Want FREE Leads for Your Mortgage Company? Try These 11 Priceless Lead Gen Ideas That Work.

Can you put a price on a stellar lead gen strategy?

According to the dozens of expensive lead comparison sites like Bankrate, LendingTree and Zillow—heck yes, you can.

Whether it's live transfer leads, trigger leads or anything in between, if you're looking to bring in a steady source of online leads for your lending business, you better be ready to put some serious cash on the table.

Free and low-cost leads are the smart business owner’s alternative, unless you enjoy spending money on leads.  And using end-to-end technology like Shape Software to effectively field, manage, and service your leads is the ultimate way to get the most bang for your buck.

Here's what every lender loves to hate about paid lead sources:

  • Expensive upfront and pay-per-lead fees

  • Inconsistent lead quality

  • Volatile customer acquisition costs

 Oh my. So what's the alternative?

Focus your efforts on the best sources of low- to zero-cost leads.

If you're not sure where to start, don't sweat it. We've rounded up actionable tips from some of the best originators in the biz.

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#1. Ramp up your referrals

"The lowest cost and the highest quality leads are always referrals from your past customers."

— Shashank Shekhar, CEO, Arcus Lending


We know you know this, but be honest:


Are you really nurturing your referral network like you should?

According to the National Mortgage News Top Producer Survey, the top 3 best referral sources are:

  1. Past clients

  2. Real estate agents

  3. Past client database

 And if you ask #1 best-selling author and CEO of Inc 500 Company Arcus Lending, Shashank Shekhar, he'll tell you it's time to double down on your efforts to connect with past clients.

"The lowest cost and the highest quality leads are always referrals from your past customers," says Shashank.

And that means having a rock-solid lead management system in place. "Database management by staying in touch and constantly providing value to them should always be a Loan Officer's #1 goal," he stresses.

 Did you hear that? Consistently offering value should be your #1 goal.

 Got it? Great. Let's move on to the next hot tip.

 (Psst! Not sure what's next for 2019? Check out Shashank's top predictions here.)

#2. Pick up the phone

"Nothing's better than an army of people spreading your name around."

— Rhonda DelSignore-Mulligan, Senior Mortgage Advisor at Province Mortgage Associates Inc.


Here's one we know you've heard before.

But in today's digital age, the temptation to avoid the phone is all too real. In fact, according to a report by LivePerson 73% of millennials and Gen Z'ers interact with each other more digitally than they do in real life.

And while email, text and chatbot messengers may be great tools for engaging a new generation of homebuyers, experienced originators like Rhonda DelSignore-Mulligan say the phone is still #1.

"I've never been a big 'lead' person. You have to weed through them and there's no guarantee of quality. I'm more about warm referrals from past clients, friends, family and partners in my referral network," she says. As the Senior Mortgage Advisor at Province Mortgage Associates Inc., Rhonda's on the phone with her referral partners every single day.

"Nothing's better than an army of people spreading your name around. To me, that's the best lead source," she says.

#3. Learn to love pop-bys

"I love seeing the ideas that people can come up with to remind people that they are open for business."

— Alex Jimenez, Branch Manager, Benchmark Home Loans

 
Yes, really.

According to Alex Jimenez, Branch Manager at Benchmark Home Loans and one of The Most Connected Mortgage Professionals of 2018, pop-bys still matter.

"Pop-bys always brings out the creative side in people. I love seeing the ideas that people can come up with to remind people that they are open for business," says Alex.

In this day and age, pop-bys might seem a little old school. But Alex is known for his no-bull advice for cutting through the noise and figuring out what really works in the mortgage business. If he says pop-bys are worth your time, believe him.

Ready to step up your pop-by game? According to Alex, "Pinterest is a great source for some awesome pop-by ideas."

#4. Invest in quality Facebook ads

"Facebook targeted ads are the best way to get free or low-cost leads moving forward."

