Standing out as a mortgage lender can be difficult. Most lenders look the same to prospective borrowers. To complicate matters, many homebuyers don’t understand exactly what to look for in a lender. They lack knowledge on the lending process. They’re not sure which features and products will benefit their individual situations.
So, what should you do to get their attention and drive them through your sales funnel?
In modern times, digital marketing and technology are vital to targeting new prospects. Let’s talk about the best methods you can use to win market share and achieve long-term success.
Building a mortgage lead funnel
There are many routes you can take to generate leads for your mortgage company. A popular method is to buy lead lists. This is where you purchase a long list of names and phone numbers from a lead generation company and make your rounds cold calling.
Buying leads has drawbacks. For one, you don’t have a pre-established relationship with these prospects. They have no idea who you are and have no reason to trust you. At best, you’ll need to hound leads at high frequency to gain traction. At worst, you risk getting hit with a spam report, potentially resulting in costly penalties.
If you want to effectively reach today’s home buyers, you need to create an online presence through smart digital marketing methods. Today, millennials make up the largest share of home buyers at 38 percent. According to Cultural Outreach’s 2020 NextGen Homebuyer Report, one in five millennials looking to purchase a house doesn’t understand any step of the process. An overwhelming amount of these buyers (97.5%) said they search online for information to guide them through home buying.
That leaves a huge opportunity for you to provide education, form trust, and become this huge home-buying cohort’s lender of choice.
Lead generation method #1: Content marketing
The most popular way to market your services online is by creating valuable, free content that prospects can consume at any time. Content comes in many forms. It can be an article like this one, a video on YouTube, or even a podcast.
The purpose of any piece of content is to educate and engage with an audience. So, for instance, let’s say you write an article about the mortgage underwriting process. Anyone searching Google for information on “mortgage underwriting” could potentially find your article.
The best part? They could be looking for information because they might be getting ready to buy a home and need to secure a mortgage. With content, you place yourself in a fantastic position to be first-in-mind when a prospect is looking to make a move. Plus, you position yourself as a thought leader on the topic and offer value to your audience. Educating prospective customers makes it far more likely they will trust and remember you.
Content, when done right:
—Incorporates search engine optimization (SEO)
—Answers the specific questions your audience has
—Is engaging and actionable
—Lays out information straightforwardly and incorporates your brand’s tone and voice
—Delivers valuable information before it asks anything of your customer
—Ends with a call to action (CTA) prompting leads to learn more, fill out a form with their email address, get in touch, etc.
Remember to publish your content at a regular cadence, even if that means an article just once a month. Producing high-quality content can be time-consuming. Evergreen pieces—meaning pillar articles, videos, etc. that remain relevant over time—can serve you for years with a few updates. Lastly, if the resources for content production are tight, freelancers from Upwork and other contractor sites can help you test out the concept cost-effectively.
Lead generation method #2: Social media marketing
Social media giants like Facebook, Twitter, and others have made it harder for businesses to promote themselves online in recent years. Facebook, namely, has slashed the number of people that can be reached organically through normal, unpaid posts by businesses in an effort to push their advertising platform.
But even with all of the changes, social media is still a fantastic way to connect with your current and past customers, as well as acquire new ones.
Facebook is an easy place to share, create, and promote news, your content, and special offers. It’s fast and straightforward to make a quick post and to share your company’s latest article or video. Facebook is also a great way to display your trustworthiness as a lending institution. Prospective customers will look up as much information as they can about your firm before they ever ask you to help them originate a mortgage. Having a Facebook page with good reviews, followers, and activity will help them legitimize your services, making them more likely to reach out.
Beyond Facebook, an underutilized platform for many businesses is LinkedIn. LinkedIn is the number one social media platform for professionals. Not only does it have some of the best organic (unpaid) post reach out of almost all of the major social media networks, but it also is home to professionals who would make excellent business partners for your business.
Real estate agents, other loan officers, investors, developers, and more all interact with each other on LinkedIn. Building a company page or doing your own cold outreach is a fantastic way to start building a powerful referral network.
Lead generation method #3: A great website
In 2021, a bad website doesn’t cut it.
Research suggests that about 38% of users will stop using a website if it’s poorly designed. Almost half consider your design a reflection of your credibility, and 89% will shop with competitors after having a poor experience on a website.
Your website is your most powerful marketing asset. It’s the key differentiator when a prospect is deciding which mortgage lender they’re going to use. Paired with good content, a beautiful website with purposeful design is one of the most effective ways to generate as many mortgage leads as possible.
However, building a website is a little more difficult compared to other marketing methods. Yes, there are plenty of web builders like Wix and Squarespace that can work for some time. But if you want real growth and a standout website with true impact, consider contacting a designer or developer who uses WordPress or Webflow.
Lead generation method #4: Google My Business
Local SEO is a specific type of SEO that focuses on marketing to people in your area. While content can enhance local SEO (example: an article about your city’s real estate market), the fundamentals differ from content marketing.
Google My Business (GMB) is the best way to get started with local SEO. All you need to do is register your business with Google. When your page is set up, you can input your operating hours, phone number, email, service offerings, images of your business, content, and much more. When you’re done, Google Maps will automatically list your business. Now, whenever someone types in something like “mortgage lenders” in your area, you could show up in their search results.
Strengthen your page by requesting reviews from past clients. Send them a link to your Google My Business page and ask them to share their feedback. The more highly rated reviews your firm has, the more likely Google will recommend your business through its search results. This is a fantastic way to build social proof and acquire new mortgage leads.
Lead generation method #5: Pay-per-click advertising
Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising is extremely effective when done correctly. The problem with PPC ads is that they are more expensive than any other marketing method we’ve talked about so far, not to mention riskier and more complex.
