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   ARTICLE   |   From Scotsman Guide Residential Edition   |   September 2018

This Road Map Generates Leads

There are advantages and disadvantages to paid and unpaid marketing campaigns

There are an endless number of marketing avenues mortgage originators can explore to generate leads. Some are like highways filled with traffic and others potentially lead to dead ends. Do you pay a toll to arrive at your destination faster or jump on a congested freeway with everyone else and fight for position?

There are two kinds of marketing — paid and unpaid — and it’s worth exploring the advantages and disadvantages of each.

Paying for marketing will drive traffic faster, but the quantity will outpace the quality and originators should strive for quality. Quantity surely will burn through your marketing budget (budgets are necessary to keep track of results) faster than you think. Unpaid marketing campaigns take effort, know-how and time. But these campaigns often can generate better quality leads.

Paid marketing

When you pay for marketing, it generates a large number of leads and brands for your company on various outlets such as social media sites, direct mail, print media and real estate sites. Consider this a super-highway that has a toll.

Mortgage originators can spend money on any number of online sites, such as YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Google AdWords, Twitter, Pinterest, Bing Ads, LinkedIn, Yelp, etc. Marketing on different soc r_2018-09_Rufty_spotial media platforms will return different results; some will work better than others. Two great places to start and test your results are Facebook and Instagram. Another one, Bing Ads, generally offers a lower cost per click than Google AdWords.

If you have a small budget, you can reach more borrowers on social media than with print media. You can narrow the filters to a targeted audience and have those people request additional information. Social media does not have a set contract — it’s cancel anytime and pay as you go.

The disadvantage is that without a big budget, you are going to be lost in the crowd. You will need to spend more money to rise above all the noise. Often, you will see the quality of the lead is not what you may expect. This will truly be a numbers game, weeding through the quantity of leads.

Direct mail may have a higher return on investment than you think, even if the obituary for direct mail has already been written. Have you ever gone to your mailbox (which may be a once-a-week visit now) and not had any solicitation mail? It is still a relatively simple way to market to renters and homeowners.

There is no such thing as a master marketer. Instead, there are only great testers. Marketing involves a lot of trial and error to see what works and what does not.

There are advantages of direct mail, especially if you have preselected data that helps you know who your target market is and can tailor your message to them. In a less crowded space, you can rise above the other clutter in the mailbox if you have the right message. Once you do receive calls, the lead will be of better quality than a social media lead.

Still, direct mail can be costly and it’s a long-term commitment. The one-and-done method will not work here. You will need to commit to at least a year with this avenue to see some good returns and you will need to mail out a lot of pieces each month.

Print media is another avenue that advertisers claim is dead. It can be a costly road to travel. Before you explore this avenue, make sure the publisher has a good marketing plan that spreads a wide net to capture the audience with the printed material. This will be more of a branding tactic than lead sourcing.

This will brand you over time as the local expert. And one option is you can co-brand with an affiliate to bring the cost down. Newspapers aren’t the only route either. Other types of print publications — such as magazines and trade journals — may have big distribution in your area.

And, like direct mail, print-media campaigns can be very expensive. Your short-term return on investment will likely be very low, so this is a long-term commitment for your marketing budget. Many print-media outlets want you to sign a contract anywhere from 90 days to a year.

There are real estate websites you can market on such as Zillow, Homes.com, Realtor.com and Trulia. People on these sites are looking for one thing only — to buy a house. So, you can co-brand with a real estate agent. These sites offer a focused and targeted audience of potential buyers who need the assistance of a real estate agent and mortgage professional.

The advantage of these sites is that once you have a lead, that person is more likely to engage with you than a Facebook name and number. It’s also less competitive because it’s a cost and commitment that exceeds most mortgage originators’ budgets.

Expense is probably the biggest disadvantage, however, of using real estate websites. You will need to allot a significant chunk of your marketing budget to these sites to have a real impact on your lead count. These sites also require a long-term contract from six to 12 months, with a set fee over that time.

These pay-for-lead efforts can load up your customer relationship management system with names, numbers and email addresses. You will need to work these leads. Remember, this is about quantity and many leads won’t work out.

Unpaid marketing

Let’s explore some marketing avenues that will take some time but have minimal, if any, monetary costs. These types of free marketing will be slow to ramp up, but once established, can take on a life of their own.

 Key Points

Become an expert and increase referrals:

■ Online ads

■ Direct mail

■ Ads in newspapers and magazines

■ Ads on real estate websites such as Zillow

■ Posts on social media sites

The internet can benefit mortgage originators with a free way to market their product, services and knowledge, but not many originators are in this space. Why? Maybe because it’s something new they haven’t learned, they’re unsure where to begin or they’re looking for more immediate results. Or they are unaware of how powerful it can be.

Without spending a dime, any originator can post videos to YouTube or Vimeo, or write informative blogs and post relevant and informative content on social media business pages through Facebook, LinkedIn, Google My Business, Yelp and Twitter.

When you produce this content, one of the advantages is it tends to land high on rankings of search-engine sites. The same is true with reviews on sites such as Yelp, Google My Business and Zillow. Leads generated this way will have more quality than quantity. But this takes time to grow and it’s a long-term commitment. Over time, you will see your efforts pay off.

Posting relevant and informative content on social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram also will draw followers to your sites. And that’s a ready-made audience of homebuyers, renters, real estate agents, certified public accountants, divorce attorneys, etc. Again, there is no money being spent to create this content — only your time.

This strategy also has the advantage of seeing how many of your potential likes are seeking to learn about such things as the mortgage industry.

More business-oriented sites such as LinkedIn or Google My Business will get your name and company’s name online. If you generate informative mortgage-related content, it also will tend to rise in search-engine rankings.

Again, this growth can be slow. You need to attract followers who want to be informed by your content and this isn’t easy. This can be a waste of time unless you know how to work and develop these sites.

There is no such thing as a master marketer. Instead, there are only great testers. Marketing involves a lot of trial and error to see what works and what does not. Some types of mortgage marketing work well in some areas of the country but fail to do well in other areas.

This is why you need to test your marketing. Testing will determine if you need to pay to push your content in front of the audience or attract leads through more organic means. Test these two avenues to see which one will pay off in the long run. 

•  •  •

One road that you don’t want to go down is to pass on marketing altogether. During slow times, mortgage companies or individual originators will cut or reduce their marketing budgets. This is a bad idea. You can spend very little money — or nothing at all — while pushing out your message and getting people to raise their hands. 


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