With more and more customers conducting their mortgage research online, many mortgage companies are realizing that they need to be part of the conversation during this crucial stage of the buyer’s journey.
I work with many companies across multiple industries and, regardless of whether you’re selling mortgages or smartphone apps, two things are certain: In order to make meaningful connections with leads online, you need to (1) produce relevant content for those leads (blog posts, social media posts, educational videos, webinars, etc.) and (2) distribute that content through the right channels to reach those leads.
Moving forward, I’m going to provide regular analysis on mortgage companies that are “doing it right” when it comes to digital and content marketing. There’s so much content out there that tells people what they should be doing. But rarely does this content provide real-life examples of companies actually executing these strategies. I’m hoping that these case studies will help mortgage company owners understand how to market and generate leads online.
This week we’ll start with Better Mortgage--a direct lender based in New York and San Francisco.
The mortgage industry operates as if the Internet does not exist.” - Vishal Garg, CEO of Better Mortgage.
I couldn’t agree more with this statement and, seeing how Mr. Garg has built out Better Mortgage from a marketing standpoint, it's clear that his big goal is to capture a significant portion of the company's business by generating online leads. Let’s take a look at a few ways Better Mortgage achieves this objective. (In the interest of full disclosure, I do not work with Better Mortgage, nor am I affiliated with the company in any way.)
Conversion Optimized Website
When you go to Better.com you’ll notice that the website has a clear Unique Selling Proposition (USP): “Get a Better Mortgage. One that respects, your time, your circumstances and your wallet.” This USP directly communicates how Better Mortgage sets itself apart from other lenders. In addition to a clear USP, you’ll also find two calls to action: “Get Started” and “View Rates.”
Having a clear call to action on your website motivates visitors to take some sort of action. When you click the call-to-action button, you’re directed through a series of questions and prompted to provide your contact information. This is crucial because acquiring contact information via your website is how you start generating online leads for your business. It’s also worth noting that the Better Mortgage user interface and user experience is top notch. The graphics, colors, and overall branding really engage and pull the user through the funnel.
Better Mortgage clearly understands the value of content marketing. When potential homebuyers click on the “Resources” page, they receive tons of useful and relevant information. Their blog touches on really practical topics like “How Your Credit Score Affects Your Mortgage,” as well as technical topics, such as “Improving Your Debt to Income Ratio (DTI) When Applying for a Mortgage.”
Better Mortgage also puts together some great evergreen content (content that can be reused over and over again regardless of the date). You can find this content on the Tools, Loan Process, and Cost and Fees sections of their site.
Having this great content on the site acts as a natural magnet, attracting buyers who find that information useful. The idea is to provide practical branded content (for example: learn about your credit score and its relation to your mortgage) to start a “soft-sell” conversation with an online lead.
This content also helps with search engine optimization (SEO), as search engines like Google will start to see Better Mortgage as an authority on mortgages. This means that as more people access Better Mortgage’s blog post on “How Your Credit Score Affects Your Mortgage,” Google will start to rank that blog post higher for people researching this type of information.
As you can see, Better Mortgage is getting about $7,000 - $8,000 of “free” organic search traffic every month because they’ve put out great SEO content that is relevant to someone looking for a mortgage. Getting a piece of content to index higher on search engines is the best way to drive organic traffic growth through online marketing. Admittedly, this takes time and it doesn’t work for every single piece of content. However, by creating consistent and useful blog content, your company can excel at online marketing.
Paid Digital Media: Social Media Advertising
Better Mortgage doesn’t just rely on organic traffic; they also implement targeted social media advertising to drive more traffic through their sales funnel. This means that they advertise on social platforms like Facebook.
Once you click on the “Get a Quote” call to action, you’re directed to one of their conversion optimized landing pages, where you can input your loan and contact information. A lead is captured once the person who clicked on the Facebook ad, fills out ALL of the requested information.
