By Linn Cook, OptifiNow Vice President of Sales and Danielle Whetstone, C Squared Social Senior Strategy Analyst
Competition within the mortgage industry is fierce, and the race to be first to the borrower can be brutal. The good news for lenders is that gone are the days of being at the mercy of loan officers holding the reigns of connections to borrowers. Rather than waiting for relationships to come to you (often with strings attached), take advantage of getting direct access to homeowners and house hunters. And as a new generation of customers come to market – individuals that are habitually tethered to technology – now is the perfect time to advertise on platforms they’re most familiar with: social media.
Facebook Changed Everything
The way we connect with one another and stay informed has forever been changed since Facebook’s inauguration in early 2004, and its use has steadily grown every year since. Recently topped only narrowly by YouTube, Facebook is still the second most used social platform with Instagram (owned by Facebook) coming in an increasingly close third. Advertising on social media is by no means a new phenomenon, and when you look at the demographics of users, you’ll understand why. Around seven-in-ten Americans use some sort of social media with nearly 75% of them checking their platform of choice daily. While data does show that social media use decreases as age increases, put to rest the notion that social media is only for the young, as 70% of Americans age 50-64 use at least one type of social media. Not too far off from the 90% of 18-24-year-olds.
The above statistics should put to bed any misconception that your ideal mortgage customer isn’t actively on social media. So why has the mortgage industry, by and large, fallen behind comparatively when it comes to taking advantage of these well-used platforms? Of course, traditional marketing avenues such as direct mail, and radio and TV ads continue to have value, but unlike that highway billboard, social media ads not only allow you to have tremendous reach across age, life stage, and socio-economic lines, but be able to tangibly measure your return on advertising investment. Any marketer worth their salt will encourage a variety of advertising tactics, but not tapping into social media platforms puts you at a huge disadvantage. And, to be sure, if your competition isn’t yet advertising on social media, they’re about to.
The Learning Curve
To clarify, we’re not talking about getting more likes on a page or boosting posts, but the robust features available through paid advertising. Learning the ins and outs of platforms such as Facebook takes time, and it can be daunting to know where to start. That’s where a partner with expertise in social media marketing – like C Squared Social – can be a worthy ally, using engaging ads and the right objective to deliver your message to the desired audience.
Paid advertising, on Facebook specifically, has proven to be highly effective within the mortgage industry, even in light of Facebook’s newer policies pertaining to ads related to employment, housing, and credit. In an effort to prevent discrimination, demographic targeting is no longer an option for these types of special ads. Regardless, utilizing interest-based targeting, attractive graphics, well-crafted ad copy, and a well-chosen objective, these ads can still be a powerhouse in delivering impressive results.
Choosing the Right Objective
Determining your objective is key in any marketing strategy. Do you want to have more people visit your webpage? Do you want users to download an app or a document? Are you wanting to generate leads to increase your customer base or just get people familiar with your brand? Where Facebook really shines with lead generation is the ease with which users are able to submit their information via auto-populated contact forms hosted directly within ads. Users never have to leave their Facebook feed or type in their contact info, resulting in much higher submission rates.
Another relatively new and savvy tool utilizes Facebook Messenger to either start conversations or generate leads. Using chatbot technology, users engage with a choose-your-own-adventure style workflow where they can be directed to gain more information about your business and services, provide their contact information, or message any questions directly to the business page. It creates a much more personal and engaging connection.
Facebook has other notable tools, among marketers’ faves are Facebook’s pixel technology and lookalike audiences. Do you have a great web presence with significant traffic or a substantial database of customers? You can leverage that data (while maintaining your customers’ privacy) with Facebook’s algorithms, enabling you to deliver your ads to other social users that are similar in online behaviors and drastically increase your reach.
Leads! Now What?
Generating leads isn’t the end goal, however, it’s just one part of the equation. Converting them into life-long customers, that is the holy grail. Unfortunately, this is where many businesses fall short. With our increasing consumption of technology, we’ve grown accustomed to the immediacy of information and communication. But lead nurturing – that process of walking with prospects through the transition of becoming customers and, even better, referrals – has not often kept up with customer expectations. Why have Rocket Mortgage and Quicken Loans become so successful and proliferous? Because the modern user expects a process that is as seamless and instantaneous as streaming their favorite movie or ordering their lunch. Your system of communication needs to be as varied, flexible, and immediate as your prospects are.
There are a multitude of CRMs available to aid in the automation of correspondence with leads, and many lenders have transitioned to call centers to handle the brunt of lead nurturing. While both are fruitful, they can be costly to implement and time consuming to learn. That’s where partnering with companies like OptifiNow can be a huge resource in helping to manage those processes without taking on the execution of a call center or the implementation and training of a complicated CRM. They’ll provide customized touch-point automation via email and text, and the added value of prospects being able to talk directly with a live representative.
The Future for Mortgage
Change is hard, but inevitable. And, unfortunately, it’s almost certain that once you have a grasp on social media marketing, there will be a new game changer in town. But with innovation comes opportunity. The opportunity social media provides is to connect directly with borrowers that otherwise may have never known about your services and who prefer to consume products and services online. Take advantage of partnerships with vendors that are experts in their fields. They can do the heavy lifting for you, so you can focus on what’s most important – growing your business and providing excellent service.
Reprinted with permission from the California Mortgage Bankers Association Summer 2020 issue of California Mortgage Finance News.