Do Not Call" equals "Do Not Close Loans
A Thousand Visitors Per Second!
A thousand visitors to a web site each second! Wouldn't you love to be that web site with this tremendous traffic coming to the site with the sole intention of signing up for your mortgage services.
You Just Lost Thousands and Thousands of Closed Loans
Unfortunately, that web site is the National Do Not Call Registry, DoNotCall.gov, and consumers are signing up to prevent telemarketers from calling them. After four days, over 12.5M people submitted their home, fax, cell and business numbers (even though business numbers are not covered) to DoNotCall.gov. It would have been more, but for the first week, only the western part of the nation could sign up, the Eastern US started a week later.
Another 14 million phone numbers were automatically transferred to the National Do Not Call Registry from the "do not call" lists of 27 states.
Can You Call Your Own Customers?
According to DoNotCall.gov, a telemarketer or seller may call a consumer with whom it has an established business relationship for up to 18 months after the consumer's last purchase, delivery, or payment - even if the consumer's number is on the National Do Not Call Registry. In addition, a company may call a consumer for up to three months after the consumer makes an inquiry or submits an application to the company.
The problem is that, generally, mortgage customers do not require another loan within 18 months.
Don't Call Me, I Will Call You
The program takes effect Oct. 1, when telemarketers who ring those on the list could be fined as much as $11,000 per call. The DoNotCall.gov tells consumers, "If you register by August 31, 2003, you will start receiving fewer telemarketing calls by October 1, 2003."
8-Track Tapes, Slide Rules And Doctor's House Calls
Once a consumer signs up, their phone number will remain on the registry for five years. Essentially, telemarketing for mortgage leads has gone the way of 8-track tapes, slide rules and doctor's house calls.
What Can Mortgage Companies Do To Keep Leads Coming?
Several alternatives exist: Media advertising (newspaper, radio, TV), direct mail, direct email (Spam), web based lead generation, search engine marketing and there is always door-to-door campaigning. Let's discuss a few options.\
Direct mail: expensive and time consuming, plus by the time the mailer is completed and mailed, the interest rates may have changed.
Direct email: More and more states are passing legislation banning Spam and applying financial penalties. Also, there are the negative connotations with mass email marketing as customers don't like it.
Search Engine Marketing: With thousands of new web sites added every day to the Internet, it is increasingly extremely difficult to achieve, and maintain a high ranking in any algorithm based search engine.
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Internet Lead Generation: Many mortgage web sites are turning to lead generation services, but there are some pitfalls to make sure you work with the best company.
Positives and Negatives with Internet Lead Generation
I just got off the phone yesterday with a potential client and he commented how he thought mortgage generated leads were a “scam”. He just purchased over $4k worth of mortgage leads from several other “lead companies” and not even a single lead turned into closed business. In fact, one particular lead prospect threatened to report the mortgage broker to the State Attorney General for spamming his email.
So you can understand why this particular mortgage broker thought ALL mortgage leads were poor. I explained to him that buying mortgage leads is something that involves a lot of research and it is critical to work together with a reputable company.
Many lead generation companies today are fly-by-night outfits that are trying to earn a quick buck and do not seriously care about client loan response rates. To stay in business, an Internet lead generation company needs to provide excellent leads at a fair/competitive price.
Factors to evaluate when selecting a lead generation company include the following:
Exclusive or Shared Leads: Many mortgage companies seek ways to lower their lead generation costs and often examine sharing leads between 2-4 other mortgage companies. If your rates and programs are very similar to your competitors, shared leads may work, IF you are first to contact the potential customer.
Lead Generation Source: The manner which leads are generated typically dictate the quality of the lead. Leads produced via newsletters or direct email typically are less attractive as the customer was not seeking you, but received an email and decide to “check it out.” Leads generated via a web site that presents mortgage rate information and invites the customer to receive more information tend to have a higher close rate.
Lead Formatting: Many lead generation companies just email a lead, or worse, fax a lead to the mortgage company. It is advantageous to receive leads in database format (comma delimited, tab delimited, Excel, etc) so the leads can be assigned according to type of inquiry and the data can be easily transferred into your company database and/or loan origination system (LOS).
Lead Timeliness: Fresh real time leads offer a higher probability of acquiring a customer. The faster your lead generation company forwards a lead to you; the more likely a lead is to convert into a customer. Please note: it is just as important for your company to reply in a prompt manner. Typically, the percentage conversion decreases if your company takes more than four hours to respond. Other drop-off milestones are the next day and after 48 hours.
Do Not Call Really Works
The most viable (and profitable) method for creating closed loans is when the potential customer CALLS YOU, instead of you calling them. The Internet allows people who are seeking a loan to easily find and contact you, thus you really have implemented your own do not call program.
Next Months Column Article
Our next month’s column article will include a detailed checklist on what a mortgage company should be looking for when buying Internet mortgage leads. We will discuss the typical pitfalls and how to tell if a lead company is reputable.
Web site: www.mortgagepromote.com.