultimately, into a sale. Businesses that don’t use remarketing are wasting opportunities and, in essence, just giving up on prospective customers after only one visit to their web site.


      6) Continuously Test, Analyze, Learn, And Optimize

Online advertising technology has continuously evolved over the past twenty years. This advanced technology makes it easy to test all kinds of variables, and to quickly see analytics and performance results for the variables tested. Different media placements, various kinds of targeting, different types of ads, alternative creative executions, changes in messaging, pricing, landing pages, and many other variables can be tested easily with almost no incremental cost beyond the cost of media used for testing. But, surprisingly, relatively few online advertisers fully leverage the capabilities of online advertising technology for testing.

Based upon our own experience helping online advertisers improve their online marketing performance, we believe that many advertisers can improve their performance and ROI by 50% – 100% within one year – if they continuously test variables, analyze the results, apply test learning, optimize their online marketing efforts, and repeat this process. A typical result we’ve seen many times is that spending a few hundred dollars to make some new banners and to slightly modify a landing page may result in, for example, a 20% improvement in online marketing performance. For an online advertiser spending $10,000 per month, this could result in annual cost savings of $20,000, or tens of thousands of dollars in additional business generated from the same spending level.

      7) Leverage The Capabilities Of A Professional Media Agency

Many marketers try to manage their online advertising campaigns in-house, or through freelance consultants, often marketing themselves as “AdWords experts”. Indeed, AdWords is easy to access for most businesses and individuals. In the case of display media, while there are self-serve platforms available, there are several issues to consider. Firstly, the top media-buying platforms in the world with the best technology and access to the most media options and the highest quality media usually require minimum monthly spends of $25,000 – $100,000 or more. Secondly, expertise in fully leveraging these powerful programmatic media-buying and campaign management technology platforms requires much training. Thirdly, small and mid-sized companies might not want to take on the expense of having a full-time or part-time media expert manage their online media buying. A good online media agency should be able to provide world-class technological capabilities and media-buying and campaign management expertise that saves advertisers much more money than the agency’s fees. In essence, a good online media agency should “pay for itself” through generating many new customers and significantly reducing customer acquisition costs for its clients.


The author, Paul Anders Schwamm, is a well-known marketer, with thirty years of international marketing and advertising technology experience. Paul started Globalis Media Inc. in 2006 as an advertiser-centric media buying agency, with the mission of saving money for online advertisers. Globalis Media consistently out-performs other media agencies and in-house media-buying teams. Globalis Media is a Certified Google Partner agency, using world-class ad technology, including leading programmatic platforms, together with best practices in media buying and campaign management. Please feel free to ask us for a proposal regarding how we can help your business acquire more online customers at significantly lower customer acquisition costs.