Reverse Mortgage Lenders Begin to Shift Resources Online to Generate Leads

More lenders are turning to the Web to generate leads for reverse mortgages because it provides benefits that more traditional methods can’t match.

For Genworth Financial Home Equity Access (GFHEA), the Internet provides a better way to generate a consistent number of leads for their originators. As a result, it has shifted resources online because of one thing: predictability.

“[The Internet] gives us a lot more predictability in terms of our lead flow,” said Mary Smith, director of marketing for GFHEA during a panel at the National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association conference in Boston this week.

Online lead generation has been so successful in certain regions of the country, that the company has started to offer surplus leads to its wholesale partners, Smith said. GFHEA’s ability to generate leads online grew significantly when it acquired Reverse Mortgage Guides last year for an undisclosed sum.

With its success online, the company hasn’t turned its back on direct mail, but high costs have forced the company to bring everything in-house. “We used to outsource our direct mail,” she said, but by bringing it within the company, GFHEA found “response rates are just as good and improved our cost structure.”

No matter the channel, all of the panelists said that lenders need to have a long-term perspective when developing any type of marketing campaign.

“Budget it that way,” said Mike Gruley of 1st Financial Reverse Mortgages. “If the first couple of months are lousy, it could be as a result of the long sales cycle with reverse mortgages.”

Knowing when to pull the plug on a campaign can be extremely challenging as well. “It’s a real subtle balance between committing and over committing,” Gruley said.

Online is no different; there needs to be a willingness to be in it for the long haul.

“You can’t go into Internet marketing and have a short-term perspective,” Smith said. “You don’t turn on a program and it works [right away].” Lenders must be willing to test a lot of different copy and be focused on results, not what they “think” works best. “[It will take] a lot of time and effort to get it to work.”

Tracking the response rates and loan close ratio is a must as well, the panelists said. Without tracking, it’s almost impossible to measure the results, said Harlan Accola of Envoy Mortgage of Wisconsin, who said the company is spending anywhere from $1,000 to $1,800 to generate a closed loan from a purchased lead.

“We know the shelf life [of our leads] and know you need to be patient but proactive,” he said. “I can’t stress enough the tracking. It’s so important.”

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