Monthly Archives: September 2007

SmartHippo the Social Bankrate.com?

LeadCritic just highlighted an interesting new social networking form of rate comparison. SmartHippo allows consumers, brokers, and banks to post rates and payments. Then, from this information, consumers can quickly shop rates and payments for their situation. LeadCritic’s initial review of SmartHippo:

The rates on SmartHippo are posted by its users and participating banks like Quicken Loans and Bank of Internet. The site gives you ability to input your specific situation, such as credit score, equity, loan amount, etc and compare your offered rate to users rates with the same criteria. SmartHippo is also a lead generation company and if user choose they can also have up to four brokers call them. I have put in a few calls and once I receive a call back I will pass along the information to you, as far as pricing. I will also try to extract more information about their user base on the call.

As a broker you are able to post your own rates, similar to BankRate, view what rates users are claiming to have received from you and also track your competitors.

To LeadCritic’s point this could be another interesting vignette in transparency, social content, and social networking combining to evolve lead generation.

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Bill Rice talks about Kaleidico with Online Mortgage Blog

I spent time with Owen Raun of the Online Mortgage Blog talking about the history of Kaleidico and some of the advantages Internet lead buying and our lead management software brings to a declining market.

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Throw away your loan officer web pages!

You know the ones I am talking about. The one page you or your company has set up that has a nice professional photo of you in your nice suit. The one with your name, address, and phone number. The one with a contact me now form. In fact, you may not even know you have one or what it looks like anymore because you never get any leads from it!

These pages don’t do anything for you, the loan officer, or the client. Let’s briefly look at each of these users’ desired experience.

The Loan Officer

  • Ability for prospective borrowers to find them
  • Prospects to submit their contact information–leads
  • Submissions (leads) to be willing and able to close on a loan

The Client

  • A low risk way to find out about mortgage financing
  • Help understanding what to expect
  • Someone that is knowledgeable and competent, but most importantly someone I can trust

Loan Officer Web Pages

With just these few wants and needs you can see the typical loan officer falls down on the job. Now for my suggestion, and you are going to love it’s price–free

I will give you two levels, beginner and advanced. However, both will accomplish the primary goals:

  • Increase your search visibility–prospects can find you with Google
  • Create compelling reasons for borrowers to contact you
  • Make borrowers more comfortable contacting you

The Beginner Level

Let’s start with the easiest option:

  • Set-up a LinkedIN profile and a Facebook account
  • In LinkedIN, create a strong introduction about what you can do for borrowers (the pitch, search)
  • In LinkedIN, completely fill out you employment history (experience and credibility)
  • In LinkedIN, load up your address book and start linking aggressively (connections = trust)
  • In Facebook, show your personality (comfort, lowers anxiety in contacting)
  • In Facebook, install fun, interactive gadgets (engagement)
  • In Facebook, load your address book and start "friending" (trust)
  • In Facebook, put all you contact information (search)

The Advanced Level

This takes a little more work, but a much bigger bang

The Result

Unquestionably, in a matter of 30-60 days you will be easier for clients to find, appear more credible, convey trust, and seem much more approachable. The result? You guessed it, a bunch of free leads!

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LendingTree Price Increase, Not the Whole Story

In replies from some Kaleidico/LendingTree clients to our comments in the recent Inman News article "Lead quality a two-sided coin" (subscription) and my previous post on the LendingTree Partner Summit it seems our original sources of information may not have revealed a full picture.

Apparently, according to these clients there is also an actual decline in back-end CLO (closed loan offer) fees relative to increases in the match fees in prime and mid-prime leads and there are a significant price cuts in subprime leads.

This seems to be more consistent with comments made by C. D. Davies at the Partner Summit. When queried about the increases he stated that the increases and decreases where indicative of real costs adjustment in those specific segments of leads that have recently become more and less targeted by the market.

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What will you do with your 50 bps Fed Rate Cut?

The White House gave us FHASecure, the Fed gave us 50 bps, I am sure the Congress is working on something to say they helped out. Time to get to work and help some borrowers!

What will you do with your 50 bps?

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TargusInfo Online Lead Quality Summit–Surviving the Mortgage Implosion

I just landed in Vegas! All pumped and ready to take the stage a 2 pm for my discussion on "Surviving the Mortgage Implosion!"

Here is a brief outline for those of you who can’t attend (I will recap in greater detail after the presentation):

  • Where we start?

    • No silver bullet
    • Winners are good climbers
    • Economist and the media are lousy business planners
    • Get real, work hard, NOW!
  • Lenders/Brokers

    • Go where the consumers are–It’s the Internet Stupid!
    • Success is in amazing the customer
    • "Climb the Distrust Mountain"
    • Build trust and credibility; organization AND loan officers
    • Treat them like "Glengarry leads"
  • Lead Generation

    • Generate a better lead
    • Content, Intent, Leverage Community, Get Local
    • Stock the pond–Lead Management and Lead Nurturing

This is the presentation for your review and comments:

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Tips to Help You Close More Loans

Here are a few things from around the Web that will help you close more mortgages this month:

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LendingTree’s Secret to Industry Leading Conversion Rates

Mission 007, The Extraordinary Experience was LendingTree’s context for this year’s Partner Summit. However, neither the mortgage nor the lead generation business is synonymous with ecstatic consumer experiences. In fact, recent media coverage and tests from consumer reports tend to indicate an appalling blender of unfulfilled promises, missed expectations, and maybe even deception.

