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As a loan officer or mortgage lender, getting enough high-quality leads to fuel your business is a continuous venture.
You’ve likely heard about the option of buying leads, and may have purchased leads in the past. Or perhaps you’ve read online that the key to generating mortgage leads is through “SEO” whatever that means, right?
Let’s break down the full ecosystem and potential sources of all mortgage leads coming from online.
This includes top lead providers, tips on how to set up your own mortgage lead generation funnel, as well as advice to nurture your lead until they’re ready to close a mortgage loan.
What is a mortgage lead?
A mortgage lead is the personal contact information of prospective home buyers and borrowers who have successfully filled out a web form.
They’ll typically sign up to receive a rate quote or see which loan programs they may qualify for, or just to otherwise inquire about mortgages.
These leads then work together to build your mortgage lead funnel.
First, it starts with a mortgage website that’s optimized for conversion. Generating a mortgage lead counts as a “conversion” in your advertising campaign.
Conversion means successfully attracting prospective customers to your website and the user completes your desired goal. The goal is often to collect contact information or another measurable outcome.
One of the ways to attract users to your website is to create helpful blog content. The goal is that eventually people in the researching phase will find your articles in their Google search, go to your website, and fill out a contact form.
This is only the beginning of the mortgage sales process, which involves warm calling, lead nurturing, and following up.
Why are mortgage leads important to lenders and mortgage loan officers?
Yes, referrals are nice—but they’re simply not enough to sustain a business.
When you consider that the top mortgage salespeople call around 100 people a day, you can see that relying on referrals will only get you so far into the work day. And what if nobody in your network knows of family members or friends who need a mortgage?
Instead of waiting around hoping you’ll get referrals, you can actively start generating your own leads. These new clients can pave way for future referrals to come later.
The problem with referrals is that they’re not scalable at all. It takes years to build trust and form relationships with your clients. And if you’re a new mortgage loan officer, you’ll absolutely depend on leads, because you haven’t formed any relationships with customers yet.
This is why every mortgage lender and loan officer needs to build a strong foundation for a continuously replenishing pipeline of mortgage leads so that you’re never left waiting around to hear back from people. Instead, you’re actively calling and emailing warm leads.
How do mortgage professionals get leads?
If you want more mortgage leads, and I think you do, then you really only have a few options:
- Buy them from a lead provider
- Generate leads yourself
- Use client referrals
First, let’s look at the different types of leads you can purchase online.
Buy leads from lead aggregators
Purchasing leads online is certainly the fastest way to ramp up your mortgage operation.
Lead provider companies have already done all the leg work to attract traffic to their website and collect contact info from people who have shown a high intent to take the next step in the sales funnel. These users are sometimes referred to as “hand-raisers.”
Lead providers like LendingTree have been around for more than 20 years, earning a positive reputation and receiving millions of monthly visitors to their websites.
Will your mortgage website be the next LendingTree? No, probably not, and it doesn’t need to be to generate enough exclusive leads for your company.
Generating leads through a lead generation marketing agency
The problem with purchasing leads is that as soon as you stop paying for leads, the leads stop coming in.
Instead of buying leads from LendingTree, or another lead provider, try your hand at creating your own mortgage lead generation ecosystem. Your mortgage conversion-optimized website is a 24-hour referral system.
Yes, generating your own mortgage leads will take a bit longer than simply purchasing them. But once your website is properly set up and running, you’ll generate mortgage leads passively, which lets your website and its blog content do the work for you of targeting new borrowers.
Getting referrals from clients
As I already mentioned, there are no beating referrals as leads— they’re targeted, they show a high intent, and they’re free to receive.
Again, the problem is often that referrals don’t work for new loan officers and aren’t enough to satisfy monthly sales quotas.
But let’s look at the top ways to generate client referrals:
- Always be available on your phone. If you can go above and beyond, you’ll get more referrals.
- Be knowledgeable about your customers. When they call you, you already know what they need and don’t need to dig around your files for a few minutes.
- Offer your customers something your competitors can’t. Offer VA loans, offer down payment assistance, lower or waive origination fees, etc.
