Just 3 and a half years ago, I made a decision that has impacted thousands of individuals across the US. That decision? I decided to research the online marketing strategies used by the biggest companies in the consumer direct mortgage space.
See, when it comes to generating mortgage leads, there is a very small handful of companies that control the flow of the highest quality leads. Companies like Zillow, LendingTree, Realtor.com, Quicken Loans, and Bankrate.
I identified that these companies were all using nearly identical approaches when generating leads. At the time, Facebook Ads were growing in popularity as a cheap and easy way to generate mortgage leads. Although I dabbled in Facebook Ads, it didn’t take long for me to recognize that the best companies in consumer direct mortgage lead generation were not generating their leads with Facebook. I even wrote an article some time ago about what these top companies think about Facebook Ads.
Facebook isn’t the answer.
In fact, these top companies in mortgage lead gen primarily rely on search engines like Google to generate Leads. Leads that they were either converting or selling. Makes sense, right? It only makes sense to advertise where people are searching for what you offer.
While most avoided Google Ads in the mortgage space, because of the perception of unjustifiably high costs, I knew that there had to be a way to get the results the big guys were getting. I knew that the best place to start was to model exactly what they were doing.
Empower Funnels has 80+ LOs across the country. We have at least 15 states where we have enough loan officers that we aren’t taking on any more clients. We have over $1,000,000 in managed Ad Spend and over 120,000 leads generated. Not to mention, thousands of families placed into new homes.
Let’s be real, we’ve had some bumps and bruises along the way. Most loan officers don’t know what to do with an internet lead when they get one. As someone who built and used this system to earn over $100k+ in my first 12 months as a licensed LO, I became frustrated when we were struggling to help more than 20% of our clients have success with our system.
The system that I built 3 and a half years ago is a skeleton of what our clients have today. Today, we provide real-time field validation to block people from submitting false information through the lead form. We provide analysis on which leads are most likely to convert based on historic data and self-reported lead form responses. We provide a fully automated follow-up system to work the leads. Not only at initial contact but at different mundane stages of the follow-up process.
That’s just the beginning.
Empower provides one on one coaching for every one of our loan officer clients. We strategize, help execute, and provide regular feedback based on what our best clients across the country are doing to convert leads. We show our clients real examples of conversations to model. This includes text message engagements and phone calls. We help clients integrate our system into their technology stacks and workflows to ensure that they have the best chance at converting our leads. We even help them onboard and train newly hired employees for the sole purpose of building out their consumer-direct operation. All of this is fueled by our lead generation and conversion management system.
So now the million-dollar question: Why?
To answer this question, we look at companies like Veterans United (owned by Mortgage Research Center, LLC, a lead generation company), Quicken Loans, and Zillow Home Loans. All of which are effectively centralized call centers slinging mortgages because they can. You know… since they have control over the lead flow… Not necessarily because they are the best option for the consumer. Now I’m not trying to bag on anyone, but does anyone really believe that a call center rep can provide the level of service that an experienced local loan officer can?
If you think it’s possible, I’ve got a beach house here in Boise, ID that I’ll make a great deal on just for you!
The fact is, a local, experienced loan officer gives the client the best shot at having the best experience when buying or refinancing a home. By best experience, I mean the highest level of service, clear and consistent communication, constant education, and the best deal financially unique to a customer’s situation.
The problem is most of these local loan officers are taught to chase real estate agent referrals in order to grow their business. This can result in the loan officers that aren’t the best consumer advocates, receiving a lion’s share of the business being referred out. Enter us… we help local loan officers that are great with clients (the people that really matter in the transaction). We help them connect with clients and gain leverage in their relationships with agents. Effectively resulting in more referred business in the hands of that better quality loan officers.
Mortgage Brokerage: Where it all started…
Roughly 6 months ago, we received word that our only client in Idaho was canceling. We have about a 93% monthly retention rate, so this does happen from time to time. The reason? We’re not 100% sure. Maybe they were going in a different direction with their marketing? Maybe they preferred working the business that was handed to them on a silver platter? In other words, working deals from a real estate agent, versus having to actually EARN the business from the client.
Nevertheless, I had already been kicking around the idea of starting up a mortgage brokerage for our home state. I gave up originating as soon as I started the marketing company full-time about 2 years ago. I spent much of this time studying the rise of the broker model and analyzing the degree that we’ve been able to systemize our lead generation system. It made this idea very tempting. However, we stalled on the idea of our clients feeling like we’re a competitor. Thus, we didn’t really explore the idea… until Idaho opened up.
Mortgage Brokerage: Where we are today…
Fast forward to today, and we’ve onboarded our first loan officer (besides me) and we are in the process of hiring a full-time processor. Not to mention, we’ve closed our first 3 deals at insanely competitive rates, in 3 weeks or less, without issue. Meanwhile, my friends in the industry at their retail shops complain about 15-day underwriting turn times.
So why did I start a consumer-direct mortgage brokerage?
1) Because I believe in what we’re doing so damn much, that I wanted to bring that level of value to my own community.
2) Because we’ve watched dozens of loan officers change their lives and the lives of those around them through our system. And, I figured there was no better testament to the value of what we do than to prove that we can run a successful mortgage brokerage with our system as the main business source.
3) Lastly, because we’re not done adding value to the mortgage industry. We’ve got so much more in the tank. This gives us a breeding ground for industry-transforming ideas. Providing us the opportunity to pilot and prove the very best practices before we roll them out to loan officers across the country. Most importantly, we can continue to EMPOWER loan officers to take control of their business, because that’s what’s best for everyone ESPECIALLY the consumer.
So what’s our end game?
To be honest, I’m not sure yet. What I am sure of is our overall mission to empower local mortgage professionals. We do not want to see the mortgage industry reduced to centralized call centers across the country. As such, our commitment is to avoid stepping on the toes of our clients.
We are currently only licensed in Idaho, and unless something drastically changes, we plan to keep it that way. Our brokerage is called Idaho Mortgage Source. You can check us out at idahomortgagesource.com.
Anyone who has worked with Empower Funnels, read our content, demoed our services, or interacted with us at all, knows that we are an open book. If you have any questions, comments, concerns, or you just want to connect to learn more about what we’ve got going on, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me directly at [email protected].
Thank you, and we’ll see you at the top!
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