Best Tips for Effective Search Engine Marketing

Drive More Leads, Strengthen Your Online Brand with Search Engine Marketing

Search engine marketing is an essential type of Internet marketing that consists of promoting paid search ads by elevating their publicity in search results pages from search engines such as Google, Bing and Yahoo. In the competitive mortgage landscape, search engine marketing is one of the best ways to increase your organization’s online presence. By properly understanding your target markets and the keywords they use when searching the Internet for loan opportunities, you can optimize your search engine marketing, and ensure your content reaches and appeals to the ideal customers as soon as they click ‘Search.’

Effective search engine marketing offers a wide range of benefits for businesses looking to multiply web traffic, generate leads and increase conversion. However, to reap those benefits, mortgage marketing professionals must first possess a strong understanding of search engine marketing basics and functionality.

This article:

  • Defines search engine marketing, and how it helps lenders optimize their mortgage marketing strategy
  • Lists various forms of search engine marketing
  • Covers how best to incorporate search engine marketing into your marketing campaign
  • Describes how effective search engine marketing improves lead generation and conversion

What is Search Engine Marketing?

Search engine marketing (SEM) is a strategic method of paid search advertising that involves deliberately building and editing a web page so that search engines rank it higher than other pages. The primary goal of SEM is for your business to be seen immediately when a potential customer uses a search engine to look up something related to your organization’s products or services.

For those without a deep understanding of digital marketing, SEM may be confused with search engine optimization (SEO). SEO and SEM are often considered two sides of the same coin because they refer to the same form of digital marketing maneuvers. In fact, SEO and SEM involve very different actions and concern different features of marketing.

SEM refers strictly to paid search advertising, and may incorporate SEO, which involves fine-tuning website structure and content to attain a higher position in search engine results pages and enhance pay-per-click listings. The primary difference between the two is that SEO is not specific to paid search advertising. Instead, it’s an umbrella term for the process of identifying, monitoring and analyzing patterns in web traffic. While careful SEO is vital to any successful SEM campaign, its uses are not exclusive to paid search advertising.

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Is SEM a viable lead source for mortgage lenders?

There are a couple of ways that SEM can be incorporated into mortgage lenders’ marketing strategies to help source more leads. Each method can be customized to fit your search engine advertising needs, and has its own particular benefits depending on the intended goal, budget and timeframe of your SEM campaign.

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Under the pay-per-click model of SEM, your organization only pays for an ad when someone clicks on it. This means that if 1,000 people saw your paid search ad, but only 100 people clicked on it, you would only pay for those 100 clicks. This model is excellent for lenders who only want to pay for search ads that result in successful sales or sign-up conversions.

The number-one thing to keep in mind is that pay-per-click advertising requires lenders to consider the cost-per-click when building an SEM budget. Once your organization has determined the budget, timeframe and placement of an ad, you must then submit bids to search engine publishers for a specific search term or phrase you want to target. More popular keywords generally indicate a higher cost-per-click, so marketing teams must carefully select the keywords they want to invest in to get the most out of their budget. When establishing a pay-per-click SEM campaign, you should also choose a maximum cost-per-click, which is the highest price you think a click is worth and the highest you are willing to pay. Specify this before entering an advertising deal with a search engine network.

Alternatively, cost-per-thousand-impressions, also known as cost per mille or CPM, is a digital marketing model through which a business designates the price of 1,000 impressions, or views, on a search engine results page. Similar to traditional print advertisements, this method increases your organization’s visibility by having your ad displayed until it has been seen by 1,000 search engine users. The cost-per-thousand-impressions SEM model is a great choice for startups and newer organizations with a limited budget and a smaller customer base. Since you only pay when you hit a benchmark number of views, businesses can have their ad run and be viewed by consumers for a longer period of time and only pay once they achieve 1,000 views.

While it is often cheaper than paying a cost-per-click, the main downside of the cost-per-thousand-impressions model is that it is not as effective at generating a specific action as a pay-per-click SEM model. Rather, the primary goal of a cost-per-thousand-impressions approach to paid search advertising is to generate as many views as possible. Although it can be helpful in growing your brand’s visibility and awareness over time and delaying payment for advertising, cost-per-thousand impressions is not the most effective method to increase sales conversions.

Ultimately, the best way to determine which method of SEM is right for you is by revisiting your organization’s marketing goals. If your goal is to increase loan inquiries or newsletter sign-ups, pay-per-click is likely the best choice for you. However, if your aim is to boost brand awareness or publicize a sale, a cost-per-thousand-impressions approach is generally less expensive to simply garner views.

How to incorporate SEM into your mortgage marketing strategy

The first step to building an effective SEM campaign is to understand your target market, or the type of customer you want your ad to reach. To make your ad relevant to the intended viewer, you must know as much as possible about who you plan to influence with your advertising content and what words they use to search for the product or service you intend to sell. Specifically, you must garner a deeper understanding of common keywords — the words or phrases your target market is using to search — and incorporate them into your content as much as possible.

Many search engines offer advanced targeting options that allow you to specify your target audience’s demographics, past behavior, interests and more. However, per best practices, it’s best to launch your first SEM campaign with nominal targeting. As you collect and analyze data on who is viewing and interacting with your paid search ads, you can use that information to implement more advanced targeting options to reach the best specific audience for your campaign.

Most importantly, a successful advertisement in any SEM campaign must unambiguously convey your company’s story and value to effectively boost brand awareness. In some cases, your paid search advertising may be a consumer’s first impression of your business, and first impressions are lasting ones. When structuring your paid search ads, keep your intended audience top of mind and how you would like them to be introduced to your business.

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How to improve your conversion rates when using Search Engine Marketing

professional teamworkPaid search advertising is only helpful if it ultimately achieves your SEM campaign’s intended goal. For many mortgage professionals, the process of researching, building, launching and analyzing results from an SEM campaign is too much to handle on top of day-to-day mortgage lending responsibilities.

A comprehensive customer relationship management (CRM) technology can take much of the burden of mortgage marketing off lenders’ shoulders. Surefire CRM offers a number of automated, customizable mortgage marketing tools that, when used in paid search ads, help lenders convert clicks to viable mortgage and refinance leads. Examples include:

1. Mortgage Calculators

Surefire CRM’s mortgage calculators are interactive tools that help lenders provide value to past and prospective borrowers by giving them the opportunity to quickly determine and weigh all of the costs involved in purchasing a mortgage. Whether a customer wants to estimate their monthly payment, perfect their budget or compare refinance scenarios, mortgage calculators by Surefire CRM are an excellent resource for lenders looking to increase the volume of qualified leads in their mortgage pipeline.

2. Videos

Video marketing through Surefire CRM offers mortgage professionals the opportunity to deliver business messages, educate borrowers and showcase their corporate brand identity in video format. The use of videos as marketing content has risen in popularity and effectiveness in recent years following the growth of video-sharing services and social media platforms. For this reason, video marketing is an especially effective tool for conveying your organization’s message and educating the rapidly growing Millennial and Gen Z homebuyer markets.

3. Landing Pages

Landing pages are stand-alone web pages that direct a viewer to complete a specific action as quickly as possible. Surefire CRM generates eye-catching landing pages containing your company’s unique branding and messaging, allowing you to convert leads and automate your responses to create an automated communication channel for loan officers, prospective homebuyers and referral partners.

Generating and optimizing your search engine mortgage marketing campaign takes careful effort, but offers the potential to capture valuable, ready-to-convert leads. Schedule a demo to find out how Surefire CRM can help boost your SEM strategy, broaden your corporate brand visibility and convert more loans with ease.

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