However, executed correctly, PPC ads can turn your business into a booming success with a recurring fountain of leads.
Social media platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter all offer PPC advertising, but the juggernaut of them all is Google Ads.
Google Ads allows you to target any keyword and market you want on Google—for a price. Say, for instance, you wanted to target the key phrase “best mortgage lender.” This means that any time someone types “best mortgage lender” into Google and happens to be in the target market you’ve specified, your ad could show up at the top of the search results. That’s an extremely powerful position to be in.
According to Search Engine Journal, 28.5% of users will click on the first organic (non-ad) option they see in the search results. Just 15.7% will click the second result, and an unexciting 2.5% will click on the last result. However, if ads are featured, then everything changes. Google Ads, which will usually show just two or three ads at a time, will capture about 44% of all search traffic when present.
Find a keyword that has 10,000 or more people searching for it per month, and you could be capturing tons of leads.
But the difficulty is paying for those leads. The more competitive a keyword is, the more expensive it typically becomes. Some keywords can cost $30 per click. That’s a big number when you only have so much to spend on marketing. Still, with a cost that high, you can assume that other firms are vying for position because they know it’s a profitable keyword.
Setting up a Google Ad campaign correctly can create an endless stream of mortgage leads. Setting it up poorly can waste a lot of precious marketing dollars.
Nurturing mortgage leads
Generating leads is one thing. Nurturing them into clients is another.
Nurturing leads is about providing enough value over a period of time until the lead is ready to buy. When they’re ready, because you’ve been in their mind, consistently handing out useful information, it’s a lot easier to win their business.
There are many ways to accomplish this, but we’re going to give you two very important methods you should start using as soon as possible.
Lead nurture method #1: An email list
Email lists are amazing for three reasons:
—You’re marketing to people who have agreed to hear from you.
—You’re marketing to people in a personal way.
—You’re marketing to people on demand.
Because of spam laws and regulations, anyone you add to an email list must give express permission for you to do so. Otherwise, they may report you for spam, and you could face heavy penalties. But as long as you have permission, sending emails to an expanding list of subscribers can be one of the most powerful ways to create new business.
You can send many different types of emails. Some of the more common ones are:
—Special deals and discounts
Be sure that whatever you’re sending to your email list provides value. Also be sure to come from a place of helpfulness, not sales. Overselling in your emails will lead to a higher unsubscribe rate. Only trickle in special offers every so often.
To get started, simply use one of the many email systems on the market, build a list, and watch the leads flow seamlessly.
Lead nurture method #2: Customer relationship management
You probably have a customer relationship management (CRM) system. Don’t use it for entering customer details and let it sit until it becomes necessary to pull up the customer’s file again.
Instead, be proactive with your CRM. Over time, as you build a list of clients and a stronger database, you’ll have a bunch of previous clients that may be ripe for another transaction.
Perhaps it’s been five years since they got their mortgage and their terms aren’t so favorable. Given the current market conditions, you know that they can get a better deal with a refinance. So, you decide to touch base, let them know what’s going on in the market, and offer to help them refinance when they’re ready.
Not only have you provided tremendous value, building more trust, but you’ve also utilized a free way to create more business for your company. This is the benefit of using a CRM to its fullest capacity. Plus, CRMs have tons of other features like automated marketing, emails, social media scheduling, reminders, pipelines, and more, all of which can be helpful.
Measuring your lead generation efforts
The great thing about digital marketing is how easy and accessible it is to know if what you’re doing is working or not. With a few clicks, you can visualize data that directly affects your bottom line, for free.
The holy grail of online marketing data and visualization is Google Analytics. This software is 100% free and links to your website through a short line of code that is very easy to implement.
When linked, Google Analytics will track how many users browse through your website, how long they stayed there, what they clicked on, the pages they navigated through, where they’re from, what language they speak, what platform they were using, the medium through which they arrived at your website, your conversion rates, and so on.
Over time, as you collect more data and your marketing systems grow, you’ll begin to see patterns and understand your customers much more. This will allow you to make adjustments to your marketing plans, produce better content, target consumers more precisely, and set up campaigns with a better understanding of what works.
Google Search Console
Google Search Console is another software that is 100% free. This platform monitors your website’s activity in Google’s search results.
For instance, you can see the number of times your website was shown to users through search over a period of time. These are called “impressions.” It will also show you how many times users clicked on your website’s links, your average click-through-rate (CTR)—meaning the total clicks divided by total impressions—and your average ranking in the search results.
Even better, you can see what keywords users are finding your site through, all the way down to specific pages. These insights are incredibly valuable, as you can get a bird’s eye view of your website’s performance, allowing you to make strategic adjustments.
Social Media Analytics
Just about every social media channel provides businesses with some sort of analytical platform to evaluate the performance of their marketing. Facebook, namely, provides a robust analytics platform that shows data on user engagement, reach, click rates, follower trends, and more.
If you’re investing in social media marketing, be sure to check these statistics to make sure your campaigns are running smoothly. Social media is all about testing, making adjustments, and finding which posts resonate and which don’t.
Find what works and double down
Lead generation and marketing can be complicated. There are so many possible roads to take that choosing one and sticking to it becomes extremely difficult.
Our best advice is to choose one or two of the lead generation methods we’ve discussed, stick with that strategy for a while, and try to maximize its potential. If it doesn’t work, try to figure out why, and move on.
But if you find a strategy that works well for your business, double down. A formula that works well online is likely to continue working for a while. Whether that’s content creation, ad campaigns, or social media, increase the dial and collect more data.
The possibility of generating an endless stream of mortgage leads 24/7 is not that far out of reach.