6 Ways to Master Mortgage Leads

Feeding the “top of your funnel” is perhaps one of the most critical roles you play as a loan officer, in addition to managing clients through the loan process itself.

So how do you effectively grow your business in a sustainable and predictable way?

We’ll examine how to drive more mortgage leads beyond just technology. Thinking about what channels to market yourself through can certainly be intimidating, especially online. 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 of driving new customers?

The good news is there are a few simple areas you can focus on to deliver the biggest bang for the buck. Honing in on these high-return investments will put you leagues ahead of other loan officers looking for those same clients. So here are the six areas to focus on to drive incremental lead volume and grow your mortgage business:

To download a Free PDF Version of this blog post with links and resources for growing your top of funnel: Click Here

1) Your Ideal Client

Not all leads are created equal. Your business health depends on picking the right ones to nurture and eventually convert.

It is a common to hear from loan officers today that they spend too much time with paper and not enough time with people. When did you last take time to play a round of golf with a referral partner or have lunch with your business networking group? With limited time, every loan officer needs to maximize what little time they spend with referral partners. That means honing in on the face time that creates deep relationships with partners who can deliver the type of customer you know you resonate well with. You need to ensure that their clients match your ideal borrower to ensure it is a fruitful relationship on both ends.

To start, think about your borrowers that were your happiest and most successful customers. What are their demographics? What type of home did they purchase or refinance? Do they share a similar level of tech savviness as you? What brands do they associate themselves with? What defines success to them? By aligning your ideal borrowers to referral partners that serve that same demographic, you can begin to align with partners that will not only deliver referrals, but ones you can delight.

Get Serious About It

Review your customer list and separate your borrowers between successful and unsuccessful loans. Understand their demographics and behavioral attributes of each segment. Identify similarities and differences to determine what common characteristics your successful borrowers have.

Aggregate these attributes into an ideal customer profile that your team can use and tangibly reference to find better agents and borrowers.

Target the seller’s agent — Agents always look for a relationship that helps them by providing a great borrower experience that is quick and transparent. On your next deal, show the seller’s agent that you make their job easier. That could translate into them sending more buyers your way on their next buy-side deal.

Join professional groups — Professional groups in your area can be a great source of a strong relationships with not only realtors but also other service based professionals likely to have ideal clients to refer to you.

2) 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 a landmark borrower survey in 2015, 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.

Take the time to invest in building a website that represents your brand and appeals to your ideal customer persona.

Get Serious About It

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

3) Run 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 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 CPC — 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-through 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.

Get Serious About It

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 touch-points — A user on Facebook is in a different awareness and buying process 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 you provide since they’ve already encountered you before.

Don’t focus on gathering a full application initially. There are over 300 fields in 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 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.

4) Nurture Leads: Old & New

Even a prospect who isn’t ready or qualified for a home loan today, could be a closed loan tomorrow.

Many prospects who engage with you won’t be ready or qualified for a new home loan yet. Even though they’re not revenue today, don’t waste these contacts! Create email campaigns and regular touch-points to stay in contact with that customer, provide her updates, and be top of mind when she is ready to purchase a home, all for little-to-no cost in email marketing. The same goes for customers you’ve worked with in the past: following up with them, identifying opportunities to refinance, and being there during life changes is critical in providing a solid stream of business.

Get Serious About It

Invite contacts to social events and functions you put together

Create a monthly newsletter giving your subscribers information valuable to them as they prepare to purchase a home.

Periodically check in with these contacts and get a sense of where they are in the purchase process. Categorize your contacts into different lists.

Adjust your message and frequency as your contacts move from long term prospects to hot leads.

5) Create a Viral Experience

Borrowers, especially those of today, care a lot about their experience and they’re not afraid to share it — good or bad

Unlike other consumer industries with multiple interactions and purchases, you likely only have one chance to establish the borrower’s perception of you: when they apply for their first mortgage. In a PwC study, 50% of borrowers would never return to their first lender, and discourage their peers after a negative lending experience. With that in mind, it’s important that you focus on the borrower experience you’re delivering to make sure your clients are delighted, referring friends and colleagues to you.

As you think about your last 10 clients, what would they say about you at work when someone brings up a mortgage? Would they have a memorable story to tell? What aspect of your borrower experience sticks out in their mind that makes them say, “You should talk to my lender!”? Creating a great customer experience guarantees a longer relationship with that customer and a long tail referral network from your customers today.

Get Serious About It

Be easy. Be simple — Let borrowers interact with you through the platforms they prefer, whether that’s online, by instant message or even in-person on occasion.

Use technology to make it go fast! — Automatic document collection, smart task lists, and customizable loan applications in software like Maxwell dramatically decreases your average days to close.

Proactively communicate with your borrowers (and their agents) — Send notifications, reminders, and check ins to let them know how the loan is progressing and what needs to get done

Provide transparency — Borrowers want to know what is happening and what it means to them. Provide the expertise and empathy that they expect from a loan officer.

6) Manage Your Time

What is your most precious resource? Your time. Invest it well and it will return dividends.

Although we have simplified many of the lead generation tactics to consume as little time as possible, to execute fully on each of these will require you to invest more minutes and hours in your week. It’s important then to be mindful of where you spend your time today, especially in your loan process. Loan officers report that they’re spending over 40% of their time shuffling paperwork — that’s time not being spent building a high-performing leads funnel!

A thorough evaluation of your end-to-end mortgage process is critical. Understand where there are minutes and hours each day you can save. Do you spend inordinate amounts of time in Excel sheets? Are you using outdated software that only works on old browsers and wasn’t designed with the user in mind? What portion of your day do you spend emailing your clients? (Usually, that’s a very scary percentage!) So, what can you automate or delegate to save time? Hours invested now will pay off in the long run.

For example, zone in on your loan application. What do you spend the most time on there with your borrower? What is the biggest hold up in moving a loan from application to doc collection? Maxwell is one tool that provides automated notifications, communication, and borrower doc collection that can save over 45% of the time it normally takes to close a loan. With that much time back in your day, what can you accomplish to grow your business?

Get Serious About It

Automatic email folders that sorts inbound emails by customer name or topic, allowing you to focus your time and not get sucked into inbox management.

Change the technology you use in your application and document collection process to save you time to grow your lead volume.

Try new communication techniques with your team such as Slack. Slack enables faster quicker conversations and decisions unlike email.

Wrapping It Up

Millennials are the largest segment of homebuyers — and they have been for three consecutive years. As a generation of over 80M, they are not going away and will be a homebuying force to be reckoned with as they age.

So consumer expectations will continue to shift and competition will continue to be increasingly digital. But did you know that Millennials value human connection? They already use real estate agents more than their Baby Boomer parents. At Maxwell, we believe the future of the mortgage lending business is its people, powered by better technology to serve and build relationships with their clients.

So make people a priority for your business too: Focus on your ideal borrower personas, test new marketing channels and implement new techniques to grow. By evaluating your current process today, you will find efficiencies and more time to invest in the top of your lead funnel.

Stay tuned for our next whitepaper on improving conversions of leads as they move through your funnel. To learn more about how Maxwell provides growing mortgage businesses with exceptional borrower experiences visit himaxwell.com.

To download a Free PDF Version of this blog post with links and resources for growing your top of funnel: Click Here

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