We’re in the midst of exciting times in the mortgage industry. I know I talk a lot about change, but if you’re a loan officer who’s willing to adapt and embrace that change, then you should be as excited as anyone. With big shifts come big shifts in power and production. The top producers of today will not be the top producers of tomorrow, which leaves room for new top producers that seize the opportunity to grow their market share while it’s still here.

One of the quickest ways that you can grab market share is through investing in online mortgage lead generation. Deals are hard to come by for many in a market that is restricted in inventory as much as we have been lately, so just having deals in the pipeline is a huge advantage. Beyond that, though, you have the ability to build relationships with the agents on your self-sourced transaction, and the fact that you got the loan through your online lead generation is a perfect conversation starter that can open the door to fruitful partnerships down the road.

So you know that online lead generation is the direction you want to head, but you don’t know where to start? Or maybe you just need a fresh perspective on simplifying lead generation to its most elementary building blocks? Either way, read on as I break down the generation of mortgage leads to 3 simple pieces that you need to be successful. So what’s the first thing you need?

1. A Conversion Optimized Landing Page

Don’t let this scare you! I promise this is WAY simpler than it sounds. First off, a landing page is basically just a specific page on a website that is designed for one purpose and one purpose only, to convert cold traffic into warm leadsThere are websites out there that are nothing but a singular landing page, and websites that are nothing but multiple landing pages. YOU DON’T NEED A FULL WEBSITE TO HAVE A LANDING PAGE. I want to stress this as I talk to people every day who say that haven’t started generating leads because they don’t have a website. Not only can you use landing page builders like Leadpages to build landing pages easily, you can also use the same landing pages you build here and host them on your own domain name to make a single page website for less than $5 a month.

What does it mean to optimize your landing page for conversion?

Really this can appear to be somewhat subjective but if you do enough research you’ll realize it’s much more scientific than it first appears. Marketers have been split testing landing pages for years and they’ve come up with a few basic principles to look out for:

  1. Value Proposition- You need to give your prospects a clear idea of what it is that you’re offering through the use of headlines, sub-headlines, and the content spread throughout your page. Don’t just say you do mortgage loans, WHY should someone submit their information to you?
  2. Clear Call-To-Action with a nice big button to make it easy. What’s your call-to-action? Make sure that it’s congruent with your value proposition. For example, if your value proposition is that you will give visitors of your landing page a pre-approval estimate, you don’t want to make your call-to-action button say “Claim your FREE Offer.” You’d probably want it to say something more along the lines of “Click HERE to Get Started.” Or “Get Your Pre-Approval Estimate HERE.”
  3. Limited Navigation Options- This is the number one thing that I see people screwing up. Your landing page is designed to accomplish one goal, and one goal only. That is to get your cold traffic to follow your Call-To-Action. Your goal is not to drive traffic to your website homepage or to give them access to your entire website for them to roam around. A standard website that is optimized to convert leads may convert traffic into leads at 2-3%, whereas an optimized landing page will convert cold traffic at 15-25% and sometimes even more. Leverage it for what it’s meant for by eliminating the option to navigate anywhere else on your website except for maybe the links to your privacy policy and terms/conditions located in the footer section of your page.

Design and visual appeal is a big element of landing pages, but it’s not just about making the site look pretty. It’s about using proven research to identify color schemes and text arrangements that are proven to convert traffic. The way that I did this starting out before I had access to designers and tons of research about landing pages, was just to identify landing pages in my space from big players, and then observe the common elements and make sure that my landing page had those unique elements. Try and go for the look and feel of one of your favorite landing pages, and just know that you may need to try out a couple to get the one that converts traffic into leads at a rate that’s favorable. 

The best way to find those landing pages is to click on offers that are relevant to the campaign you’re trying to run at every chance you get. Want to generate VA leads? Do a google search that aligns with what a VA borrower would be searching for, and start clicking on the sponsored ads on Google and Bing. Then, go over to Facebook and you should start to see some VA ads in your timeline that you can click on. If you don’t, just navigate over to a website like www.adespresso.com and use their ad examples tool to identify Facebook ads that look like they have the necessary attributes. Caution with this though, Facebook ads are not a great place to generate mortgage leads, so it can be hard to identify one that ACTUALLY works versus one that just looks cool. 

So what’s the next piece you need to generate mortgage leads?

2. An Appropriate Lead Form

This is something that not a lot of conversion rate optimization experts talk about, but your lead form is a crucial piece to your ability to generate leads online. Your lead form is basically the way your cold traffic becomes a lead, in the way of submitting information over to you through your landing page. There are multiple ways that you can incorporate your lead form into your landing page, and ultimately the best way to know what’s best for your campaign is to test test test.

A lead form doesn’t necessarily improve the performance of your landing page, it’s more appropriately its own step in the funnel. The reason I say that is because your landing page can be the most optimized landing page in the world, but if when they click on your Call-To-Action you pull them into a lead form that asks them too many questions, or one of the wrong questions, your traffic will run the opposite direction.

On the flip side of this, you can have a great funnel working with the right traffic going to the right landing page, and have an opportunity to perfectly target the leads you want. If you only require name, email address, and phone number in this scenario you could find that you’re getting a lot of leads that are nowhere near as qualified as you want. In this situation, more qualifying questions could have weeded out the people who either had a low level of intent or identified themselves that they weren’t in your target market as they went through the form.

