Marketing: Inbound Marketing Succeeds Where Purchased Leads Fail

Written by Scott Gordon, as originally published in The Reverse Review.

Word from the field is that purchasing leads just isn’t working anymore. Many refinance-focused originators bought leads as a business strategy. Now that rates are moving up, those originators have to learn to work with Realtors or get out of the business. Many will get out.

Reverse mortgage originators have also seen a drastic reduction in lead quality and pull-through rates. This started for reverse mortgage leads before this summer’s higher rates. “From across the industry, CEOs are confirming to me that their pull-through is down sharply,” commented NRMLA board member Joe Morris.

Boomers are still retiring, and according to HUD, reverse mortgage production is up slightly in 2013 over 2012. So why are leads not working? One possibility is simple market saturation, but that is hard

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to believe with so many new retirees. A more likely reason is ad saturation. Lead companies run ads to generate leads, and we know ads are becoming less effective.

In the last couple of years the trend across all industries has moved away from advertising and toward inbound marketing. According to a report on shrinking jobs in 24/7 Wall Street, “No occupation has lost a higher proportion of its jobs than advertising and promotions managers.” Sixty-six percent of those jobs are gone. Consumers trust ads less and follow them less, so companies are spending less on advertising.

Inbound marketing is the strategy of providing education and solution-oriented materials through the Web. Search engine optimization (SEO) is used to ensure that the content is found by people looking for solutions. There are many companies positioning themselves as the experts, and clients come to them. As companies advertise less, they are working inbound marketing more.

So in our industry, if buying reverse mortgage leads doesn’t work, what strategies are working?

There are two related strategies that we see working well together in our space: inbound marketing and old-school networking that uses the education and solution-oriented strategies of inbound marketing.

Inbound marketing is an online strategy using webpages, blogs, social media and CRM in a systematic pipeline to attract, convert, close and delight. It is a strategy that will take time and effort, but pays great dividends in the long run. Converting customers to branch champions is the ultimate goal.

When you buy an ad, its effects only last while it runs. Money spent on inbound marketing builds a platform that endures. When you stop running ads, leads stop coming in. But when you stop spending on inbound marketing, it still works because your digital platform is still in place.

This strategy will be most effective for an individual loan originator if a great deal of the work is carried out by the corporate marketing department, since the materials need to be well designed and well coordinated. Think of it as an online marketing onion with lots of layers! You should create your own LinkedIn and Facebook pages, and look to your company for help with your blog, white papers, content and posting. The more you can add yourself, the better.

Generating content for your inbound strategy should lead you (and your company) to produce educational and solution-oriented materials. The second strategy is using those materials, and that knowledge, in conjunction with old-school networking. Successful originators are getting out and meeting people face to face.

Skilled networkers connect with groups to grow their networks faster. They look for opportunities to present to their groups. Everyone has seen ads on TV for reverse mortgages, but most people still don’t really understand what a HECM is. There is a great opportunity to go to your network with education and solutions. Think of this strategy as “Attract, convert, provide and amaze!”

You can offer presentations to all sorts of groups. Financial advisors need to understand HECMs. Realtors would love to learn about HECM for Purchase. University alumni groups, teachers’ groups, doctors’ groups, social clubs, sports groups and neighborhood groups are all candidates. There are groups everywhere—look for those with a connection to seniors or their adult children.

Presentations need to be entertaining as well as educational. If you aren’t certain you’re a great speaker, you probably aren’t, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get better. Get some coaching and improve your delivery. Speaking is a great opportunity to connect and

build authority. Be sure you don’t waste the opportunity.

Present in person and use your Web-based presence to validate yourself as an expert. When you get in front of groups and make a human connection, providing education and solutions, you will generate leads—quality, organic leads that money can’t buy.

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