With many people now working at home due to COVID-19,mortgage professionals need to rethink how they market to their current and potential customers. The good news is there are plenty of marketing ideas that can be done from your home—and now is a great time to hone your skills.
More than ever, people are turning to social media and other online avenues to socialize and remain in touch. That means you have a more captive audience for marketing.
While many homebuyers are simply waiting things out, that doesn’t mean they’ve stopped shopping online. Indeed, they may be doing more of it, since open houses have come to a halt. Plus, with historically low interest rates, refinancing demand has rebounded once again, especially with many homeowners looking to cut monthly budgets. In fact, as of mid-April, demand for refinance loans was running nearly three times higher than a year ago,according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.
A recent article in the Harvard Business Review noted that social distancing guidelines keeping many people at home are creating major shifts in consumer behavior. For example, more consumers are tuning to broadcast and cable television and other premium media sources for credible information, as well as spending greater amounts of time on social media.
“Some of these behavior changes may be temporary,” the article notes, “but many may be more permanent. As people move beyond the current mode of survival, the momentum behind digital-experience adoption is unlikely to reverse as people are forced by circumstances to try new things.”
These trends spell an enormous opportunity to get your name and brand in front of a larger, more attentive audience. It’s also a great time to try some new forms of marketing. To help you get started, here are some ideas and tips for marketing while you are working remotely.
Grow Your Online Network
Building your connections and contacts is something you should always be working on. Now is a great time to add that pile of business cards you have to your list of contacts. Don’t forget to nurture online networking opportunities, such as LinkedIn groups or Twitter chats. Liking or sharing something on social media that rings true to you will help you stay top of-mind with your contacts.
Start A Blog
A blog another great way to grow your network. Short posts about topics of interest to your customers and prospects will position you as an expert and an “influencer,” or someone with the ability to sway decisions on purchasing products or services. If writing is not your forte or you lack the time to do it, check with your corporate marketing department for content you can use or if you can work with them to leverage a professional writer.
Blog content can have multiple purposes. They should be available on your company’s website and linked to corporate social media accounts, allowing you to link to it from your MLO and personal accounts, as well as use them as part of an e-mail marketing campaign. A coordinated plan using all these tactics reaches your target markets with relevant information and increases SEO for your website.
Blogging also helps foster trust, and for those in the business of helping people with home or refinance loans, building trust is critical. Borrowers will naturally turn to mortgage professionals perceived as trustworthy and knowledgeable about the loan process. Building trust is also particularly important during a crisis, according to influencer marketing platform Izea,which found in a March 2020 study that, “In a time of stress, consumers favor messages from those they follow and trust.”
Launch An E-Mail Marketing Campaign
E-mail remains one of the most inexpensive and effective ways to market your business, and make people familiar with you and your brand.But it’s important to do e-mail marketing correctly. Subject lines that are overly promotional or scream “marketing” are far more likely to be deleted or marked as spam.
Along the same line, mass, impersonal e-mails do nothing to build trust with current or prospective customers. That includes e-mails about how you’re managing the current crisis or are “there-for-you” type messages. More likely than not, people have already received quite a few of those e-mails from their insurance company, bank or the other companies they do business with.
Unless you have something of value to say or that will educate the recipients, don’t send it. For example, focus on subject lines that will make people feel that the e-mail is specific to them or their needs. Then give them information that they can use—such as how refinancing could reduce a borrower’s mortgage payments, or allow them to take out cash for an emergency expense.
Speaking of e-mails and e-mail subject lines, it’s important that you adhere to the FTC’s CAN-SPAM Act. The act requires that your subject lines clearly state what the content is about and also stipulates that your e-mails have an opt-out feature. The easiest way to make sure you’re in compliance is to work with your company’s marketing team, which can provide you with guidance.
Try Video Marketing And Other Visual Content
Using fun or informative infographics in your e-mails or on your website will make things easier to read, as well as more memorable.According to marketing company Hubspot, when people hear information, they’re likely to remember only 10 percent of it three days later. However, if a relevant image is paired with that same information, people retained 65 percent of the message three days later.
Another interesting Hubspot statistic: Using “Video” in an e-mail subject line boosts open rates by 19 percent and click-through rates by 65 percent. Something as simple as sharing an online video of a tour of a house for sale can get your current and prospective customers to see your messaging as well.
Update Your Site Or Launch A New One
Your website is a reflection of you and your brand. Now is the time to make sure it looks modern and professional, and has been kept up-to-date. If your latest blog is from 2017, you’ll either be perceived as out of touch or just lazy. If you need help, hire a professional artist for an updated design. You’ll be amazed at the difference a website makeover can make.
Focus On Your Specialty
Whether you have a deep knowledge of your local housing market or expertise in a particular loan type, make people aware of it. If you’re a VA loan specialist, consider joining a LinkedIn or advocacy group dedicated to military personnel and veterans, or maybe even try advertising in online military publications. If you’re an expert on local real estate, keep your customers and prospects up-to-date on trends you’re seeing, along with recent sales and listings.
Consider doing a webinar or online meeting with prospective buyers or referral partners to share your expertise. With so many working from home,people’s virtual meeting skills have grown through necessity. They’re more comfortable and likely to jump on a virtual call to learn about something that interests them, like a first-time homebuyer seminar.
Don’t Forget Realtors And Other Referral Sources
A personal phone call or text from you can go a long way in maintaining relationships with your referral sources. Their day-to-day work may have stalled, but when things open up, they will remember the people who kept in touch. Think about creating joint marketing campaigns with referral sources that will launch in 60 to 90 days.
Consider Digital Advertising
Because the virus that causes COVID-19 can be spread through almost any surface, including magazines and newspapers, your customers have more incentive than ever to turn to the Internet for news and information. Why not put some of your market budget toward online ads? Many online publications are offering discounts or deals for the next few months, which enhances the value of this marketing channel. There are also social media advertising options that can efficiently help reach your market.
It almost goes without saying that you should make sure that your customers and prospects always have an easy way to reach you. That includes by phone, e-mail or instant messaging. Many people like to video conference as well. Keep your voice mailbox clear and check your e-mails, texts and instant messages at least twice a day. Now is not the time to drop off the radar, or perhaps worse, have a client or prospect reach a full voice mail box.
Look toward the future
While you should be careful not to appear opportunistic or make light of the current situation, it’s actually fine to be positive and convey optimism. After all, people are looking for some hope today.
And remember, much of today’s news and a lot of marketing messages right now are focused on the COVID-19 crisis. There are good reasons for that. But why not think beyond the next month or two, and consider what you can do now that will ramp you up for the future? You will be glad you did!