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Choosing the right LOS

National Mortgage Professional
Aug 15, 2008

The science of the sale: Pinpointing motivated customers through lead generation technology Thomas McErlaneLead generation technology, proactive marketing, Online lead generation, OLG, Mortgagebot Benchmark, It's been said that sales is an art. While that might hold true when a salesperson is face-to-face or on the phone with his customer, the "gift of the gab" does not really work in the age of the Internet. With more customers than ever before looking for good deals on the Web, it has been increasingly harder to find the right customers, let alone understand what they want or identify the mortgage product that fits with today's tough lending environment. We all know that consumer pocketbooks are being squeezed. Gas, energy and food prices are at an all-time high. The challenges continue to mount from tougher lending standards to record foreclosures. As a result, mortgage professionals are struggling to reach even their recalibrated origination goals. Potential mortgage customersalbeit tech savvy seem to be on the sidelines, waiting even longer to make the move to homeownership. This has led to fierce competition and continued pressure on margins. Couple these factors with changes on the legislative front, and we are operating in a brave, new world. Unprecedented conditions call for innovative technology and approaches. Enter science to save the day. Lead generation technology provides the means to more cost-effectively identify serious customers and accurately segment buyers. It is a proven technology to generate increased mortgage lending volume. Lead generation programs can also help capture the rapidly expanding government-sponsored Veterans Administration and Federal Housing Administration (FHA) business by identifying and targeting applicable candidates. Dissecting the science within the solution Technology is where mortgage companies traditionally turn when the old way of doing things does not seem to work. Mortgage Brokers and bankers are well aware that more than 80 percent of potential homebuyers now start their search for a loan online. Thus, it makes sense to incorporate online lead generation into the marketing process. It is a cost-effective marketing outreach that is quickly replacing traditional methods because of its sizable rate of return and control mechanisms. Online lead generation (OLG) starts with a targeted online search that is created with the intention of attracting highly motivated users. Think of it as online dating for the mortgage industry. We match borrowers and brokers based on their wants and needs. A Mortgagebot Benchmark study in August 2007 found that these motivated users are considered to be a new breed of mortgage shoppers that have a median income of $85,000 and an average credit score of about 709, which makes them the right type of candidate for Mortgage Brokers looking to service a specific customer segment. Bidding on keywords in search engines is one of the most effective methods of finding that right customer. Unlike other methods that involve a passive action on the part of the Internet user, consumer intent for a mortgage is much higher when they actively enter keywords such as "low mortgage rates" into Google or Yahoo! search engines. There is a considerable sophistication to the technology behind the design of what appears to be simple lead generation forms. From the colors, photos and type used on each form, analytic research drives the look and feel of each form. A multitude of variables are taken into consideration, tweaked and tested again and again. It's through this continual process of testing and analysis that OLGs are able to produce effective forms that give consumers the utmost experience in terms of ease of use and personal security. All the critical information that is collected from the forms goes through a lead validation system. Key data is verified for accuracy, equating to higher conversion rates. Lead generation companies verify all leads before they are sold to their Mortgage Broker customers. This essentially enables the broker to focus their time only on people interested in a mortgage and receive precisely targeted leads from consumers in their desired segments. Identifying a high-performing lead provider The key is finding a partner with high quality leads that can be converted into origination volume. This means targeting and acquiring niche loan consumers that can even be elusive using traditional methods. There are dozens of lead generation operators all promising the same thing. Here's how to find a technology-based lead generation provider: •Ask the provider to quantitatively define their definition of "fresh" leads. Fresh seems to have a very loose meaning. More than likely, those providers that generate their own leads and that utilize quality controls for the generated leads will provide a definitive answer to the fresh question. •Find out what methods and technology are used to generate leads. There are a number of ways a lead provider can generate leads, and not all will produce quality leads. Make sure your provider is not using any deceptive or incentive-related advertising that could mislead or attract the wrong types of customers. Where possible, ask to see examples of the provider's advertising and their lead forms. •Be sure your lead provider offers a number of lead types. For example, instant verification of a consumer's credit score saves time, cuts costs and increases productivity in the loan origination process. Warm transfer leads enable busy mortgage professionals to make immediate contact with phone-verified consumers. The unique value offered here is in the guaranteed contact ratios and verified consumer intent which yields higher closing ratios. •Ask if the provider can share analytic reports. These reports allow brokers to understand their return on investment against marketing dollars expended. Campaigns can then be adjusted to more effectively address potential customers. •Get a detailed report from the provider that describes sound marketing tactics. These tactics should reveal that there are realistic initiatives that involve consistent and clear communication with consumers. Make sure that the provider does not use affiliate or co-registration partners. •Request an explanation concerning the type of lead verification system the provider uses. The provider should be willing to illustrate how they verify data and what is used to determine the customer's qualification for a loan. This will ensure that the potential customer is pleased that the broker has captured their needs, while the broker can seal the deal much faster and turn that prospect into a pipeline candidate. •Ensure that the provider recommends the use of a lead management system. This allows the broker to monitor and develop specific metrics that could be implemented throughout the marketing and sales process. This additional technology can serve as a driving force toward higher origination volume. A lead provider who offers these advantages is utilizing the latest technology to unite customers and brokers. At the same time, online lead generation technology can become the foundation from which brokers build a database for future referrals. Evolutionary enhancements Lead generation technology is continually improving. Mathematicians, engineers and software designers are creating new platforms to improve analytics, disseminate data and use innovative search techniques. As new technology is developed, we can expect lead generation to continue to be a critical driver of mortgage origination. Thomas McErlane is general manager of www.low.com. Headquartered in Los Angeles,www.low.com is part of www.oversee.net, an online marketing solutions company. He may be reached by e-mail at [email protected]
Published
Aug 15, 2008
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