- Send email newsletters frequently. Use an automated drip campaign to stay in contact with past and new clients.
- Post to social media. Whichever platform your audience is on (Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.) post consistently.
- Partner with local real estate agents. Set up a referral network of referral partners.
Learn more about referral partners and other tips in our post, 50+ Mortgage Marketing Ideas
What are the different types of mortgage leads?
Broadly speaking, there are four main categories of mortgage leads you can buy:
- Aged leads
Keep in mind that when you generate your own leads, they’re automatically exclusive, because your website has generated its own lead that you don’t intend on selling!
Let’s go through the different types of paid leads, their benefits, and their weaknesses.
Exclusive leads are the most valuable because they are only sold to one buyer—you.
This means when you contact the lead, you’ll be the first person to ever call them about getting a mortgage after they fill out the contact form. And this is what you want because there is virtually no competition.
Exclusive leads have a drastically higher closing rate because the leads have shown a high intent to apply for a loan.
Pros: Low competition, high closing rate
Cons: High costs (2-3 times the price of non-exclusive leads)
Semi-exclusive leads are exclusive leads that have been sold to 2-3 different companies, resulting in more competition.
If you’re buying semi-exclusive leads, you need to be quick on the draw to contact your lead before other loan officers do.
Consider setting up your CRM to automatically send an email or SMS as soon as the lead comes in.
Pros: More exclusive than non-exclusive leads, less competition than other leads
Cons: Higher price than non-exclusive, not “totally” exclusive, there is competition
Non-exclusive leads are the most common and some of the cheapest mortgage leads you can buy online.
They are, by name, non-exclusive, and will be sold to numerous mortgage loan officers.
This means you’ll really need to be on top of contacting leads as soon as they come in. You don’t want to be the last person to call a lead, because your odds of success will drastically decrease.
However, there’s still a lot of benefit to non-exclusive leads, especially if you know your stuff and can read, or even predict, your borrower’s needs.
At this point, it’s a competition between who the best salesperson is, which is why these leads are cheaper—there’s too much competition.
Benefits: Cheaper leads
Weaknesses: Too much competition
When lead providers such as NerdWallet or LendingTree promise “3-5 free quotes” instantly to their web visitors, they mean it.
However, sometimes they’re unable to sell these “exclusive, real-time leads” within a 48-hour time frame. If this happens, their fresh leads become “aged leads” and they’re forced to sell off these leads at a steep discount.
Aged leads are typically sold by their age, with the most recently aged leads being the most expensive, and leads older than 30-60 days being sold at the cheapest prices.
Because many people are still in the research phase when filling out a contact form, you can still have success with aged leads.
Benefits: Lowest priced leads possible, still a viable option, a great way to fill the sales pipeline with a high quantity of leads
Weaknesses: Leads may have already been contacted by a loan officer, may have already gotten a mortgage, information may be outdated
Is it better to buy or generate my own mortgage leads?
Generally speaking, it’s always preferred to generate your own leads over buying them.
Why? Because as I mentioned earlier, once your lead generation ecosystem has been built, it will organically (free) start to generate leads on its own.
Generating your own leads is also a guaranteed way to get exclusive leads.
When a person goes to your website and fills out your form, they have entrusted you to contact them.
This is much different than going to a lead aggregator site and filling out a contact form—they have shown a specific interest in your company, not an aggregate site.
Of course, if speed is what you need—purchase leads so you can start making phone calls immediately.
It’s not unheard of for companies to work with a lead generation marketing agency and purchase leads at the same time.
Learn more about how to pick the best lead generation companies.
This can be a win-win situation: While you’re waiting for your website to be built, you can get a list of names to start calling.
Buying leads is the easiest route, but it’s generally more expensive. And as I mentioned before, when you stop paying for leads, they stop coming in.
But if you set up a mortgage website that’s optimized for conversion and write several blog posts on relevant mortgage topics, you can get referral traffic to your website for years to come, organically and passively generating new exclusive leads.
