What's in this article?
Whether you just landed the Marketing Director role at a progressive mortgage lender, are trying to make the pivot from a traditional branch operation, or you’re just trying to craft an innovative new marketing strategy, this Guide to a 90-day Mortgage Marketing Plan is for you.
I’m a big believer in quarterly marketing plans. In my experience, these marketing sprints are the ideal balance between strategic planning and rapid execution and iteration.
Get Help with Your 90-day Marketing Plan
We’d love to help you create your mortgage marketing plan for the upcoming quarter. Schedule a no-obligation discovery session with our mortgage marketing team.
This planning guide aims to give you a framework for transforming from a traditional branch operation to consumer-direct lending or support for your ongoing mortgage marketing planning. In both circumstances, you’re going to get lots of actionable ideas to provide you with immediate wins.
(If you’re just looking for a monster list of mortgage marketing ideas – Check our my 50+ Mortgage Marketing Ideas.)
The 30-day Plan
Start with an inventory of your assets.
My first question to a new client is: “What do we have to work with?” To an existing client that needs more leads, my starting point is similar: “Let’s see what we have to work with.”
In the first 30 days of your marketing plan, you should:
- Inventory your marketing channels and campaigns
- Learning (in an open-minded way) the thinking and processes behind the current marketing strategy
- Go to the data to determine what is working and what isn’t
- Seek out a couple of easy quick, wins
The first step is your marketing inventory.
Marketing is too often a game of the gut, but it should be a creative profession informed and refined by data.
This philosophy is at the heart of my marketing approach. Consequently, it is also at the heart of my discovery process. Instead of asking the marketing director for their marketing plan or strategy, I like to work backward – sales, show me your leads.
I look at the sales team’s leads and work backward to see what is yielding and what isn’t, then we can figure out what we have to work with for a reinvigorated marketing plan.
How are your mortgage leads?
Whenever I’m approaching a new mortgage operation (client, in my case) or just taking a fresh strategic look at an existing mortgage operation, I like to start with an inventory of my sales and revenue fuel – leads.
Where are they coming from? What is the sales team’s perception of lead quality? How are they being handled by the marketing team and the sales team? What is the lead management process and interface between these two teams?
There are a couple of important side notes in the previous paragraph that I want to unpack a little bit more.
- What is the sales team’s perception of lead quality? Notice I say, “perception.” That is always where I start. Not to be cliche, but in this case, perception is reality. If sales folks think their leads are bad, they won’t work them. Of course, there are many reasons that your sales team might think that internet leads are bad that are entirely out of the control of marketing, or maybe even irrational. Getting to the bottom of that is a future step. Right now, we just want to figure out the current perceived state of your lead generation program.
- What is your lead management process? After conversion, managing leads is often the biggest problem with turning leads into loan applications and ultimately closed loans. Your lead management system, CRM, or database marketing – whatever you want to call it – is the secret to delivering an exceptional customer experience and more close loans. Optimizing your lead management is ALWAYS low-hanging fruit in a fresh mortgage marketing plan.
Now that we know what we’re looking for, it’s time to craft a plan.
- Analyze your lead data at various levels – Where do most of your mortgage leads come from? Be careful to break the data down. Where do most of your mortgage leads at the organization, branch, and individual loan officer levels come from? Often the lead mix is quite different when analyzed at these different levels. It’s pretty typical for organizations to buy or generate many leads, but certain branches and individual loan officers may take very few of these leads.
- Interview top, middle, and underperforming loan officers – Ask them a few telling questions: Where do your best leads come from? Where do your worst mortgage leads come from? Where do you go to find deals when you’re behind on your monthly goal?
- If possible, observe them working leads – If watching isn’t possible, ask them to describe their most productive sales processes. What do they do when they get a new mortgage lead? What do they do to ensure they don’t miss follow-ups? What do they do with mortgage leads that are unresponsive or intermittently responsive? What do they do with “dead” or “aged” mortgage leads?
Sales teams and their marketing perspective make or break marketing directors, so I always try to start my marketing plan with the sales team.
My goals for this phase of my marketing planning are finding out what they like and don’t like about their current marketing and making them more successful with the leads I deliver.
Lead Management: What is the Journey of a Lead?
