As a mortgage originator, you are constantly seeking to generate a flow of quality mortgage leads to keep your loan officers productive and engaged throughout the work week. In this article, we are going to focus on how you can generate more leads for $1 a day. We will discuss and introduce Facebook ads and why they could be a good addition to or replacement for some of your current marketing efforts.
Competition for leads can be fierce, especially when you consider market ad noise from companies like LendingTree and Quicken Loans. The question is how to compete, stand apart, And improve mortgage lead generation?
You probably believe that you are doing all the right things: talking to real estate agents, attending networking meetings, and updating Facebook regularly to make every NMLS login worth it. Perhaps even a little cold calling that generated a few actual conversations. But are you really getting quality leads?
What sets you apart from the giant mortgage companies? You are focused on delivering the best possible rates, service, and turn-around and return times. You know your products and rates will save homebuyers thousands of dollars over the life of a loan.
But the questions still rise. How do you get a message to stick in a very crowded market place? How do you get quality mortgage leads? Let’s start by addressing the message. Just because you are making noise does not mean that you are being heard. It is probably safe to say that most of your messages are going to people who are NOT actively searching for a mortgage.
Put yourself in the shoes of the homebuyer and and ask yourself how they look for a home. Here is a typical sequence of events:
- Most homebuyers start by visiting Trulia, Zilliow or Realtor.com to look for and find a home they like. This phase is high with emotion and desire to find the home with the right color of paint, kitchen cabinets, neighborhood, and layout.
- When they find the home they like, they call an agent who will then send them to MLS to look at the listing in closer detail.
- If the homebuyer is interested, the agent will show the home.
- If the homebuyer wants the home, it’s at this stage when they start looking for financing.
The home search starts as emotional search. Once the agent is involved, it transitions to a transactional search. Understanding this process is critical in focusing your message to the right people.
Yes, it would be great if the homebuyer started by securing financing first and then looking for a home, but the typical homebuyer does not know this process. Filling out forms online requires a commitment and creates a huge barrier for the homebuyer. They are concerned about giving up sensitive personal information and being badgered by telemarketers. This is why the real estate agent usually gets the lead first. The real estate agent is the most powerful asset in generating mortgage leads. And that is why so much of marketing is focused on building relationships with realtors.
Is there a way that you as a mortgage lender can change the process and begin to get the leads from buyers directly? Facebook Ads could be the tool to consider.
Unlike other forms of advertising (e.g., radio and TV), Facebook ads allow for specific targeting for a minimum of $1 per day; this averages out to around $.25 cents per 1000 impressions. By using Facebook ads, you will most likely get in front of 4,000 people that would not have seen your message otherwise.
Most people spend their online time browsing their social media pages. Platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are used for socializing and finding products and services.
The idea of finding a trusted brand has moved from “Google Search” to Facebook. In my local community of 1500 homes, the Facebook community is active with over a 100 posts each day from people actively discussing and looking for recommendations for every conceivable need,including home repair, realtors, and lenders.
A Google search will return websites without endorsements attached. Facebook business pages and ads display the names of friends who like the brand. People generally view Facebook ads as being less disruptive and annoying in their social browsing activities. With Facebook ads you can…
Be very specific about who will see your ads. Facebook ads are based on clicks, impressions (number of people who see the ad), and conversions (number of people who take a specific action). You have the ability refine who actually sees your ads through selection criteria for Facebook ads, such as:
- Demographic characteristics (level of education, income)
- Behaviors (newlywed, new parents, newly divorced)
- Interests (users who liked real estate company pages or platforms like Trulia, Zilliow, or Realtor.com)
For example, did you know that you can target someone as specific as a 35-year-old married man who lives in a specific suburb in your city, has a university degree, and reads business and investment magazines? The possibilities are limitless.
When you are targeting people that are interested in mortgage loans, Facebook is looking at websites that these people visit to put them in a market.
You also have the ability to upload a list of subscribers and Facebook will identify user accounts that you can target with ads. In addition, you can install the Facebook™ Pixel on your website and target visitors.
Statistically speaking, it takes an average of 7 to 10 touches in order to convert a lead into a customer.
Make Friends before you sell. Facebook is about socializing and being known. People usually don’t go with the first lender they find online. They are careful to find a lender they can trust. A portion of your Facebook ads should be about awareness. For example, rather than asking your audience for a mortgage evaluation, ask then to download a link that will provide them with information educating them on what they can do to maximize their chances of being approved for a loan.
