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Executive Conversations is a HousingWire web series that profiles powerful people in the financial industry, highlighting the operations and the people that make this sector tick. In the latest installment, we sit down with Sarah DeCiantis, chief marketing officer of United Wholesale Mortgage, to talk about the importance of marketing in mortgages and how UWM does it differently than most.

Q. What are some of the most important things mortgage brokers need to market themselves well?

A. Marketing is one of the most important things mortgage brokers can do to grow their business, but it can also be the most challenging given the limited budgets many of them have. It doesn’t even have to be about expensive mass advertising. Just find ways to communicate with customers and stay connected DeCiantisto them. When doing early research as part of the buying process, studies show that 77% of homebuyers use social media to look for homes, find recommendations, and research real estate agents and lenders. So, pushing relevant, noteworthy content is important, whether it’s original or simply shared from other sources.

 

On top of that, 95% of buyers searched for information and browsed user reviews online. It’s important for brokers to not only to have a strong presence on the different social channels, but also to monitor their reputation on sites like Zillow and Google Plus. Those things can go a long way in driving new business, and they’re simple to manage.

Beyond that, it’s very important that brokers stay in front of their past clients in order to drive repeat and referral business. Research we’ve done is eye-opening: 90% of borrowers who used a broker were interested in using the same person for their next loan, but only 10% of them could remember their broker’s name. We’ve made it a point to create partnership tools for our brokers to solve that issue, and our Client Loyalty Manager, UConnect and Unite tools enable brokers to stay more connected to their customers. When a borrower looks to refinance or buy another home, we want their broker to be the first person they think to call.

Q. UWM recently relaunched its website, building it as a valuable resource for mortgage professionals across the board. What was the thought process behind the change?

A. The idea for building a new UWM.com came from feedback we’ve received from mortgage brokers over the years. We’re focused on two things: being a true partner to our clients and actioning their feedback so we can make their lives easier. We built the website to serve as a one-stop destination for any kind of tool, resource or bit of information that brokers could need.

Generally, there was a high level of frustration out there because brokers had to visit so many websites to do their jobs. Things like comparing rates, using an income calculator, pulling AVMs, reading news, or looking up guidelines or market trends, all required them to browse different websites. It was time-consuming and a hassle. Now, they can do all those things, and more, on UWM.com. We wanted to simplify things for brokers so they could focus their time on providing great service to their clients instead of surfing the web.

Q. It’s clear that UWM values creativity on social media and made a big splash recently with its “Breaking News” video series, in which you got effective messaging across in the form of a satirical news broadcast. Do you plan to do more in the next year?

A. Absolutely. Social media is a big part of our marketing and communication efforts. It gives us another platform to engage with brokers and, when appropriate, consumers, and it’s another opportunity for us to differentiate our brand by showing more personality.

We saw amazing results with those Breaking News videos in terms of views and engagement, and definitely plan to up the ante in the next year. The videos have been successful because they’re funny, but also based on real data and talk points, such as millennial homebuying trends, brokers vs. banks, and the idea of “do-it-yourself” mortgage apps. They’re some of the most popular things we’ve done on social, so we’re going to keep that series going and want to introduce even more entertaining content that brokers can share with their networks.

Q. What has been the driving force behind UWM’s success from a marketing perspective?

A. The reason behind our marketing success is really rooted in our brand platform, You + UWM = Younited. Everything we do is focused what matters to our clients: partnership. We deliver on this through all the client retention tools we offer, technology that allows our clients to compete with mega banks and big retail lenders, marketing support and elite client service. The success that we have as a company is a result of our clients being successful, so brokers know that when they work with UWM, they’re getting a true partner that puts them in the best position to grow their business.