Controlling the amount of generated leads is simple — spend more to get more leads, spend less to decrease the volume.
The top mortgage lead providers online
Purchasing leads online can be a great way to jumpstart your mortgage business and referral pipeline. Though expensive, let’s look at some top lead providers.
LendingTree is the biggest name in the mortgage industry, for both professionals and consumers.
Their website promises to connect potential borrowers and home refinancers with multiple loan operators to apply for mortgages, credit cards, deposit accounts, and more.
Because LendingTree has been around 20+ years, they’ve earned a top spot on Google’s search engine results page (SERP) and have earned a lot of trust. This equates to more highly qualified leads.
Success strategies and tactics for LendingTree leads
However, LendingTree makes its money by selling its generated leads to at least 3-4 different mortgage companies, which makes their leads highly competitive to sell.
Sales automation (auto-dialers, SMS, email) and marketing automation (lead nurturing and email campaigns) are your keys to consistently converting and winning against your competitors.
Zillow is the leading website for real estate and home buying. At this point, everybody has become familiar with Zillow and has likely visited their site to check home prices in their area at one point.
Most homebuyers don’t come to Zillow to get rate quotes — they go to look at houses, and then see an option to receive a rate quote.
What this means is Zillow leads show a lower intent, because most people are “just-looking” or trying to assess their home’s value for a cash-out refinance.
However, Zillow’s leads are exclusive and are given to you based on Zillow’s recommendation of areas that you serve.
Success strategies and tactics for Zillow leads
Once a lead is generated, Zillow controls the sales process and holds onto the lead for three days. You’ll get the lead after three days only if Zillow’s sales team live transfers a call, sets up an appointment for you, or the lead is unresponsive.
If you’re going to work with Zillow mortgage leads, you will need to be available at indeterminate times throughout the day to accept their live transfer phone calls. You’ll also need to carefully watch your appointments in Zillow to stay on top of automatic appointments set by Zillow.
Poor performance in handling leads will hurt your standing in Zillow, which will result in receiving fewer mortgage leads.
Invest in sales automation (auto-dialers, SMS, email) as well as marketing automation to win this complex channel.
Loanbright, Consumer Track, Bills.com, iLeads
Sites like Loanbright, Consumer Track, Bills.com, and iLeads are the traditional, mid-tier lead providers and media companies. They generate mortgage leads using several digital marketing strategies and tactics, such as:
- Content marketing and micro-websites that use PPC and SEO campaigns to get serious traffic
- Social media advertising, and special offers
- Lead list email marketing
Because these companies’ leads will be generated from many different sources (Facebook, blogs, websites, etc.) they will be an inconsistent quality.
For example, you may hear from one lead they filled out a form on Facebook, while another used a website’s mortgage calculator, or another responded to an email newsletter.
However, the benefit of using such providers include:
- The leads are very affordable and can be purchased in high volumes to immediately fill a loan officer’s sales pipeline
- Fewer sales competition on each lead
- Many of these lead providers have liberal return policies because they know the leads may be inconsistent in quality
Success strategies and tactics
These sites are a great resource of high-quantity, affordable leads.
However, the consistency of the leads will be all over the place, meaning some leads will show high intent, while others are just curious about mortgages.
As always, using a strong combination of an automated sales process and a lead nurturing progress to maximize success.
Really Great Rate Marketing
Unlike the other lead aggregators on this list, Really Great Rate Marketing uses email marketing as their core lead generation strategy — and they’ve been doing it a really long time.
In addition to email, they also depend on content marketing (blogs) to generate traffic to their website to generate more leads.
Success strategies and tactics for Real Great Rate Marketing leads
Because most of their leads are generated through emails, rather than just a website form, the leads show a different level of intent. Usually, the leads are responding to a specific incentive or co-registration type offer.
There are positives and negatives to this potential quality of an email channel. On the positive side, you get a highly engaged and responsive sales lead. However, many of these leads are “tire-kickers” who aren’t serious about getting a loan yet.
Doublepositive is a live-transfer lead provider making them different from many other lead aggregates.
