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   ARTICLE   |   From Scotsman Guide Residential Edition   |   September 2012

Leading the Way

Do your own due diligence when using an outside lead-generation company

Leading the Way

Almost all mortgage banks and brokerages have one goal in common: To improve the overall profitability of their organizations. At times, however, that goal can be difficult to achieve, which is why many mortgage brokers and originators turn to outside lead-generation sources to buffer existing volumes and set their companies on the road to increased overall growth.

When considering using outside leads, it’s important to dedicate time and effort to researching potential origination channels. Because you’re not directly controlling the origination funnel, this can be a difficult process that must be done delicately and effectively in order to pave the way to quality results. Keep the following points in mind to ensure that your outside leads aren’t running you in circles.

Verify lead channels

When using an outside lead-generation company, it’s crucial to make sure that you understand exactly where your leads are coming from. For instance, if a company’s leads are derived from online search results, how highly ranked are the search results they’re using? Most online traffic from keywords comes from the top three positions of a search result, so if the lead-generation company can’t verify its results for several keywords, it may be the case that they don’t have as significant a volume channel for their leads as they’re claiming.

Similarly, when dealing with online searches, it’s possible that many outside lead-generation companies may point you toward keywords that don’t yield significant volume. By using Google AdWords (adwords.google.com), you can see how many people are searching for a certain keyword in a given month — and you also can learn other keywords that may generate better results. When using this tool, make sure that your results include only exact matches, as this shows the number of searches for your specific term. This is a crucial distinction to make; after all, you may want leads derived from consumers searching “Texas mortgage refinancing,” so you’re going to be disappointed if your outside lead-generation company only gets traffic from consumers searching the phrase “mortgage refinancing."

Other common lead channels are derived from blogging or social media. With regards to these sources, lead-generation companies can prove the quality and volume of these channels by referencing their engagement. In other words, how many comments are they receiving on their blog or Facebook page? Are consumers sharing their content? It’s possible for an organization to fake its number of Twitter followers or Facebook “likes,” but it’s much more difficult to fake actual consumer engagement on these profiles. See if potential clients already are interacting with their content; if they are, that’s good validation that a company’s lead quality will be of a higher standard.

Know where to look

It can be difficult to find the best leads when you don’t have an idea of where to start. In addition to utilizing outside companies, try to find leads via networking or word of mouth. Referrals can be excellent lead channels, but for some, they also can be somewhat limiting if your network consists mostly of other mortgage brokers and originators, especially considering that it’s often in these originators’ best interests to keep their lead sources to themselves.

When looking for additional lead-generation opportunities, lead software companies often are a good place to start. They generally are willing to share information about the largest lead providers in their networks, as it helps their overall business goals to also help build your business. Similarly, you can simply use online searches to find businesses that are adept at producing leads for your target loan type.

Not everyone you contact may be able to service you — some may not be lead-generation companies at all — but it’s worth the effort to see if there may be a mutual fit there. On a similar note, businesses that rank highly in search engines for a derivative of your targeted loan type — e.g., “FHA leads” — show that they know how to drive traffic at least to some extent, which in turn is a good sign for the overall quality of their leads.

Finally, attending relevant conferences such as LeadsCon (LeadsCon.com) or ad:tech (ad-tech.com) is a great way to find quality lead channels and to network with professionals in the marketing industry. Even if you don’t necessarily find lead-generation companies, there likely will be other value in attending such conferences, as these shows can teach you more about lead generation in and of itself.

•  •  •

Locating quality lead sources is an ongoing process. Naturally, the best sources are going to be in high demand, and it may be difficult to even learn of them because of the money tree they create for some originators.

Nonetheless, high-quality sources of leads — and high-quality lead- generation companies — can be found with hard work, due diligence and persistent effort. Brokers and originators who can find and capitalize on the best-quality leads likely will be the ones who ignite their businesses’ growth in 2012 and beyond.


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