Henri Isenberg is chief operating officer at ReviewInc.com.
He has worked for more than 24 years as the chief architect
and vice president with Symantec and is the author of the
original Norton Utilities and Antivirus program. His exceptional
record of success in guiding development and commercialization of new tech opportunities has secured ReviewInc
as a leading online reputation-management company. Visit
his site at reviewinc.com. Reach him at (818) 660-1435.
What They Say About
Your Business Matters
Online reviews are often overlooked or under-managed in the mortgage industry
By Henri Isenberg
As a mortgage originator, you’ve been trained to process multiple loan types — that’s the easy part. The challenge is how to build your business and generate
leads. Chances are you were not a marketing major.
The most common methods for mortgage leads include obtaining referrals from recent clients, CPAs,
commercial bankers, relocation specialists, builders and
real estate agents. You also generate leads from search
engine optimization (SEO), e-mail marketing, Facebook ads, re-marketing (or following people with ads
after they visit), content marketing, LinkedIn, Google
Ad Words and more.
Notice how many of the activities include digital
online marketing? These activities are designed to
get a lot of people online so they can find you.
It is important to get traffic, but you also must get
conversions. If you have 1,000 visitors to your website per month, but nobody responds, then you have
zero conversions. Generating 5,000 visits to your site
is great, but if you do little to influence a different
behavior, you will probably still have … well, you get
the point. It is important to fix the conversion issue
first, then drive more traffic.
One area that affects conversion is testimonials,
including online reviews — even when they do not
originate on your site. This is one area that is often
overlooked, or at least under-managed, yet it ranks
surprisingly high as an influencer in selecting a product or service.
Power of reviews
A recent study from ReviewInc.com surveyed more
than 3,000 U.S. consumers (as a conclusion to a longer
five-year study with over 15,000 responses) asking one
simple question: “When choosing a service or professional, what is most important?” Respondents were
asked to choose one response. The study wanted to
pinpoint what was the most influential.
Among the respondents, 40. 9 percent cited reviews
on Google, Facebook, Yelp and other popular sites as
what influenced them the most. Next was the company’s website, at 21. 9 percent; traditional Yellow Pages
came in at 10.1 percent; online ads at 9. 6 percent; and
the rest of the results were scattered. So, online reviews
had the most influence.
Interestingly, in a prior study from ReviewInc, when
consumers were asked how much they trusted third-party reviews, 88 percent said they trusted them as
much as personal recommendations, such as from
friends or real estate agents — which have been well-documented as the most coveted leads.
What is especially interesting to a mortgage originator is the study’s demographics. The millennial and
younger generations, the largest target demographics
that search for loans (original or refinance), were the
most influenced by reviews.
With this research, there is clear evidence that you
need to get more from online reviews. It makes sense.
If your company only has three or four reviews (not
a lot of activity) at three stars or even higher, but
your competitors (including online originators) have
hundreds of reviews (a lot of validation) and 4. 8 stars,
they are going to have a significant advantage.
Have a plan
OK, you need more reviews. How do you get them?
The most effective approach is simply to ask. It is
important, however, to ask your client at the highest
emotional point — when they just closed the deal, just
got the keys, just moved in or received your house-warming gift.
There is a limited time frame when your chance of
getting a solid and positive review is highest, so you
need to act timely. Make it a habit now to solicit and
encourage such reviews at the opportune time as part
of your broader marketing strategy.
By the way, among the best approaches is to simply
ask a client to take a minute or two to offer some quick
feedback. A study by Northwestern University showed
that when reviews are shorter, more of them is better.
When reviews are longer, the number has less impact.
You could request a review from a client via e-mail,
but a personal phone call ads warmth and it is harder
for your clients to turn you down or ignore you. You
can always follow up with e-mail if needed — but it
is much less personal. It is important that you do not
bribe a client for a review. Some services, including
Yelp, can actually penalize you (and even remove your
reviews — if they find out) for this kind of behavior.
Stay “white hat,” and you’ll build a good reputation,
not harm it.
Solve the problem
Don’t ignore negative reviews. The key to negative
reviews is not to confront — but to solve the problem.
You solve their problem, and they get a chance for
satisfaction, which is all they want.
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