Every homebuyer has a reason for choosing to work with a loan officer or a specific mortgage company. Sometimes, it’s their resounding reputation that reaches consumers through word-of-mouth recommendations. But, that rapport with past clients is just one component of the greater whole that goes into attracting qualified homebuyers.
Today’s homebuyers have a wide selection of lenders who are vying for their business. In the end, homebuyers, particularly millennials, will likely only reach out to a few after doing extensive research. And, as you could’ve guess, that research starts online.
A study done by the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) found that 90 percent of homebuyers start their search online. Meaning: Your brand needs to be online. It needs to shine, and it needs to be bright, leaving every other option out there to be a distant afterthought. And, just for reference, your brand isn’t just a logo that’s on your website and social media, either.
In today’s digital mortgage climate, a brand carries an all encompassing meaning. This includes mortgage company culture and policies; your marketing content and design; as well as highly-rated customer service.
It’s the marketing department’s overarching goal to transfer the entire mortgage business into an accurate, engaging message, and then project it into the digital world to capture the attention of targeted homebuyers. This needs to be done in a way that can be viewed from anywhere, at any given time, and in a digestible way.
Even though homebuyers are after large amounts of content to satisfy their research instincts, it’s important to know what content is needed and how to display it in an inviting way. After that, you must get that content in front of the homebuyer through different media platforms, including social media and online ad campaigns.
The World Wide Web is the first point of contact for the majority of homebuyers, and more importantly, it’s what they find when they get there. According to the NAR, 44 percent of homebuyers found the home they purchased online, presiding over real estate agents, friends, and even family.
Their new home will take time to find, since they’ll wade through web portals, local blogs, forums, social media, and other real estate pages during the research phase. At a specific point of the process, the homebuyers will need to find a way to make their dreams a reality: financing.
To make sure homebuyers end up in your office when this time comes, your mortgage brand needs to stay with them throughout the entire process. Loan officers must be where their future clients are (online) and stand out in this relentless stream of digital content so they can outshine every other loan officer or mortgage broker.
Here’s how to do that:
How to Leverage Your Mortgage Brand
In order to make sure homebuyers find your mortgage brand, you need the following:
- A well designed, mobile-friendly website
- Active social media channels
- Relevant content for homebuyers
A website that’s going to respond well to every type of device -- a desktop, tablet or smartphone -- is an overarching SEO rule. If your website isn’t mobile-friendly, it gets punished by search engines, which, in turn, makes it difficult to be where the homebuyers are.
Similarly, if your website doesn’t display well on every type of device, you may be turning away those homebuyers who find you on their smartphones or tables.
Equally connected, search engines also populate social media profiles. When you’re active on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or any other platform, it’s more likely that active homebuyers will find your mortgage brand during their research stage.
Staying active on the right social media channels also builds trusts with house hunters. When you constantly share relevant mortgage news and information -- preferably from the company blog -- on Twitter or Facebook, you establish brand as an authority figure on these topics, giving homebuyers a trusted source to keep coming back too.
At the same time, don’t want to neglect other areas of the internet, especially because some web-based portals attract over 50 percent of all homebuyer and renter traffic.
You Should Advertise Across the Web
This past February, comScore reported that Zillow Group saw a staggering 73,364 unique viewers across desktop and mobile in January 2016 alone. Zillow Group also attracted 12.6 percent of the total internet population to its advertising syndicates in the same month, and takes up well over half of online real estate shares.
You should advertise on these portals for the simple fact that they receive an incredible amount of viewers. The data shows that consumers take to these sites when they want to buy or rent a home. Moreover, these sites also have tailored advertising programs set up specifically for different entities, including large scale mortgage companies and individual brokers.
This should be your first go-to advertising spot, but round out your campaigns by also boosting and promoting social posts on platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. The exposure through social media increases your reputability in a more targeted, personalized way, which resonates with homebuyers looking to work with trusted mortgage professionals.
You can also track the engagement of your audiences through social media ad campaigns, making for a flexible and an intuitive way to reach a specific demographic. You can see when consumers click through, take their journey through the website, and identify where their needs are.
It won’t be long before your loan officers will send them an email introduction email or picking up the phone to connect. That brings us to our next point…
Make Sure You Have a 24/7 Follow-Up Plan
Having a 24/7 follow-up plan in place is simply a best practice for today’s high-velocity mortgage industry. When homebuyers want rates, disclosures, the fine print, they go looking for it. They don’t wait for somebody to reach out and feed it to them, thus the online-first consumer approach.
But, this isn’t an impossible feat to overcome. In fact, it’s fairly simple.
You know that loan officers can’t always take a phone call -- no matter how badly they want too -- nor do they have the time to send out dozens of emails.
It’s just plain inefficient. There are better ways to make sure a personalized touch reaches the homebuyer.
Two ways to reach a client before another lender does:
- A timely follow-up workflow
- Automated email nurturing
When a homebuyer picks up the phone or sends an email through Zillow, you should already have a follow-up workflow in place to deliver on the excellence of your mortgage brand. Whether it’s personalized talking points or an auto-generated email, there should be something in place to ensure the homebuyer doesn’t make the call to another loan officer.
Nothing is worse than seeing a homebuyer who’s already going through the process walk into the competing lender’s office. That’s not a what-could’ve-been moment, that’s a what-should’ve-been moment.
From a high level, there needs to be something in place for the initial contact, because the first contact often determines this outcome: Are they going to close with us?
Millennial buyers, specifically, have spent a great deal of time researching and gathering information ahead of time. What they’re really after during that initial point of contact is to see whether or not that specific loan officer is right for them.
Once that’s determined, the homebuyer needs enough time to continue researching if he or she isn’t ready to sit down to do the paperwork yet. But, that doesn’t mean you leave the homebuyer alone altogether.
The relationship needs to be nurtured by supplying relevant, personalized information in a way that’s not going to scare them off or be seen as intrusive. You want them to engage with the offers, so that when the big day comes, homebuyers happily sign off on the closing documents.
Homebuyer has hundreds and hundreds of options when it comes to loan officers ready and willing to give them financing.
But, not every one of those loan officers has a branded, consumer-focused business model in place that allows them to be where the homebuyers are, share their thoroughly crafted mortgage brand, and provide upbeat, personalized experience that every consumer searches for.
- Ensure your brand is found at every stage of the homebuying process, including on web portals, social media, and your website, to create awareness and credibility with consumers.
- Prioritize advertising to where consumers search most leads to a staggering amount of web traffic back to your website and social media platforms. Then, deploying advertising campaigns on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram can round out your advertising strategies to drive personalized connections with homebuyers.
- Have a follow-up workflow ready, with the right tools in place, so that when the calls start coming in, loan officers are front and center before the competition is given an opportunity.