First of all, Doublepositive’s leads are generated by a diverse set of lead partners, using a variety of marketing tactics so the quality will be a bit more inconsistent.
What sets Doublepositive apart is their leads are first called by their team and warmed up for a conversation about mortgages. The qualified leads are then transferred to loan officers and mortgage lenders via a live call connect as a “warm transfer.”
What’s great about this process is leads have already been qualified for you, weeding out the leads who have not shown a high intent or necessary requirements to get a mortgage.
This process is similar to LendingTree’s live call transfer, so you’ll have to be ready to take the calls when they come in.
Back in the day before rate tables were online, Bankrate sold their rate tables to traditional newspapers.
These days, Bankrate is the most popular mortgage rate table website, and they sell generated leads coming in from their website.
Leads generated from these sites show high intent because they’re specifically looking for mortgage rates.
Leasing email lists using TrueMail
Like Really Great Rate Marketing, TrueMail uses email marketing as its top lead generation method.
However, services like TrueMail let you “lease” their established lists of targeted customers to gain access to thousands of consumer inboxes.
These leads are of moderate quality, but you can use the list to generate numerous inquiries to grow your own in-house list.
How to generate mortgage leads yourself — creating a custom lead sales funnel
Okay, we’ve covered the basics of buying leads. Now, let’s talk about generating your own leads.
A mortgage lead funnel is an overall marketing strategy that:
- Represents all the steps of the entire customer’s journey (from the initial outreach all the way to getting a closed loan)
- Targets a wide audience of people interested in mortgage loans
- Gradually narrows down and weeds out unqualified borrowers
- Stays in contact (lead nurturing) with the leads until they’re ready to close
- Remains in contact with leads to get referrals for new business
At the top of the funnel, at its widest point, marketers want to cast a wide net to find people searching online for mortgages. To do this, a mortgage website must be created, and then landing pages and blog posts must be published.
When people are searching online for mortgage calculators, how-to articles, and general advice, they’ll stumble upon a mortgage website’s content in a Google search (or click on an ad).
From there, the reader will be redirected to the mortgage website, where they will read a helpful blog post or landing page that answers their questions.
Satisfied with their answer, the reader will then “convert” into becoming a lead by filling out a contact form.
Lastly, the lead’s information gets automatically sent to a CRM and email list for the sales team to contact as soon as possible.
From here, the sales process and lead nurturing process continue, making sure to regularly reach out to the contact either through phone, text, or email until they are ready to get a loan.
If you’re going to generate your own mortgage leads, optimizing your website for mortgage lead generation is key.
Generate leads with a well-designed mortgage website
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that a fancy website with fun animations and videos will generate leads.
Instead, keep your website as simple as possible to maximize conversions. You don’t want to distract readers away from filling out a contact form.
Let’s look at the essential pages and features you should have on your mortgage website.
Homepage — clear positioning statement
At the top of your website should be a strong positioning statement such as “Helping homebuyers for 20 years,” for example.
It may be obvious to you, but if a reader clicks on a website and has no idea what the business is or does, they’ll bounce immediately. Leave no ambiguity to your readers.
Homepage — clickable buttons or “lead paths” to quickly capture leads
Below your mission statement, include lead “paths” or clickable buttons for users who want to buy or refinance a home.
These clickable buttons are actually sneaky contact forms. Once a reader clicks on a button, a pop-up questionnaire will appear. These questionnaires are called “progressive forms” and they’re smarter than your average contact form.
One of the biggest reasons people don’t fill out contact forms is annoying, redundant questions. But progressive forms are smart, only asking relevant questions, and remembering not to ask the same repeated questions.
In short, progressive forms work better than generic contact forms. And if you want people to fill them out, disguise them as simple, clickable buttons instead of ugly, generic forms on the side of the page.
Loan officer bio pages
Want to become more trustworthy than a lead aggregator? Show your face on your website.
Create landing pages for yourself and each of your loan officers. Include a headshot, a brief bio, and NMLS number.
When people search their names (or yours) on Google, their bio page should be one of the top results and lead them right to your website.
