Back in 2009, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) stated that more than 80 percent of homebuyers began their search online. These numbers have significantly increased since then, and I would not be surprised if nearly 100 percent of potential homebuyers, at some point during the homebuying process, at least did some kind of research online. Mobile devices and smartphones are also making these online searches higher than ever. The same is true when consumers are researching mortgage loan programs and interest rates and it’s imperative that you have a local online presence.
Reputation and branding is a critical part of marketing. While referrals are the bread and butter of our business, neglecting your online presence can even reduce the number of referral conversions if they cannot find additional information easily accessible online about you or your firm. Online availability should be a requirement for any business, but especially when the business is a local service-oriented establishment relying on new mortgage origination transactions through information, rather than just product sales.
There are many benefits associated with having an online exposure and marketing online. Here are just a few:
Customer reviews and testimonials
There is no doubt that asking your clients to rate and review you online publicly is the most effective way to close more loans. In my opinion, there is nothing stronger than this by having people call you rather than you calling them. Referred or not, building this positive reputation through the experience of your clients is unmatched. They are your best sales force and best of all they are free. These reviews on popular sites will also help your organic search ratings and search engine optimization (SEO).
In comparison to other forms of advertising, online marketing can be much more affordable on conversion comparison and many of the tools are free. If money is budgeted for marketing campaigns online such pay-per-click or other advertising in addition to free tools, it is easy to make the adjustments necessary to obtain the highest return on investment (ROI) possible.
Build your brand
With all the competition in the market, you want to stand out and be different. The Internet is the best method to create new content, unique information, blogs and videos that will separate you from the pack. Be creative and stand out to effectively attract new clients.
Targeting and immediate results
People who are looking online are interested in information now. They call or e-mail quickly and you can expect real-time results. In addition, you can target specific areas such as the state(s) in which you are licensed. The goal is to attract the clients you are seeking which are those likely to qualify for the products you offer, along with being local in your immediate area.
It is easy to track success
Free products such as Google Analytics have the ability to track all site visits, unique visits, time spent on each page, traffic sources, referring pages, keywords, etc. This allows you to confirm how well you might be doing with organic hits and SEO, marketing campaigns with partner sites or referral partners, etc. You can make adjustments based off these detailed statistics to improve traffic and new customers.
These are just a few of the unlimited benefits in the power of online marketing, branding and exposure. The growth rate of online searches and traffic in our industry makes it clear what the future of mortgage shopping and homebuying looks like. Don’t get lost in “cold” calls and make people call you. Always focus on referrals, but set up an online marketing plan and presence to let your brand and reputation automatically result in daily calls from new potential clients without lifting a finger.
Andy W. Harris, CRMS is president and owner of Lake Oswego, Ore.-based Vantage Mortgage Group Inc. and 2010-2011 president of the Oregon Association of Mortgage Professionals. He may be reached by phone at (877) 496-0431 or e-mail [email protected]
or visit AndyHarrisMortgage.com.