• Because big lenders dominate the airwaves with huge marketing budgets, smaller lenders are turning to the newest technology to compete.
  • Developing relationships with real estate agents remains vital for loan officers, and now they are using technology to enhance those relationships by delivering leads to agents.
  • Loan officers are taking a page from a real estate agent’s playbook and using integrated curbside marketing to capture purchase leads that include yard sign riders.

Kevin Blair was paying top dollar for online mortgage leads from sources such as LendingTree and Lower My Bills. At times, these leads were costing him $10 to $20 each, while delivering, at best, “mediocre results.”

Blair’s goal, like most loan officers and mortgage brokers, is straightforward: find great customers, offer them an array of mortgage financing options and give them the most responsive and immediate customer service experience to set him apart from his competitors.

That might sound simple, but in the mortgage business, all of this stuff is tough, mostly because the mortgage process has been largely commoditized. The big banks are focused on their tens of millions of customers for their mortgage business and treat these loans not much differently than any other financial products they market.

Big online lenders have turned to dominating television commercial airwaves in their attempt to go directly to the consumer, and they make getting a loan sound as easy as pushing a button. The fact is that just a handful of big lenders are controlling most of the mortgages made in America today.

Blair has designed his mortgage business to leverage the power of the same technology used by top real estate agents: integrated curbside marketing. Technologies such as Goomzee, Curbcall and VoicePad offer this type of service. (In this particular case study, Blair used VoicePad; however, the system of referrals and partnerships he uses are applicable to many real estate professionals’ careers.)

Blair’s leads — that once cost him as much as $20 each — are now costing him 88 cents per lead. He is closing about 80 loans a year that he directly attributes to his mobile marketing strategy, which is half of his business.

But the biggest bonus, according to Blair, is the quality of his leads because they are coming from interested buyers who are purchase-ready. His system is laid out below.

How local lenders compete

One of the ways that local mortgage lenders, like Blair, compete with the big banks and mega online lenders is to build working partnerships with local real estate agents.

Blair doesn’t treat the mortgage business like a factory; he focuses on how to make his customers, who are most often referred to him by an agent, appreciate the fact that their agent made the referral in the first place. His goal is to make the customer’s agent look like the smartest person in the business for referring them to him.

This focus on the customer is the core principal around which Blair and many other top local lenders build their businesses. Today, technology plays a key role in helping Blair deliver an exceptional customer experience, and more importantly, Blair’s system helps provide his agents with purchase leads.

Technology that strengthens relationships

For Blair, curbside marketing begins with a rider for the agent’s yard sign. Agents whom Blair works with know that the little bit of yard sign real estate they share with Blair can yield some very big dividends.

Blair’s sign rider features a branded phone number that invites homebuyers to call or text to obtain automated property information. Once potential homebuyers connect to the phone number, they either hear an audio presentation (in Spanish or English) or receive a text message directly to their cell phone.

The immediacy of mobile

When potential homebuyers call the number on the yard sign or text for more information, Blair’s mobile technology platform shines for both him and the agent.

Now, both Blair and the listing agent instantly get a text message and email containing the interested party’s name and phone number.

This is real-time purchase lead capture at its finest due to quality: these are active homebuyers standing on the curb in front of the property’s for sale sign and inquiring about a home they are interested in. It’s harder to find a hotter lead than one calling or texting in from the curb.

Blair’s agents know that red hot purchase leads come from the curb, and that’s why they allow Blair to put a sign rider on their for sale signs while in the past, they might have turned down similar requests from other loan officers.

The technology Blair uses delivers more value to the agent than instantly providing the name and contact information of a potential buyer. The system also is designed to help directly connect the buyer to the agent. One of the options buyers get when they call the phone number on Blair’s sign riders is to connect to the agent directly.

If the potential buyer elects to speak with the agent while on the call, the tech system rings the agent’s cell phone. Another choice, combined with an online mortgage calculator, offers buyers the option to speak directly with a mortgage professional.

If buyers select this option, their call will automatically be routed to Blair — or any one of his associates — as his integrated curbside marketing uses simultaneous ring technology, so Blair and his team never miss a call.

Blair also solves a big pain point in real estate with his system, as our research on millions of calls from the curb shows that some 42 percent of all calls go to voicemail. But because Blair and his agents know these are “money calls” from potential buyers ready and willing to transact, those calls are captured.

Better quality throughout

Although Blair’s technology allows him to strengthen his relationships with local real estate agents, he is only able to leverage this technology by having built a successful, customer-centric business. The quality of his offering is what wins over his agents, and that’s found in everything he does.

For the agents he works with, Blair knows that the delineating advantage in the purchase leads he provides to mortgage lenders is found in the quality of the leads. Blair and his team follow up on every lead generated from the curb, regardless of whether the buyer opted to speak with a mortgage professional.

Blair and his agents have been able to capture more high-quality leads with their integrated curbside marketing technology than with any other lead source they have used.

Randall Standard is CEO of VoicePad and a 20-plus year veteran of the mobile phone industry. Follow him on LinkedIn or Twitter.

Email Randall Standard.

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