With a good understanding of the sales team’s view of their leads, let’s switch perspectives to the customer’s perspective.
To the best of your ability, try to trace a lead through your current marketing and sales processes. Ideally, you would be able to dive into your CRM system and trace a mortgage lead from a marketing source through the follow-up and sales process. However, your fastest way to discover and document in this phase is to put in a “secret shopper” lead and document your experience.
Here are a few things that you’re looking for:
- Speed to initial contact – a phone call, email, and text message. In a perfect world, these three initial contacts should be automated to assist your busy loan officers but consistently complete this essential step.
- Consistent and on-time follow-up – Again, automation is a great way to assist your sales team. Following up consistently and on-time is critical to delivering exceptional customer moments.
- Staying in the game, even when the customer goes silent – Exceptional experiences are made when the customers feel like you remember them and are attentive to their needs (and timing). Often a customer will go silent as life or other priorities take over their focus. Gently reminding them that they are ready to serve when the time is right can be a real differentiator to a customer.
Where can we get more high-quality mortgage leads?
After talking with your sales team and tracing a lead’s journey through your sales process, you probably have a pretty good idea of how you get your best mortgage leads. We will keep these findings in mind to formulate our complete 90-day marketing plan.
One of the easiest ways to ramp up your quality lead flow over the next 90 days is to pay particular attention to three often under-estimated, high-intent, easily scaled lead sources:
- Your website – Most websites are poorly optimized for lead generation and almost always can yield more leads with a few design and development tweaks.
- Lead buys – Many mortgage lenders buy internet leads, but most organizations don’t have the experience or expertise to optimize their mortgage lead buys for maximum performance.
- Email lists – Your database of past and current leads is always a gold mine for more high-quality leads. Too often, these email lists are left neglected.
As we round out our initial audit, we should have spotted several improvement opportunities. The next step is prioritizing and sequencing these improvements for short and long-term wins.
My Online Mortgage Lead Generation Framework
More leads are always the top response when I ask what you want from marketing.
That’s why Kaleidico calls our marketing engagements lead generation programs. It keeps us focused on the ultimate KPI.
Generating high-quality mortgage leads fast is a careful blend of art and science. Our proven mortgage lead generation framework is equal parts design, traffic generation, and conversion optimization. These three marketing disciplines work together to deliver fresh leads consistently.
Optimize your website and landing pages
Most people come to most mortgage lenders’ websites to get a rate quote. Yet, for whatever reason, most mortgage websites make it hard to figure out how to ask for that quote.
Make it easy. Create a Request a Rate Quote or Apply Now, or Get a Rate Quote button and take them to your quick, progressive lead form on every page of your website.
Get high-intent, relevant traffic
Every mortgage lender has some excellent sources of immediate high-intent, relevant web visitors if you optimize your website correctly. Let’s review these natural sources of customer visits.
- Loan Officer Names – Your hardworking loan officers continuously work for their leads, friends, family, past clients, and professional networks. All of these activities naturally cause many of these folks that they engage in searching for them. If you optimize your loan officer profile pages, all of these searches and inquiries will flow right back to your website.
- Branch Locations – Many folks are looking to buy a home or refinance their mortgage and start their process with a simple search: “Mortgage broker near me.” Like loan officer profile pages, a carefully optimized branch location page will bring in several leads a week for folks looking for a local mortgage lender to assist them.
- Loan Programs – Another frequent starting point for customers is the names of the mortgage loan programs they hear about on the news, from friends, family, and big mortgage lenders’ TV commercials. Leverage these searches for FHA loans, VA loans, 15-year fixed-rate loans, and other popular mortgage terms.
- Mortgage Rates – Rising or falling, mortgage rates in transition are always popular news headlines and get consumers asking whether they should buy a home or refinance their mortgage. Make sure that you are capturing these high-intent consumer mortgage rate inquiries by focusing on searches like “mortgage rates in [city].” These types of searches are where your local branch pages come into play.
- Mortgage Calculators – “How much home can I afford?”, “What will my monthly mortgage payment be?” and “What is amortization?” are all common questions as consumers start looking into mortgages. Offering a few mortgage calculators can bring in these curious customers.
