Recently we chatted with Jeremy Bowling, the National Sales Manager at Union Home Mortgage , about how he sees the acquisition industry changing in mortgage. He previously led a session with us at Leadscon where he talked about how UHM is moving from a lead-centric view of the world to a people-based view. As we head into the SoftVu SummitX conference, we caught up with Jeremy again to see how his thoughts are evolving.
Jornaya: Much of the LeadsCon conversation was about the move from a lead-centric view of the world to a people-based view. Are you still finding value there or is it all just buzz?
Jeremy : The whole point is to understand more specific borrower identities or customer profiles.
We’re trying to get away from what I call the shotgun method, where we’re just going to call 20 times, send someone 50 emails and text them 17 times thinking that surely something will work. The problem we’re finding is that while the process gets consumers to where they want to go – to their goal of getting a mortgage – they often end up not actually performing a transaction until later because of the inundation they get.
Every day we’re trying to get a little bit better at understanding what a customer actually wants and how they want to be communicated with, whether that’s digitally, over the phone, or whatever it looks like for them. They end up feeling more catered to rather than bombarded and that goes a long way. It results in a better overall experience.
Jornaya : Mortgage is certainly an aggressive market – you’ve mentioned that in the past. Have you found that getting better tailored experiences lead to better outcomes?
Jeremy : Yes. I’ll give you a number as an example. About 18% of our current lender acquisition leads respond to an automated text. We’ve built out their profiles to understand how they want to communicate with us and it’s getting results. We often hear them say “thank you for texting me – my phone won’t stop ringing.” It creates a better experience for the customer and makes it easier for us to compete. We’re finding consumers shop around less because they like the way we’ve communicated with them. It lets us quickly represent our culture and how we’re going to work with them. We feel like it’s just the right thing to do.
Jornaya : With nearly 20% of people receiving texts, it sounds like your business has changed a lot the last few years. How different is your marketing setup today?
Jeremy : You’re basically comparing a horse and buggy to a Ferrari. It used to be very old school. You would acquire the lead, call until they pick up or email until they reply. That was it. That’s how a lot of consumer direct lenders still work. Union didn’t start that way. We’ve thought about automation and using data from the beginning.
Everyone’s drowning in data but it’s really all about what you do with it. A few years ago we weren’t even getting the data. That’s where companies like Jornaya come in. You help us get the data we need to make the right decisions. We started out not getting it at all, now we’re getting it and executing on it. Having the data has huge ripple effects that changes pretty much every part of our content strategy.
The difference is twofold. First, you need actual intent data. You need the shopping behaviors, data that measures intent, shopping styles and where they’re at in their shopping journey. Data that helps us identify where someone is in their journey and understand more about their behaviors is critical. The other side is more attitudinal where you’re learning about people’s personality profiles. We’re trying to understand who someone is, the family we’re interacting with, and how they view the world so we can communicate with them better. If I had my choice I would write all of our emails as quirky one liners but some people don’t want humor. We have to use the two data sets and match them up to really move the needle.
Jornaya: How do you actually use the data day to day? What does your execution look like?
Jeremy: I like so much where we’re at right now. Our lead management system is Velocify. For us it’s all about what you do with it. There’s a drip campaign, a text campaign and a call campaign. Getting ideas about what to do is easy. It’s simple to jot down on paper, but the trick is to actually do the work. All of that customization takes a lot of work.
We have additional integrations with Encompass, SoftVu and Jornaya. In particular the SoftVu integration has helped us a lot in terms of content creation. We’re using it to help create best practices around pairing the right profiles and content together. Also, we’ve found a lot of value in their alerts to tell us when people are shopping again online. A lot of that data comes from Jornaya and when we pair it with SoftVu we’re able to trigger the right actions in Velocify.
For example, there are leads we don’t get in touch with during the first 10-days of our contact strategy - but when we see the person behind that lead showing renewed interest on day 20, this is a valuable signal to re-engage them with a timely and relevant text or email.
If I had to start over somewhere else I’d do everything I could to replicated this system. I like so much where we are compared to what else I see out there. I’d want to start out with the Ferrari.
Jornaya: As you think about the evolution of the industry in the next 18-24 months, what do you think is going to be the biggest change? Where do you hope the industry will move?
Jeremy: This is where I get on my soapbox a bit. Basically, I don’t want everyone to do what I’m doing because I want to beat them. But, at the same time, I would like to work better together with our acquisition partners. We need to be creating better overall experiences. We need to leave consumers with a better taste in their mouth.
Right now people who are shopping online for mortgages tend to never want to do it again. At some point that is going to catch up with us. I understand that mortgage is a trillion dollar industry and that other similar industries like auto, finance, insurance, education, they will always go on. But we’re at a point in time where we need to figure out a better way to sell each other data beyond just leads.
We need to make sure we’re thinking about nurturing better overall consumer engagement experiences. I understand that if I was a lead seller I would just want to sell more leads. But I think there’s a world where we can start working together to better understand all of the data around the leads so they end up getting sold less. It may end up being something related to pricing based more on intent. I don’t know the answer entirely. There are a lot of ideas in the area, but it ultimately goes back to the overall consumer experience.
Jeremy Bowling and the team from Jornaya will both be at SoftVu in Kansas City in June. We’re looking forward to seeing everyone else who will be there and would love to continue the conversation. What are you seeing in the market? How do you anticipate the market changing in the next few years?