The funnel that Better Mortgage has built, from Facebook ad all the way down to the lead capture, is a best marketing practice. In fact, it’s one you should follow if you’re looking to drive more online conversions from paid digital media.
I also noticed that Better Mortgage has a Facebook Pixel installed on their webpage. This probably means that they are re-targeting people who visit www.better.com with ads on Facebook. If you’re driving a lot of traffic to your website and you’re running social media advertising campaigns, I highly recommend that you build a similar system. This allows you to re-target and re-capture the people who bounce from your website without taking any sort of action.
So Better Mortgage doesn’t just rely on getting organic traffic from their social profiles, they augment their social marketing strategy with paid advertisements on platforms like Facebook. This is a surefire way to get reliable and cost-effective traffic to your site.
Paid Digital Media: Search Advertising
Paid search advertising within the mortgage industry is usually a tricky and expensive marketing strategy. To implement search advertising, your company bids on specific search terms on Google, such as“first time homebuyer” or “how to qualify for a mortgage”, and Google assigns a price for “buying” that search term based on supply/demand.
I’ve been doing a lot of keyword research in the mortgage industry and it’s clear that prices have been driven up by the bigger players (i.e. Quicken Loans, Loan Depot, etc). On the other hand, if you’re really good at buying search advertising, and if you set up an optimized funnel, you could potentially generate cost-effective leads from Google Search.
Better Mortgage seems to have this figured out. When I plugged in the search terms “getting a mortgage” and “apply for a mortgage”, Better Mortgage pops up as the first or second ad in Google Search. This tells me that Better Mortgage is actively investing in relevant mortgage-related keywords. While the cost to advertise might be pretty high for such a generic mortgage keyword search (i.e. “getting a mortgage”), I’m sure Better Mortgage has internal metrics on what the maximum Cost Per Lead (CPL) should be to yield a profitable return on investment. Paid search advertising is scientific, so it's important to note that the marketing team at Better Mortgage probably adjusts and optimizes their search advertising campaigns on a consistent basis.
If you’re interested in driving more traffic to your site through paid search advertising, it can be highly effective. However, you must have the right processes and metrics in place to make sure that you’re capturing cost-effective leads.
Email Marketing & Realtor Partnerships
A few weeks ago, I got an email from Better Mortgage about my interest in purchasing a home. How did they get this information? Because I signed up for an account on Open Listings (an online real estate listing site that’s similar to Zillow). It appears that Better Mortgage and Open Listings have a partnership that gives Better Mortgage permission to co-market to leads generated from Open Listings.
Now, I can already see that the Compliance Managers are concerned, but I’m going to assume that Better Mortgage’s compliance team gave this partnership the green light. The more relevant point here is not the realtor partnership (those have been going on in mortgage since the beginning of time), it's how Better Mortgage is using email marketing to connect with new leads.
As you can see in the email below, they include a clear call to action (“Get Approved Now”) that is relevant to where I am in the buyer’s journey (since I registered on Open Listings, the assumption is that I’m looking to buy a home and that I probably need a pre-approval). Then, once I click on the call to action, it takes me to a customized, conversion optimized landing page that feeds me through the rest of the funnel.
The goal/conversion objective is for the person who clicked on the call to action to submit all the necessary information for a pre-approval. Thus, this person becomes a VERY warm lead for the Loan Officer to follow up with.
Email marketing is a really powerful tool because it allows you to have a one-on-one relationship with your customer (as opposed to social media, where you have a one-to-many relationship with your customer). Many mortgage companies I speak with have access to thousands, sometimes tens of thousands, of email addresses. But they’re not taking advantage of email marketing to either re-capture previous customers (for rate/term or cash out refi opportunities) or use their previous customers as evangelists for their company (i.e. turn those customers into referral sources). What Better Mortgage did with Open Listings is just one example of what you can do with email marketing.
So there you go! A quick and dirty analysis on just a few things that Better Mortgage does to generate more leads via digital and content marketing. Are you pursuing similar digital and content marketing strategies for your company? We’d love to hear from you!
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