— Marc Demetriou, Branch Manager, Residential Home Funding Corp.

 
Facebook ads are widely hailed as the holy grail of low-cost mortgage leads.

But (and that's a big BUT), experts like Marc Demetriou warn there's an art and science to doing them right. 

Marc's an influential author, Certified Divorce Lending Professional and the Branch Manager at Residential Home Funding Corp. He's also a big fan of Facebook ads as a low-cost lead source.

"Facebook targeted ads are the best way to get free or low-cost leads moving forward," he says. And when we asked him how to win with Facebook ads?  

It's all about "good content vs. bad."

We've all seen the flashy, overly-salesy Facebook ads and needless to say, they don't inspire trust.

Quality content is key to getting quality leads from Facebook. And experts like Shashank agree. "For paid low-cost leads, Facebook advertising is still the best source. But don't try to sell them rates, offer them something of value like a free eBook, a Webinar/Seminar and use effective value-added drip campaign so that they select you when they are ready," he advises.

#5. Be social

"The key word to social media is 'Social'. Use it."

— John Stevens, Past President for The National Association of Mortgage Brokers


According to industry veterans like John Stevens, the primary pressure today is to "be less personable and more digital." 

John is the immediate Past President for The National Association of Mortgage Brokers (NAMB) and has over a decade-long track record of success in the lending business. "One of the best ways to leverage your sphere of influence, and by default gain more leads, is to utilize social media," says John.

Social media is everywhere and the pressure to be in all places at once is very real. Not only that, the 2016 State of Social Media in the Mortgage Industry report found a clear correlation between revenue performance and social presence, leaving originators with a serious case of FOMO if they're not active on every platform.

But John warns that social media should never be a "set it and forget it" endeavor. Pick the one or two platforms where you know you can stay active and focus on engaging your audience.

"Share about what you do 1-2 times a week and be active in online boards discussing real estate and lending. Don’t be afraid to comment on a post where someone is looking for a home and let them know what you do! The key word to social media is 'Social'. Use it," advises John.

#6. Maximize social proof

"Loan officers can prove their value through online reviews."

— Rajin Ramdeholl, Vice President Private Client Division at Meadowbrook Financial Mortgage Bankers Corp.

 
Let's face it. For the mortgage industry, winter is coming.

Interest rates are going up, affordability is going down. Add a recession to the mix and you've got all the makings of a down market. And when the market goes down, originators need to push their value up.

According to Rajin Ramdeholl, Vice President Private Client Division at Meadowbrook Financial Mortgage Bankers Corp., that means hitting the gas on your know-like-trust factor.

"Loan officers can prove their value through social media videos or testimonials from prior clients. Or through online reviews," says Rajin.

90% of consumers read online reviews before visiting a business. And with the number of non-exclusive leads hitting the market each and every day, you better believe the difference between you and the originator next door will come down to the number of stars next to your profile pic.

#7. Get physical

"Get back to physically 'asking for the business' from literally everyone you come in contact with."

— Frank Garay, mortgage industry ace and co-founder of the National Real Estate Post


Sometimes the best way to get low-cost leads is to simply go left when everyone else goes right. 

"No street level originator will ever be able to compete with the mega tech companies like Zillow, Rocket, Guaranteed Rate, etc. But they can’t compete with you doing things for your referral partners and asking for the business. We need to take the fight to our battleground, not try to fight on their battleground. As street level originators, we need to fight on a street level."

Those words of wisdom are from Frank Garay, mortgage industry ace and co-founder of the National Real Estate Post.

“Use technology that helps you physically engage with referral partners by giving you a real reason to speak with them on a consistent basis asking them for the business. Not technology designed to ensure you don’t need to engage with them physically,” Frank suggests.

That means for most MLOs, it's time to "Get back to physically 'asking for the business' from literally everyone you come in contact with."

Because AI can do a lot of things, but delivering a firm handshake isn't one of them.

#8. Keep it personal with video

"Responding to customers questions via video creates a memorable experience."

