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Viral Marketing Lessons Learned

Covid wrenched many marketing plans. What can marketers take away – and regain – after more than a year of ducking and dodging?

Erica LaCentra headshot
Erica LaCentra
Photo of a man using his laptop at home.

With the end (or at least control?) of COVID hopefully in sight, it’s a good time to talk about what marketers have learned over the past year. Mainly, what techniques and campaigns should be here to stay permanently as part of your marketing strategy, and what we can leave behind with COVID once and for all (I’m looking at you fully-virtual conferences). 

Don't Neglect The Customers You Already Have

One of the biggest things that COVID taught companies was the importance of communicating with your customers. Particularly in the mortgage industry, when many hard money lenders and non-QM lenders had to put a pause on origination, customers wanted answers. Many took the approach of communicating openly and often, others stayed silent, hoping for the worst to pass without having to provide an explanation, and some even chose to sugar coat communications with their clients hoping that things would return to normal before their cover was blown. 

When the dust settled, the companies that communicated clearly found they were able to bounce back quickly. Why? Because in tough times, when you look out for your customers, they are more likely to show loyalty and thank you in one way or another when they can, and that came in the form of returning business. 

Do you need to provide weekly updates about the state of your business? Probably not, but you should be communicating with your customers about any program or product updates, company milestones, or other information that could affect the way they do business with you. Never discount the power of staying in contact with your customers and rewarding them for their ongoing loyalty as being able to capture repeat business is often low-hanging fruit. 

Have A Strong Online Presence

The mortgage industry has always seemed to lag behind other industries when it came to digital marketing, but COVID made it necessary for companies to pivot to a marketing plan that relied more heavily on a successful digital strategy. Over the last year there was a renewed focus on updating company websites, and developing better email marketing, social media marketing, and pay-per-click campaigns. 

With people staying at home more during the pandemic, they had more time to read those marketing email blasts or felt more compelled to scroll through their various social media feeds to kill time. Companies saw many of their efforts pay off because of this uptick in interaction with digital media, but having a strong digital footprint is something a company should also think about going forward. 

While conferences and live networking events are returning, it’s about time the mortgage industry caught up and realized the importance of multi-layered marketing campaigns. Companies should now be thinking about what digital channels they saw significant success with, whether it was certain social media ads, email marketing efforts, PPC campaigns, etc. and continue to build on those campaigns and weave them into other parts of their marketing plan to ensure future growth. 

Hit The Pause Button On Certain Efforts

So, while certain marketing efforts were highly effective during the pandemic, there are some that will probably meet their demise once we start getting back to normalcy. The top one on the list is fully virtual conferences. While so many event coordinators tried to replicate the experience of in-person events through a virtual platform, there really is no substitute for the real thing. 

However, while fully virtual conferences will probably die out, what virtual conferences taught marketers is that there is significant value in having a hybrid approach to events. Being able to network and schedule meetings ahead of time and easily capture contact information from attendees during an event via an app is something that should continue to be utilized even for in-person events. 

Also, having sessions recorded and on-demand even after an event wraps up is a great way for companies to be able to further engage attendees. I can think of countless times when I’ve had to choose between two sessions I’d really like to sit in on because they occurred at the same time. That should no longer be an issue going forward. I think most folks in the industry would agree though, let fully virtual conferences sputter out.   

Another area to potentially consider pumping the breaks on is webinars. Now, by no means do I think webinars should be laid to rest, quite the opposite actually. It’s just become extremely apparent with the amount of webinars that have flooded our industry that companies will have to be more thoughtful about the topics that want to discuss and more targeted with who they are presenting to if they want to have more successful webinars going forward. 

State of the industry style update webinars worked very well mid-pandemic because customers wanted information on what was going on. Those will no longer work as well because the industry is no longer as tumultuous. Companies should be thinking again about what webinar topics will best appeal to their customers, both new and existing, because citing industry data that is readily available and at customers’ fingertips isn’t going to cut it. 

Keep Learning & Adapting

COVID has taught marketers and our industry a lot over the past year, but one of the most crucial lessons has been the importance of staying on trend, learning new techniques, and being prepared to pivot. Now is not the time to sink back into old marketing habits or routines, it’s time to take everything we learned and continue to drive the industry forward. 

Close more loans, be more efficient, stay out of trouble.

Find more at Pro School
This article was originally published in the NMP Magazine May 2021 issue.
Erica LaCentra headshot
Erica LaCentra

Erica LaCentra is Chief Marketing Officer for RCN Capital.

Published on
May 26, 2021
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