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It's no secret that customer buying habits have shifted significantly in recent years. We leapt ten years in e-commerce penetration in the U.S. in just 90 days at the commencement of COVID. Also, the mortgage industry is changing. As readers of this article know, there are more direct-to-consumer businesses in addition to traditional banks that are trying to reach mortgage shoppers.

Adding to that, when consumers are making a decision on a specific mortgage option, they undergo a complex journey: looking for information on websites, gathering opinions on user forums and opinion sites, and browsing through social media for other people’s experiences with a company. This reflects a crowded and confusing path-to-purchase for mortgage providers aiming to pique buyers’ interest in today’s highly competitive shopping climate.

With consumers having access to more information and options than ever at their fingertips, how can banks, nonbank lenders and other mortgage businesses stand out while focusing and maximizing marketing resources? They need to invest in digital marketing in a smart, efficient, and data-driven way to ensure they stay competitive to allow growth while not losing dollars by blindly following money-backed companies that spread budgets more freely.

If they can “divert” consumers’ attention at the right moment on their journey and invest in the appropriate places to ensure ROI — placing themselves front and center as the best choice over a competitor’s — they significantly increase their chances of closing a sale.Here are three recommendations of how to achieve this:

Tie early funnel activities to purchase

When customers are still at the beginning of their journeys, one of the greatest methods to secure their interest is to do so long before they make a decision on where to receive their mortgage. This necessitates knowledge of the first motivators that bring consumers along the route to purchase, as well as the ability to link them to the final conversion and the ability to do this in a personalized way for each segment (e.g., those with low credit scores all the way to high net worth individuals). With an understanding of the early funnel activities that drive sales, such as consumer habits, patterns, and trigger points, mortgage lenders can intervene at the right stage with information consumers need to have — to shorten the time from intent to actions and maximize the ROI of marketing dollars.

Leverage prescriptive analytics

Marketers at mortgage-focused companies need to shift the marketing paradigm from reactive to proactive to prescriptive. This means moving from reactive monitoring of competitive and market data to leveraging tools like real-time AI-driven analytics that can proactively predict outcomes and prescribe actions to take. With these recommendations, they are able to determine what they need to do to drive ROI — both increasing conversions and reducing acquisition costs.

Encompass All Data Sets

Some data sets are simple to obtain. However, mortgage businesses need to ensure they are looking at everything available. Given this, they should seek solutions that can evaluate all data sources, including unstructured data like browsing activity on mobile and desktop, social activity, etc. They’ll have a complete picture of mortgage shoppers with this information, and they’ll be able to nurture leads in a highly focused manner, lowering the chances that they’ll interact — and ultimately convert — with a competitor.

Following is a real-world example of these recommendations in action:

With analytics technology that can address early-funnel activities tied to purchase and complete data sources, a mortgage business can determine correlations. For example, there is a unique online behavior identified for healthcare professionals converting with getting a mortgage. This type of technology can determine that (over 900,000 monthly visitors), (over 800,000 monthly visitors), and (over two million monthly visitors) act as enabling trigger points for the segment of healthcare professionals that convert with applying for a mortgage. Insights gleaned show that they interact with these websites 40 times, 16 times and 12 times, respectively, more than the rest of the population. From there, a mortgage lender can focus its marketing dollars and personalized messaging on those websites to drive traffic to their business, rather than a competitor’s.

Also, (over 900,000 monthly visitors), (over 2.4 million monthly visitors) and (over 800,000 monthly visitors) act as enabling trigger points for the segment of real estate investors that end up converting with taking a mortgage. They interact with these websites 29 times, 33 times and 16 times, respectively, more than the rest of the population.These are obviously very specific examples, but as the path-to-purchase becomes more convoluted and consumer shopping behaviors become harder to track, mortgage providers need a way to understand the complexities of consumer journeys so they can influence buying decisions in their favor. This is made even more challenging with the elimination of cookies..

Using the approaches above, mortgage businesses can determine how to segment consumers based on their online behaviors, fully understand the consumer journey, and tie the specific behaviors to purchases of other products to allow them to nurture the leads and target consumers in the right places — maximizing the ROI of marketing dollars rather than investing unnecessary resources and making speculations that aren’t tied to actual conversions.

Moving forward

It all seems hard, but with the correct tools, it doesn’t have to be. While there are consumer data platforms (CDP) available to obtain insight into consumer behaviors, they only solve part of the problem. Mortgage businesses really need “external” CDPs that can track what customers do before, during, and after their online interactions with them, as well as where they turn to competitors.Mortgage providers can then act accordingly based on the data gathered from solutions like these to maximize marketing dollars. They may accomplish this while also complying with ever-more stringent privacy requirements, such as GDPR and the California Privacy Act.If mortgage lenders are not currently leveraging available tools to obtain visibility into consumer behaviors and trigger points online, they’re missing out on major chances to not only boost sales and conversions, but also lower acquisition costs, find untapped niches, and reduce dropouts and abandonments. Is that something your company can afford?

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