- Life Situations – There are certain life situations and circumstances that trigger homeowners and future homeowners to start looking for answers to mortgage questions. Latest jobs and promotions, relocations, buying a home when you’re self-employed, or refinancing to get cash out. These situations occur in all kinds of mortgage and rate markets – this is excellent long-term positioning.
Shape Your Website Around These Borrow Demands
Remembering that we only have 90 days to generate mortgage leads, it is imperative to focus on these high-demand concepts. I like to start with a few core landing pages.
Using a content management system like WordPress, we can design and develop a landing page template and then create our cornerstone, or as I like to call them, “money pages.”
Start with your loan program landing pages
These loan programs are what your clients are looking for – they need a conventional, FHA, or VA mortgage or refinance. So, get the basics in place. You would be shocked about how many mortgage websites lack and pages devoted to what mortgage loan programs they offer.
My basic framework for these pages includes the following elements:
- The common name of the program – FHA loan
- An introductory positioning statement – The ideal mortgage loan for first-time homebuyers
- Then some of the benefits of this program – low downpayment, reasonable credit requirements, quick pre-approval
- A strong call to action – Apply Online. Get Pre-Qualified Today!
After this initial pitch, I use the rest of the page to reinforce trust and credibility with a robust educational framework.
- What is the loan program?
- How does it work?
- What is the process to get qualified?
- What are all the finer details on the features, benefits, and borrower scenarios the loan program is designed for
Here is an example of one of the loan program pages we’ve designed.
Optimize your loan officer profile pages
You and your loan officers generate a lot of activity in your community. You’re building relationships with prospective customers and referral partners. For this reason, you must have strong loan officer pages. These pages should help them quickly find you in Google searches, build trust and credibility around your expertise, and make it easy for them to get started applying for a loan with you.
Here is the basic framework we use for these landing pages:
- Professional headshot
- Full name
- Direct phone number (ideally, your cell phone number) and email address
- NMLS number linked to the loan officer’s NMLS record
- Write a personal to showcase your experience and qualifications and include a personal statement and commitment to your customer. Add a few personal tidbits to humanize yourself. Maybe something about your family or hobbies – this can help make you more relatable.
Here is an example of one of the loan officer pages we’ve designed.
Get a progressive lead form on each landing page
Now for the secret sauce in this mortgage marketing plan.
Most mortgage websites rely on an old-fashioned contact form with many fields for borrowers to fill out. These are hard to navigate through and require a lot of typing. They look overwhelming, especially if the borrower uses a mobile phone, which most are.
Instead, we like to use a progressive lead form. This type of web form asks a single question on each screen, and that question simple requires you to select an option – an easy click. That selection then progresses you smoothly to the next question. In a matter of seconds, the borrower has answered 10-15 questions, and you get a highly qualified mortgage lead.
Here is an example of one of our progressive mortgage lead forms.
Drive borrower traffic with Google Ads
Now that you have several highly optimized loan programs and loan officer profile pages, it’s time to drive some lead traffic. To do this immediately, I recommend that you start with a few simple Google Ads campaigns for these mortgage loan programs and your loan officer names.
Wrapping Up Our First 30 Days of Your Mortgage Marketing Plan
I packed many things into our first 30 days, but this foundation is essential.
Unlike some of the marketing plans you might have tried in the past, we’re not playing around with the latest silver bullet marketing fad. We’re building a lead generation platform that will produce a consistent flow of online mortgage leads in any market.
Now, on to the next 30 days, see how we’re doing, what we can improve, and what online lead channels we can layer into our system.
The 60-day Plan
The first thing we want to do as we head into our next 30 days of growth marketing is to check our progress. Are we moving our Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)?
Check Our Progress. Review Our KPIs
Let’s start with the end in mind. What should our KPIs be? Here is my shortlist.
By the way, KPIs should always be a shortlist. Don’t get bogged down in reporting. Only a few things matter in driving mortgage lead growth.
- Traffic – Look in Google Analytics and see how much traffic you’re getting. These are prospective customers visiting your website. At this point, you might have a little Organic traffic, but most of your productive traffic will probably come from Paid Media (Google Ads in our plan).
- Leads Generated – Ideally, you track this in Google Analytics by setting up Goals. If not, you should follow your progressive form submissions into your CRM.
