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   ARTICLE   |   From Scotsman Guide Residential Edition   |   March 2017

Capitalize on the Web

Landing pages and retargeted ads are powerful business-development tools

Online advertising has evolved from a high-dollar, relatively vague marketing tactic to something almost any small business can do well — although few do, yet.

From real estate agents to insurance professionals, top local businesses nationwide have realized its advantages, launching targeted campaigns to pull in new clients and advertise past successes. Mortgage originators, however, have yet to adopt these new digital tools.

While caution is for the best in the mortgage industry, the time is right for mortgage professionals to think tactically about digital tools for business development. Best practices have taken shape around online advertising to help originators leverage the technology and better measure their investment.

Retargeting

Almost any successful online ad effort involves retargeting — a method that allows an advertiser to serve ads to an audience by tracking visitors across multiple websites. Retargeting involves depositing a pixel (or “cookie”) on a person’s web browser that serves as a beacon for delivering the advertiser’s message across numerous online environments, ranging from local websites to national media platforms.

Also known as behavioral remarketing, this targeted online advertising is aimed at prospective customers based on previous internet actions that didn’t result in a conversion. Considering that up to 98 percent of web visitors leave an online site without converting, retargeting is a powerful way to bring them back.

This serves the mortgage professional on multiple fronts. It offers a broad reach in a hyper-targeted way. It strengthens the originator’s credibility by using repetition to build confidence with those who have expressed interest in your business through their browsing behavior. And it keeps your mortgage services “top of mind” with a valuable audience — potential borrowers.

Retargeted ads are highly personalized and remain well within the bounds of all standard online privacy rules. And the data supports the usage. According to a report from Retargeter.com, retargeted consumers are nearly 70 percent more likely to complete a purchase or fill out a form as compared to consumers who have not been retargeted.

Data also shows retargeting ads can provide a lift to organic web searches. This is when prospective borrowers, who have seen your ads follow them around the internet, decide to research you by name. Retargeting also can help to boost the open rate for your email newsletters. In addition, other display efforts — from billboards to grocery cards — are more effective when combined with retargeting ads because of the multichannel approach. Even your print and on-air ads can benefit from retargeting ads.

Landing Pages

Online ads are effective alone, but are even more powerful when combined with a follow-up strategy. As with traditional print ads or radio campaigns, audiences need this follow-up process to become more deeply invested in your brand.

One of the best parts of this follow-up strategy in the digital-advertising world is the landing page. These web pages are a critical component to getting the most value out of your online marketing for business development.

Landing pages take a more overt approach to capturing prospective borrower information — by simply asking for it. A best practice is to have the landing page continue the conversation started with your digital ad.

Take the promise offered in your digital ad one step further by using a landing page to help potential borrowers better understand how your mortgage services are best matched to their needs. In exchange for their e-mail address and name, you can offer a free download through your landing page of a financial worksheet, a branded list of best restaurants in their zip code, or maybe a summary of recent local deals complete with borrower reviews. The key is to offer something of value in exchange for data.

Mortgage-business landing pages aren’t stand-alone websites. They are, in essence, individual web pages. They can be a page within your company’s website or hosted on a third-party server.

Landing pages should be tightly branded, brief and measurable. You will want to be able to track all activity, from referral sources to the number of downloads. A landing page should also be designed to encourage a deeper dive into your full website.

Design help

A number of companies have emerged to offer tools for building and managing landing pages. Leadpages.net will float to the top of most searches on the topic. They offer hundreds of information-capturing templates that reflect contemporary design trends and user habits. Landing pages can be optimized for browser and mobile environments. Pages are easy to create, edit and launch, and it requires minimal website management savvy to set up.

Like Leadpages, a vendor called Unbounce.com doesn’t demand that you know how to write computer code. Templates can be customized when needed, and the service uses a drag-and-drop interface to arrange page assets.

Dynamic text replacement is a slick component to Unbounce’s landing page tools. This feature automatically adjusts your page’s copy to reflect what the prospect searched for. You don’t have to create an array of different pages for slightly different product offerings or services.

Instapage, like Unbounce, is an easy, smart, and powerful tool for landing pages. This option offers a host of integrations with e-mail marketing and automation tools, media providers and customer-relationship management (CRM) tools. Instapage also helps drive traffic back to social media platforms and can be plugged directly into a Wordpress.com site, a common platform for small businesses.

Like online advertising itself, these landing-page builders have evolved to be much more than creative tools. Each service mentioned offers advanced, team-driven dashboards, deep analytics, and visitor-oversight features. Plus, the costs remain very much within reach for independent mortgage companies. Landing pages have become an increasingly important cog in the larger machine of web marketing, helping businesses of any size in any industry be better at developing new business.

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If you are at all thinking about how online advertising and landing pages can boost your business, this is the year to jump into that world. The technology is growing rapidly, and your competitors might be, too.


 


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