When it comes to lead generation and customer acquisition, ask any business owner and they’ll say it can feel like a race. Who can get to the customer first? For the mortgage industry, the race is tight as transaction value is high and repeat business is minimal.
Even the fortunate mortgage originator who attracts reoccurring clients faces the problem that their services may not be needed for years between transactions. Still, there is no shortage of borrowers, so the question then becomes how to best get in front of that most valuable audience.
Mortgage lenders have traditionally relied on relationships and connections with originators — often at their mercy and fearful of their departure — to bring in new clients. Although marketing methods such as TV and radio ads, direct mail and even billboards may still be valuable, mortgage companies that rely on these more conventional models of marketing may fall behind when it comes to reaching younger consumers.
Enter social media marketing. Although not new by any stretch of the imagination, it has changed the way many industries are finding and retaining customers.
Since Facebook’s debut in February 2004, not only have the number of users steadily grown each year since then, but the doors (or floodgates, rather) have been opened for a variety of social media apps to follow suit, such as YouTube, Instagram, LinkedIn, WhatsApp, Pinterest, TikTok and Twitter — just to name a few. Among the top social media platforms for U.S. consumer usage, Facebook is in second place, just after YouTube, while Instagram (also owned by Facebook) holds third place.
Contrary to popular sentiment, these platforms are not only attracting a younger crowd. According to recent stats from the Pew Research Center, about seven in 10 Americans use some sort of social media. Although the trend still indicates that usage is heavier with younger users (90% of 18- to 29-year-olds use social media), 69% of Americans ages 50-64 use at least one type of social media, while 41% of the 65-and-older population are users, a share that has doubled since 2012.
Although many consumers turn to social media as a source of entertainment and connection with family and friends, people are relying on their feed for more than just funny cat videos and memes. For many, these platforms are a resource for news, information, research and product reviews. With nearly 75% of Facebook users alone checking the platform daily, advertising on sites such as Facebook and Instagram puts companies front and center to new clients.
Many mortgage lenders express the difficulty of tapping into the buying power of the younger generation of millennials. Besides being in the prime of their homebuying years for both starter homes and larger family homes, these tech-savvy prospects are accustomed to consuming digital content and marketing. They’re looking for processes and information that are as readily at their fingertips as having their next meal delivered is. Imagine the possibilities of marketing to them on platforms they already use every day.
People are looking for a brand they can trust, not a salesman. Ensure that communication with a prospect is educational, valuable and nonintrusive.
The real beauty of paid advertising, specifically on Facebook and Instagram, is its effectiveness and user interface. Despite Facebook’s newly implemented special ads category — which works to eliminate targeted discrimination, specifically in ads related to housing, credit and employment — mortgage lenders are still able to effectively reach their most relevant audience. Those who are most successful in this space make good use of graphics and video ad copy, with a well-defined objective to attract their ideal candidate.
In terms of Facebook’s usability, some of their powerhouse features include auto form fill, which allows a user’s profile information to automatically populate in a lead form hosted directly within Facebook. The combined ease of auto-filling a user’s contact information while not redirecting them to another website drastically reduces drop rates and increases lead submissions.
It’s a win-win for both users and advertisers. In addition, Facebook has a relatively new chatbot feature hosted within its Messenger app. Users are offered a choose-your-own-adventure type of workflow, from booking an appointment and reading FAQs to submitting contact information and downloading content. It’s a unique and effective way to automate engagement with potential borrowers.
Continuing in that vein, automation has shown to be highly effective within the lead-nurturing stage as well. Customer relationship management software has become all but essential in tracking and managing sales, but beyond the standard email drip campaign, consider incorporating text messages or even an outbound call center to provide fast and responsive follow-up on freshly generated leads.
It’s important to remember where you’re reaching these prospects. Rather than providing answers to their questions or being their destination at the end of their search query, you’re capturing their attention while they’re often looking for connection and entertainment.
Although there are plenty of high-quality leads to be found on social media, your expectations for contact rates need to be somewhat tempered. People are looking for a brand they can trust, not a salesman. Ensure that communication with a prospect is educational, valuable and nonintrusive.
A company that is positioned as friendly and credible is one that consumers will turn to when they’re ready to take the next step. And utilizing automation services will free up lenders to focus on providing service rather than leaving voicemails.
So, where does a company start? Naturally, you can Google it and find plenty of free or affordable resources to learn the inner workings of social media paid advertising, as well as resources for creating attractive ads that will cause consumers to stop scrolling and engage. But why start from scratch?
There are many vendors in both social media advertising and marketing automation that are already familiar with the mortgage world. These experts are ready and eager to help brands navigate this new(er) medium and adopt social media as a routine marketing practice. Mortgage industry, meet your new best friend: social media. ●