- Sales Feedback – How are the leads? Get specific. Look at every mortgage lead and evaluate the interactions. At this point, you probably have less than 50 mortgage leads. Take the time to work and assess every mortgage lead. Early in this lead generation process is the best time to dial in quality.
Right now, that is about all we have to track. In our first 30 days, we set up our web platform, landing pages and started running Google Ads. So we want to make sure that our Google Ads are driving traffic and our landing pages are converting that traffic into mortgage leads.
Assuming that our Google Ads and landing pages are working nicely and keeping our loan officers happy and fed, it’s time to add channels and scale this mortgage lead platform.
In the first 30 days, we set up all the infrastructure to add additional traffic channels to our lead generation system. So let’s get to it.
Build a long-term content strategy
Google Ads is effective and yields nearly instant lead generation. However, you pay for each click. Of course, this should be profitable, but it can be challenging to continue to scale quickly without massive capital.
We need to start adding strategies that might take more time to yield mortgage leads but will ultimately generate a higher Return on Advertising Spend (ROAS).
The first of these strategies is content marketing. We want to begin developing an editorial plan and process that regularly publishes educational content. This content – blog posts – should be related to mortgages, homes, real estate, and personal finance.
This kind of content will grow your brand awareness, trust, and credibility with an audience using Google to search for these topics that often lead to a future home purchase or refinance.
Quality content, the kind that will get ranked (positioned) in search engine results, is not cheap. So we want to be as efficient as possible in determining the right content, getting it produced at a fair price, and published in a way that gives it the best chance to rank.
We use this high-level workflow to determine the right content and rank it in Google searches.
- Seed words and concepts – This is just a quick list of keywords and topics that you and your loan officers can brain dump in a matter of minutes. List out as many words and phrases as you can think of that borrowers might type into a Google search when looking for a mortgage loan or trying to figure out how to qualify for one. This list of 20-30 keywords and phrases will be the seeds for the next step – keyword research.
- Keyword research – In this phase of our content marketing process, we will find out from your seed list what keywords borrowers use most often. Using SEO tools, like SEMrush, Ahrefs, and Ubersuggest, we begin to refine our concepts and keywords. Our final list of keywords will blend keywords with lots of potential traffic (searches per month) and high probable intent to apply for a loan. Crafting the definitive list of keywords, creating the right content to get ranked, and then yielding mortgage leads from this traffic is a bit of high alchemy.
- Information architecture – Organizing your content on your website in a way that is useful and intuitive for web visitors and effective for Google rankings in another mysterious (and often overlooked) art. For this part of the process, it is wise to think a bit like a librarian. Use WordPress categories and web design to neatly organize your published content for browsing and create an efficient sitemap for Google bots to crawl.
- Editorial calendar – Another common mistake with content marketing programs is the haphazard nature in which they are executed. Sporadically coming up with an assorted mix of mortgage topics in the best case will cause your lead generation to come slower and, in the worst case, never come at all. Using your information architecture as an explicit scaffolding and roadmap, use your editorial calendar to build your content library methodically.
- Writing SEO optimized content – Sitting down in front of your laptop and pounding out a few hundred words on a mortgage topic is also not the quickest path to ranking in Google search results. In a sentence, or two, here are the basics. Make sure that each blog post has a specific keyword goal. Craft an exciting title (headline) for your article, followed by a compelling description (teaser for the click), a strong hook in the first couple of sentences, and then make sure that you have three to four strong subheadlines in the article. Each of these areas should include your keyword. Use the WordPress SEO Yoast plugin to ensure you have all these areas set up and optimized to your keyword goal.
- Design and publication – Words are not enough to get content to rank in Google and engage borrowers to apply with your mortgage company. How to design and publish your content to make it the best option on the web continues to grow in importance. Some of the essential areas that we always concentrate on when creating and publishing content include a unique feature image, easy to scan section headlines, and interesting images, call-outs, and calls to action. This approach will draw readers into interacting and inquiring about our company. More and more, Google requires our content to be long, but the only way to make that not equal boring.
- Distribution and promotion – Finally, we need to get this content in front of our audience. Generally, this is its own little sales process. We are reaching out to other publishers and mortgage influences to “earn” a share or link. But also, we can leverage paid media to generate traffic and gain engagement from prospective borrowers.