Focus on homebuyer pain points and provide them the solution. Homebuyers are focused on
- Finding a mortgage loan with affordable rates and flexible conditions
- Being able to move into a home as soon as possible
- Being able to close on the deal they have discussed with the realtor
Your ad should focus on your lending conditions, smooth approval process, and your ability to work with a realtor to help them close as soon as possible. Use words in your ad copy like: “you”, “save”, “results”, and “now.”
Cut down or even eliminate professional bragging, such as “5-star professional service as confirmed by X business magazine,” or a list of your professional capacities and markets you’ve served.
Design ads for visual engagement. Facebook ads are visual. Most of the ad area is reserved for a photo or video. Focus on promoting a specific property or pre-approved properties for sale in your ads. Every now and then feature yourself and your team using actual team photographs. Stay away from stock photos because they come across as being fake.
Where to capture the lead… landing page vs Facebook lead ad. Some lenders will use the Facebook ad to drive to a landing page. Others will use Facebook lead ads that will capture the lead right there within Facebook.
Lead ads can be an extremely effective option because they reduce the amount of work a potential prospect has to do in order to “take the next step.” Facebook pre-fills the form in the ad with the information that the user has already given to Facebook—such as phone number, email, name, etc.
Essentially, people only have to tap the submit button—the form is filled out for them by Facebook. This is important because the majority of people are now operating on a mobile device, and filling out a form on a landing page is more difficult than a pre-filled lead ad. When an offer is good and the target audience selection is right, lead ads work great.
This is where the help from a Facebook ad specialist can guide you on whether to drive leads to a landing page, a Facebook lead ad, or a combination of both to see what works best for you.
Adjust and test your ads to drive the right leads. With Facebook ads, you have the ability to test different ads with different messages for your target audience. Getting the right message and format is critical for reducing the overall cost per lead. Factors that affect the quality of the ad include:
- Your offer—providing something people can get excited about will have a direct impact on the response to your ads
- Your ad copy—are you writing effective direct response marketing copy?
- The number of fields of information you ask for—form fills decrease with the more information you ask for; in other words, asking for only an email will get more leads than asking for an email, phone, and address
- The size of your target audience in Facebook—this is determined by:
- The population in the geographic area you’re targeting—larger populations allow Facebook more opportunities to find the ideal prospects
- Targeting within Facebook—what interests, demographics, and behaviors are you layering on? Keeping audience size larger or as large as possible is the best strategy as it allows the Facebook algorithm more room to find the ideal candidates.
Ads work because when you get these factors right:
- Value proposition—ocus the ads on messages like, “buy your first home” and show in the images people in the target market with moving boxes, or in empty homes with a realtor.
- The Offer—convey that your mortgage product is a “deal” that not every lender can offer, such as Chenoa Fund Down Payment Assistance. Say what is unique about the product, such as the fact that the product offers specific savings (worded “save up to”).
- Urgency—state in the ad that this program is limited and only valid for people who qualify.
- Call to action—your call to action button can say, “Tell me if I qualify?”
For example, the following are some sample messages:
- “Interest rates are at their lowest, find out how much you qualify for.”
- “Did you know Renting is more expensive than Buying? You qualify for more than you think.”
- “Save up to $___ with our exclusive loan program for people in the [city] area.”
- “You can own a home for less you are paying in Rent.”
- “Do you need assistance with down payment? We can help.”
- “Why are you renting?”
- “Tired of Renting? Ready to own a home? Yes.”
Targeting events—design an ad for an upcoming home buying seminar, such as
- How to qualify for a home
- The homebuying process
- How to buy a home with no down payment
Coordinate the brand design of your landing page into the ads—if you choose to drive people to a landing page, your ads should match the look and feel of your landing page. When a person clicks on an ad and they reach a similar page, they have the reassurance that they have found the right page.
In addition, don’t forget to make your landing page simple and easy to read. Clearly address benefits, concerns, value, your unique selling proposition, and a call to action.
Show them testimonials and images of past customers. Your calls to action can include a free rate quote, letting them know how much they’ll qualify for and what rate they can expect to pay, or a free consultation. Make sure that the images you use in your Google ads and landing page reflect the real people you work with.
Manage the Facebook ads yourself or hire out—there is a learning curve to running Facebook ads. More often than not it’s a wise decision to identify a member of the team to prioritize these ads, or hire an expert to do it for you—just as you wouldn’t advise your clients to figure out how to manage the mortgage themselves. The key to hiring an expert is finding a person who has plenty of experience working with mortgage lenders, someone with a solid list of case studies and success stories. With such an expert, you won’t have to worry about Facebook, tracking campaigns, optimizing the “funnel,” or any other complicated technology-related decisions. You can focus on dealing with leads.
Take the next step and learn about how Facebook ads can become part of your lead-generating activities.