If you’re in the mortgage business, you already know the ability to generate and nurture new leads is critical. Today, with whiplash cycles of home buying and refinancing due to rate cuts and the impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic on top of ever-increasing competition from big online lenders, the strategies you used five (or even two) years ago may not be the most effective.
In this post, we’re going to share 10 ways mortgage brokers can automate lead generation to handle 10 times the leads in a tenth of the time. Because this is what automation is really all about — streamlining repetitive tasks that tend to fill up the minutes and hours of your days so you can spend your time on your highest value work. For mortgage brokers, that means less time trying to sort and reply to every single lead, and more time to spend developing relationships with your customers, building your referral network and closing your loans.
1. Automatically Pull Web and Email Mortgage Leads Into Your CRM
If you don’t have a CRM, Velocify, Surefire, and Whiteboard are all well-rated and have a lender-specific focus that can help you manage leads while maintaining compliance with industry and marketing laws and regulations.
It’s easy to set up your CRM to automatically capture leads coming in from your website — typically you’ll either set up your lead forms using the CRM, or copy and paste a few lines of code to the existing lead forms on your website.
However, this is just one piece of the puzzle when it comes to organizing leads since most brokers have dozens of ways that leads come in. And chances are that your highest value leads, such as referrals from realtors or builders, come in directly to specific Loan Officers via email.
You still can and should capture these leads in your CRM. Email parsing software like Mailparser can do this for you automatically by pulling in data from any email you specify and moving that data where you want it, whether it’s creating a lead entry and tagging it as “assigned” to a specific Loan Officer in your CRM, tagging it as a hot lead, adding the contact to your email marketing software or making an entry on a spreadsheet.
2. Distribute Leads to Your Team Automatically
Assigning leads to your team is a task where you should definitely take a “set it and forget it” mindset, and your CRM can be set up to automatically distribute new leads from the web to your team so everyone gets an equal workload while avoiding confusion and delays caused by trying to do this task manually.
3. Let Email Auto-Responders Handle First Contacts Quickly
In theory, customers looking for a mortgage or to refinance do their research, look at reviews, and get several quotes to compare rates and fees. In reality, with an entire world of options just a mouse-click or phone-tap away, a lot of customers make a choice based on responsiveness. Whoever gets back to them first wins the business.
This doesn’t mean that you need to keep an eagle eye on your email all day and all night. A well-crafted auto-responder email can satisfy your customers’ sense of urgency and help you provide great service until you’re able to follow up. You can also use auto-responders for initial follow up when someone submits a lead form on your website.
A good auto-response email should:
- Thank the customer for reaching out to you.
- Tell them what you’re great at. (Are your rates lower than the big competitors? Do you close loans fast? Are you great at guiding people through the loan process with hands-on attention?)
- Let them know what to expect next.
Here’s a quick example you can customize:
Thank you for reaching out to My Mortgage Co. about your refinance. Rates are looking great right now, and we can help you lock in a low rate and close fast. I’d love to set up some time to chat with you so I can answer any questions and give you a quick overview of the process. Please feel free to book a call with me anytime this week, or if you’re in a hurry, you can start your full online application now and we can get the process going!
Mortgage Loan Officer
NMLS ID #123456
4. Use Retargeting Ads to Follow up with Web Visitors Who Didn’t Complete a Lead Form
While creating and optimizing a full digital ad campaign might be best left to the experts, almost anyone can set up a simple retargeting campaign. Retargeting campaigns simply find people who visited your website, but didn’t “convert” (i.e. didn’t fill out a lead form) and show them an ad.
They’re a great way to give a gentle second nudge for a customer who already indicated they were looking for your services by visiting your site, but might have gotten distracted. They’re also typically very cost-effective, especially compared to cost-per-click ads where you’re competing against multiple other lenders. You can set up retargeting ads on Google and Facebook directly, or you can use a service like AdRoll to expand your reach.
Start out with a general ad, then you can take some time to customize your campaign more by creating ads that cater to a specific topic and targeting people who visited a specific page on your website. For example, you might want to retarget people who visited a page about refinancing with an ad more specifically about that topic.
5. Create Automated Email Campaigns to Follow Up on Leads
Email marketing is one of the simplest ways to generate leads, but it’s also one of the most widely used by just about every industry, so you need to be sure you’re offering the right content to the right person, at the right time.
Mortgage lending is not eCommerce — most of your clients simply don’t need to hear from you on a weekly or monthly basis, so be smart about how you use this channel or your unsubscribes will pile up. Creating automated, personalized follow up email series based on the category of lead is a far smarter and more effective strategy.
6. Automatically Stop Email Marketing When a Customer Enters the Loan Process
Once someone is already in the loan process, the Loan Officer should be driving all communications, and they should be personal and specific to their loan. It’s confusing at best, and irritating at worst for someone in the middle of the loan process to be getting automated email marketing campaigns. A tag like “In Loan Process” in your CRM or email marketing platform can be used to automatically suppress active clients from getting automated campaigns.
7. Follow up Automatically When a Loan Closes to Ask for Reviews
When a loan closes, you can resume email automation. A good practice is to automatically send an email a week or so after a loan has closed thanking your customer for their business, letting them know you’d like to stay in touch occasionally with market updates, and asking for a review on a site like Zillow or Yelp.
Skip played out follow-up tactics like automated “Happy Birthday” emails. They’re overused, and don’t follow the number one rule of marketing, which is to respect your audience. Customers gave you their birth date because it was required on an application, not because you’re friends. People can see through these messages, and they’re more likely to be a turn off than a business driver.
8. Automate Refinance Campaigns to Past Customers
If you’re not tracking APR and closing date as fields in your CRM, you need to start. When rates drop you can easily write one email and send it to past customers who closed at a higher rate based on a couple simple criteria.
If you haven’t done this historically, don’t worry — it doesn’t have to take hours of manual data entry to do it now. Mailparser can easily help you take data like this out of your emails and add it to your CRM.
A final note on email: You’ll want to be very cautious about compliance when it comes to email. Make sure you know and follow the rules that apply to every industry around how you gather emails, and letting people unsubscribe, as well as lending-industry specific requirements like including APR disclosures and Licensing and NMLS numbers. Violating any of these rules can come with hefty fines.
9. Offer On-Demand Webinars
One of the most time-consuming and repetitive tasks during the lending process is education. Instead of walking every single first-time home buyer through the process step-by-step, record a webinar once, and incorporate it into your email marketing series. Or, try offering a once-a-week, or once-a-month live webinar where customers can ask questions.
Viewers retain 95% of a message when they watch it in a video compared to 10% (Source: invisia) when reading it in text, so this is a great tactic to bump up the effectiveness of your digital marketing. If it sounds complicated, don’t worry. It does take some time and effort, but platforms like WebinarNinja can walk you through the process and get you up and running in no time.
10. Let Customers Book a Meeting Without the Back-and-Forth Emails
Never utter the words “What does your schedule look like next week?” again. Eventually in the loan process, a Loan Officer will need to meet with the customer. Set up a simple tool like youcanbook.me for all of your Loan Officers, and they won’t have to go through a lengthy back-and-forth scheduling process to get something on the calendar. They just set their hours and customers can book a time that works for them in a single click.
This kind of scheduling is also super handy if you’re running an outreach campaign for local realtors — just send out a link and let them pick a day to take them out to lunch, then let your team work their magic.
Lead generation and response is a huge part of a mortgage broker business. If you’re handling tasks manually that could be automated, you’re sacrificing time every single day that could be spent on higher value work.