Eli Schwarz is senior director of enterprise partnerships at
Jornaya, a consumer journey insights platform that provides
publishers, marketers, data analysts and compliance professionals with the highest-resolution view of the consumer-buying journey. It is a unique technology platform that
witnesses both first- and third-party consumer interactions
in real time and across devices. Meeting consumers at these
moments of intent enables businesses to shorten the distance between data, decision and action. Reach Schwarz
Tips for Buying Online Leads
Consumer-journey data can provide a competitive advantage
By Eli Schwarz
For the mortgage industry, 2017 was a year of transition. Interest rate increases, global un- rest and environmental disasters led to market fluctuations. Volatile rates and tightening
refinance volumes exposed mortgage companies and
originators to increased competition for a smaller pool
of borrowers. As the market shrunk, optimizing lead
acquisition and marketing programs became even more
important for realizing a competitive advantage.
Leveraging marketing analytics and consumer-journey data is one of the most effective ways to regain
a competitive edge. The consumer journey is a map of
the steps that customers take on their way to a purchase. As borrowers shop for mortgage products and
originators, their direct interactions with mortgage
companies and third parties provide valuable insight
into whether they are simply educating themselves
about the process or ready to pursue a loan.
Understanding this data, and the insights it provides,
allows lenders and mortgage companies to refine their
understanding of potential borrowers and identify and
nurture those who are actively in the market for a loan.
Although mortgage originators are often at the mercy
of macroeconomic conditions, lead analysis and consumer insights can help them reach the right borrowers and meet acquisition targets — even during times
of market uncertainty.
This process starts by partnering with providers that
can provide transparency with respect to the quality
and risk profile of online leads. A home is one of the
largest purchases an individual makes. It takes extensive
research to find the right loan with rate and payment options that fit that particular borrower’s financial needs. Not everyone goes through this process
in the same way. Knowing key characteristics about
online leads can help originators align their contact
strategy with a borrower’s intent and motivations.
Before buying online leads, mortgage companies
and originators should know the age of the lead and
the intent of the consumer, and should ensure they
have permission to contact the consumer. Here are
some specific insights in those areas that can help a
company build a more efficient lead-buying program.
Contacting a prospect in a timely manner, or maximizing the “speed-to-lead,” is crucial for meeting target contact rates because purchase intent is typically
highest right after submitting the lead. More often
than not, borrowers working through third-party sites
will qualify for a loan program from several lenders,
all of whom may attempt to contact them as quickly
As a result, receiving a lead just a few minutes after
it was submitted may result in missing the opportunity
to connect with that borrower. Receiving a lead from a
publisher within seconds provides the best chance of
reaching the borrower first.
New-customer acquisition programs face heavy
competition, especially when volumes are down across
the market. Originators who work from online leads
must prioritize new leads to maximize their opportunity with each borrower. It is important for lead buyers
and sellers to work together to ensure they are spending the most time on the right consumers.
Research has shown that 60 percent of mortgage customers visit more than one third-party site when shopping for a loan. Understanding if a borrower is engaged
with competitors provides mortgage companies and
originators with a level of insight they can use to make
routing and prioritization decisions.
Companies may choose to prioritize a borrower who
is actively engaged with several competitors to keep
their brand in consideration. Conversely, an originator
may reach out to borrowers who show less activity
with other companies to take advantage of decreased
competition for their business.
The complex nature of a mortgage requires companies to obtain detailed financial information from
prospective borrowers. Even simple lead forms can
require data a consumer may not have readily available, such as home value or credit score. Longer forms
may have more detailed requests, such as asset and
liability breakdowns. The time borrowers spend on a
lead form, therefore, can serve as an indicator of their
engagement or relative intent.
Prioritization and routing strategies vary by company and the borrower-acquisition model in place.
A deeper understanding of borrower activities can
help mortgage companies and originators make
better decisions for each lead they receive.
Following the financial crisis, mortgage companies
have been subject to increased regulation, including
one rule that spans multiple industries and is respon-
sible for millions of dollars in lawsuits — the Telephone
Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). Originally enacted
in 1991, the TCPA restricts telemarketing calls and the
use of automatic-dialing systems.
The TCPA has grown in scope and litigation in recent
years, and should be a concern to anyone purchasing
leads — especially as mortgage companies increasingly call and text borrowers on their mobile devices.
Even though a lead may originate on a third-party site,
originators and their companies still bear responsibility for validating that express written consent was
received before contacting the consumer. As a result,
most compliance teams set strict requirements to
ensure all leads are compliant with the TCPA.
Understanding if the consent language on a lead
form is clear, conspicuous and successfully produces
borrower consent — all in real time — allows companies and originators to decide if and how to contact the consumer. Storing proof of that consent is
just as important in the event a complaint is filed.
Avoiding TCPA violations is critical to avoiding unexpected court costs and penalties in a market where
margins are already tight.
Economic conditions will always fluctuate, and the
nature of that flux will affect the number of borrowers in the market. Achieving a high level of insight into
online leads involving borrowers who are actively in
the market will help mortgage companies optimize
their revenue opportunities.
As more consumers research and initiate their
home-loan process online, lead buyers and sellers
must work closely to provide transparency into lead-performance and compliance issues. Those mortgage
companies that can execute a program based on these
principles will be more likely to reap the benefits of
online leads. ■
“The time borrowers
spend on a lead
form can serve as
an indicator of their