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Putting Data in Motion

Editor's Note: This feature originally appeared in the December issue of MReport.

Your mortgage loan officers learn more about their customers throughout a single transaction than any other financial services provider. From contact information to credit score to annual income and spending habits, loan officers have all the data necessary to create a comprehensive composite of their customers—not their ideal customers but their actual customers.

But there’s a problem.

Most companies have so much data they don’t know what to do with it. So, it sits there collecting digital dust.

The availability of user data has the power to give marketers and producers greater access to consumer insight than ever before—but only if they know how to find it and leverage it to deliver the right message at the right time to the right person.

How can your organization— and your loan officers—turn growing mountains of data into insights and revenue?

The immediate opportunity for organizations is to first focus on aggregating and analyzing the data at their disposal, which often lives in various silos unconnected across the organization. Only from here can an organization’s loan officers begin to develop insight-driven campaigns that provide consumers with the high-tech, high-touch experiences they crave.

Aggregate

Your producers use many technology solutions across the lending process: CRM, LOS, POS, and product and pricing engines to name a few.

The problem that starts to emerge as you add to your technology stack is that they don’t communicate with each other.

The problem that starts to emerge as you add to your technology stack is that they don’t communicate with each other.

In fact, according to STRATMOR, one year ago, 50 percent of lenders didn’t have an enterprise Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool, which doesn’t mean they don’t have big data—but that they have many sources and their data is hard to use.

Enter the open API.

APIs allow two different software solutions to communicate with each other and share data. Open APIs use a common language or structure to promote universal access.

An open API demonstrates a commitment to your continued growth in an evolving industry and offers you greater flexibility as you build out the right technology stack to suit your unique business requirements. Not all software solutions in mortgage have them, but it is becoming increasingly common and is a must if you want your data to flow seamlessly between your solutions so you can access it to influence behaviors and increase profits.

Analyze

According to research from the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council and RedPoint Global, 43 percent of 250 marketers surveyed agree they are not lacking data but are missing the ability to transform that data into real-time action. Being able to interpret data correctly is critical to generating actionable insights to apply to marketing strategies that will impact business results.

Many marketers and producers struggle to work with data because it’s easy to get lost in the numbers. Where should your producers focus their attention? Which numbers will help them demonstrate their contribution to the company’s bottom line?

It helps to take a strategic approach when you interpret data by tying it back to your business goals and initiatives.

Actionable insight also requires context and clarity. Loan officers will only move forward on insights if they can appreciate why the data they’re being presented with is important and what they stand to gain if they act on it. Loan officers care about two things: increasing their productivity and closing more loans. They want to know how much they’ve closed, how much they need to close, and what they need to do to meet their goals. Providing them with insightful data ensures action, not unwarranted objections and skepticism.

Adapt

Actionable data in hand, loan officers and marketing administrators should be using it to build strong, personalized marketing initiatives that generate revenue. According to recent Epsilon research, 80 percent of consumers are more likely to do business with a company if it offers a personalized experience. When creating personalized messaging, it is essential to resonate with your target audience at an emotional level, too, according to a Forbes article by Dipanjan Chatterjee, VP and Principal Analyst at Forrester. In his article titled “Emotions Fuel Your Brand’s Energy,” Chatterjee explains that when Forrester surveyed 4,500 respondents to create their brand energy framework, they found emotion was the biggest contributor to brand energy above “salience” and “fit.” Doing so can be difficult: nearly every individual wants something different, and they all want to feel special. By tailoring messaging to individuals, however, producers have a better shot at attracting new customers and retaining existing ones—creating customers for life.

Listen to what your data is telling you to predict customer behavior and develop personalized promotional activities that engage prospects and customers across every channel.

You can tailor your messaging to address segments based on:

  • Stage of the customer journey: preapproval, house hunt, in process, post-closing
  • Major life milestones: marriage, new additions to the family, changes in employment, retirement
  • Demographics: generation segments, ethnicity, single households, multigenerational households
  • Activity or inactivity: expiring prequalification, rate change, beginning of a home search
  • Habits and behavior: in-person follow-up, lead capture, email open

These are only a few of the many homebuyer segments to keep in mind as you create more timely, relevant and personalized marketing materials to engage unique segments of your audience.

When marketing to these segments, you need to address their unique characteristics and motivations to establish meaningful relationships. Sending a first-time homebuyer an email prompting them to refinance their home in not only ineffective but may prevent them from doing business with your loan officers at all. Whether your loan officers create their marketing materials or have access to a premium content library with branded templates, their chances of resonating with customers increases if they know what makes each group tick.

As you tailor your messaging to specific segments, consider:

  • What’s most important to them
  • Preferred channels of communication
  • Qualities they want in their loan officer
  • Reasons for buying a home

Your segments and brand messaging will continue to evolve, so it’s worth keeping up with the data. Update your segments frequently. Look—and listen—to what the data is telling you as you consider which campaigns are superior to others and track new ones to ensure your segmenting is engaging and effective.

The digital era has handed consumers more power than ever before. They are tapping into that power, dictating not just more personalized marketing but a more personalized experience. As the competition for consumer attention intensifies, so too does the need to engage with them on their terms: how, where and when they want it.

Automation

Every lender and loan officer knows they have data they could be using to enhance the customer journey. Many producers don’t have the time it takes to gather their data in a single location, break it down into practical slices, and leverage it to engage prospects, customers, and co-marketing partners when and where they are.

Better automation goes hand in hand with real-time access to customer data and behavior across all channels and devices. Technology advancements empower producers to put customers at the center of the experience—personalizing and delivering messages when prospects, customers, and co-marketing partners are most receptive to them. Intelligent automation further empowers producers by delivering the right message at the right time to the right person.

Increased automation reduces the time and effort required in delivering communications to realize meaningful budgetary savings at a time when every department is feeling the constraints of margin compression. In addition, intelligent automation offers time-strapped loan officers a way to seize customer engagement opportunities with fast, personalized responses at scale. As customer expectations continue to evolve, organizations that can anticipate and meet the growing desire for timely, relevant touchpoints will create lifelong relationships and drive revenue.

Personalized engagement is equally critical when customers venture offline. According to the latest annual “Conversion Rate Optimization” Report from Econsultancy and RedEye, only 15 percent of company respondents report personalizing their offline channels while 37 percent of those report a significant uplift in conversion rates as a result of doing so.

In accompanying customers along the customer journey, triggering points of engagement no matter where the customer goes, loan officers can boost conversion as customers decide it’s time to transact.

Take Marketing From Cost Center to Revenue Driver

If automation is the engine that can help your loan officers turn marketing into a revenue driver, data is the fuel. After all, what good is data if you can’t leverage it to enhance your marketing activities? Likewise, what good is automation if it’s not based on real behaviors and metrics?

Data-driven marketing automation can propel your marketing and sales forward as we race toward 2019 and beyond. From greater efficiencies to making every interaction feel personal, loan officers can leverage automation to bridge gaps along the customer journey while boosting the bottom line.

But, remember: It’s not how much data you have. It’s how you use it.

About Author: Joe Welu

Joe Welu is the Founder and CEO of Total Expert, the creator of the only Marketing Operating System built to meet the unique needs of the mortgage industry. Welu founded Total Expert in 2012 to empower lenders to take their marketing and sales efforts to the next level.
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