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communications activities should be organized to allow for A/B testing so that you can determine what works for your company and what doesn’t to ensure the best possible ROI. The heart and soul of your content strategy is consumer focus. This means delivering high quality content in the right venues that is designed to engage and motivate your audience to build a relationship with your mortgage company and consider you as a financing alternative. What you should stay away from is any blatant self-promotional activity in your content marketing strategy as this will turn people off. You want your audience to view you as a trusted expert in

the field of mortgage lending, so alert them to and give them information designed to assist them. They will come to see you as a trusted expert which ultimately translates to higher origination volumes. John Seroka is a brand strategist and principal in the Los Angeles office of Seroka, a full-service brand development, marketing, public relations and social media firm that serves a nationwide client base. He can be reached at john@seroka.com and linkedin.com/in /johnseroka. Pat Seroka is president of Seroka and works out of it’s Waukesha, Wis. office. Pat can be reached at pat@seroka.com and linkedin.com/in/ patseroka.

Changing Technology Mindsets for Growth in 2013 By Todd Mobraten

As originators work to identify ways that they can attract new business in a

 DECEMBER 2012

Times have certainly changed from when

Lead generation … a buzzword

MORTGAGE PROFESSIONAL MAGAZINE

A different real estate world

lenders could depend on real estate agents representing buyers to provide loan leads. At the same time, the need for potential buyers to contact agents, who once held all necessary information in their MLS books, is long gone. Agents are not a buyer’s immediate go-to resource anymore. Now, a vast majority of consumers investigate the market and their loan options on the Internet long before they engage an agent or lender. Prior to the establishment of the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) in the 1970s, agents were offered incentives by referral fees paid by lenders for customer recommendation. Aimed at protecting consumers, RESPA ended this practice and receiving fees or kickbacks of any kind for referrals was deemed illegal. Over time, lenders have instead had to find other ways to market their loan products and generate leads. While rules are growing and regulations are becoming tighter than they ever have been, technology and the proliferation of real estate information on the Web gives mortgage companies new options and additional channels for exposure.

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A huge question for mortgage companies in 2012 that will remain in 2013 is: “How does one grow in a challenging and unpredictable market?” To answer this, we first need to examine the growth strategies of the past to uncover why the continuation of these tactics, instead of adjusting to the market’s needs, has become problematic for many organizations. From there, we can then evaluate how a mortgage company can best expand its reach and maintain relevancy, even in an exceedingly difficult economic and regulatory environment. Keeping up with the times takes on several meanings when it comes to the mortgage industry. It refers to modifying services and processes to accommodate a constantly changing market. It also means taking advantage of the tools and technology available to improve a business’ internal operations and external exposure. To achieve 2013 growth objectives, mortgage companies must alter how they view technology and focus on gaining attention from prospective homebuyers by embedding themselves within the technology that consumers use and where transactions already occur.

all services conducted rebounding market convoonline, which closely corluted by regulations, “lead relates with consumers’ generation” remains a use of online mortgage common buzzword. And lending and brokerage today, lead generation services, increased from often refers to using tech5.9 percent in 2007 to 9.4 nology and the Internet. percent in 2012. The firm Many third-party Web sites credits favorable changes have been developed solein consumer preference ly to help organizations for online mortgage servreach potential borrowers. ices for driving overall Countless mortgage comindustry growth over the panies have engaged “… the percentage past five years. There are search engine optimizaof overall services countless websites that tion (SEO) experts to conducted online, allow consumers to handle improve their Web traffic, which closely part, if not all, of the mortand while beneficial, this correlates with gage transaction. Many strategy proves costly and consumers’ use of potential buyers start their its results are often imposonline mortgage sible to measure. Of the lending and brokerage mortgage search online to weigh their options, many online platforms services, increased research lenders, evaluate that have been created, from 5.9 percent in prices and use mortgage several are launching new 2007 to 9.4 percent calculator tools, and Web features to serve as lead in 2012.” sites like RealtyTrac let generation tools and some them easily search foreclosed homes and now even offer their own competitive gather important stats for any market. To loan programs. Additionally, mortgage companies remain relevant, originators must make often invest heavily in online advertising, themselves a part of this critical initial or pay-per-click advertising, to drive phase by incorporating their businesses prospects to their Web sites. The success with organizations that are online, engagof this method frequently depends on ing prospective buyers from the onset. hiring a specialist to research keywords and phrases, which can become expense Go where the and often does not lead to desired customers go results–more Web site traffic does not There are two ways for a mortgage company to expand its business: The first is to necessarily translate into viable leads. Instead of relying on Web advertising market itself and create opportunities for other Internet marketing tactics, origina- any consumer who might be interested in tors need to entirely redefine how they obtaining a loan for a property. A better view technology as a solution. While in way for an organization to achieve growth the past using technology primarily is by including itself where consumers indicated leveraging the Internet for already go and where deals take place no advertising, exposure through technolo- matter what, which can be accomplished gy now extends far beyond purchasing through strategic technology partnerships. By forming a relationship with a techbanner ads and click through rates. Originators must gain a new perspective nology provider or well-established real on what technology truly offers and estate portal that already enables comunderstand just how much consumers munications and transactions, a company embrace the Internet as a means to can get in front of consumers who are ready to negotiate a deal, not just those transact. In any business, it is crucial to possibly considering a home purchase. As remain aware of your customers’ pref- originators look toward growth, they need erences and understand how those can to find a partner that makes them a part change over time. For mortgage compa- of a network, placing their businesses nies, this means knowing prospects’ within an online forum where transacpreferred method of researching tions are already active. A strategic partproperties and handling the purchase nership allows them to remain focused on process—and today’s consumers their core business while gaining a techabsolutely favor online services. nology provider’s in-depth understanding Industry research firm IBISWorld recentcontinued on page 56 ly reported that the percentage of over-

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