Some loan originators embrace technology, having learned that an expanding range of applications can play a key role in their marketing programs.
Others haven’t taken the time to fully integrate technology into their ongoing operations and are still seeking new ideas.
Broker Banker asked several successful originators how technology has helped make their consumer contact and marketing campaigns more effective.
Websites, database marketing, social media and other strategies have enabled originators to strengthen their customer service, improve their lead generation and more.
Customer/Realtor Update– Amy Slotnick, Fairway Independent Mortgage, Newton, Mass., has benefitted from basic systems that provide improved customer contact. “Currently my most effective technology for marketing is the automated e-mail campaign that notifies the borrower and the Realtors (with approval) at each stage of the loan process,” Slotnick said. “There are touch points at application, receipt of appraisal, loan submission, loan approval and cleared to close. This technology serves to keep all interested parties current on the status of the loan while keeping your name (and face) in front of the Realtors.”
Slotnick noted that it has definitely helped her business grow. “I have secured business from several Realtors with whom I had not done business with previously as a result of this system. Most CRM programs now seem to have an automated e-mail campaign such as this so I would suggest to loan officers that they inquire with their marketing departments as to whether their existing program can do this or whether they can purchase a program that does.”
E-Mail Marketing—Chip Cummings, Northwind Financial, Grand Rapids, Mich., has long been an advocate of direct mail marketing programs. “I design marketing pieces right on my computer, add custom mailing list merge fields and mail within minutes using Click2Mail,” he said. “It’s great for postcards, newsletters, brochures – anything that needs to be customized and mailed. I can have five or 50,000 pieces in either black and white or color in prospects’ hands within three days nationwide. I have saved thousands with this cool tool alone.” (Check out www.Click2Mail.com)
“The most effective technology element for my business has been my broadcast e-mail system which is tied into my CRM software that allows me to distribute current product and program information to the over 35,000 contacts that I actively stay in contact with,” added Al Hensling, United American Mortgage Corporation, Irvine, Calif. “The CRM is a custom-built system developed over the last 15 years.”
Social Media—Social media strategies have been effective for many originators. For example, Laura Sosa Rocha, Heritage Bank Mortgage, Atlanta, Ga., considers Facebook to be an important part of our overall marketing. “Facebook has been the best tech application for me to date as it keeps me in the presence of my clients without being pushy and I get business organically,” she said. “I think FB makes me seem more like a real person and more approachable to people with questions. I never directly sell people on FB, just mention I do mortgages here and there and check into cool places when I travel so my pictures catch their attention.” (www.HootSuite.com)
Cummings emphasized the importance of coordinating social media programs. “You can spend a lot of time trying to keep up on your social media posts and activity – unless you use a tool like HootSuite,” he said. “It’s designed to manage multiple platforms, automate messages, engage with audiences and track stats. This is a simple to use lifesaver for anyone who wants to be actively engaging their prospects.” Cummings added that it allows you to connect with 35 different platforms at once.
Cummings pointed out a couple of other areas that can enhance your marketing program. “Hundreds of new technology applications hit the market every day,” he said. “From iApp’s to Facebook Apps, it’s hard to keep track of what’s new, let alone what works for your business.”
Internet Videos: Animoto – “Video is taking over the Internet and you can’t be left behind. Even using simple videos with clips and photos is easy with this simple tool. It’s very flexible, as you can add logos, animation, music, call to action and quick posting to social media sites. It also allows tracking so you know what videos are working to build your brand and business.” (www.Animoto.com)
SEO Marketing – “If you are doing any kind of advertising online, including Adwords, Facebook, LinkedIn, and banners, then you need a tool that can tell you what keywords are producing results. The best one out there is SpyFu. Looking for leads in Miami? Then here is how you find out what those prospects are searching for.” (www.SpyFu.com)
YouTube Customization – “YouTube has long been an easy way to create marketing videos, but posting them for your prospects or customers has been a concern. After they play, they will show competitor links, but you haven’t been able to control the look and feel of the video, or place your own logo into a custom screen. Now you can. By customizing your own YouTube channel and the player (with your logo, name, pictures of your company or team, etc.), you can create a completely personal marketing video platform. These are great for specific marketing campaigns (holidays or events) or property/real estate agent marketing.” (http://tinyurl.com/68dslj)
Update Your Tech Capabilities
If your overall technology capabilities are deficient, it’s time to develop an action plan. You may want to hire a consultant to evaluate your current system. “Marketing is the backbone of long-term success,” said Cummings. “Stay up-to-date on the latest tech trends and find out what your prospects are using. But the biggest secret to using technology effectively is to be consistent.”
Slotnick suggested to avoid overreliance on social media seminars. “One of my biggest frustrations with social media seminars is that the speaker is always telling you why you should use it but very rarely actually showing you how to use it,” she explained. “I would recommend limiting the attendance of social media seminars unless it will be a hands-on – how to create and maintain the product – type of seminar.”
“I think the best thing you can do is ask others what they are doing, gather information and then lay out a plan of action,” said Sosa Rocha. “Try something new but don’t spend a lot of money; there are lots of ways to market for free.”
Hensling recommends checking out the competition. “To ensure that your tech presence is up-to- date and timely with current trends, I suggest visiting some of your primary competitors’ sites to see what is working for them,” he said. “I frequently visit sites to see what type of experience my competitors are offering online.”
(Editor’s Note: We’ll share more tech strategies in future articles.)
David Robinson is Associate Editor of Broker Banker.