Loan product pages
Create landing pages for each of your loan products, as well. For example, include pages for:
- VA loans
- FHA loans
- Conventional loans
- Cash-out refinance
You likely offer more loan products than this so include all of them.
When your audience Googles “VA loans,” the goal is that your website will be listed in the top results because Google recognized that your website has a whole page dedicated to VA loans.
This is part of search engine optimization (SEO) where a website will use specific keywords that match what the audience is searching for online.
The more your reader’s query aligns with your website’s content, the more relevant your website will be, and the higher up it will sit in the search results.
Mortgage rates page
Mortgage rates are one of the highest volume search terms, often used by those in the market for a mortgage who are trying to find the best rate. Featuring a mortgage rates page on your website will capitalize on this traffic.
The same goes for mortgage calculators. People are searching for calculators online, and just want a simple tool to plug some numbers into.
Put a mortgage calculator on your website, because if you don’t, your prospective buyer will go to a competitor’s website that does have one.
Calls to action (CTAs)
Visitors who have landed on your website won’t automatically submit their contact info, even if they trust your website and the free information you’ve given them.
Why? Because you didn’t ask for them to contact you. Sounds simple, but these prompts, or calls to action, really do work.
If your goal is to get people to fill out your form, give them ample opportunities to do so and with clear intention. Place CTAs throughout your website to “Call today” or “Get a free quote!”
Add CTAs throughout your blog posts, as well, so your readers have a convenient way to contact you as they read your content.
Use traffic providers to send qualified users to your website
Now that you know how to optimize your website to capture leads, let’s get you some visitors. Getting web traffic is the first and most crucial step in the mortgage lead funnel.
Web traffic is the flow of customers attracted, or distracted, by ads, websites, and blog posts that direct them to your website, where they will submit a contact form to get more information.
When using paid platforms, such as Google Ads or Microsoft (Bing) Ads, this traffic is sold on a cost-per-click (CPC) basis.
When this traffic is generated passively and freely from your website’s web pages and blogs, it’s known as “organic” search traffic.
Google Ads is the most widely used paid ad platform online, allowing you to reach about 90% of all online users!
Ads are purchased by picking the desired keyword such as “mortgage rates” and showing your ad every time a person searches for “mortgage rates.”
As you can imagine, mortgage-related keywords can be expensive, as all mortgage companies are competing for the same keywords.
Whichever company bids the most on the desired keywords will have their ads shown in Google’s SERP.
When an ad is clicked on, you will be charged the amount you bid on the word. If your ad is shown, but not clicked, you don’t get charged.
Microsoft (Bing) Ads
Microsoft Ads are similar to Google’s, except they’re cheaper, as there are fewer Bing users, and as a result, less competition.
But don’t count out Bing Ads, because you may be able to reach people who don’t use Google.
Facebook and Instagram Ads
Facebook’s Ad Manager lets you create ads on Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp, either as sponsored posts or stories or as display ads.
Unlike Google and Bing Ads, which are “active advertising” because it only shows ads to people searching for specific keywords, Facebook is “passive advertising.”
Instead of bidding on keywords, you instead put in your demographics and interests to target people who fit your target audience.
In this sense, leads from Facebook Ads may show lower intent.
However, Facebook has a specific type of ad, called a “Lead ad” that allows a person to fill out a lead ad’s contact form with just one click of a button. Facebook then auto-populates that form using their Facebook personal information.
Local directories and SEO
If you want your company to have a local presence and target your local population, set up profiles on local directories such as:
- Google Business
- Angi (Angi’s List)
To appear on the top of the results for local directories, you’ll need to have many positive reviews.
To get positive reviews, start by creating a list of all of your previous, happy customers and reach out to them for a review.
You don’t need to ask for a positive review, because you’ve already made sure to contact only happy customers.
If your company’s office isn’t already on Google Maps, then create a Google Business account.
This allows you to create a Google profile for your company so you can update your address, phone number, and photos, and add social media profiles to your Google listing.