Here are some different types of lead forms and their function:

  1. Embedded lead forms- This kind of lead form is the most common. One example of an embedded lead form is here. Basically, this is the most transparent way that you can request someone’s information and as such it’s usually reserved for landing pages where the traffic already has a high level of intent coming in. For example, if someone is searching for “VA Loan Officers near me”, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to make it as easy as possible for that person to leave their information for you to contact them. In this case, an embedded form can be your best bet.
  2. Pop-Up Lead Forms- These lead forms are similar to embedded lead forms in that when you see the lead form, you see the entire lead form. However, with the pop-up lead form, you’re getting a commitment prior to showing them what info you’re requesting. On the landing page, instead of there being fields where a lead can input their information and submit it to you, there is a singular call-to-action button like the ones I referenced above. So if the button says “Get Pre-Approved Now,” they would click on the button and a pop up would appear on their screen where it requests their information. This can be effective, but the drawback is that you’ve already gotten them to take action, so now since you’re showing them the form they need to fill out it typically needs to have a lower commitment level. What this means is that you don’t want to ask for too much information if you’re going to use a pop-up lead form, because they’ve already spent some of the trust they have in you by clicking the call-to-action button in the first place. Requiring that they answer 5-10 questions here can be overwhelming and cause the lead to run the other way.
  3. Gamified Lead Forms- These are the holy grail of lead forms depending on what you’re capturing information for. The problem is they’re the most complicated to make, and there are limited ways that you can get your hands on one for your funnel, and most of them don’t have the option to customize much. Have you ever clicked through a Lending Tree, Zillow, or Quicken lead form? Check out this form from LendingTree. As you click on the link and go through the form, you’ll notice that you’re giving them information, without the feeling that you’re giving them information. They’ve made it like a game for you to provide the information they’re looking for. Gamified lead forms are becoming more popular across different industries but in most cases, they’re reserved for companies who have a ton of money to invest in development. As loan officers, the simplest way that you can recreate this experience is through a company called LeadPops. As I referenced earlier, you won’t have the option to customize much as far as the questions you ask and the length of the form, so you want to make sure if you’re using these forms in your landing pages, that you have a high level of intent when they arrive. Gamified lead forms do a great job of taking a high level of intent, and creating an even higher level of intent by capturing their engagement and getting them more involved in the process of submitting their inquiry. 

So I should preface this last section by letting you know that really it should have been first. I didn’t want to confuse you right out of the gates talking about traffic sources, and I figured it would be easier to understand once you knew more about landing pages and lead forms, but you don’t want to decide on a landing page OR a lead form without first knowing what your traffic source is going to be. Building a lead generation campaign requires a holistic approach. One component is useless without it being aligned correctly with the other 2. So just remember that as you read this last section, and begin to create your first campaign.

3. A Source of Traffic

The last thing your lead generation campaign needs is a traffic source. The best landing page and lead form combo in the world won’t help you if you don’t have a steady and consistent means of getting people to see it. There are a number of different ways that you can run traffic to a landing page, but most fall outside of the realm of online lead generation. You can direct traffic to a landing page from a trade show, a billboard, a direct mail campaign, a radio ad, or any other kind of traditional advertising. In fact, using a call-to-action inviting them to a website that is actually an optimized landing page can be a great way for you to collect leads from traditional methods of advertising that wouldn’t ordinarily yield tangible leads (think about a radio ad. Do these usually result in “leads” or are they normally designed for “exposure?”). 

For purposes of online lead generation though, we’re only going to look at the traffic that originates online. 

  1. Social Media (Paid/Unpaid)- This one is the most obvious and where most loan officers are hanging out now. We all know that you can run paid traffic to your landing page through Facebook ads, but depending on the campaign you’re running a lot of loan officers will get success just dropping a Facebook post inside of a community group with a simple landing page, singular call to action, and a basic pop-up lead form. I’ve seen brand new LOs get hundreds of leads in a week with this approach and although they aren’t going to be the best quality, sometimes all you need are cheap at-bats to put you in a position where you can invest in better lead gen down the road.
  2. Search Network AKA Google/Bing/Yahoo (Paid/Unpaid)- Paid search network advertising is my personal favorite and the one that we use for our clients at Empower Funnels. It’s easily the most predictable once you get it figured out and can be an insanely lucrative way to build your business. You need a little bit of money or a lot of time to get started running paid search network ads, but if you’re interested we can definitely help you. Just book your live demonstration of our mortgage lead generation service. Unpaid search network traffic carries with it just about the highest level of intent you can get with any lead source, but it’s also the most time-consuming to pursue and requires a little more finesse to convert since they typically aren’t going to land on your landing page. Unpaid search network traffic results from boosting your “SEO” or Search Engine Optimization, which can take years or 10s of thousands to accomplish, especially in a highly competitive space like mortgages.
  3. Retargeting- Retargeting traffic is where marketing gets really fun. Facebook and the search networks all have what are called “tracking pixels” that can be placed on your website fairly easily. When you put these pixels on your website, the traffic that lands on your website can now be marketed to directly down the road based on the action they may or may not have taken. You can set up ads that will follow your customers around as they navigate the web, showing up on the sides of their screen and as they scroll through content, that is designed to get that customer to come back and give you the information you need for whatever your value proposition is. Have you ever clicked on something on Amazon, not bought it, and then scrolled through your phone later only to see it popping up on every website you go to? That’s retargeting at work, and although it’s not leveraged much by LOs now, adapting this to its maxed ability will be the next step in optimizing mortgage lead generation online.

There you have it, the 3 basic building blocks of your mortgage lead generation campaign.

I don’t mean to overcomplicate a simple concept, but I also never mean to oversimplify what is actually a lot of effort and energy to get started. All the content in the world is not going to help you if you don’t go out and TRY to implement some of it. I love talking to LOs who are going down this path of online lead generation, so as always feel free to book a call with one of our mortgage lead gen specialists if you’d like to talk more about the concepts in this article or anything else related to mortgage leads.

Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you at the top!

Michael McAllister

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