As we move through our 60-day plan and start to head into our final phase, we should have accomplished the following:
- Created a young, but effective lead traffic platform
- Good, high intent organic and PPC traffic should be on its way, and
- We should have seen our first leads
As we move into our 90-day Mortgage Marketing Plan, we’re going to begin shifting our focus from marketing to our sales leads. 60-days into our marketing plan, we’re going to be seeing some internet lead flow. Honestly, this will be a bit of a shock to most loan officers, especially seasoned loan officers used to working referral leads. Consumer-direct leads are distracted, savvy, and often deal-shopping borrowers. Your loan officers need good sales and marketing process support to handle the volume and follow up on a slightly different borrower persona.
In our 90-day plan, we will start helping our loan officers convert these marketing-qualified leads into loan applications.
The 90-day Plan
You should start seeing some significant growth in traffic and leads as we head into the final 30-days of your quarterly cycle. This last 30-day sprint will focus on compounding our growth with remarketing and email marketing.
Audience Development and Building a Remarketing List
One of the most underutilized strategies in digital marketing is the concept of audience development and remarketing to this audience.
Let’s begin with the concept of audience. Who’s in this audience. These are people who have encountered your brand, typically on your website, or have done a mortgage with you in the simplest terms.
This dynamic creates a natural segmentation for your remarketing efforts.
Now we need to craft a set of messages to each audience segment to draw them back to your business (i.e., website) and find methods to deliver these messages in a targeted way to these audiences. Google Ads, Facebook Ads, and email marketing have proved to be the most effective marketing channels for this pursuit in the mortgage industry.
Your first step is to acquire these consumers into your audience list. In the case of Google and Facebook Ads (and most any advertising platform you might use), this is as simple as installing a platform pixel on your website and driving traffic to your website. By adding this pixel (a short piece of code) to your website, a cookie will be placed in their browser and trigger Google Ads on other websites they visit when someone comes to your website.
Boom! You’re remarketing your brand all over the web, even when they are not on your website or thinking about mortgages. And you are encouraging them with your ads to return to your website.
Email (re)marketing is a slightly different process, but the concept is the same. In the case of email, you need to capture your audience with a higher level of consent. Consumers need to subscribe or opt-in to be on your list. We typically do this with the offer of a piece of valuable content – maybe a Guide to Buying Your First Home or a Simple Checklist to Refinancing.
Once we have them on the list, we begin our remarketing campaign – emailing them every few weeks with additional valuable content. In each of those emails, we remind them that we are their mortgage experts.
Sales automation and lead nurturing
An extension of remarketing is sales automation and lead nurturing. These techniques are very similar to remarketing. We are working on our lead audience. We use automated emails, text messages, and sometimes ringless voicemail drops to stay top of mind and move these opportunities through the sales pipeline.
These automation and nurturing campaigns can get quite complex, but at the highest level, you want to create the following situation:
- Use a CRM and have your leads automatically post into this system
- Immediate trigger email, text, and ideally ringless voicemail messages to the inquiring consumer – let them know you got their request and are trying to contact them
- After this initial outreach, it’s important to have automation around each status and pipeline that your loan officers are expected to manage
The primary objective of sales automation and lead nurturing is to help the loan officer accomplish mundane outreach and follow-ups, allowing them to focus more on having productive conversations.
Coming out of your 90-day plan, you should have a high-level end-to-end marketing and sales process. This process will help your loan officers to be more productive and motivated by that productivity. More importantly, it gives you the infrastructure to plug in new loan officers and quickly bring them up to your production expectations.
This simple mortgage sales and marketing plan will immediately begin increasing your lead flow and conversion rate. Now, we want to make this mortgage marketing plan a repeatable and scalable process.
Next Steps for Your Mortgage Sales and Marketing Plan
Our work isn’t even close to done. Success brings new challenges.
Use this scaffolding to build your mortgage empire. Multi-million dollar branches use this simple framework as well as billion-dollar national consumer-direct lenders. Keep refining and building.
If you need help, learn more about Kaleidico, my mortgage marketing agency, and schedule a discovery session. Our team does strategy and marketing execution for some of the biggest names in the mortgage market.