—  Anthony VanDyke, President, ALV Mortgage

 
Speaking of standing out, the lending landscape is changing fast.  

Big companies, big data and big tech are improving the customer mortgage experience in ways we never dreamed of. So what can you do to set yourself apart?

Communicate in the way no tech mammoth ever could: personalized video.

"Responding to customers questions via video and screen capture video most creative ways to create a memorable customer experience," says Anthony VanDyke, President of ALV Mortgage and one of National Mortgage Professional Magazine's Most Connected Mortgage Professionals of 2018.

"Mortgages involve a lot of numbers. It's hard to type an email reply showing just numbers or speak to a customer on the phone speaking in numbers. Using video and visualization really help customers understand and see the numbers to help them make the best decision for their loan options," he says.

#9. Get your face on the fridge

"People miss the boat on the human connection."

— Rhonda DelSignore-Mulligan, Senior Mortgage Advisor at Province Mortgage Associates Inc.


Speaking of putting faces to names, did we mention that some of the old school tactics still work?

Rhonda DelSignore-Mulligan gets tons of business from a simple 3-part mailing campaign:

  • A greeting at the beginning of the year

  • A sports calendars

  • A magnet for the fridge

"People miss the boat on the human connection. They're busy analyzing their lead sources and forget to reach out by mail or pick up the phone. But things change all the time in this business. Someone may have lost their job and need to get back to a 30-year fixed. You'll never know if you don't reach out directly," says Rhonda.

By putting her face where her customers can always see it, Rhonda is the first person they think of when they need help with a mortgage or refi.

#10. Teach like you mean it

"Building relationships and continuing to invest in those relationships yields the best quality leads with the least amount of money."

— John Thomas, Branch Manager, Primary Residential Mortgage, Inc.


Here's the truth: 

"In terms of leads, they either cost money or time so no free leads. If you are looking to spend more time generating leads and less money then building relationships and continuing to invest in those relationships yields the best quality leads with the least amount of money."

John Thomas tells it like it is.

The Branch Manager of Primary Residential Mortgage, Inc. is one of the The Most Connected Mortgage Professionals of 2018 according to National Mortgage Professional Magazine. And he has the numbers to back it up. John has over 3,800 Facebook friends and 500 YouTube videos with 338 subscribers.

According to him, "Staying in front of your past clients with a good CRM, a phone call at least twice a year, and birthday program of sending a birthday card is a simple strategy to remain top of mind. Adding a client event such as a wealth builder workshop every quarter adds value and keeps you in front of them. Building relationships with business partners such as Realtors, financial planners, and CPAs is another great way to spend little money to generate very good quality leads. Teaching classes to these business professionals is a great way to provide value and stay top of mind." 

No matter which way you cut, all of John's best lead gen strategies come down to one key tactic: Teaching.

"Another great strategy that will cost a little bit more money but can yield very good leads is a quarterly or monthly home buyer seminar," says John. As a professional, you have knowledge and experience that is literally worth its weight in gold.

Share it with your audience and the leads will respond in kind.

#11. Create raving fans

"Stop being transactional, start being relational and the leads will come."

— Alex Jimenez, Branch Manager, Benchmark Home Loans

 
In addition to using pop-bys as a creative way to keep in touch with your past clients and community network, Alex Jimenez believes LOs must keep it genuine. 

"Stay in front of your sphere of influence. Be in constant communication with people who have worked with you. Create 'raving fans.' In order to do that you have to have a genuine interest in people. You should know things like their kid's names, spouse and even dogs. You should acknowledge large events taking place in their life, i.e., Bdays, anniversary dates, graduations, holidays, etc," he suggests.

Winners like Alex know details matter. If you don't already have a system for storing and tracking these important details, you should get one...like now.

"Stop being transactional, start being relational and the leads will come," Alex concludes.

We couldn't agree more.

©2019 Shape Software 

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