Residential Magazine

Reverse the Spigot on Lead Generation

Find and deliver prospects to your referral partners to build stronger business relationships

By Luke Shankula

Traditionally, real estate agents have unearthed homebuyer leads and brought them to mortgage originators. This has been a comfortable relationship for many. But it also can mean that originators spend a lot of time wringing their hands and trying to find new ways to network with real estate agents to obtain high-quality leads.

The digital revolution is turning this process on its head. In an increasingly digital world, loan officers and brokers can reach out to consumers first and then refer preapproved buyers to an existing referral partner. This opens up all sorts of possibilities. 

Mortgage originators don’t have to sit at a desk and cold call dozens of real estate agents each day. Instead, originators who are properly equipped can go straight to the source — the prospective borrower. Here are some strategies and tools to make this happen. 

Targeted ads

A well-equipped mortgage broker or loan officer can go straight to their leads because the digital revolution has made targeting more precise. One area where this is most obvious is on Facebook’s advertising platform (or your social media of choice), which is great for originators who use broad targeting efforts. 

By creating ad copy that calls out to certain types of clients — for example, teachers, health care professionals or first responders — there is greater potential for giving them an incentive to work with the originator. Gone are the days of sending out direct mailers en masse to people who wouldn’t even use these marketing materials for a coaster.

Once an originator builds up familiarity with a platform, they can create targeted ads. These ads can then lead to “get prequalified” landing pages that the originator already uses. This results in loan officers and brokers who are able to work directly with prospective homebuyers. 

Doing this immediately flips the script. Mortgage originators can then reach out to real estate agents, turning the traditional process on its head. Originators can send their deals to the agents, deepening their connections and relationships without the need to attend conferences or other events.

Engaging emails

Prospective homebuyers have full inboxes. This means that email marketing might work for you, the originator, from an automation perspective by saving you time. But if you don’t differentiate yourself from your competitors, you won’t be able to leverage email into the forging of genuine relationships with real estate agents.

Think about this: There were more than 300 billion emails sent out every day last year. As a general rule, email marketing generates solid returns on investment — as much as $44 for every dollar spent, according to software company Campaign Monitor — but without differentiation, it might not accomplish much for you.

The key is to use email marketing as a way to cultivate and develop leads. You’re not going to generate a great relationship with a potential homebuyer with one sales letter. That’s not how it works. But you can attract attention by writing engaging subject lines that speak to the consumer’s exact needs.

First things first: How can originators build a list? You can create a high-powered email marketing list by investing in genuinely interesting lead magnets, such as a customizable mortgage calculator. When someone uses it, they’re prompted to enter their email address, which signs them up for your newsletter.

From there, it’s up to your newsletter to deliver the goods. You should look to create genuine value for your newsletter audience by providing important information or relevant advice. Don’t simply use newsletters to ask for a new sale.

Controlled testing

Mortgage originators are used to numbers. When it comes to marketing, however, they often feel overwhelmed. The key is to get your marketing efforts back to the numbers. You can do this through the process of A/B testing.

A/B testing simply refers to creating similar but slightly different campaigns so you can test out which variables perform the best with your audience. For example, let’s say you’re marketing to first-time homebuyers and you want to create a Facebook ad. Your first A/B test might be to try out two different headlines. By letting the campaign run long enough to get a sample size, you may notice that one headline outperforms the other. You’ve now acquired access to unique advertising data that only you know about.

Using this same process for all sorts of other variables, you can test advertising on a rolling basis and constantly optimize for future campaigns. Once you know what resonates with your specific audience, you can automate advertising so that you’re bringing in leads before your real estate agent partners — all without cold calling.

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The digital revolution has put power back in the hands of the mortgage originator, who can turn around and refer prospects to real estate agents. This creates long-lasting business relationships. None of it starts, however, until you have the systems in place to reach your audience directly. These are three tools and strategies to find more engagement with homebuyers, but they’re only the tip of the iceberg. ●


  • Luke Shankula

    Luke Shankula is a leading mortgage marketing expert and is CEO of Paragon Digital Marketing Group. He has spoken at several Legion of Loan Officers events and runs a successful seven-figure mortgage marketing agency. He has been featured in multiple mortgage industry publications and contributes content for the industry as well.

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