Feeding the ‘top of the funnel’ is perhaps one of the most critical roles you play as a loan officer, in addition to managing clients already going through the loan process. So how do you effectively grow your business in a sustainable and predictable way?
Driving mortgage leads goes beyond just being smart with how you use technology. Thinking about what channels to market yourself through can certainly be intimidating, especially online. How will you have enough time to manage those campaigns? How much should you spend? And how will those leads perform compared to your current approaches to drive new customers?
Luckily, there are a few simply areas you can focus on to get the most bang for your buck. Honing in on these high-return investments will put you leagues ahead of other loan officers looking for the same clients. Here are a few focus areas to drive incremental lead volume and grow your mortgage business:
Optimize Your Website
If you’re like most loan officers, you haven’t invested much in a modern online presence. You’ll be surprised how much this matters. It’s not news to anyone that consumers have evolved in how they research, shop, and purchase. The mortgage process is no different. More borrowers than ever are now researching and applying for mortgages online.
In one landmark borrower survey, the CFPB found that borrowers wanted a lender who operated online more than anything else; in fact, borrowers rated an online operation as more important than getting a referral from a friend or relative, or even a lender’s reputation as a mortgage company.
And with the proliferation of direct-to-consumer models like Rocket Mortgage, which pour millions of dollars into ad campaigns, it’s important you have a website that is both accessible and navigable for prospects. Unfortunately, mortgage websites often receive the least amount of attention. Going months or years without making improvements risks potential customers choosing the competition instead of you.
“Never let ads write checks your website can’t cash.” – Avinash Kaushik
Take the time to invest in building a website that represents your brand and appeals to your ideal customer persona.
Here are a few quick ideas to optimize your website:
- Simplify your home page with a clear call-to-action
- Make sure your site and loan application is ‘mobile responsive’ allowing for navigation and action on devices like smartphones and tablets
- Communicate your value by providing simple and concise value-building points about what makes you and your service different
- Deploy an online application or pre-qualification form to capture borrower information
- Integrate Google Analytics to understand web performance and user behavior when they’re browsing
Tools to help:
- Squarespace, Wix, or Weebly: website development templates and management tools
- Maxwell: software to improve the borrower experience with an online application
- Google Analytics: website performance and analytics
- Moz or SEMRush: search-engine optimization help
Master Your Digital Campaigns
Get ahead of the competition by building your brand where your prospects spend most of their day: online.
Once your website is optimized for digital engagement, it must now become a focus to gain more visitors to your site — and to do so in a profitable manner. Before spending on digital media such as Facebook Ads or Google Adwords, it is critical that you understand a few key metrics of your business.
With most of these channels, you will be paying for your ad on a ‘per click’ basis, or pay-per-click (PPC) — every time someone clicks on your ad, you get charged. Clearly, it’s important for you to assess and determine how much a customer is worth to you and how much you are willing to spend to acquire that customer.
A simple example:
If you average a pull-though of just 25% of your applications into closed loans, and you are willing to spend $400 to acquire a new, incremental closed loan, then your target cost-per-application should be $100. Therefore, if you see that 10% of your website visits become applications, then you can be comfortable spending $10 per click from that paid media channel.
By figuring out your normal ‘lead’ or ‘application’ to closed loan rate, you can start to piece together your targets for digital media campaigns. Although critical to understand these economics in digital media, this approach can be applied to all marketing channels and help you understand what channels drive profitable business and where to shift marketing dollars and budgets.
Here are a few quick tips to get started with digital ad campaigns:
- Use targeting options to be specific (but not too specific) — use targeting options such as location, life events, and age to help target your ideal customers, but make sure you allow enough volume to learn how this channel performs from an engagement and purchase-yield standpoint.
- Make multiple touchpoints — A user on Facebook is in a different awareness and buying stage than a referral from a real estate agent. Although possible, it will be hard to convince them to apply for a mortgage on the spot. Instead, consumers who click through from non-transactional channels, like Facebook, need to be engaged differently. Try providing free, value-building content to prospects who click through from Facebook. You can then target those that engaged with your content using Facebook Audiences to send them more transactional messages. They will be more aware of your brand and services that you provide since they’ve already encountered you before.
- Don’t focus on gathering a full application initially — There are over 300 fields on the 1003 form, and expecting a website visitor to even engage in that is unrealistic. Simple submissions such as an email address, allow you to stay in touch with that prospect, provide them updates, and be top-of-mind when they are ready to purchase or refinance a home.
- Use Facebook’s ‘pixel’ — By placing a simple line of code onto an application page or sign-up form, you can send Facebook information about what ad drove that ‘success’. This lets Facebook and other ad platforms get smarter on who they show your ad to and ultimately improve your efficiency.
Tools to help:
Millennials are now the largest segment of homebuyers on the market and are rapidly becoming a homebuying force to be reckoned with.
As millennials gain a stronger foothold in the market, consumer expectations will continue to shift and competition will become increasingly digitals. Investing your time into improving your digital marketing acumen will ensure you have an edge on the competition and can keep your pipeline full of promising leads as market demographics shift.
For more mortgage marketing tips, check out our eBook “Six Ways to Master Mortgage Leads.”