Platforms like Google Ads, LinkedIn Ads, and Facebook Ads all have “remarketing ads” which use tracking snippets of code to show your advertisements only to people who have previously visited your website.
Remarketing ads are the best way to reconnect with people who visited your website, but left before filling out a contact form.
In short, they work, but are pretty sneaky!
Use search engine optimization (SEO) to dominate search traffic and rankings
SEO is a lead generation tactic that uses Google searches to direct traffic to your website.
The highest ranking websites in Google search results get the most traffic and generate the most leads.
The aim of SEO is to improve a website’s ranking on Google. That’s done mostly through keyword matching.
SEO is the practice of finding out which keywords get the most search traffic, and using those terms on your mortgage website.
This tactic takes a lot of marketing skills, as well as content creation.
Not only do you need to learn which keywords are being searched for, but you also need to create tons of content using those words to capitalize on that search traffic.
Investing in SEO is a long-term investment. It will take time for your website to rank higher in Google searches. But once it does, you’ll be generating nearly free leads over the long term.
Get Our 90-Day Mortgage Marketing Plan
Content marketing—write blogs to capture Google search traffic
Along with SEO comes content marketing.
As I mentioned, SEO is done through keyword matching—matching keywords in a Google search with text on billions of websites. The more matches there are, the higher your website will be in a search result.
The best way to add these important keywords to your website is through blogging.
Trying to capture traffic for FHA loans? Then write a ton of blogs about FHA loans, such as:
- How to Quality for an FHA Loan
- Complete Guide to FHA Loans
- 10 Tips to Getting Approved for an FHA Loan
Do this for every one of your loan products to increase your odds of success of getting discovered in a Google search.
Read more tips on content marketing from our blog post 12 Best Content Marketing Ideas for Mortgage Lenders.
One last tip: Write a blog post that’s at least 1,000 words and include CTAs to get the reader to message you after they’ve finished reading your article.
Lead nurturing—sales automation and marketing automation
Some leads generated from your channel will be quickly intimidated, overwhelmed, or simply not ready for a mortgage. This is where our sales operations guide to working mortgage leads helps you stay in contact with your leads until they’re ready.
Lead nurturing is a combination of sales and content marketing, finding valuable or “non-annoying” ways to stay in touch with your lead while they’re “out of the market” until they are finally ready to consider a mortgage.
Most lead nurturing campaigns use educational emails, such as helpful blog posts, to send to readers to educate them about the various aspects of mortgages.
This is where copywriting and content creation will come in handy. Send out your highest-performing blog posts to your email list.
The article might get opened, it might not, but eventually, you’ll send an email that speaks to your reader’s needs, and they’ll open it, and start the process all over again.
Don’t let new leads slip through the cracks. Set up sales automation so your lead receives a message instantly after filling out a contact form.
Here are some tried and true methods for initial outreach:
- Automated SMS messages, such as “I just received your request. When is a good time to talk?”
- Automated welcome email message. Make sure to include your office phone, mobile phone, FAX, and website
- Automated voicemail. Most people won’t pick up the first call, so leave an automated voicemail so they can get back to you.
- Using an Autodialer to dial numbers quicker with more accuracy
Drip email campaigns
Drip email campaigns are automated series of emails, from the initial welcome email message to several follow-up messages.
Each step should be matched to your lead’s sale status and correspond with the sales process.
Drip email campaigns will continue to re-engage and re-feed these leads into your warm sales queue.
Email marketing and CRM platforms help you keep track of each customer’s lifecycle, notifying you of the best times to message the lead, which emails get opened, and the ability to trigger a variety of communication types, such as email, SMS, voicemail, or phone calls.
Hire Kaleidico-a mortgage lead generation company
At Kaleidico, many digital marketing tactics are built into one overall lead generation plan for your mortgage business.
We’ve been in the mortgage business for over twenty years, and have crafted a proven framework. We combine web design/development, content marketing, SEO, PPC ads, email marketing, and other digital marketing strategies to produce consistent and sustainable leads.
Looking to close more loans? Reach out today and we’ll find the best solution to your mortgage leads problem.
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