In contrast, at the recently concluded LendingTree Summit, consumer experience seems to be the strategic focus of LendingTree under new CEO C.D. Davies. Unfortunately, reversing the tarnished perception of a battered mortgage industry, where only 11% (according to one summit presenter) of customers will chose to return to the same mortgage company, will not be an easy task.

Emphasizing Consumer Experience

Certainly the since of urgency, priority, and a focused framework for execution has been set forth by LendingTree. Built on a pyramid of service, value, and trust, Jessica Ordeman (Senior Director of Consumer Experience), laid out the roadmap that LendingTree is confident will create a more positive consumer experience, higher quality inquiries, and ultimately repeat customers and promoters.

Focusing on Service to Create Loyalty

In the domain of service, a notable paradigm shift was presented. A transition from assessing consumer experience as satisfaction to one of loyalty. To do this LendingTree will begin using a concept, used by other major consumer brands, known as a net promoters score. This score relies on one fundamental question: Would you recommend us to a friend, family member, or colleague? The assessment on a scale of 1-10 is then compiled into the percentage of promoters (9,10) and the percentage of detractors (0-6). The net of that number is the net promoters score (NPS).

How is LendingTree doing today? Based on all consumers that closed a loan that score is 53%, which is considered very strong when benchmarked against other highly regarded brands like Southwest Airlines, at 60% and Enterprise Rental Car, at 53%. However, when assessed against all consumers that submitted an inquiry for a mortgage to LendingTree that score dramatically plummets to -20%. This number should strongly illustrate the logic underlying many of the changes and commentary coming from LendingTree’s leadership.

This current negative NPS certainly underlines comments from LendingTree Executives during the summit concerning the strategy for managing the lender network and recent announcements of price increases.

Closers create loyalty. Closers create repeat customers. The effects of a network full of Closers advantages the consumer, LendingTree, and the lender. Consequently, if a lender is not managing the LendingTree consumer inquiries and experience effectively; therefore, not closing–then the new price structure will not work for their mortgage business. And LendingTree is okay with their logical departure from the network.

Ensuring Value and Expectations

As the strategy presentation moved to value, the message was clearly a need for reliable expectations and then delivery. This seems a strong contrast to the current online proliferation of unrealistic payment teaser advertising. The mechanism for driving consistency and compliance? Offer standards. Standards that are monitored and enforced with advanced analytics. Keeping tabs on discrepancies in comparative offers and the initial versus final offer. The bottom line was obvious. LendingTree’s research shows that speedy delivery of an offer and consistent delivery on that promise converts and creates loyalty.

Trust is the Foundation to Loyalty

Trust seemed to be the most challenging of the three initiatives to articulate. I think this stems from the relative uncertainty of what builds trust online. A whole new channel for the concept of trust.

The most obvious first step was to allow consumer the ability to verify the lenders that are directly responding to their LendingTree inquiry. This was referenced as an improved lender verification process. This process was labeled as a direct response to the increasing impact of credit trigger leads to crush the consumer with unsolicited calls for mortgage services.

Now it’s about Execution

All in all, I was impressed with the new cast of leadership and strategic thinking that LendingTree is bringing to the market. It seems consistent with my philosophies for the new market, presented over the last year–put the consumer at the center, create expectations you can deliver on, effectively manage the lead experience, and create transparency. Now the proof is in the pudding. What will execution look like?

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The Secret of When to Call Internet Leads

I have often talked about the power of managing call back periods in the lead management process to enhance Internet lead contact rates and conversion. This discussion has often yielded special data on how leads submitted by consumers on specific days of the week (i.e., on the weekend) tend to be contacted and convert at a higher rate.

Now there is a quantitative contact and qualification study, conducted on Internet leads outside of the mortgage industry, that seems to reflect similar observations. Here are a few of the key findings of Franklin Covey’s study of their Internet leads outbound (telemarketing) contact center’s findings:

  • Follow-up must happen within the first 24 hours from inquiry
  • Contact rates and qualifications are highest between 3-6 p.m. local

    • Interestingly, 3:30-4:25 is peak for conversion, yet 5:15-5:25 is peak for contact
  • Best contact rates are found on Friday (note: this call center did not operating on Saturday or Sunday)

This obviously shows the criticality of being able to manage these call back periods and prioritizing sales activities based on these optimal times and frequency. This is true sales force automation.

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Join Me at the Online Lead Quality Summit

I am a lucky man! I have a market full of mortgage and lead generation companies sweating bullets over the current environment and I get to give the opening session at TargusInfo’s Online Lead Quality Summit on "Surviving the Mortgage Implosion."

So, why exactly am I lucky? It’s in Las Vegas (September 19-20). And because, I do have a roadmap and it is not a survival plan it is a growth plan!

Here are some of the things I will be covering:

  • The reality of the market
  • Can you get your share and meet your goals?
  • Lender opportunities
  • Building trust online
  • Changing your marketing paradigm
  • Lead provider opportunities
  • Building a better lead
  • Getting off the roller coaster and start "stocking the pond"

If you want to hear it along with a lot of other smart ideas and people, register here.

If you are a lender and want the "friends and family" price email me at bill.rice [at] kaleidico [dot] com. If you are a lead provider I have some limited discount too.

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